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Video Game / Freelancer

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Liberty Bartender: To your good fortune in Liberty, sir.
Trent: Well, it can't get any worse.

Freelancer is a game created by Microsoft Games and Digital Anvil, specifically by Chris Roberts, and is the Spiritual Successor to Privateer, a spinoff of his previous franchise Wing Commander, as well as a sequel to Starlancer. Unlike its predecessor which was a space flight simulator, this game is an Elite-like space exploration game.

In the 23rd century, Humanity is caught in an apparently endless war between two factions within the Solar System: The Alliance and the Coalition. After more than 100 years of uninterrupted war, the Alliance, on the verge of massive defeat, is so goddamn hell-bent on not surrendering before the Coalition, it spends massive resources as its last hope for survival: sending five huge spaceships filled with Human Popsicles to the Sirius system, far away from the conflict that separated Humankind for all these years.


Eight hundred years later, Humanity is thriving in the far-away Sirius sector, divided into four countries or "houses", each named after the spaceships that brought them there: Liberty (USA), Bretonia (United Kingdom), Rheinland (Germany) and Kusari (Japan); the fifth ship, the Hispania (Spain and Mexico), was lost in transit to Sirus, but its impact is still felt on the sector. A couple of conflicts have managed to erupt, but overall, the whole system is in peace.

Enter young pilot Edison Trent, a mechanician apprentice from Planet Leeds who, enthralled by all the massive wealth found on the Border Worlds, leaves his repair shop and goes out on a journey for "the deal of a lifetime". After a couple of months of hardships, he finally manages to score a deal for 1 million credits for a ton of boron. But guess what? Just when Trent managed to close the deal at the neutral ground of Freeport 7, two mysterious spaceships suddenly appear out of thin space and destroy the station. Trent barely manages to make it to an escape pod, which leaves him drifting in outer space. He is rescued and taken to Planet Manhattan. From there, he manages to land a job doing freelancer work for the Liberty Security Force.


However, things soon start to get really, really weird. Alien artifacts, previously nothing but highly expensive pieces of ancient art, are suddenly banned in Liberty, survivors of the Freeport 7 attack and those connected to them start to go missing, Rheinland's Chancellor begins acting surprisingly reckless in his diplomatic relationships with the other houses even as Rheinland is found to be involved in many strange activities, and Trent and his friends are completely sure an enormous conspiracy is going on. Will they manage to expose the mystery before it's too late?

The general concept of Freelancer is a Wide Open Sandbox combined with a space shooter and an RPG. You can take any sort of job you want with any faction you want, you can just sit down and gather a lot of valuable resources, you can buy low and sell high at many stations, or you can raid corporate convoys and steal their stuff. There's also a main storyline, which leaves you with a highly powerful ship after clearing it (not to mention all the intrigue involved), but there's also a multiplayer mode where you can take missions along with anyone on the server, so it's a game that can be finished quickly, or take a really long time, and even has a game time counter that shows how long the game's been played total.

Technically and gameplay-wise speaking, Freelancer is possibly the best showcase of why breaks from reality are so acceptable, the most glaringly obvious example being the way outer space is presented. The game takes place in a 2-D Space, and the sense of scale is enormously distorted, but trust us, when you sit down and play the real thing, the game is, all in all, good enough to just make you not think about that. It also manages to make space feel huge and epic while remaining surprisingly compact.

Freelancer is also notable for having a very friendly control scheme, which lets you fly around your ship with the mouse (at the complete expense of joystick support), a couple of basic commands, and an easy-to-use HUD. As for the graphics, they're a little bit dated, but the game quickly makes up for it thanks to its beautiful nebulous backgrounds, its aesthetics and its camera effects. Freelancer is itself a very fun, very entertaining game, and with its apparently immortal aesthetics, its natural and straightforward control scheme and its excellently written storyline, and even despite its Vaporware development cycle, it still stands today as a living example of excellent game design.

Rumor has it that, before Microsoft pushed Digital Anvil to have the game ready for release, the original design was far more detailed than the final product, including six different endings, a dynamic economy and countless other things. The game as it stands is still of high quality, though, so it's worth wondering what it would have been like with these features.

This game provides examples of:

  • Absent Aliens:
    • There are aliens, the most common being a microorganism that can metabolize some elements into carbon dioxide and oxygen. Also, there are a plethora of species native to Sirius. Planet Gaia, this game's equivalent to a planetary Garden of Eden, has more alien species than any other planet in the game.
    • As for sentient alien species, ancient artifacts constructed by long-dead aliens are extremely valuable, but governments have recently started to crack down on them. Said long-dead aliens have also left behind a legacy that is very much alive in the form of the Nomads.
  • Absolute Xenophobe: The Xenos are a Liberty-based terrorist faction who lost their jobs when Liberty's economy shifted from blue collar to white collar, a shift they blame foreign influence over Liberty's government. This attitude causes them to regard nearly every other faction in the game as an enemy, and everyone except Zoners and the IMG are likely to be shot on sight.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Blatant enough to make you realize that ultimate realism doesn't fit well in a video game. Transit times are already a bit of a pain. Realistic scale would be orders of magnitude worse. And good gravy, if hitting asteroids and space junk were handled realistically, you'd have to be a dodging master to even play.
  • Ace Custom:
    • Juni's Liberty Defender heavy fighter; among other things, it sports a dorsal third fin.
    • Blood Dragons mostly fly recolored Kusari heavy fighters that the Player Character cannot purchase.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Zig-zagging. While this is averted especially when you gain access to Order equipment, it is also played straight if your reputation with the owners of the station is bad, as they won't sell you anything apart from basic equipment. In the latter case, Adam Smith may not hate your guts, but the guy at the cash register does.
  • The Alcatraz: Every House has at least one Prison Ship floating around in their territory. Most are located far away from trade routes and civilized outposts, many are surrounded by Space Mines and weapons platforms, and all of them are heavily patrolled by police and navy forces. If you're friendly enough with the House forces to dock and hear the local rumors, you'll learn that these space prisons have layered hulls several meters thick, that the guards are authorized to use lethal force at the slightest provocation, and that there's never been a successful escape attempt anywhere. The farthest inmates ever got was to the closest airlock, only to realize that their escape vehicle had been blown to bits already by the outer defenses. No points for guessing how that ended.
  • Alliance Meter: Provides the trope picture. A hostile faction will attack on sight and deny you landing permission on their bases; a neutral faction will ignore you in space but might assist allies who hate you, and will let you land but might not sell you their best stuff or offer you missions; and a friendly faction will assist you in combat against anyone they're not allied with, sell you their best stuff and offer you more rewarding missions. In addition, being friendly to a pirate faction stops them from demanding cargo from you.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike:
    • Downplayed; Planet Manhattan, Planet Gaia and Planet Cambridge play this straight, but most other planets fall into Single-Biome Planet territory, being either Dune-esque deserts, Hoth-esque ice worlds, ocean planets, the occasional gas giant, or just lifeless uninhabitable balls of rock. It's also repeatedly mentioned that even most temperate, superficially earthlike worlds differ significantly from what humans evolved in, with planets having year-long day-night-cycles, weaker or stronger gravity, hostile weather, inedible fauna or similarly adverse conditions.
    • In some cases, it's hard to tell; Planet Leeds might have been a nice place at one point, but several centuries of pollution have destroyed what ecology it once had — which is why the Gaians are so hell-bent on preventing something similar happening to their namesake world on the other side of Bretonian space.
    • This trope is actually subverted on a few occasions. The Outcasts landed on what they thought was an Earth-like planet, but in reality it was a world so utterly saturated with a naturally-occurring narcotic that leaving without being drugged up on it killed anyone who tried to depart. Another planet in the same system looks very Earthlike, but is completely inundated, right down to the last organism, with an atmosphere that is toxic to humans. No relation whatsoever to Avatar, though.
  • Almighty Janitor: The Nomads, a parasitic alien species left behind in Sirius by an even more advanced alien species to maintain their legacy and ensure no upstart newcomer species trespasses on their ancient domain. Trent outright calls them janitors when he learns what they really are. Their technology is so ludicrously superior to mankind's that the heroes' only chance to win this conflict is to use the guys' own tech against them.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Golden Chrysanthemums, not so surprisingly a terrorist organization and Straw Feminists to a small extent.
  • Anti-Grinding:
    • Up until level 20, you must complete a storyline mission to level up beyond odd levels.
    • And then you must gain a level before you're given the next storyline mission. You can still build up as many credits as you would like, before embarking on said mission.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions: Played with (painfully) scripted NPC dialog as well as (well done) NPC ships going back and forth, leaving from a base and then docking somewhere else while constantly chattering over the radio.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • AI patrol ships that scan your ship for contraband or valuable goods never kill their engines. Ever. They are smart enough to know that entering formation with your ship will put them within cargo scanning range of your ship, but if you are in free flight mode and kill your engines to maintain near-cruise speed, these ships will completely drop out of cruise speed and return to normal velocity, which will cause them to drop out of your scanner range and despawn long before they turn hostile towards you refusing to drop the cargo. This may seem like an error in programming, until you realise that AI-controlled ships in combat do actually kill their engines while exchanging fire.
    • AI ships will also continue patrols and pursue enemies right into minefields. It can be amusing to sit in the midst of the narrow passage through Zone 21 in the New York system and watch random Rogues and Outcasts blunder into the surrounding thicket of impenetrable mines to their rapid deaths. A similar effect happens in the Dublin system as the Molly base there is surrounded by asteroids and mines.
