EDIT: Oops - we broke their website.
We'll update when it's alive again. It's back!
UPDATE: You can download the game, for free, from here.
Oh my goodness, I have no idea how this news has taken five days to reach me, but by golly thank goodness it finally has. Söldner, one of the most buggy and hilarious games of all time, is now completely free! Get it. Get it NOW.
Known as the Söldner (Marine Corps) Community Edition, the multiplayer game has been overhauled by the people, and released a genuinely free (as in, not "free-to-play") edition. Which might be great. But that's not the bit I'm interested in.
Obviously I have it downloading right now, but I think the reality is if all the bugs are gone, I'm not sure I can imagine wanting to play it. The original Söldner is a game that delivers every single time you play. Everyone I know who gave it a go has a story that's guaranteed to generate belly laughs by all who hear. I gave it another go recently for Eurogamer, and it didn't let me down. But what if this version does? What if they've turned it into just a multiplayer shooter with crappy graphics? The bugfix list threatens much. I reproduce it here in full:
- !fps and !tell commands work again
- fixed error that allowed to join the portal with any nickname ignoring registered multiplayer account
- removed inactive "Clan" button from multiplayer menu
- server list is now sorted by number of players by default
- fixed defective Sniper Kit laser when the kit was bought in the pre-spawn terminal
- zooming the scope while the soldier is playing an animation will no longer make the soldier switch weapons
- removed restriction for Addon weapons / vehicles (affects Training mode)
- suicide money penalty no longer affects the team account
- fixed error that caused the weapon accuracy not to increase again when the pulse calmed down
- the respawn time is no longer multiplied when a player is killed while parachuting
- the soldier zoom keys will now switch through weapon slots while the player is not in a scope view (default: mouse wheel)
- fixed weapon invisibility when throwing a weapon away in scope mode
- fixed weapon invisibility when being killed a) in scope view b) in first person view
- added timestamp to screenshot name. Screenshot name format is now: Pic000-yyyymmdd_hhmm-gametime.tga
- it is no longer possible to shoot faster than the autofire firerate in singleshot mode
- in capture gamemodes the spawn goal selection is reset to the team hq (from mobile respawn) when the player spawns
- reworked shuffle weather system to increase performance and make the system less error-prone
- V-C-G AGS is working again
- fixed error that made the player unable to move when an AGS gesture was sent shortly after the respawn
- Entire code for vehicle axle settings and vehicle propulsion overhauled
- tank wheels without contact to the ground are now animated
- when a team has no respawn bases left, other players of the team can only use player tracking spectator mode
- it's now possible to airtransport amphibious vehicles with the helicopter hook
- vehicles don't explode anymore when they are driven into water, they'll sink and become uncontrollable
- heavy vehicle weapons will shake the vehicle when fired (tank main cannons, Anti-Air guns)
- implemented shell casing effects for vehicle based weapons
- added new shot type with special tank penetrating effects
- drowning is now counted as a death in the statistics
- added submarines as a new vehicle class
- fixed an error that caused the character idle animations not to be played
- most ship propellers are now animated
- added a new submarine HUD
- your current weapon is now automatically sold when buying a new weapon for the same slot in the pre-spawn terminal
- adjusted settings for the maximum level of detail video option
- removed render grass option, grass is now forced on for every player
- added video option to enable/disable gunshell effects for vehicles
- left click with knife equipped now always causes an attack, the logo carving function is now the alternate fire function
- the '-mods' command line parameter now works for servers as well
- deactivated old network debug function that created overall_network.csv files and serverstats
- moved game settings files and screenshot folder to the MyDocuments folder
- tweaked the code for the server browser, the server list updates faster now
- added a new admin function to load random maps from the mapcycle
- added new routines to be able to adjust the direction boats are leaning in when steering
- added support for under water decoys
- added new xml switch to make rockets usable in water
- deactivated nick changing when connected to a LAN server
- fixed an error that caused expired rockets to deal no damage
- added function to adjust the live time of vehicle mounted rockets using the mouse wheel (used for waterbombs)
- submerged units will no longer be displayed on the radar
- players can enter submarines when diving
- the mini-map no longer centers back on the start position when changing seats in a vehicle
- radar targets are now rendered with an alternate system as a workaround for the NVIDIA driver incompatibilities (temporary, until we solve the issue)
- added new XML value to influence the acceleration of ships
- changed physics calculations for vehicle surfaces to make them less prone to getting stuck in the terrain
- changed code for jet camera ball calculation
- blocked old webinterface for certified servers
- added a confirmation box before a training-mission is started
- removed notice regarding the abuse board for successfull kick votes
- changed URL in the ranking welcome message (join message)
- the editor now indicates the orientation of spawning objects
- the sound notifications for commander targets are now played in English when no localized soundfile was found
- the rcon map command now checks for an exact match to the mapname first
- fixed an error that could cause the up and down buttons in the UCS screen to disappear
- players killed by exploding vehicles will now be counted as a kill for the player who destroyed the vehicle
- fixed a crash that occured when pressing a key in the terminal screen
- TSE presets can now be bought by pressing keys 0 - 9
- fixed minor issue with the TSE presets window
- Commander Mode playerlist no longer shows multiple players selected when they are not
- Commander Mode playerlist design completely reworked so the commander gets more (usefull) information
- increased number of players in Commander Mode playerlist (without scrolling) from 8 to 17
- the commander now gets score for completed game mode goals (capture flag/vehicle; conquer flag (CQ))
