To the humans of the 3rd millennium, owning a spaceship is like owning a car was to their 21st century-ancestors. Space itself may be a vacuum, but in C-110, it is sprawling with life: small shuttles like the Starflier or Startracker are available to even the lesser-off citizens of the colonies and are often used for inter-city or in-system travel; giant freighters and transports piloted by corporate employees cloud the sky; mercenaries showcase their newest Eagles, Rocs and - if they are really wealthy - Raven's Talons; Gunboats accompany majestic Cruisers, Carriers and Battleships commissioned by the most distinguished military officers.
Of course many groups jealously guard their ships and technology, especially that of a military nature; for more information see the ship tech chart.
When purchased, Transport, Gunboat, Cruiser and Battleship class vessels will show up as a "Freighter" on the ship purchase dialog. This is because the Freelancer game itself was never intended to have these ship classes available to players, and cannot be fixed. Refer to the info card to review the actual ship class.
Ships of independent Faction: Independent ships
Civilian ships: Civilian ships
A fighter is a (para)military spaceship primarily designed for attacking other small vessels. Fighters are comparatively small, fast, and maneuverable. They are one of the most commonly used class of ships in the Colonies. The Fighter class is split into 4 subclasses:
Light Fighters are the most nimble craft among the Fighter class. They are extremely agile, but this comes at the price of heavy armor and firepower. Light Fighters are used for racing, scout missions, intercepting heavier Fighter and Bomber vessels and civilian transport.
Heavy Fighters are a hybrid class between Light Fighters and Very Heavy Fighters. They are more agile than the latter, and pack more armor and gun slots than the former. They are sometimes used in interceptor roles, though often overlooked in favor of their bigger brothers.
Very Heavy Fighters are the tools of trade of military pilots and elite security personnel. They are fairly well armored and can rain down blazing death upon their enemies; especially Bombers will quickly fall victim to their guns, and others, like the Rogue Werewolf come close to ultralight Gunboat-Bomber hybrids.
Super Heavy Fighters are rather unique ships; some of them, like the Spatial, are deep space reconnaissance craft. The only things they all have in common are their low Bomber-like agility, a huge powerplant and the thickness of their hull plates.
Bombers are military vessels built to take on heavier ships like Transports and Capital Ships. They are often recognised by having Bomber Torpedoes which deal massive damage in a single hit. Bombers can be equipped with Bomber guns which, while being rather ineffective against fighters and other Bombers, can seriously hurt larger ships, which in turn often employ Fighter and Gunboat wings to fend off approaching bombers.
As their name indicates, cargo ships are used to move cargo through space. They are divided into three classes:
Freighters are more agile, but much smaller than Transports. They are mostly used by small-time entrepreneurs and independent traders who cannot afford a larger "cashcow" (a fairly common slang term for Transport).
Transports are big, heavy beasts of burden. They are about as agile as a brick, and their turrets pose nearly no threat to marauding pirates, but they can carry gargantuan amounts of cargo. Because of their high profit generation capabilities, they are prime targets for pirates, and thus, corporations often employ fighter wings as "bodyguards", but with little success.
Liners are large, slightly more defended ships specifically designed to transport people- although they are capable of filling their holds with other commodities as well. Most factions do not have access to Liners, and those that do have it specifically listed on their ID. For other purposes, a liner is exactly like a transport, just with more armor and firepower.
Gunboats and Gunships
Gunboat is the designation given to the smallest and most agile class of warships. Like other warships, they are rather restricted in who can be sold one. However, Freelancers, Mercenaries, and those with strong factional ties have been known to pilot these. The term Gunships is sometimes used to describe the smaller, more agile of gunboats that rely on their agility over offensive and defensive strength to survive and complete their objective.
- One must also note that while the distinction between "gunship" and "gunboat" is somewhat common, the Discovery mod (as of 4.85) does not recognize the distinction.
Capital ships are heavy warships and the largest constructs that can still be called ships. Capships can be anything between an elegant Cruiser and a gargantuan Battleship.
Destroyers are lightly-powered cruiser-class vessels with two or less Class 7 Turrets. These ships have no choice but to squeeze the maximum benefit from their agility and Class 6 Turrets to take down enemy ships. Destroyers are particularly suited to eliminating Gunboats, since they have similar speed but much more firepower and significantly more hull strength. Against other ships in the cruiser class, Destroyers must take advantage of their agility to exploit weaknesses in the enemy's weapon coverage. Destroyers can also perform anti-cap functions by utilizing long-range artillery, but are likely to be obliterated if they get in range of the opponent.
Cruisers are the middle-weight ships in the cruiser class, being stronger than Destroyers in overall power and armaments, but with more speed and agility than any of the Battlecruisers. Some of the smaller ships in this sub-class can be quite agile, or have a shape that makes them hard to hit. Meanwhile, some of the larger Heavy Cruisers are on par with Battlecruisers in terms of overall damage output potential.
Battlecruisers are the heaviest ships in the Cruiser class, combining Battleship Primary Turrets with Cruiser performance. These ships are often used as Battleship-killers, since they can sit at range and return fire, while also avoiding damage themselves, and using thrusters to speed away if things turn sour. However, most battlecruisers have slower thrusting speed than other ships in the cruiser class, which exposes them to increased risk from Bombers and other cruisers.
Battleships are the floating fortresses of space. They are machines of destruction, capable of tearing apart all ships in range, glassing entire planets, but unable to defend from long ranged strikes of bombers and cruisers. However, these ships do not have Thrusters, and therefore cannot pursue ships from other classes. Generally speaking, these ships are best used in fleet warfare scenarios, where the enemy has brought multiple cruisers or battleships, and they must be matched with greatly superior firepower. They are also good for destroying player-owned bases.
Carriers are Battleships which exchange some guns for giant hangars and launch tubes capable of unleashing a swarm of fighters and bombers upon their enemies. They are intended to be used for moving wings of fighters and bombers and providing emergency repair facilities to those ships, rather than acting as front-line assault craft in their own right. At the moment, however, the practical difference between battleships and carriers is quite small.