    • Your ship's autopilot vacillates wildly between "pretty decent at its job" and "stupendously stupid". Trade route docking and evasion of large objects (like star bases or above-average asteroids) pose a particular challenge to the system.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Many of them, some of them mineable. A rather sizeable proportion of asteroid thickets in this game are massive junk fields, which can be mined for scrap metal and serve as hiding places for criminals. Also, bouncing off an asteroid is a valid strategy for escaping missiles, as the sharp turn causes them to lose their lock on you.
  • Attack Hello:
    • Once a faction is hostile to the Player Character, they will immediately attack on sight without any warning or provocation whatsoever, which is an absolute pain in the rear when trying to build up one's reputation with said faction to neutral or friendly levels.
    • Since the Nomads are hard-coded to be constantly 100% hostile, they always do this regardless of the player's actions.
  • Badass Boast: Ozu makes one during the single-player campaign. See the Pre Ass Kicking One Liner example below for more generic examples.
    Ozu: The Blood Dragons are small in number, Jun'ko, but they are the best fighter pilots in the colonies.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Orillion.
  • Bald of Awesome: King, Dr. Quintaine, and Orillion.
  • Battleship Raid: Three missions in which you have to knock out a large base's shield generators. One of them even has you fly inside.
  • The Battlestar: All battleships in the game serve as both powerful space cannons and fighter-launching platforms. However, it is slightly justified in that fighters in this game are practically independent, so landing on a battleship is apparently only for storage between battles and/or maintenance (which is what the player uses those battleships for, most of the time).
  • Bee Hive Barrier: The Class 9 and 10 shields have this for the visual effect when the ships using them are hit.
  • BFG: The Liberty Cruiser mounts a ridiculously large forward cannon that delivers heavy damage to anything it hits. Even a battleship approximately double in size and thrice as strong will start to buckle after about half a minute of continuous fire from it.
  • Big Bad: Rheinland Chancellor Niemann is not this but about as close as you get to one in spite of having what amounts to a walk-on role in person and being Not Himself for quite some time by then, as "he" is the main face behind the supposed enemy, Rheinland, and the real enemy, the Nomads.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Lots of them. Among others, Trent, Juni, King and Walker arrive just in time to save President Jacobi from being taken over by an alien. Then Jacobi stops it from taking over Trent by shooting it with a BFG.
    • Navy Cruiser Captain Marcus Walker. You work with him early on to crack down on the pirates, and he goes missing shortly after he has actually gone into hiding with the rest of his group. He also intervenes and saves you and Juni during the initial flight from Liberty. See also Gunship Rescue.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Herr von Claussen does this once, right after Klaus Botzler's Heroic Sacrifice. The occasional NPC also does this when their ship disintegrates.
    • Juni gets at least two while witnessing her friends die.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Most of the factions have some sort of just cause or justification for their actions (even if only they perceive it as such) and are at the same time committing some sort of injustice against one or more other factions. For instance, the Mollys fight for independence from an exploitative Bretonia, but are doing so by attacking and killing practically anyone flying around Bretonian space. Even the Corsairs have some justification for their actions—they got screwed over when their colony ship went to pieces, and don't have much choice but to steal whatever other factions are producing. A few factions are completely corrupt (such as Hogosha and Samura, though Samura has employees who are basically innocent). This of course only pertains to everything outside the campaign storyline (see below).
  • Black-and-White Morality: In the campaign storyline, where morality issues are eventually put aside because mankind is on the verge of annihilation anyway, there's a more clear line between who's "right" and who's "wrong", but for the most part the ones who are wrong are simply under the control of aliens seeking to destroy mankind.
  • Bounty Hunter: They have a whole organization of these guys. It's called the Bounty Hunters Guild.
  • Breakable Weapons: Once your shields are depleted, enemy shots will impact your ship directly. Radiation damage will also do likewise, except that it completely bypasses shields. If a portion of your ship, such as the fins of a Titan, or even a weapon or the countermeasure dropper you mount, takes sufficient damage, it will break away and disintegrate into nothing. Bad call if there's a Class-10 CERBERUS mounted there, because you will permanently lose that weapon. The upside to this is that computer ships aren't spared from this either, so if you hit them hard enough, they may lose a fin with a weapon or component attached, thus reducing their offensive and/or defensive capabilities. The disadvantage of this, however, is that you might be less likely to get weapon drops.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Sidewinder Fang and Liberty Ale are both mentioned at the start and end of the singleplayer campaign. In Trent's Neural Net Log, he occasionally mentions about drinking throughout the campaign.
    • If you're friends with the Corsairs you can hear a rumor on Base Leon in Omega-41 about some Zoner on Freeport 5 who shacked up with a Corsair woman and is now on the run from that woman's vengeful brother. If you're also friends with the Zoners you can find the luckless paramour hiding out on Freeport 10 in Tau-37, literally on the opposite end of the galaxy, hoping that no Corsair makes it past the nearby Outcast strongholds.
  • Broken Bridge:
    • Played by not giving you the access codes to the inter-system Jump Gates at the beginning. There's also a few jump holes that become phase-aligned only after completing missions during the single-player campaign. At the other end of the spectrum, the jump holes and gates to mission systems like Tohoku and Alaska go dead after you complete the storyline. Taking this to a head is an area of the Omicron Beta system visited during the storyline, which does not exist in the actual system.
    • Although the Omicron Major and Minor Jump Holes are said to be in Omicron Beta, that Omicron Beta is only visited in the story, and cannot be found in the post-story Omicron Beta.
  • But Thou Must!: Averted with the story missions up through the midgame, which give you an option to decline (though you'll need to return eventually to progress your character, as Juni frequently lampshades). Most of the late-game missions do not allow you to decline, typically because they occur in the middle of a plot-specific location or event from which you wouldn't be able to escape anyway.
    King: Next time, listen to your old pal King and say no.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • The Xenos. Nobody likes them, nobody takes them quite seriously, and they use some of the weakest ships and equipment in the game.
    • Trent himself has shades of this. Over the course of the game he's been shot at, hit by a stun baton, falsely accused of numerous crimes — hell, he's taken more abuse than any other character in the game! All he wants is the million credits his "friend" owes him and a good drink, both of which he never gets.
  • The Captain: Juni. She's a well-known LSF Commander who has a ship you can't find anywhere else and knows how to kick ass and take names.
  • Cash Gate: Levels are gained upon reaching a net worth of a certain amount of credits. In the single player campaign, you can proceed with the next mission when you gain a level.
  • Clear My Name: Trent and Juni are framed by high-level conspirators, and are forced to escape Liberty to try and find out who's actually involved. They end up getting pardons by a very grateful President Jacobi.
  • Continuity Porn: Rather interesting in-game example: All four houses wildly follow historical traditions, even those who are now abandoned and the ones that were not always particulary positive. For motivating colonists and giving them nationalistic boost founders of colonies delibarately turned them to continuity porn states, even when it meant repeating mistakes which USA, Great Britain, Japan and Germany made.
    • USA has been turned into Liberty: a strictly capitalist society with Art Deco as well as crime and poverty everywhere except the shining cities of the rich.
    • Britain is once again stuck in bureaucracy. The Bretonia sector is nothing less than a sci-fi version of Victorian industrial Britain. Environmental pollution, poverty and companies exploiting their employees but also scientific breakthroughs, Lords and nobles, typical Bobby hats, and bad weather in the capital planet of (New) London. Every building is build in a pseudo-Victorian style mixed with Steampunk designs. They even have an IRA-Expy group fighting for the liberation of the Dublin system.
    • Japan's counterpart Kusari is once again a strict monarchy, governed by the Shogun. Highly nationalistic and isolated society, with samurai statues everywhere and cutting edge technology.
    • German Rheinland is literally Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich Recycled IN SPACE!.
  • The Call Knows Where You Work: Trent gets dragged into the main plot kicking and screaming by this. There's the obvious attack on Freeport 7 that starts the whole shebang, sure, but there's also the fact that he is effectively shanghaied into the LSF in order to escape being stranded on Manhattan, which in turn results in he and Juni being identified as troublesome and targeted for elimination by the Pro-Rheinland/Nomad-infected conspiracy via a Frame-Up.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • The NPC versions of the flyable ships have infinite energy, so they can shoot forever and use their thrusters for as long as it takes for Hell to freeze over.
    • Stock ships flown by NPCs are also capable of mounting weapons with classes higher than what the ships are able to mount. As examples, Red Hessians occasionally mount Class-5 guns on light fighters that can only mount up to Class-4 guns, and, in the single-player campaign, the Nomad-infected Liberty light fighter pilots mount Class-7 Nomad Laser weapons on ships that can only mount up to Class-3 guns. Also, compare the Improbable Aiming Skills example below.
    • Finally, if you take into consideration the examples unique to the single-player campaign, the following also count:
      • Juni's ship is a modified Liberty heavy fighter that you cannot purchase.
      • Every Blood Dragon member, excluding Cobo and Lord Hakkera, flies a recolored Kusari heavy fighter that you cannot purchase.
    • The only compensation the game provides for all of the above is that computer pilots are given shields with virtually no recharge rate, shield batteries and nanobots that they only use once in a blue moon, and A Team-ish accuracy. As an additional note, several mods for Freelancer remove the privileges and disadvantages the AI has over the player, thus averting this trope completely.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: While it doesn't have a lot of the atmosphere that much of this genre has, the shades are clear enough if you stop to think about it for very long, namely that a race of Alien shapeshifters of nigh-incalculable age and possibly power are slowly plotting to take over humanity by body-jacking politically powerful humans, then leaving them when a better host is available- a process that said humans (perhaps unfortunately for them) survive- within the houses and pitting them against each other. And that's just the Nomads. Now imagine what their creators, the Daam K'Vosh, might be like...