- Commander vehicle targets now show an icon to indicate the vehicle type of the target
- Commander infantry target markers now have a limited lifetime of 30 seconds
- the commander can no longer mark enemy soldiers inside a vehicle
- added delay to the Commander Mode mouse over text for enemy soldiers to make it harder to find players in closed buildings
- when the commander leaves the commander view all targets are deleted (not just hidden)
- fixed an error that caused the commander beeing stuck after leaving the commander mode
- the commander mode will no longer be closed when the same commander is voted commander again
- decreased maximum zoom level in commander mode
- reconfigured grass render settings and grass types per ground texture
- restricted maximum player name length to a maximum of 22 characters
- changed weapon sound of the A-10 MG
- updated heartbeat settings; the heartbeat will decrease more slowly now
- the weather setting "rainy" is now accesible for the shuffle weather feature
- changed tank transmission settings so they are slower but more powerfull on challenging terrain
- Tracer effect is better and longer visible now
- Gepard and Tunguska now have a much higher firerate
- reconfigured driving behaviour of wheeled and tracked vehicles
- removed tracer effect for all launchers (e.g. vehicle smoke grenades)
- Panzerfaust 3 scope redesigned to make the scope markers more helpful when aiming
- fixed game freeze when using Stinger or TOW stands in a water filled crater
- removed xml files that are no longer necessary
- fixed awkward steering behavior of boat 'RIB'
- added new scope for RPG29, PF89 and all FHJ versions
- increased maneuverability of helicopters
- removed infrared target indicator that caused graphics glitches
- sounds for bullet hits on metal are louder now
- reworked flare effect; colors are more realistic now and in addition to the flare the aircrafts throw a couple of chaffs
- minor cosmetic change on tank muzzle smoke effect
- added spark effect for impacts of shells with a caliber of 20mm and greater
- redesigned rainy weather mode, precipitation was removed and color settings changed
- added sound for weapon shell casings
- changed several vehicle models to be able to render the gunshell effects properly
- added several new shell casing effects
- bubble effects for sinking ships and vehicles added
- commander mode icons completely reworked
- added submarine "ASDS"
- the ship "Mark V" has been fitted with water bombs to hunt submarines
- created new explosion effect for water bombs
- model for helicopter AH-1F Super Cobra reworked
- implemented new rocket model for Comanche Anti Air sidewinders
- added shell casing effects for almost every ground based vehicle and helicopters
- added new boat "CB90" in two versions (1) armed with Waterbombs and MG (2) armed with Anti Air Rockets
- added new civil aircraft Cessna Skymaster
- chinook rotors now rotate in the correct direction and at the same speed
- fixed a glitch in the model of a wooden barn
- fixed a bug with misplaced objects on map 'CounTainer'
- fixed an issue with deathmatch spawnpoints on map Kamchatka
- added new map: CounTainer_2
- added new map: Vassholmen
- added spawn vehicle Snowmobile to maps: First Strike, Aspenovich, Death City
- replaced spawning transport aircraft on map Countryside by civil aircraft Cessna Skymaster
- adjusted position of the initial spectator camera on map Countryside
Fortunately this is all focused on multiplayer, so doesn't appear to have changed NPC AI. So perhaps they'll still help out by setting their own buildings on fire, and blowing themselves up, as should always be the case in Söldner. It's finished downloading! I can find out!
The uninterested announcement of "SÖLDNER" is back! They removed that in the Gold update of the game, which was one of the most devastating things I've ever faced in my life. I know many people who are incapable of hearing or reading Söldner being discussed without dead-panning "SÖLDNER" in response. For instance, from the RPS IRC room today:
[12:09] botherer: Posting about Soldner for free!
[12:09] ento: SOLDNER
Or indeed Kieron just now:
[13:38] botherer: Soldner is now free!
[13:39] Kieron: SOLDNER
When going into the so-called "Training" mode for the single-player game I'm met with the following message:
Which is to say, the full joy of the original Söldner is present and correct, and now yours for completely free. I implore everyone to get hold of this and check out the "Training" missions. I feel safe in guaranteeing that you will come away with a story worth sharing.
Meanwhile, it looks as though this community team has fought hard to create a working multiplayer game from it too, and while I cannot fathom for a moment why they thought Söldner worth the extraordinary effort, clearly this will please many. You can get the full game from here...
...Oh come on, like I wasn't going to play a mission.
My task: to destroy a fuel tank in China. This is the district of China that has been studiously cultivated to look like a snowy woodland in Maine, USA. The local vehicle spawning box lets me teleport in a fun tank-thing (actually, this isn't the original 2004 version after all - in that one you could spawn multiple vehicles into the same space, causing them to fuse together and then blow up - here it won't let you do that), which I use to drive the kilometre through the woods to the target base.
Here I'm met by an enemy tank that rocks back and forth like an abandoned child, its gun turret resolutely aimed away from me. Inside the compound about seven soldiers run in frantic circles, panicking about my arrival but unable to see the twenty foot gap through which they'd need to run to find me. Then another soldier runs past me ten feet in the air.
I drive around to the compound entrance, and take my time rolling over each soldier in turn, while the rest continue their frenzied circles with their weapons (such as rocket launchers) carefully stowed on their backs. My tank-thing can target and fire at the enemy tank (although do it no damage at all, despite enormous explosions), and indeed a couple of what look like 1970s British cars, but absolutely will not recognise the existence of the fuel container I'm here to destroy. So I hop out of the tank, at which point the two 1970s cars spring spookily into life, new drivers having appeared at their wheels who are trying to clip me with the bonnets. Dodging them, I try to draw my weapon and discover it's not working this time and I can't have it. At which point our flying friend runs over at about 20 feet in the air and shoots at me. Distracted, one of the bonnets taps my knee, and I drop down dead.
Söldner never, ever fails to deliver.