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If you haven't picked up the [free years subscription] version yet, please do.  --Vitenka

Ok, let's expand this.

AnarchyOnline is an MMORPG - a direct clone of EverQuest? in fact.  InSpace.

They are currently (WikiNow - the offer lasts until "Free subscription at least until 15/1 - 2008") giving away a free years subscription of a slightly crippled version (no expansions, certain abilities locked out) to anyone who wants one.  No catch, no CreditCard? details asked for or given.  They just hope you like it so much that you buy the epansions and start paying.

And... I'm actually playing it.  And enjoying it.  Save me!
ChrisHowlett now has an account.

Basic plot: In TheFuture? earth sends out a colony to terraform a new planet.  Big oppressive corporation does a half-decent job of it, but a bunch of people rebel.  They fight.  Then aliens invade, so a bunch of both sides team up to stop them.  Also, it's set far enough in the future that braintaping and cloning have defeated death (nice rationale for the respawn system, no?)
There is actually quite a large backstory, involving a split dimension.  Which isn't just an excuse for having multiple servers.  --Vitenka (ExpansionPack?-less, so can't say much more)

You do the usual stuff, teaming up and fighting things - you even have magic (nanotech, they call it)  Some of this fighting is outdoors, some is in dungeon type areas - most is in missions.
Downtime is minimal, healing is quick and easily available - though a dedicated healer is a must for the harder missions.
Missions are kinda samey - but give you an instanced dungeon with an objective.
There ARE fixed quests in the world - but they are fairly few and far between.

The game is very pretty for its age - and looks reasonable even today.  It can use the standard fps keyset out of the box.

The newbie experience is good - dedicated help channels and a good training zone.  (In fact, multiple good training zones - when you leave the first you can go straight into the main game, or train more if you prefer)  Only real problem is that they are instanced - people are making new characters so often right now that you are unlikely to be able to meet with people you know until after you leave.  You can chat to them though.
Apparently the area with the teleporters (next to the battlefield, through which you leave training) is not instanced, so you can meet your friends there; if you make a team and walk back out together, you all end up in the same instance. You do, however, need to be on the same dimension (= server). --SMcV
Addition - if you team up in the character creation zone then you end up in the same instance.  Instancing is also used in many of the dungeons so learning how to defeat it early on is important.  --Vitenka

The faction system is another pain here - unless you have multiple characters, you have to know what faction your friends have joined, or be unable to play together until level 40 or so.  (There are 200 levels, so this is a reasonable chunk of the game)

Consensual pvp exists.  NON consensual pvp exists in a few 'control' zones - mostly near faction towns.  This is... odd.  And you can't take control of zones without a guild and an expansion pack.
It is painful.  Switch to the 'huge map' as soon as you can, and avoid those little green crosses that mark 'land control areas' like the plague, until you know what you are doing.  --Vitenka

Levelling is FAST.  As in 'a level every 5 minutes' fast.  But it takes about 5 levels before you notice a difference in power, and groups with a spread of 10 or even 15 aren't unusual.  Grouping is faster - but due to the missions system, soloing is viable.
As expected, this slows down later.  Around level 60 it's a level a half hour.  Also as expected, some people twink and powerlevel past the early game.  Ignore those people.  --Vitenka

The system is level based, but with some customisations.  Each level you get a bunch of skill points which you spend - and depending upon your class some things are cheaper.  Some classes get lots of crafting skills, but most can barely afford to keep up with the vital skills.

(The vital skills are: All your basic attributes, since everything else is based on them.  Then whichever combat skills you are using.  Then your run speed.  Then you nanotech skills (EVERY class has SOME nano they want to use) And then everyone says put a bunch into map reading.  And you NEED treatment and computer use as high as you can get them, and first aid is nice and adventuring for backpack use and... you get the idea)  Don't forget to spend your skill points on newbie island!
You can, thankfully, save points up.  There are periodic stops where you cannot spend more in an attribute until a certain level - these let you bank some points for later.

And you CAN reset your skill points, but it takes a while.
The pinch points are levels 19-23, levels 40-47 and probably again just before 100.  At those points you won't have enough points.  Then you hit a new 'title level' and the number of points you get per level go up massively.  And nano's are what define your class, so you really do want them.  --Vitenka

Anyway.  Come meet me in game.  if nothing else, it's like IRC with monsters to watch :)

If you need to know what factions the people you want to play with are in before you can play with them in general, should you possibly tell us what faction you are in so people can make the right choices?
I said I'm addicted, right?  I've got one on each :)  Omni is probably easier for newbies though.  Neutral is probably the hardest, since it really relies upon an expansion pack which freebie players don't have.  --Vitenka  (Slap me for a newbie.  RK2 (Rimor, Rubi-Ka 2) server.  Hard to meet up without that.)

Vitenka should add that as of WikiNow, he's not played for months.  One critical problem IMHO with the game is that the 'baseline' of play has moved up a long way - in order to be effective in a group you need to be have very good items for your level - ... which are only available if a group is at your command.  (You have to roll missions for them.)  This is a bit of a cycle, unless you're willing to be twinked.

Just a heads-up to 'tenka. My playing may be curtailed this week, as I need to get everything I would usually do on a Saturday done beforehand so that the Morningtide prerelease doesn't make things get backed up. But I hope to get to Rome on Monday anyway! --CH



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