  • Cornered Rattlesnake: Liberty President Jacobi blasts a Nomad that's about to try to take over Trent during one of the single-player campaign's last few missions. She also handles being tortured pretty well, apparently.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Some corporations are run by these guys.
    • As you learn through the Blood Dragons or 4/5 of most Kusari's belligerents, Kusari's entire government is this, essentially run by Samura, and to a lesser extent, Kishiro. This also happens to be the reason the Blood Dragons fight.
  • Crapsack World: Oh, where to begin?
    • Liberty is an ultra-capitalistic society where the needs of the rich are catered to by prison (read: slave) labor. They also privatized their police force so they can get more laborers to work in their sweatshop prisons. Even worse is the transition of Liberty's economy from heavy industry to information technology, which moved millions of workers into poverty, forcing most of these into piracy and crime.
    • Bretonia is mired in bureaucracy, and runs pretty much like you'd expect an era of unregulated Victorian industry would. Leeds is so polluted, that they have entire nebulae of smog. Never mind that BMM, their primary resource extraction company, fed dog food to their workers so that they could save on their profit margin (look on Planet Leed's news for the story); which, mind you, is the whole reason why Leeds is filled with smog nebulae. Don't forget, their desire for resources has caused an entire terrorist movement in the form of the Mollys.
    • Kusari is an insular, isolationist regime controlled by Corrupt Corporate Executives. Due to these meddling executives, the country is slowly turning into a government only by name, with Samura controlling most of the government. Even the criminals are not free of corporate meddling. Samura motivates the Farmer's Alliance to attack Synth Foods on Kyushu, which involves attacking police forces along the way, which means Samura gets more shipbuilding contracts, and the government increases defense spending, which involves more business to Samura. There's also the sexism that caused the whole Golden Chrysanthemum movement. Just think about that for a second. Sexism so bad that a rebellion was formed.
    • Rheinland is a bankrupt, fascist government, like a Weimar Republic with less democracy, where the Chancellor essentially controls everything, with no checks on power. The Bundschuh are the leftist "terrorists" that are trying to democratize Rheinland, with little to no success, culminating in an ineffectual rebellion that changes little to nothing. And the game loves to stress the bankrupt part of Rheinland. For starters, they lost a war that took 80 years to a corporation, the Gas Miners Guild. This crashes Rheinland's economy for centuries, and almost decimates the country, making Rheinland the Butt-Monkey of the Houses for said amount of time. On top of that, Liberty, with its capitalist tendencies, loans money to Rheinland it knows it cannot pay back. This causes an entire planet to be forked over to Synth Foods in order to repay the debt. When this happens, the LWB forms, causing more crime in the sector, not to mention that they're plagued all sorts of disgruntled workers-turned-pirates (The Unioners, the Red Hessians, and the LWB). During the storyline, they start making money bit by bit — by force of the Chancellor suddenly turning into a belligerent Hitler expy and House Rheinland turning into a warmongering Nazi Germany.
    • Even if you ignore Sirius' messed-up politics and societies, it doesn't get any better. The entire sector is so thoroughly crawling with criminals and armed corporate forces that you can hardly leave any space station or planet without witnessing a large-scale fighter battle. No matter where you go, criminals will waylay you, try to rob your possessions or simply shoot you on sight. Countless innocents fall victim to senseless violence every day because living in Sirius is synonymous to living in a perpetual war zone. And then the game's main story happens...
  • Crutch Character: The Anubis-class Very Heavy Fighter in the singleplayer campaign. It is by far the best ship available during the story mode and also the cheapest.
  • Cursed With Awesome: The Outcasts, and to some degree all Cardamine addicts. Withdrawal may be fatal, but the drug itself actually extends lifespans. It's unclear whether the governments are simply unaware of this fact, covering it up as they spend both money and lives combating the Cardamine trade, or that they judge such a benefit to not be worth the cost, given the risks Cardamine poses to society and the ecosystems humanity depends on.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max:
    • In the cutscenes, Starkiller Torpedoes are portrayed as absolutely deadly to everything, able to obliterate capital ships or even whole stations with just one or two shots. Eventually, you can get these yourself, only to find out that in actual gameplay, they deal around 2000 damage - barely more than an average missile (with the best one even dealing twice the damage), and worth as much as a two- or three-second burst from your guns. Killing a cruiser, or even a gunship with Starkiller Torpedoes, requires landing dozens of hits, while space stations cannot be destroyed under normal gameplay conditions (although their defense turrets can be blasted off).
    • Scripted sequences inside missions that involve the Liberty Cruiser depict its front cannon as being powerful enough to rip apart a battleship, or even a space station, in a few seconds of sustained barrage. If you scan it during normal gameplay, however, you will learn that the front cannon only deals a measly 202 hull damage per shot. For reference, that's 40 points less than the Magma Hammer Mk II, which is a class 5 fighter gun, and you can usually pack 5 of those. An early-game fighter with mediocre weapons has literally more firepower than a hulking cruiser's huge Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Decadent Court: Everybody has this to some (usually minor) degree, but Kusari has this in spades.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A few, but mostly Juni.
    "And from such humble beginnings, your head grew to its present size?"
  • Death World: Planet Carinae in the Omicron Alpha system is a verdant garden world that appears eminently suited for human colonization... if it weren't for the deadly neurotoxin that's an integral part of the world's entire ecosystem. Needless to say that all colonization efforts were quickly stopped after the first wave of surveyors keeled over.
  • Decoy Big Bad: The Order, Governor Tekagi, Chancellor Niemann ... pretty much everybody except the Nomads.
  • Derelict Graveyard: There are a number of debris fields, some of which contain rotting hulks of old stations or ships.
  • Destroyable Items: Loot from destroyed ships can be blasted (although there's no real reason to do so outside of the occasional "destroy dangerous cargo" mission), or destroyed by being rammed too many times. Even the few mission-critical ones like Ashcroft's lifepod.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • There are a few parts of the game where it's possible to go against a given objective during the campaign and be rewarded for it:
      • During Mission 1, after dispatching the first wave of Liberty Rouges, King will order the player to not engage the newly arrived pirates (i.e. the second wave) and re-enter formation with the USV Brandt instead. However, the player can disobey King and continue fighting the pirates, after which the convoy will leave through the trade lane and give the player limited time to dock with the trade lane afterwards, and the player will be rewarded with extra 750 credits and a different dialogue if they kill the second wave and dock with the trade lane in time.
      • When the player witnesses Brandon Rowlett be destroyed by a Liberty Navy patrol, the patrol will order the player character to "keep quiet" before leaving, and the player has a choice of either moving along... or attacking the patrol. Engaging them results in the patrol denouncing the player and instantly becoming hostile before proceeding to attack with Moonstalker Missiles (which are deadly upon a direct hit). Killing the patrol nets the player a unique turret not found anywhere else in the game.
      • Raising the "Battleships killed" number practically runs on this; some of the ships that count require the usage of Loophole Abuse in order to kill them without getting mission failure (e.g. being ordered to dock, and nullifying the failure risk by entering dock mode but never actually docking).
    • Going out of system bounds is not something a player will normally do, especially since there is nothing very special there. But in the rare event the player does go out of bounds, the Navmap is going to know - it will display a red flashing arrow icon pointing to the ship icon if it has gone off the Navmap.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: During your starfighter race against Dexter Hovis, he pulls over to activate some weapons turrets. Depending on how well you race and whether you've already passed him or not, he either does this midway through the race if you've passed him, or near the end of the race if you haven't, the latter outcome giving you the opportunity to pass him.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • The Anubis, the Order heavy fighter class that you can purchase from Battleship Osiris and Planet Toledo, is this near the end of the single-player campaign. It has a pathetic turn rate as well as a massive target profile, so it doesn't hold up very well in turning contests against faster, agile fighters such as the Nomad Interceptors that it usually goes toe-to-toe with and makes it excellent for target practice during the very first mission of the single-player campaign. However, it can mount six guns and a forward-firing turret, in addition to the standard torpedo/cruise disruptor mount, and it is cheap as dirt to purchase and outfit with Order equipment. This gives the Anubis the theoretical equivalent of seven guns pointing forwards and the muscle to dish out serious damage to larger vessels, which means that most things don't last very long if the Anubis is pointing towards them with all its guns blazing. The icing on the cake is that only Order NPCs use the Anubis, these NPCs only appear during the single-player campaign, and both the Osiris and Planet Toledo are inaccessible to the player after the end of the campaign, so the Anubis becomes a unique and unobtainable ship once the campaign is completed.
    • Plasma weapons fire slowly, travel slowly and consume tons of energy, but they deal massive damage. If you're good enough at dogfighting to make every shot count, a well-equipped plasma fighter can tear through anything smaller than a cruiser in only a handful of hits.
  • Distant Prologue: The opening video happens 800 years before the game, picking up where Starlancer left.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • Dramatic Downstage Turn: The cutscenes are full of these, but most notable is Dr. Sinclair, who performs several of them in close succession during a single cutscene.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • Even after you pretty much single-handedly saved the Verse from the Nomads, you still have enemies in every sector, and are still considered an acceptable piracy target. At least the jobs you're given aren't too demeaning (indeed, being asked to take out an entire Corsair base all by your lonesome could actually be considered a compliment to your One-Man Army status).
