2300 AD is an impressive 312 page book with a color cover and black and white interior illustrations.
2300 AD is a campaign source book for Traveller and you will need the core rules from Mongoose to make use of it. If you intend to design Vehicles you will need the vehicles book but for spaceships you just need the core book. You do not require any of the previous incarnations of 2300 to provide background.
What’s in the book
The book contains an overview of the setting, setting specific rules and setting specific equipment ranging from starships to portable shelters.
The setting information covers Earth, its nations and extra-solar colonies giving a potted overview of each along with planetary maps of all the habitable planets that humans have visited. There is also the story of how earth has developed over the 300 years between now and 2300 AD, starting with the deliberately vague “twilight war” that almost destroyed civilization at the start of the 21st century.
Character generation rules are based on core Traveller careers with fairly minor modifications except that the Citizen career is completely replaced, some changes, such as no Pilot(Grav) are derived directly from the background assumptions, and some seem simply added flavor; my youngest daughter was delighted to find that there was the possibility of ending up with a pet.
Differences from previous versions
In previous versions the history of the world started with Twilight 2000, here the link is less explicit also some reference is made to the developments of the last 30 years such as Trans-humanism, Nanotechnology and human DNA modification.
Nearly all colonists start with some sort of DNA modification simply to allow them to survive. In addition you actually get maps and details for all the worlds visited by humans without having to wait for supplements to come out; GDW’s colonial atlas did not have any planetary maps at all and the best source of detail on the worlds of the French arm was Invasion where all the maps looked like they had been scribbled by a GM in a hurry.
My main criticism is of the layout of some of the tables, there are a couple of places where what is semanticly a 2 column table has been wrapped to make a 4 column table without this being immediately obvious. There are other multi-page tables, such as the near star list, where the headings are only on the first page making this a harder read than necessary.
I also spotted a couple of references to DC which have come across from 2320. In addition I could have done with a little more detail on the Kaefers, the other aliens get example NPCS, but not them.
In the PDF there is a small amount of interior color but not where I would have expected it, for example, the world maps, which I know were originally in color, are still black and white but would have benefited from color while the deck plan grids are in color.
Overall I think this is a welcome return of a setting that still has fans 20 years after going out of print. I'm giving this 4 out of 5.