Star Trek Online – A Fresh Look

I’m a bit of a Trekkie, so when I heard about Star Trek Online, or STO as it’s known, I was naturally very excited. I pre-ordered to get into it early, I got to the level cap in a very short time and I had a pretty decent time doing it. Sadly, after a month or so I had done all there was to do and drifted to something else, so with the release of Season 2, the latest free update to the game, I have decided to take another look at Star Trek Online.  Star Trek Online is set in the same timeline as the TV series (not the alternate timeline of the recent film), set quite a few years in the future following the end of the Voyager series and war is the name of the game.

The Klingons have fallen out with the Federation and shape shifting aliens are causing a ruckus. You are an ensign carrying out your duties onboard a star ship that is suddenly attacked by the Borg. Of course, it falls to you to save the day – no pressure then.  After saving the ship and crew you are made a bona fide captain of Starfleet and given command of your own ship. As you progress through the game you gain ranks such as captain and admiral.

The player can choose one of three classes, Tactical – your classic damage class, Engineering – more of a tanking class and Science – which would be your typical support class. The game is unique in that every player can build up their own team of NPC bridge officers; these officers have various abilities that the player can use in combat. Unlike your common MMO, the game has some freedom when you choose your class – a tactical captain is not forced to use only tactical ships for example, allowing for players to create hybrid classes. As an example, tactical officers who choose an engineer ship like the Galaxy class from the series The Next Generation can tank while providing decent damage.

There goes somebody's no-claims bonus. Don't expect a polite note on the windscreen either...

The game’s content is spread over a few different areas and grinding through the games you will find the majority of your time is filled with patrol missions, story missions or exploration missions. Patrol missions, as you would imagine, have you patrolling through a number of systems scouting for trouble. Story missions are larger, often more interesting, missions that detail the overall story arc of a region. The final mission type, exploration, are randomly generated missions that could be anything from shoot down six enemy attackers to providing aid to a planet in need. There are also large public missions called Fleet Actions which put the player in an instance with a large number of other players to complete common tasks, along with various PVP content and endgame raid content.

With the release of season 2, Star Trek Online has undergone a number of improvements since release. With season 2 comes the increased level cap and the implementation of ship interiors allowing players to travel through the engineering sections and collect trophies for their personal ready room. What Trekkie hasn’t dreamed of sitting in his ready room sipping a cup of Earl Grey?

The ship interiors are a nice feature. While lacking in any proper functionality (yet), they show the direction the developers are going in. You can now take a walk through your ship’s crew quarters and engineering deck and visit your sickbay or crew lounge. Hopefully, with future updates, we will see these areas being utilized in fun and inventive ways. Personally, I’d like to see mini games in engineering that give buffs or even the crafting system being moved to your own ship. The inclusion of trophies adds another element of fun to the grind with trophies being available for scoring 1000 kills on race (not very federationy, but damn good fun).

Typical. Someone always has to blow themselves up and ruin the scenery

Season 2 has also seen the expansion of the non-combat missions with the Federation Diplomatic Corp. These missions, found in various famous locations, give the player a new type of XP upon completion. As you gain diplomatic XP you gain levels with the Diplomatic Corp and also access to various equipment and special abilities. This helps with the overall feel of the main game, after all, the federation is a peace keeping force and before this new content, the majority of the game consisted of blowing stuff up. One mission that stands out is the mission around Deep Space Nine, which basically consists of an investigation into a Cardassian who may be a traitor. More missions like that one would go a long way to improving the overall feel of STO and make it feel more like a genuine Star Trek experience.

Mini games have also been included in this new patch. You may have dreamed of Earl Grey in the ready room but how about sitting in your own ship’s crew lounge and having a game of poker or 3D chess? Well, that dream is not far off with Season 2; the developers are dedicated to bringing in these mini games to enrich the player’s experience. Season 2 also sees the release of Dabo (the popular game from Quark’s Bar on Deep Space Nine). Dabo allows the player to gamble their hard earned credits for bars of gold-pressed latinum – latinum that can be traded for all manner of special gear.