    • You actually get an example of this from yourself. Your journal speaks in awe of Herr von Claussen, an ace who has scored over 500 kills and never lost a wingman. By that point a typical player's kill count is in the mid-400s, and due to Gameplay Ally Immortality you've never lost a wingman either!
  • Dug Too Deep:
    • It all starts about three months before the destruction of Freeport Seven, with Rheinland explorers setting down on the wrong planet.
    • Also, the asteroid fields in New London were formerly mined but were hastily abandoned when the mining operations released pockets of explosive gas.
  • Dummied Out:
    • The Starblazer. This ship evidently belongs to the same line of ships as the Starflier and Startracker, which are both available for use by the player. However, the only time the player sees a Starblazer is when they are docked with a planet and sees one flying past; even NPCs don't use it in space. Examination of the game's code reveals that the Starblazer actually has most of the properties present in player-flyable ships, lacking only a handful of parameters necessary to make it available for sale and use. Making the Starblazer available for use by the player is considered one of the various baby steps anyone can take if they are interested in making mods for the game.
    • Order, Interspace Commerce and LSF ships never spawn randomly despite the game containing voice files meant for use by these factions. The player only sees Order vessels during the singleplayer campaign, while Interspace Commerce and LSF vessels only spawn if the player accepts specific missions from that faction.
    • Tractor beams and scanners were originally planned to be customisable equipment, and the game only needs minor tweaks to its .ini files so that these show up in the Equipment Dealer menus. Such a feature would have tied in with the second singleplayer mission, where Juni apparently makes arrangements for Trent's ship to be given a scanner and tractor beam (although they are already available in-game by default).
    • The Paralyzer Missile Launcher. In an original unmodified copy, no station sells it and not a single wreck drops it - you can only obtain the ammo from either buying it or looting the wrecks. However, the launcher does exist in the game, and as a matter of fact the wrecks carrying the ammo also have the launcher equipped (with the issue being that it's always equipped to a non-existing hardpoint), making it possible to obtain the launcher only by modding the game.
  • Durable Deathtrap: The entire Nomad species was created by the Dom'Kavash as a colossal deathtrap for anyone attempting to colonize the Sirius sector.
  • Eco-Terrorist: The Gaians fit this mold, staging murderous attacks on terraforming companies, polluting industries, said factions' allies, and anyone else who they deem an environmental threat. They are subject to a little Motive Decay though, since terraformed planets were generally just lifeless ice-or-rock balls before humans showed up, and by the current era in-game, most polluted material is dealt with permanently by tossing it into the nearest sun.
  • Eldritch Location: By the end-game, you're so used to the scale of the various planets that the Nomad Dyson Sphere just seems impossibly huge and alien, especially given that you pass another planet on the way in!
  • Eldritch Abomination: More or less what the Nomads and likely the Dom'Kavash are according to Word of God.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Edison Trent. He usually just introduces himself by his surname.
  • The Empire: Rheinland flirted with this in the backstory, and by the game's time has graduated right to it. Though that's not entirely their fault.
  • Enemy Chatter: So much of it. Here are some examples of combat chatter:
    "Scanner's showing new enemy targets. Engage! Engage!"
    "I'm engaging <faction> <letter> <number>."note 
    "I've got a visual on the enemy. Target is primed and I'm ready."
    "This jerk is actually engaging me!"
    "What the Hell? I just lost one of my men!"
    "Picking up some fool on my six."
    "Got a visual on bogey, dropping the hammer!"
    "Bandit has me in his sights, he's hitting me!"
    "I hear something ... ... ... COOLANT LEA- *STATIC*"
    "All systems have failed! Losing power!"
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The Lane Hackers. Specifically, the enemies of Liberty are their friends.
    • In another mission, you fly with a pair of Rheinland deserters as your wingmen, because you need them to assist you against the Rheinland Military as much as they need you to defect to Bretonia safely.
    • To a smaller extent, nearly all factions think very slightly more favorably of you if you hurt their enemies (for instance, the Bounty Hunters' Guild softens up to you just a little bit when you take out criminals).
      • This can be exploited to easily farm reputation and money in the post-game. Pirate factions like the Outcasts and the Corsairs have countless enemies but next to no friends, and their ships, though very powerful, drop extremely valuable loot. Going to town on their home systems for a while will leave you rolling in credits and allied to all but a handful of factions, assuming you survive.
    • If two opposing factions share a common enemy, and all three factions so happen to be in the same place at the same time, the opposing factions will team up to destroy their common enemy before settling their own differences. This can lead to some humorous incidents in Game Mods such as Discovery where, for instance, The Order would team up with the Nomads to destroy a Bounty Hunter ship.
  • Escort Mission: Many of the single-player campaign missions involve you escorting a transport or individual from point A to point B. Fortunately their AI is good enough to prevent them from acting too stupid, and they're also impossible to destroy.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: It is hinted at through several in-game rumors that one of the main reasons why Liberty expanded faster than any of the other Houses was because the semiconductors they manufacture — a vital component in trade lanes and jump gates — are powered by alien technology.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Apparently, even Texans of the far future can't resist Stuff Blowing Up. They somehow managed to screw up a trade gate experiment so badly that the resulting explosion created a jump hole to a neighboring system and left behind a decently sized debris field plus two large dark matter clouds that quickly irradiate anyone to death who dares to enter them. The three fields together take up half of the entire system and are so dangerous that even the criminal factions give them a wide berth.
  • Exposition Fairy: King, Juni, Lord Hakkera and Von Claussen are this at different points throughout the singleplayer campaign, but especially Juni. "We have to go faster!"
    • Even funnier if you're actually outrunning her.
  • Fantastic Drug: Cardamine. Incredibly addictive but without a tolerance build-up, it modifies users' genes over long-term use, which grants them a longer lifespan, sharply reduced reproduction rate and the inability to survive without it; Outcasts landed on the planet where the chemical was in almost everything, and so all of them have this dependence, which is why they wear breathers in a normal atmosphere. Since it's basically a means for Space Pirates to control those who get hooked on it, it is contraband in the Houses (but that doesn't stop the corporations from trying to come up with a synthetic version, possibly in an attempt to deprive the Outcasts of their primary source of income and feed those who are already affected). As many bandit pilots say: "Cardamine, Cardamine, everyone wants Cardamine!".
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Averted, as they are actually descended from modern Earth nations. Liberty is the USA, Bretonia is the UK, Rheinland is Germany, Kusari is Japan, and the Corsairs and Outcasts seem to be Spain and Latin America.
  • The Federation: All the houses, to some extent, but especially Liberty.
    • Except for possibly Rheinland during the story mode. Though The Nomads made them do it, and they get better after.
  • Fight Magnet: If you enter an area within scanner range of a battle between a faction you are hostile to and a faction they are hostile to, expect the furball to advance gradually in your general direction.
  • Flavor Text: The game has a lot to say about the backstory if one takes the time to read it, particularly for ships, factions, and locations. Docking with stations and planets will expand their details on the info screen, and those that are the headquarters of a faction usually have a few extra paragraphs about their history.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: One of the more recognisable instruments in the background music for Bretonia is a bell, which is both a reference to the Big Ben and an allusion to just how much of a Crapsack World Bretonia is in current-day Sirius. The battle tune adds considerable amounts of Ominous Latin Chanting into the mix.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Portable warp-engines for fighters and capital ships? What are those? What do you mean they were widely used for tactical purposes during the Coalition/Alliance war? I never heard of what you're talking about.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Oh so very, very much. Certain bar conversations in particular are fairly upfront, but special mention must go to one of the logs Trent has when the game starts, where he mentions the other Freeport 7 survivors talking about who could be behind it. Literally every theory they have about everyone except The Order is dead true.
    • During game installation, a little slideshow will play, telling the player-to-be about various planets presented in the game's universe, with Rheinland's space theme playing in the background.
    • During Mission 3, if you manage to destroy the Liberty Navy patrol that kills Brandon Rowlett, you can tractor in a special turret that isn't available anywhere else. This turret has two names; "Rowlett's Revenge" in the inventory screen, and "Nomad Prototype" in the loot tab on the HUD when it's dropped and before it's picked up. The latter name and the fact that destroying the patrol doesn't tarnish your reputation with the Liberty Navy strongly hint at upcoming events.
  • Future Food Is Artificial:
    • The Synth Food Paste; although nobody says it's nasty or disgusting, it did manage to sprout several farmer rebellions fighting for their right to grow their own organic crops.
    • The rebellion in Rheinland is more related to the methods of the company that produces Synth Food. A Rheinlander NPC accuses the company of crippling the economic livelihoods of farmers by taking down food costs and dumping chemicals into the soil and atmosphere, all as a means to cripple the survivors of Rheinland's economic collapse. The rebellion in Kusari, on the other hand, is financed by Samura Industries in order to suppress competition from foreign companies.
  • Game Mod: The highly moddable nature of the game has resulted in many mods, ranging from minor mods that add a handful of weapons or ships, to full-on total conversions. Some examples include:
    • Crossfire: This mod's primary claim to fame is the inclusion of a massive follow-up singleplayer campaign that takes place not too long after the conclusion of the original campaign, which eventually draws the colonies into encounters with the survivors of the Coalition, the Dom'Kavash themselves, and several other alien species. Secondary features include purchaseable cloaking devices, the inclusion of ships from Starlancer, more Class-10 guns, and flyable planetary atmospheres for a handful of planets related to the expanded singleplayer campaign.
