This is a bit of an unusual post for me but I've had to perform this twice within a year and a half and I forgot the particulars for the second time... they were not so easily found even with half of the knowledge!
Freelancer was and is one of my favourite Privateer-a-likes. No, not an elite-a-like, more of an elite-a-lite. ;) Anyway, it can be a bit of a pain to get working on modern computers. Win 7 actually is easier to get working than on Vista (though that is entirely possible as I've also managed it by following the below steps as well) though I've no experience with win 8+.
It was pretty hard for me to find the information the first time around as I had nothing to go on. However, the fan sites and forums do harbour this information if you know the key search terms and where to look... So, the following is as much as a reminder for myself for future play sessions as it is a repository for everyone else who's a casual player and not into the online fansites for this game.
Install freelancer to c:/freelancer.
I'm not sure how essential this step is but, when searching, there's a lot of advice out there stating that you should install the game on your c: drive in order to resolve/avoid problems. So there it is!
Yup, it's that simple.
Restart the PC.
Yeah, it's a windows thing mostly but don't get me started on how "linux and mac os never need to restart after any sort of update" - it's not true! :P
This step is only important if you want to run your own LAN server and possibly begin the arduous work of connecting to all the modded servers still working out there. Surprisingly for some, freelancer is/was a very popular game with a largish devout following with a pretty diverse and active modding base!*
Disable IPv6 protocols in your network adapter. Now... the method to do this has changed between various versions of windows so I had to look up the exact way to reach the desired settings page but the above link should cover it for win 7.
I just clicked on the tick-box to disable the TCP/IPv6 protocol before playing the game. In Vista I actually uninstalled it entirely, but that's a different story...
Aaaand that's it! Open up the FLServer.exe and load the server programme and then open FreeLancer.exe and you're good to go!
Oh, and there's one more problem you may encounter and that's the game doesn't generate a multiplayer key for you (as it didn't for me before rebooting the system) then you can download a keygen to generate one for you that you can input manually!
So, anyway, sorry for not providing pics on this article. I hope you found it useful!
*While the main Microsoft servers went offline many years ago now you can still force the game to connect directly to a user-set IP with community-developed tools.