Although the game was developed with the intention of uniting first-person shooter and MMORPG gameplay elements and has been referred to as an MMOFPS, it is more often considered an MMORPG which incorporates some mechanics of the FPS genre.
The player is given four different classes to choose from when they create a character: GenTanks, which are a brute force tank class, Spies, who are a more intelligent and stealthy class, PsiMonks, who are physically weak but have special psionic powers, and Private Eyes, who can use the abilities available to all the other classes, therefore making all the classes except Private Eye completely pointless. As in most games of the MMO genre, characters gain skill points as they advance which can be assigned to specific abilities, however Neocron also classifies characters under a job title based on how they have distributed their skill points among their abilities.
The game is set on Earth in the 28th century, after a world-wide apocalyptic disaster. After political conflicts in the mid-22nd century between the Chinese Empire and a European-North American organization known as the Federation of the Free World, the first Chinese interstellar colony ship is somehow destroyed and so China retaliate against the world with a large-scale nuclear strike. In response the President orders a counter-attack with cold fusion missiles starting World War III. The war started on February 17, 2143, lasting six hours and devastated the Earth.
Civilization eventually rebuilds itself over a number of centuries and by the mid-26th century two great cities had been built. Part of the semi-successful reconstruction of Earth can be attributed to an MIT project which took place in the early 21st century, known as the Ceres Project. The project aimed to store every piece of known human knowledge on holodisk, but with the assassination of the project leader, control of the project was handed over to the military.
- Project Ceres may be a reference to Ceres, the smallest of the five identified dwarf planets in the solar system or the Roman goddess Ceres, goddess of growing plants and motherly love.