    • Discovery Freelancer: One of the more famous mods, which focuses on multiplayer and role-play. In addition to making transports, gunboats, cruisers and battleships flyable, as well as adding a slew of features, such as a completely new, sixth House, every update to the mod advances the setting of the game by a few years, with the post-singleplayer timeline being written by a small team of fans.
    • The Equalizer: A mod that completely removes some Gameplay and Story Segregation by making all player-flyable ship types compatible with all equipment classes, which allows the player to do things such as mounting Class-10 equipment on a Patriot light fighter, as well as giving all purchaseable ships the same stats within each ship type.
    • Freeworlds: A Star Wars total conversion.
    • Genesis: Primarily focuses on re-adding Dummied Out content into the original game, although it also adds several ship variants and replaces or supplements some of the original ships with successor variants that have stats more suited for middle- and late-game exploration.
    • OpenSP: Disables the singleplayer campaign and allows the player to explore the entire Sirius Sector as they wish. While OpenSP is very simple in nature and adds absolutely no new content, its removal of the singleplayer campaign makes it a ubiquitous component in more ambitious mods, including most of the other mods listed above.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Important allies (at least the ones you know, like Juni, King and Herr von Claussen) can lose all shields and up to 90% hull integrity, but they cannot die.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • The most notable examples are the different house ships. The four houses (or five, if you consider the Outcasts and Corsairs as the "lost" house of Hispania) are told in game as being near-equal in terms of military prowess. Even more jarring in this aspect is a rumor that one can read in any Libertonian bar which states that Liberty is in a constant state of readiness and is able to fight two houses at once. On different fronts. However, the ships sold in Liberty space are far inferior to those you find in Rheinland, let alone the ones you can purchase in the Edge Worlds. One might even wonder how Liberty holds its lands from the other Houses when there are Space Pirates with clearly better ships than theirs. On the other hand, this is justified as the single-player campaign progresses linearly through the four houses while leaving the Edge Worlds for the player to explore after the end of the campaign and being able to purchase such good ships from the start would be a serious Disc-One Nuke.
    • The portrayal of some of the renegade factions is inconsistent between the story and the sandbox. Within the story, many are shown to be not so evil and fighting against legitimately corrupt government entities. Outside of the story, they are Always Chaotic Evil, and will invariably greet you with a bloodthirsty Pre-Mortem One-Liner and a flurry of lasers without provocation.
    • At the start of the second singleplayer mission, Juni arranges for a scanner and tractor beam to be installed on Trent's ship. In-game, however, no such event takes place, as both the scanner and tractor beam are already available right from the start, and they cannot be customised in any way except via Game Mods.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Zoners in Tau-37 are mentioned to be suffering from this, which is odd. While Tau-37 is fairly distant, it is hardly the most isolated location in the game and has a good connection to the core worlds. By comparison, Freeport 7 was in a much more hostile and isolated part of space.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: What the merry band of heroes are usually forced to do.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Kusari is full of this. The Japanese written on the signs often makes little sense, "Tekagi" is often pronounced "Takagi", and the Japanese "r" sound is usually just missing, among other things. The Gratuitous German in Rheinland is only a little more passable.
  • The Group: The Order. Subverted, as they're actually good guys fighting off an alien invasion in the shadows.
  • Guide Dang It!: If you're looking to acquire specific equipment, finding the few basesnote  that sell it can be quite a headachenote , and that's assuming the stuff can be purchased at all. The best fighters for instance are only available in a small handful of remote locations, most of which are operated by criminals that probably won't like you enough to trade with you if you didn't grind their rep beforehand. The most powerful weapons can only be found on wrecks and Nomad ships that are even more difficult to find without a guide. You also wouldn't be the first to waste countless hours looking for Class 10 turrets or the Paralyzer missile launcher, only to learn that they simply don't exist in an unmodded game.
  • Guns Akimbo: While shooting the Chancellor Trent does this because the Nomad controlling the former was centimetres away from taking control of Liberty President Jacobi. That, combined with Rule of Cool and the mission being a life-or-death one.
  • Gunship Rescue: Captain Marcus Walker flies in on a cruiser to save you and Juni during the initial flight from Liberty. This is overshadowed in the later stages of the single-player campaign by the Battleship Osiris de-cloaking right in the middle of two separate firefights and single-handedly blasting the stuffing out of everything attacking you and your allies while you dock with it.
  • Hammerspace Police Force: You hardly ever see the bulk of the militaries you're fighting, which generally show up during missions.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: There is only one faction in the game that can't be negotiated with, or bribed into liking you, under any circumstances: the Nomads. Since they are also the only non-human faction, and their only known goal is wiping out the humans who've invaded the Sirius sector, this is justified.
  • Hero of Another Story: Outcasts-related rumors will frequently mention someone called Santiago Llorenz. Apparently he is an Ace Pilot working for one of the main cartels. You can find stories of his exploits and discover that he is working on infiltrating the Cryer Pharmaceutical research station in the Sigma systems to free Outcasts held captive there.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Can be read on the occasional report in the Colony News Service.
    • The very first mission shows an attack by several Order fighters that destroys the Rheinland cruiser Donau and all aboard. As it turns out, the Order pilots were preventing the Nomads from infesting President Jacobi, but with the huge amount of defenses around Manhattan, they had to know it was a one-way mission.
    • Juni's good friend Captain Marcus Walker looks like he's done this when Trent and Juni are forced to flee Liberty space, staying behind at Manhattan with his cruiser squadron to buy Trent and Juni time to escape the authorities. He later does this for real when facing a fleet of Nomad-corrupted enemies after Trent and Juni have joined the Order.
    • Escort pilots with callsigns Lambda 4 and Lambda 5 do this when helping Trent and Juni escape the New York system to independent space.
    • Klaus Botzler, a Rheinlander who defects to oppose the Nomad-led conspiracy, uses Ramming Always Works to take out an entire shipyard full of alien experimental battleships.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: Missiles can be evaded if the target uses afterburners and kills engines. Averted with Cruise Disruptor missiles, however, as they travel much faster than cruise speed, which is the maximum possible velocity any ship in the game can reach.
  • Home Field Advantage: The Gas Mining Guild's main strategy in the 80 Years War was to lure the Rheinlanders into the Crow Nebula (the GMG's home turf), and then use their detailed knowledge thereof to trick them into explosive gas pockets and radiation fields and so on.
  • 100% Heroism Rating:
    • A faction with which you are "Friendly" will aid you in fights against factions they are Neutral towards, and won't attack you if you pick a fight with their allies.
    • Of course, if you pick too many fights with their allies, they will eventually stop being friendly.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal:
    • Your cargo bay, ammo, nanobots and shield batteries are strictly limited, but you have infinite storage for spare weapons and extra equipment.
    • From how small the areas around the docking ports of stations are, the docking bays must have to partially exist in Hammerspace to accommodate all of the fighters and transports that dock with them.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: The trade lanes.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The AI knows how to shoot missiles, and that speaks volumes in a game that makes it difficult for the player to use any missile, save cruise disruptors, effectively.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: You can hear a rumor about a pilot who managed to dock his burning ship with busted engines to a starbase by using only the momentum he gained from exiting the system's jump gate, which is quite some distance away from that base and doesn't directly point at it, to boot.
  • Industrial World: Leeds was heavily settled and industrialized due to its rich mineral wealth, leading to its current state as an overbuilt factory-world with a collapsed natural environment, a surface covered in mining, smelting, and manufacturing facilities and a sky constantly obscured by smog.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • All Class-10 equipment in general, but special mention goes to the Class-10 "CODENAME" guns, the Paralyser Missile Launcher and the Nomad guns.
    • Class-10 equipment is compatible with a grand total of three fighters, which can only be bought in four bases in the entire game; three of these bases are run by pirates. Class-10 shields are only sold on bases in the lawless Edge Worlds.
    • The CODENAME guns out-damage every other gun in the game, the Paralyzer Missile does the most shield damage out of any missile, and the Nomad guns consume no energy at all when fired, while delivering damage rates between Class-9 and Class-10 guns, so they can be fired forever. The catch? You can't buy them; you can only loot them from hidden wrecks typically found in the most dangerous parts of the Sirius Sector, such as the incredibly radioactive Von Rohe Belt in Omega-11, or the Nomad-infested portion of the Siniestre Cloud in Omicron Alpha, which is also radioactive. You can only get the Nomad guns by destroying the Nomads that randomly spawn near jump holes to Nomad-infested systems; they are also some of the most dangerous enemies in the game.
    • The Corsair M10 Titan is to ships as CODENAME guns are to other guns. By far the most expensive ship in the game, worth 776,340 credits, it's capable of tearing entire fleets by itself with its six gun mounts and capable of fitting Class 10 weapons, it's the strongest ship in the game in Trent's hands.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Class-8 and 9 guns, because they can be bought from some planets and stations, unlike Class-10 guns, which can only be looted from wrecks found in dangerous places. Also pulse cannons in general, because they do more shield damage than other gun types.
  • Information Broker: Every bar has a chance to host some random guy or gal who's willing to sell a random tidbit of intel for varying amounts of credits. This includes things like the location of shipwrecks or jump holes, everything there is to know about some space station or planet, and on rare occasions even recon data on an entire star system.
  • Invisible Aliens: There are alien artifacts, and the game's storyline is orchestrated by sentient parasitic aliens believed to be created by the aliens who created said artifacts to protect Sirius from unauthorized trespassing.