Endgame players don’t miss out with this new patch because the level cap has been raised from 45 to 51 with the introduction of a whole new sector of space, new missions, new gear and new ships. Sadly, as impressive as all that content sounds, the patch only adds 5 additional missions to the endgame content.  Missions that can be completed in an afternoon, meaning your levelling to level 51 is going to have to be done through a hard grind of previous raid and exploration content.

There are tons of other updates I have not included here but here is a link to the full features for anyone who may be interested (though many of them arebug fixes and improvements to performance). Star Trek Online is a good game and you will have an enjoyable time playing through the varied missions if you’re a new player. However, as a player now in endgame, sadly, I feel this new patch has delivered very little. I re-subscribed for a month and out of that played 4 days getting through new content. Not really worth it in my book.  I’m going back to Warhammer Online.

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  1. Lorna Lorna says:

    The graphics certainly look gorgeous and the range of gameplay sounds as if it has improved. Though I don’t tend to venture near MMOs, the Trek universe seems a very natural playground for this sort of title, especially being able to pimp out a ready room. Nice piece.

  2. Ben Ben says:

    Played this during the Open Beta and was actually taken in by, but in the end was left with a bit of an empty feeling. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a Star Trek fan so hold no connection to the universe.

    Walking around my very own ship has great appeal to it :)

  3. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I’m really not into MMOs at all, and doubt I ever will be. City of Heroes sparked my attention initially but I never got around to playing it, primarily because of the MMO aspect, as I’m a bit of a loner when it comes to gaming. Watching Lorna pull in all the screenshots for this though, I thought “damn that looks cool” but the biggest problem was still that MMO aspect of it. Perhaps if these games came with a single player campaign for anti-social gamers such as myself, where we could simply play the campaign to get the enjoyment of the game mechanics, but never venture in to the MMO side of things… then I’d give it a shot. I’d also give City Of Heroes a shot although I doubt there’d be much point to a single player campaign on that particular game.

    Damn my loner mentality!!

  4. Ben Ben says:

    Star Wars might be up your street Mark, think I remember reading somewhere regarding it being suitable for those want a dynamic single player setting, but also have MMO side of things as well. Of course I could have dreamt all this in my most recent Star Wars related dream.

  5. Mark Mark S says:

    @Lorna – Thanks. The graphics really are fantastic. From the space combat, to the randomly generated worlds in the exploration missions, its pretty impressive. Sadly the latest patch was only just an introduction to the ready room stuff. At the minute you can only put like three trophies up. Im sure later they will release other version of the ready room through micropayments like DLC.

    @Ben – Yeah i think as a game on its own, its good, but its not brilliant. For me its the mix of the game and the fact that im a star trek nut that keeps bringing me back to it. Walking around your ship is pretty cool. They just need to add a reason to walk around your ship because at the minute, you will do it once and thats it.

    @Mark – The anti social thing is something that puts alot of folk off. You think MMO you think playing with other folk. A lot of developers see that some folk just want to play through solo and account for this in content. STO you could play through solo from start to finish. Some content you wouldnt maybe want to do like pvp and the big fleet battles but everything else scales so its always easy enough to get through. MMOs coming out are looking at this solo stuff. Star Wars The Old Republic for example, giving you NPC companion characters, you could play through most of that solo.

    Where you might miss out is stuff like raid content, big pve missions that require a team to complete. Still if you were going to try the genre, get a free trial and play with a friend, best way to do it.

    Thanks for the comments :D

  6. Rook says:

    I’ve always preferred Star Trek over Star Wars, but think Star Wars have the better games. I’ve always wanted someone to give Star Trek the rpg treatment that KOTOR did for Star Wars. I’ve not an MMO player or a PC gamer. I always look at the Star Trek games but too many of them tend to be all space combat; some of that would be fine, as well as missions on the Enterprise itself and away missions.

    Apart from the click mouse adventure for The Original Series and a game on the SNES there hasn’t been another Star Trek game to really entrall me. Sadly STO doesn’t do it for me either.

  7. [...] the new update enough to keep STO fans happy?  Perhaps – season two’s raising of the level cap and ability to pimp out the ready room, among other updates, were welcome additions but there was a feeling that there wasn’t a [...]

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