Getting started with FreeSpace 2

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For up-to-date instructions, choose your platform: Windows Linux Mac OS X

This page is under construction (if this page is deemed necessary that is -> talk page).

It is also outdated. Both the builds and mediaVPs are in 3.6.10 beta phase at this point in time, check Hard-Light Forums for the latest news and stuff.

Getting Retail FreeSpace 2

Main article Getting_FreeSpace...
  • Buy CDs
  • Buy it online, for example from

Installing Retail FreeSpace 2

Main article Installing Freespace 2...
  • Install the game
  • To use FreeSpace 2 Open only the the retail data files are needed (*.VP files). This makes it possible for user to 'install' or extract the vp files from the main game data and then move the files to another platform for example to Linux or OS X. However it is recommended that the data files should be patched before moving them. See Fs2 open on Linux for more information.
  • Make sure you have OpenAL installed

Update the Retail FreeSpace 2

Note: This step is only required if the data has not already been patched

Installing FreeSpace Open

Main articles Installing FreeSpace 2 Open and FreeSpace Open Installer...


Using a Launcher makes configuring & running FSO much easier. Unless you know what you're doing, use either wxLauncher (preferred) or Launcher 5.5g.

Note: In some cases on Windows, you need to run the Launcher as Administrator in order to be able to update the registry correctly

Launchers still in development

  • Knossos (Cross Platform, includes installer functionality)
  • m!m's new launcher (but I can't find the release thread :() (Windows only)

Game Builds

Latest Official Build

Current Development Builds

MediaVP File Sets

  • The MediaVPs are a set of upgrades to the game assets, e.g. models, textures, sounds, etc.
  • MediaVP sets should always be installed to their own directory that is located in the FreeSpace root directory. The installer is the preferred way to install the mediavps. For manual installs they should in be installed to a versioned directory, e.g. c:\games\freespace2\mediavps_3612 or c:\games\freespace2\MediaVPs_2014

Latest Official MediaVPs

Setting up the Launcher

Selecting the Game Build

  • First thing to do is to click on the Browse... button at the top of the Launcher and select the build you installed.


  • If you have trouble with your joystick not working properly in FS2_Open, you may try the Force 0 or Force 1 options, which will force FS2_Open to use the first or second joysticks, respectively.


  • Adjust the settings according to your setup.


  • If you are using Windows XP, or have the Speech API installed, FS2_Open will be able to read briefings, techroom descriptions, and even in game messages to you using computer-generated voices. Although no match for real voice acting, it is convenient when valid plot points are mentioned in the middle of combat. Speech in the various locations can be turned on and off by checking and unchecking the check boxes; you can choose which of the installed voices to use in FS2_Open by changing the drop-down menu.


  • Unless you know what you are doing don't tamper with these settings
  • Default location is: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> Software -> Volition -> Freespace2
  • On 64-bit Windows, the location is one of the following:
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Software -> Classes -> VirtualStore -> MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Wow6432Node -> Volition -> Freespace2
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Wow6432Node -> Volition -> FreeSpace2

On OSX / Linux / BSD an .ini file is used instead of the registry. It is located here:

  • ~/Library/FS2_Open/fs2_open.ini (OSX)
  • ~/.fs2_open/fs2_open.ini (other *nix variants)


  • On some older or special builds user can choose which API to use (OpenGL or Direct3D) however usually it defaults to OpenGL. In any case it is recommended to use OpenGL as DirectX is unstable and not actively supported.
  • Select the preferred resolution for the game.


  • This tab is where most of FS2_Open's options can be toggled on and off. At the top is a readout of your current command line. You should include this if you ever need to report an error with FS2_Open.
  • Easy setup basically allows you to turn lots of features on or off at once. Generally most people use it and then fine tune the settings immediately afterwards.
  • Custom flags allows you to add any command line flags that don't show up in the Launcher. This may be because they require additional arguments, as is the case with the -fov command line argument (for more information, you can see the Command-Line Reference page of the wiki). Its recommended to add -ambient_factor 50 to the command line.
  • Finally, the two boxes below this let you toggle the various new features in FS2 Open individually. The list type option lets you choose between graphics, sound etc and the tickboxes let you turn the feature on or off.


  • This tab is used to select mods for the game. For example this installation guide directs you to install MediaVPs in such a way that FS2 will treat them as a mod. Click Select MOD and choose mediavps folder that you picked earlier.
  • The reason that we installed the media VPs as a mod is that if FS2_Open doesn't work you can select the no MOD button and run without them and check if the problem is with the build or with the media VPs. It also means that you can still run retail FS2 if you want to.