  • It's Up to You: NPC's you escort insist on docking with trade lanes, etc. after you. In the single-player mode, enemy fire tends to concentrate more on you (which is for the better, considering the numerous Escort Missions).
  • Jack-of-All-Stats:
    • Neutron weapons generally combine good damage, medium range and medium refire rates with comparatively low power draw, making them a well-rounded weapon type suited to any situation. All other weapon types tend to specialize in one or two stats at the expense of others.
    • Out of the three Class 10 Very Heavy Fighters, the Sabre is basically this - not as agile but more heavily armored than the Eagle, yet quicker and somewhat less resilient than the Titan, with the heaviest forward-facing firepower of all three.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: People in Rheinland and Kusari seem to speak English, respectively, with a strong German and Japanese accent.
  • Large Ham: Tobias seems to monopolize pork products among major characters in this game.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: The Liberty Police are a private corporation who fund their operations with consumer goods produced by prison labor.
  • Level-Locked Loot: Ship, shield and weapon purchases are level-locked, and the shields and weapons can only be mounted on ships with hardpoints that can accommodate the same class number or higher.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Eagle Very Heavy Fighter combines the best weapon and shield hardpoints given to any ship, the second best reactor, and incredible maneuverability, surpassing nearly all other heavy and very heavy fighters, and even some light fighters.
    • The Bounty Hunter Hammerhead Very Heavy Fighter is nearly as potent as the Eagle, with the only comparable maneuverability in its class, and the ability to equip all but the very best gear.
    • In the main story, the Bounty Hunter Barracuda Heavy Fighter is the only real competition to the Anubis, as both mount up to class six weapons, but while the Anubis is a Mighty Glacier that supplements its six guns with a turret, the Barracuda is much more maneuverable.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: Pretty much the entire plot.
  • Living Legend: Given his age, his status as Prefect of the Honshu System, and his numerous contacts within Kusari, Rheinland, the Blood Dragons and The Order, Lord Hakkera qualifies.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away...: The opening movie makes it clear that Humanity comes from the Earth, the place names refer to actual locations on Earth, etc. Yet, Planet Earth is never mentioned in the entire game. A cut version of the intro shows that the original storyline had the Earth destroyed by aliens.
  • MacGuffin: The alien artifact. For 90% of the game, what it is or does has no real bearing on the plot.
  • Master of None: The Bounty Hunter's "Hammerhead" Very Heavy Fighter. It has lower armor (and, resultantly, fewer shield batteries and Nanobots) than the Eagle, the Sabre, or the Titan, does not mount Class 10 guns, and lacks the forward-facing turret that makes the Sabre stand out. While its turning speed does equal that of the Eagle, it is worse than the Eagle in all other respects.
  • The Missing Faction: House Hispania, better known as the Outcasts and the Corsairs.
  • Mission Control: Literally. You'll be dealing with them quite a lot when doing certain mission types.
  • Mordor/Polluted Wasteland:
    • Planet Leeds, and the system around it, is an industrial hell.
    • Planet Houston is a penal colony.
    • And it doesn't stop there. Planet Chisos, one of many planets you can't land on, is a world of burning days and freezing nights, which has what looks like volcanic fissures. Planet Schutz is a volcanic world that is being melted by the dying red giant it orbits.
  • More Dakka: All of the Liberty Rogue guns sacrifice damage and energy efficiency for extremely high refire rates. To a smaller extent, Liberty, Kusari, the Blood Dragons, The Order and the Bounty Hunters Guild also manufacture such weapons, although they also make heavier and slower-firing weapons in tandem.
  • Motive Decay: Plenty of criminal factions in the game had principles or political ideals at some point in their formative histories, but by the present day in-game, they're basically all just bloodthirsty Space Pirates. Some, like the Blood Dragons, have done a better job than others at resisting this.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Crooks keep ambushing you or demanding that you drop your cargo even when your kill count is in the thousands and their ship is the wimpiest in the game.
    • Also, there's a place in the Corsair home system where young pilots go for the final trial. This area contains Nomads, who enter through a Jump Hole from the Unknown systems. It's called the Graveyard of the Innocents.
  • Mysterious Backer: The Outcasts seem to be this for The Order. Once the story gets into full swing, they and every faction allied with them become at least neutral and remain that way unless antagonized.
  • Nanomachines: The Nanobots that instantly repair your hull in case it gets wrecked. They don't do anything for you, though.
  • N.G.O. Superpower:
    • The GMG fought an eighty-year-long war with Rheinland and won with some assistance from Kusari and utilising their knowledge of the Crow Nebula to their advantage, causing Rheinland to lose more ships to the nebula than to them.
    • The Corsairs and the Outcasts are subversions. Both are massive forces of pirates and privateers engaged in all manner of illegal activity and skirmishes with lawful authorities ... when they're in the colonies. They both have governments and entire home planets back in the remote Omicron systems, of which they are fiercely protective. While no House will recognize them as legitimate for obvious reasons, their governments do exist.
  • No Hero Discount: Massively averted with Order equipment — you can buy an entire fitted-out heavy fighter from them for about $2000, which is about what your very first beginner-tier ship cost just to buy with no gear.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The plot makes it very clear that Trent and Juni will always be just friends.
  • Noodle Incident: Trent and King have one each to their name. Part of the reason why Trent left Bretonia in the first place was because he somehow managed to annoy the entire Bretonian government. As for King, he apparently botched a capture attempt by accidentally killing the target sometime before the third mission of the singleplayer campaign; it is only mentioned once by Juni, near the end of said mission, and was never brought up again for the rest of the campaign.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • The launch pads of many bases and planets seem to be somewhat lacking in safety barriers. Kusari and Bretonian battleships are examples of the few aversions to this trope, whereas Liberty-constructed battleships are examples of the game taking this trope Up to Eleven.
    • In-universe, Bretonia Mining and Manufacturing is infamous for this. One of the news releases about them mentions them giving animal feed as rations for their Leeds workers, and saying that they thought it would be okay because the pollution on Leeds would have killed their senses of taste and smell anyway. That last bit might be true, considering that BMM's operations on Leeds have generated entire nebulae of smog. One IMG rep comments that BMM will "work you to an early death and then dock your pay for sleeping on the job when you keel over".
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • Trent is ostensibly Bretonian, and his father-figure Tobias has a rather prominent British accent, but Trent himself sounds American.
    • Many NPCs don't really speak in the accent of the place they're from. This is only strange because some of them do.
    • Herr von Claussen. He speaks with a distinctly French accent, despite that fact that (a) he's from Rheinland, (b) his only real foreign contact is Lord Hakkera from Kusari, and (c) France was utterly annihilated in the Coalition-Alliance war.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Forced by making the missiles highly avoidable and thus pretty much useless.
  • One-Man Army: Herr von Klaussen has 500 kills to his name ... and by the time you meet him, you should be somewhere near his kill count as well, with at least one additional battleship kill to your name.
  • The Only One: Once you reach the second half, it's not rare to take out entire fleets by yourself after all your partners have been pummeled.
  • One World Order: To some degree; there are no "planet countries", but there are "planet towns", and these states are part of a "system state", which is in turn part of a system-spanning country.
  • Opening the Sandbox: Although the game takes breaks here and there to let you do some local freelancing, Sirius doesn't open up completely until you've finished the story missions. At that point you'll have seen most systems in the game, but there are still many yet to be explored with greater challenges and rewards.
  • Outlaw Town: Pirates and other outlaws usually conduct their operations in any given system in bases concealed in debris fields and gas clouds away from trade lanes and areas populated by law-abiding folk. Two of the largest outlaw factions - the Corsairs and the Outcasts - even each have an entire planet to call their own, way off the beaten path deep in uncharted space.
  • Outrun the Fireball:
    • In the single player campaign, any station Trent sets foot on has roughly a two-thirds chance of being blown up within two minutes, so he becomes a professional at this.
    • Then again, one station had the courtesy of not exploding until the player decided to take off, giving plenty of time to repair, purchase some gear (despite the station being abandoned), save the game or even take a short break.
    • Here a list of the places that blew up after Trent set foot on it: Freeport 7, Benford Research Station, the Planet Sprague dig site and Docking Ring, Baxter Research Station, Tekagi's Arch and Planet Toledo. Crikey.
  • Paradise Planet: Planet Gaia, a rich, green world of plants and animals the likes of which have not been found anywhere else in the Sirius Sector, with an environment compared to that of Earth 200 million years ago. It is currently under the control of Cambridge Research Institute, which seeks to create a genetic catalogue of all Gaia's native species, though a small number of tourist visas are available to guests of the nearby Orbital Luxury Liner Shetland. Unfortunately, rumors of the aphrodisiac qualities of certain animals have generated a prevalent poaching industry, and Gaia's tourism industry can sometimes create misplaced sympathy for the Gaian Eco Terrorists.
  • Pass Through the Rings: The race with Dexter Hovis.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If you do not buy the Anubis very heavy fighter from the Order during the story, or sell it later, you will never, ever be able to get another. Similarly, if you destroy, sell, or lose any of the tier 10 "code weapons", they can also never be replaced.
  • Pinned To The Chair: How Ozu dies.
  • Planet of Hats: Nearly everyone on Malta (the Outcast homeworld) is involved with the Cardamine trade in some way. Justified by the fact that the Cardamine trade is so profitable for the Outcasts that even field hands on Malta can live in luxury.
  • Planet Ville: The planets are even named after cities or regions.
