I was messing around in December looking for a new mmo, but because of long dreadful years of copy-paste designs and being sick of EVE Online and not in the mood for WAR, I tried again Star Trek Online. I previewed the game on launch with mixed reactions, so now being bored I decided to give it another try. One month later I am still playing it. Surprised?
Space is the final frontier for Online MMORPG Games. There are too few out there based on this theme so Cryptic was right to explore it with Star Trek Online, but have they done a good job with it? Star Trek Online is a heavily instanced mmorpg where as a Federation Captain or Klingon you explore, terrorize or help different systems in the galaxy. Most of the time in STO will be spent in space aboard your ship, which is probably the best feature of the game and most fun. As in any mmorpg you have roles, damage dealer (escorts), tanks/dps (cruisers) and support (science ships). Each ship can be customized visually and can be equipped with a large variety of weapons and modules, and on top of that with your custom officers, each with their unique skills and traits.
Space combat is fun and rewarding; you can just get a mission right away by hailing one of NPC commanders and go wreak havoc, alone or together with other players. Managing your ship abilities, weapons and most importantly energy power that goes to sustain your shields, weapons and other modules, gives you a good array of tactical elements to take in consideration. Bridge Officers play an important role too. Tactical officers usually have damage skills, engineering have hull or shield recharge tools and science go with buffs, drains and other such things. On top of that you can choose from a good variety of skills that any of your officers can train in at any level.
Ground Combat is somewhat similar to Mass Effect to some degree, but suffers from poor AI for both enemies and team members. While you don’t have to babysitting your crew, they are some challenging encounters where you just have to put them on hold on location and wait for the enemies to come, since otherwise they might attack the whole room, and run like crazy all around. Another problem here is that it takes so long to kill an enemy that ground missions become longer then they should even with good equipment at your disposal. The control interface over the friendly AI is not helping either and I only found it useful to place the team on custom location to hold ground. A short description of how the STO ground AI works, both for friends and foes: they run to you with no purpose, usually fire randomly at targets, they don’t take cover, and even if you slaughter all their friends found only a few meters away from them, they don’t react until you enter their aggro range.
However missions are the main reason I still play STO. There are tons of them out there and the main ones are quite a nice change from the regular quests you find in the mmorpg games these days. There is always some story, some surprise and exploration reward, in all of them apart from combat. While they sound generic at first, they usually expand while you progress through them. For example you are sent to repair a satellite but while doing this, you get attacked by Klingons and after you kill them, your science officer tells you that he discovered a secret Klingon base on the planet. You beam down and fight your way through the base struggling to assume control of it. And the web of mission complexity can expand further. There are also warzones, fleet actions, where you need a lot of players to complete the mission, but most of the time you just have to enter the system and you will find players there with the same mission and the same purpose, so teaming up is not hard.
Crafting was improved since last time I visited the game and now you can actually craft some nice items on Memory Alpha base. While in space or on the ground with the help of your scanner you can discover space anomalies which can bring you artifacts and other materials used for crafting. You can find out anytime what you can craft with these materials by selecting the R&D option from the top right arrow.
Player versus Player (PvP) in Star Trek Online involves opposing players of both the Klingon Empire and Federation factions fighting against each other in instanced battlegrounds. Currently players do not receive rewards for killing other players in Open PvP combat, unlike the queued instance PvP system. While this is certainly not enough joining the queues and participating in these instanced battlegrounds does provide the player with a decent amount of PVP experiences.
Unfortunately not all is shiny and fun. The biggest flaw of Star Trek Online is the engine architecture where everything is instanced and you lose immersion due to a huge amount of loading screens, and low player cap for each zone. At the same time without having a high end persistent Faction vs. Faction PvP, the end game content leaves a lot to be desired and fits the same old end game recipe we all know and resent: PvE Instances, PvP Instances, high end Crafting, Exploration and Fleet Activities. It’s not bad but they need to come up with something persistent, innovating to keep the players hooked, and I’m not referring to the content update which happens every few months or so, through episodes.
Overall I recommend you to try Star Trek Online even with its flaws. If you want to try something new since you might be bored of same old fantasy quests and combat, this could keep you entertained for a while and if the developers start improving its really weak parts, Star Trek Online can turn in a very good mmorpg game. See you in space!
Thane SolusStar Trek Online - Review,