Microsoft’s vintage multiplayer spaceship FPS-RTS Allegiance [official site], which I’m told is one of the best space games, is now up free on Steam for your convenience. This is really FreeAllegiance, the version which fans have maintained since Microsoft open-sourced the game in 2004, so this being free isn’t new but it is handy. Hopefully exposure to a wider audience will help rebuild the playerbase too – which has dwindled but impressively is still kicking after 17 years.
What’s it about? Richie Shoemaker explained in his top spacelist:
“Having sold just 29,000 copies in its first year – a sadly unremarkable figure for space games at the time – in its second Microsoft decided to shut down the Allegiance servers, bringing to an apparent end an innovative mix of space sim combat and escalating strategy which its easy to see living on today in the modern MOBA.
“Allegiance was more than a simple game of zero-g team deathmatch. AI collectors – minions essentially – ferried minerals from asteroid fields to home base across a network of sectors, each haul adding to a team’s ability to invest in new ships and equipment. The assigned commander was the strategist, directing the AI miners, watching for enemy incursions, building replacement ships. It was the pilots’ job to respond, to protect the team’s precious resource fields and its fluctuating borders, and to strike at the enemy team when the opportunity presented itself. The game was multiplayer RTS and FPS in near-perfect gameplay unison. Too complex and demanding for its own good, certainly, hence why it was played by just a few thousand and subscribed to by mere hundreds.”
If you have trouble finding players, the FreeAllegiance gang suggest that peak times are Saturdays and Sundays from 9pm UK time (1pm Pacific).