  • Plasma Cannon: Plasma weapons deal more damage than anything else in their respective class, but they have slow refire rates, slow projectile velocity, short range and a voracious energy hunger. In other words, they're Difficult, but Awesome if you figure out how to use them right. Most players are better off without them, though, mostly because their projectile velocity doesn't synergize well with any other weapon type.
  • Playable Epilogue: The game, while technically a Wide Open Sandbox, spends most of its story mode with you trapped in the current area, either by the Sorting Algorithm of Evil ahead and burned bridges behind, or later by unskippable missions into storyline-only systems. After you finish the storyline, however, the game becomes a true Wide Open Sandbox.
  • Portal Network: Jump gates and jump holes allow any ship that activates them to travel across entire star systems within a few seconds.
  • Port Town: A lot of staging areas within missions.
  • Power Up Let Down: Often, a nominally better ship will be less effective than its predecessor due to hidden stats, most often maneuverability, but sometimes subgroup placement (missiles and torpedoes do damage over a small area and every subgroup they hit also does hitpoint damage to the ship overall, in addition to causing Subsystem Damage and potentially breaking off a section of the ship and any weapons attached to it). For example, the Rheinland Banshee light fighter is, on paper, the best light fighter in the game, with the best reactor and the best weapon and shield mounts, but in practice, it's generally inferior to the lighter Kusari Drake, which is the most maneuverable light fighter in the game, and light fighters live and die on their maneuverability. The most extreme case, however, is probably the Startracker, the upgraded version of the starting Starflier fighter. While the Starflier is extremely maneuverable and has few subgroups, the Startracker is the least maneuverable light fighter in the game, and has many closely packed subgroups that will cause it to take massive damage if it takes a missile up the tailpipe.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Trent not so much, but the enemies in non-storyline missions occasionally break these out. It's almost, but not quite, intimidating.
    "When I'm done with you there won't be anything left to ID!"
    "I'm going to use what's left of you to grease my ship!"
    "Mess with the viper, and you'll get the fangs!"
    • Herr Von Claussen also does this. Twice, and the second time to the Nomads.
    "And still he attacks! Rheinlander, don't you see? Today you will die."
    "For every spirit there's a proper place in Hell!"
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The Nomads.
  • Ramming Always Works: Averted, since most collisions only do Scratch Damage. However, apparently Klaus Botzler had epic success with this as he pulled a Taking You with Me on an entire fleet of Nomad battleships in drydock.
  • Randomly Drops: Everything. Metal debris, consumables, thrusters, fuel, ammunition, cargo, and even weapons. In fact, weapons tractored in from enemy wreckage might make up a combat-based player's entire arsenal. Averted with shield generators, as the ones that NPC use are scaled-down versions of what the player can buy and is expected to use.
  • Red Herring:
    • You get bad intelligence more than once in the single-player campaign, which imposes some feeling of urgency (an element good to have in a game where you can take your jolly time lolly-gagging around between most of the missions). On the other hand, intelligence tends to be pretty accurate as long as they harp about you possibly encountering enemies.
    • And in some missions, you don't even get intel from the get-go. That being justified because at those points there is no intel to rely on because you're not with an organization to provide any.
    • The most efficient way to explore star systems is to pull up the patrol map and set a waypoint where lots of patrol routes converge. There's almost always something of interest there... except when there isn't.
  • Refusal of the Call: For the first quarter or so of the game, Trent has little interest in current events beyond taking jobs for Juni while he waits for Lonnigan to get better so he can cash in on their deal. He is also remarkably disinterested in the blatant foreshadowing being thrown at him from all sides.
  • La Résistance: Most prominently, the Blood Dragons and the Order, although there are several other groups in the game which fit the description, such as the Bundschuh in Rheinland and possibly the Lane Hackers in Liberty.
  • Retired Badass: Tobias is a retired Bretonia Armed Forces pilot who made a humble living as the owner of the Leeds Equipment Dealer and had apprenticed Trent prior to the story. When he comes to your rescue when you have to flee Bretonia, it looks like his piloting skills haven't changed a bit.
  • Run or Die: Happens with some frequency in the single-player campaign, as enemies start to send entire fleets against you. However, the greatest example in the campaign comes early on, as Trent and Juni are subjected to a Frame-Up and forced to flee Liberty space — as soon as you launch from Planet Manhattan, everything else around you is immediately hostile and a massive swarm of military fighters and capital ships gang up to pour More Dakka upon your outmatched entry-level craft until you can reach Bretonian space.
  • Say My Name: All over the place in the singleplayer campaign.
    Juni: "And this must be-"
    Lord Hakkera: "HERR VON CLAUSSEN! You are here at last! Do you have the plans?"
  • Scavenger World: The Junkers. This faction thrives on and cleans up the waste left behind by the Houses during the foundation of their infrastructure (including some mishaps) and while the House authorities acknowledge this, the Junkers are not exactly liked either because their bases are safe havens for criminals, thus resulting in the House authorities having to deal with more pirates.
  • Scenery Porn: The gorgeous backgrounds more than make up for the otherwise lackluster graphics.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: If you really think about it, the planets (even gas giants and moons) all seem to be about 5 km across, and space stations can exceed one km. Also, the suns are smaller than the planets, and the solar systems seem to be about 100 to 150 km across. The excuse that the units of measurement are clearly resized only gets you so far.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Enemy ships that were spawned randomly (i.e. not as part of a mission) may attempt to break away from a fight and flee if they sustain too much damage. So as a result, the player can spare an enemy ship when they almost reduce it to dust, and said ship would announce that it's leaving and engage its cruise engines, not wanting to deal with the player any longer.
  • Secret Level: There are two 'Unknown' jumpholes, one in Omicron Alpha and one in Omicron Gamma. They each lead to systems where you are besieged by endless waves of Nomads. The one connecting to Omicron Alpha is heavily radioactive, features a background that could fit Scenery Porn and a dust ring around the single star, but is other devoid of any objects. The other system, connecting to Omicron Gamma, features a background that resembles a warp tunnel, a star that you can fly into without getting killed and two planets that you can dock with.
  • Sequence Breaking: Over the course of the main story, it's entirely possible to do such nonsense as regaining permission to land on Liberty worlds and dock with their battleships during the part of the game where you're supposed to be the most wanted criminal in Liberty by abusing the faction relations system - hunt enough pirates and you'll be back in Liberty's good graces long before the story says so.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Many of the planets in the game are like this, with what is basically a single hue defining their habitat types. Planet Leeds, for instance, or Planet Junyo. Most of the others are fairly Earthlike, exemplified above.
  • Sorting Algorithm Of Ship Effectiveness: The various ships in Freelancer are usable at certain player levels. The individual ships get stronger and capable of carrying more (and better) equipment as the player's level increases, which corresponds roughly to the order in which the story focuses on various colonies (Liberty, Bretonia, Kusari, Rheinland, with Civilian/Border World/Pirate-built ships scaling all the way to the top tier).
    • This leads to some serious Fridge Logic when one realizes that Liberty military ships are some of the weakest in the entire game and the Liberty-made end-game civilian fighters (like the Eagle) hopelessly outclass them in every way.
    • Most notably, the Liberty Cruiser's main gun — which in cut-scenes can destroy battleships and space stations in seconds — is surpassed by the guns you can buy for your fighter a few levels later.
  • Space Clouds: There are numerous nebulae that the player can travel through. The Honshu system even has a light blue nebula enveloping the entire system, looking like a bright, sunny day on Earth.
  • Space Compression: The game makes no attempt to hide this, with distances clearly labeled in meters. By this metric, planets and satellites measure around 1-3 km in diameter, and the distances between them measure in tens of kilometers.
  • Space Flecks: Common in nebulae and fields. There are tiny specks that convey parallax, and sometimes larger debris that does Scratch Damage and, in some cases, will yield raw materials if destroyed.
  • Space Friction: You have a top speed for engines, a top speed for afterburners, and a top speed for cruising. Inertia somehow remains nearly constant (though a little Space Friction creeps on it) when you kill your engines, though. You are not expected to understand this.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Most elements of this trope are in effect: planar space, clearly-defined directions, the prevalence of naval terminology, etc.
  • Space Mines: Any ship with a Mine Dropper can drop singular mines that home on targets. From the small and cheap Drone mine to the mighty and destructive Ripper mine, these have the unique quality of being Classless, and as such, any ship, no matter how small or weak, can fit them. The Houses have also deployed lethal minefields around important locations, like prisons, or the Jump Gate that connects New York and Alaska. The latter Mines are also far deadlier, capable of blowing even Titans to pieces.
  • Space Pirates: All over the place. Some are more piratey, and some are more radical than criminal.
    • The Lane Hackers and Liberty Rogues are your standard western style highwaymen.
    • The Corsairs are something like Spanish privateers.
    • The Xenos are more of xenophobic terrorists than pirates.
    • The Outcasts are technically smugglers, though they do some piracy once in a while.
    • The Bundschuh, Blood Dragons, Golden Chrysanthemums, and Mollys are rebels to their respective governments and not so much pirates, and thus appropriately labelled as terrorists.
    • The Red Hessians and Farmer's Alliance are not so much pirates as really viciously competitive.
      • The Red Hessians were ideologically-motivated rebels/terrorists, but have since degenerated to being common criminals; the Farmers' Alliance, whatever they may think they are fighting for, are probably just pawns of Samura.
  • Space Police: Each house has its own law enforcement forces, and there's also the Liberty Security Force (LSF), kinda like the Space FBI.
  • Spiritual Successor: The game is one to the Privateer spinoff of the Wing Commander series, also developed by Chris Roberts.
    • Underspace, created by well-known Elder Scrolls modder Trainwiz, is currently under development. It's also a successor to his extremely weird Freelancer mod, v/Lancer.
  • Sprint Meter: The afterburners. Sometimes the only thing between you and a quick and painful death. Their momentum can be abused in different ways, including making your missiles move faster.
  • Stealth in Space: Mostly used by Rheinland's ships, albeit only in the campaign.
  • Stone Wall: The Corsair Titan has the most hull points of any playable ship and the most energy to feed its weapons. However, it has neither the maneuverability of the Eagle nor the forwards-firing turret mount of the Saber (nor can its turret be brought to bear as easily as the Eagle's), giving it the worst practical firepower of end-game very heavy fighters.
  • Stop Poking Me!: You can hail random, non-hostile ships, who will inform you of their designation, which planet/station they hail from, and what they are doing. Hail them more than once too quickly and they will either tell you they have no more information to provide or, in the case of pirate pilots, call you out on it, eventually ignoring your repeated attempts at hailing them.
  • Strange Bedfellows: It can be a Guide Dang It! moment, but killing Xenos for an improved reputation with opposing factions actually does have a significant drawback — it angers the Zoners, of all people, who must have struck up an Odd Friendship with the Xenos despite their mutually opposite philosophies. Even better, there's no way to get back in the Zoners' good books since they have no other actual allies to help or enemies to run missions against, and the Zoners themselves will not let you dock if they get hostile to you, so you may end up stuck having to fork over tens of thousands of credits in some other port to get your record hacked and allow you to dock with a Freeport again.
  • Straw Feminist: Zigzagged with the Golden Chrysanthemums. On the one hand, they are an all-female organization whose stated intention is to overthrow the current Kusari government and establish a matriarchy. On the other hand, they maintain a very close relationship with the masculine Blood Dragons. It's unclear whether this is just a long-running Enemy Mine setup or a true alliance. On the other other hand of this mutant monstrosity, the G.C. also require all their members to get addicted to Cardamine and treat their founder as an explicitly religious prophet.
  • Sucking In Particles: Cruise engines do this when they are charging. One of the first tell-tale signs that the ship's pilot is about to wing it.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Dom'Kavash are explicitly identified as this by Word of God.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence:
    • Enemy ships will attempt to flee, with appropriate Enemy Chatter (Nomads excluded), if your cash-based level and equipment is vastly higher than theirs, they are outnumbered by about five to one, they have no more weapons, and/or they have their armor rating reduced to 1%. Most of the time, however, they will fight to the death.
    "I'm not engaging. They're just too tough right now."
    "Breaking off attack. They've got too much going for them."
    "I'm out of here. My weapons are all gone!"
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Shield types versus gun types. There are three shield types and seven gun types. Each shield type will reduce damage from two or three different gun types, while increasing damage from two or three of the other gun types. None of the shield types share a common resistance or weakness.note  The eighth gun type, consisting of the NPC-restricted Nomad Laser, the CODENAME guns obtained from looting some wrecks and Nomad Energy Blasters and Nomad Energy Cannons salvaged from Nomads loitering in Omicron Alpha, Omicron Gamma and the two Unknown systems, are the only weapons that avert this trope completely.
  • Take Your Time: Invoked whenever a single-player mission dialog has a "Decline" button. Similarly, every time you unlock the next campaign mission by leveling up through financial means, you can dawdle as much as you want regardless of how urgently your Quest Giver needs your help.
  • Taking You with Me: If an enemy gets destroyed at close to medium range but not blown up instantly, they'll often go kamikaze on your ship with their last breath. This happens so fast that it's very difficult to evade most of the time, but since Ramming Always Works is not in effect in this game, the worst it usually does is throw you off course for a second or two. However, Gameplay and Story Segregation leads to some spectacular instances of this trope played straight in the story.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: Liberty Ale. Rumor has it it's made from H-fuel byproducts. It's more likely, however, to be made from the byproducts of Synth Paste production.
  • Timed Mission: The Nomad power core mission.
    • Certain segments of other missions have hidden timers that result in a mission failure if you take too long, particularly if you've been told to dock with a specific object.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Most planets and locations are named after actual locations on Earth, with each nation's planets being named for locations in the countries they're Fantasy Counterpart Cultures of.
    • Most Liberty battleships are not only named after US states, like real American battleships were, they mostly share named with Battleships that were in service during World War II.
    • Various faction ships each have a theme.
      • Bounty Hunter fighters are increasingly large predatory fish.
      • Basic civilian fighters all start with "Star" and sound explorer-like.
      • Advanced civilian fighters are named after increasingly large birds of prey.
      • Outcast fighters are named after increasingly large bladed weapons.
      • Corsair fighters are named after ancient Roman military ranks, though once they couldn't come up with a more impressive sounding rank than Centurion, their very heavy fighter is called the Titan.
      • Generic pirate fighters are named after predatory canines and end in -hound.
      • Liberty fighters have patriotic names.
      • Kusari fighters are named after kinds of dragons.
      • Bretonian fighters have knightly names.
      • Rheinlander fighters are named after mythological women associated with death.
      • Freighters, regardless of origin, are named after beasts of burden, save for the Liberty Rhino and Kusari Drone.
    • Similarly, weapon families tend to have themed names.
      • Standard missiles are named after increasingly advanced projectiles, starting with Javelin and culminating in Cannonball. Homing missiles, AKA the Stalker family, all end in "-stalker".
      • Kusari lasers are named after increasingly large Japanese blade weapons — Tanto, Wakizashi, Katana and Gendaito.
      • Bounty Hunter weapons have a Wild West theme going on, with names like Winchester and Gunslinger.
      • Rogues weapons bear angelic names like Raphael, Usiel or Badariel.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Could more accurately be called Jump Holes as the Plot Demands. Whenever Trent & Co. need to get from point A to point B and can't take the conventional route, it's guaranteed that someone knows of a jump hole nearby that will take them right where they need to go. Usually it's just far enough for an ambush or two along the way.
  • Truce Zone:
    • The Freeports.
    • In a minor example, Junker bases, though they only apply to criminals (except for the Xenos).
    • This does not, however, prevent rival factions from opening fire on each other (and you) outside the base.
  • 2-D Space:
    • Everything, and that is everything, is within the same plane.
    • Except one star in one of the Tau systems and another in one of the Unknown systems.
  • Universal Pilot's License: Flying a freighter is undoubtedly very different from flying a Heavy Fighter, and the different houses probably have different control schemes for their ships, but Trent has no problem flying anything you buy for him.
  • Used Future: While humanity's technology doesn't look outright dilapidated, most stations and ships have a very metallic, utilitarian design, which ties into the overall feeling of being in a gritty industrial Crapsack World.
  • Variable Mix: If you hear a faster-paced version of the normal BGM, better ready your guns, or you'll get smoked!
  • Violation of Common Sense:
    • If you disregard King's instruction to re-enter formation with the USV Brandt in the very first singleplayer mission, you can hang around and try to shoot down some more pirates for a short period of time. If you do actually shoot down extra pirates during said period, King will praise you for incidentally shooting down a wanted pirate and gives you the bounty on that pirate in addition to your regular mission reward.
    • Prior to the start of the third singleplayer mission, you will bear witness to the overwhelming stopping power of a Moonstalker Macross Missile Massacre on a hapless Freeport 7 survivor. You can follow his killer's instructions and continue your journey to the starting point of the mission ... or you can decide that honor goes before reason, and attempt to avenge the survivor's death by attacking them. This will put you on the receiving end of their Moonstalker barrage, which at that stage in the game translates to a One-Hit Kill on whatever ship you can get your hands on, but if you do kill them, they each have a chance of dropping a unique and powerful early-game mountable turret that you cannot obtain through any other means.
  • Warp Whistle: The Trade Lanes, the Jump Gates and the Jump Holes. They even make a whistling noise as you go through.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Liberty Cruisers have a huge frontal cannon, rapidly firing big blasts of energy, and having enough firepower to demolish other capital ships and space stations... at least in scripted sequences. Its actual damage stats in game are lower than that of a mediocre fighter gun.
  • The War Sequence: Pretty much the entire second half of the storyline. A notable instance is Trent, Juni, and three Outcast pilots up against an entire Rheinland fleet at the mid-point of the game.
  • Wham Line:
    • Right in the middle of a losing battle with some Bounty Hunters during the single-player campaign:
    "Bounty hunter ships! Cease fire! These two are under the protection of the Lane Hackers!"
    • Trent asking Colonel Kress who he works for.
    "The Order."
    • Lord Hakkera telling Juni what happened to Lieutenant Ozu.
    "He was killed by a Nomad."
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing:
    • It's rare but possible for a mission target to be located inside a sun corona. If this happens, simply coming close enough for the enemy ships to spawn results in an instant victory as they are fried by the heat.
    • Some enemies spawn inside hazardous areas, like minefields or radiation zones. These tend to die, too, but more slowly.
    • Similar things tend to happen in almost every game if random spawns can happen inside hazardous areas and enemies are not immune to environmental effects. Very few A.I.s survive that — one of the reasons why they are usually granted immunity to the environment.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Quite a few times during the single-player campaign, and whenever this trope is invoked, a Heroic Sacrifice usually follows. For instance, Lambda 4 and Lambda 5 drawing fire from West Point Military Academy and its reinforcements during your flight from Liberty. Neither survived.

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