Star Trek Online

Ok, so after spending a while playing World Of Walkcraft and watching it effectively kill the MMO, I was surprised at my interest being rekindled by the introduction of an MMO based in the Star Trek universe. So I gave it a go. I’ve only played for a few hours so far, but here’s my thoughts:

My character is currently a Lieutenant 4th Class of a little starship called the USS Enlightenment. Right there is where the game differs from all other MMOs. You have a character which you have to level up, equip, train and so on. So far so good. You also have to do the same for your ship and your bridge team. Each player in the system is in fact a little squad.  My ‘primary’ character is actually a Science Officer and I have (so far) two bridge crew – an Engineering Officer and a Tactical Officer.

Each officer type is subclassed, providing your standard ranged DPS, healers, debuffers, facemelters etc through the types of technology they’re skilled in. This largely applies to ground based combat. For space combat, different officer skills come into play – expertise in rapid power adjustment, ability to co-ordinate photon torpedo scatters, that kind of thing.

As a result of this, a ground mission involving multiple players can seem very large scale as each player is assisted by an away team comprising chosen members of their bridge crew and one or more security officers.

That’s the basic player / party mechanic, but what do you do? Well, let’s take a couple of random missions. I accepted two – firstly to do a routine patrol of four star systems and, secondly, to escort a Vulcan historian to a temple. So, I beam onto my little ship, request clearance, and warp to sector space. This puts my little ship on a digital representation of the whole sector of space, with lots of systems at different heights / depths above the galactic plane. You really get a feel for the vastness of the game universe at this point. Pull up a star map, and warp to the first location on my patrol.

Approaching the first location, I get a distress signal from a freighter and enter the system to help out. I find the freighter soon enough, crippled in an asteroid field and under attack from Orion Attack ships. I take care of the ships easily enough – by keeping broadside to them, I can hit with both front and rear phaser banks, taking down the shields rapidly. A couple of photon torpedoes later and they’re gone.

Scanning the freighter reveals that the crew are around but so are some Orion boarders. The ship is venting plasma and appears to have multiple leaks. So, I put together an away team and beam down to the ship. I’m taking my tactical guy to do damage, myself doing ranged DPS and my engineer doing buffs and explosives. Oh, and a couple of ill-fated red shirts.

In the freighter, it quickly becomes apparent that the crew are unconscious and the place is crawling with bad guys. I fight my way through them, shutting down a couple of plasma leaks on the way. Quick tricorder scan revealed that the warp core was about to go foom, so headed to egineering. Found the freighter captain there with a couple of guys trying to stabilise it. The captain asked me to get them clear of the warp core while he tried to stabilise and get them off the ship. So, fought my way through more beaming-in Orions with the crew in tow, collected as many survivors as possible and got clear of the ship before it went foom.

Sadly, once back on board the Enlightenment, an Orion battlecruiser had turned up. This ship is considerably bigger than I’m equipped to handle, so a quick call to Starfleet was required. Managed to hold them off for a few minutes by some clever shield powerboosting until the cavalry arrived in the form of a couple of Galaxy class starships and a few extra players. Bad guys defeated, crew rescued, time to move on to the next hop of the patrol.

A quick one, this – miners are on strike and a bit of diplomacy is needed. This one was a fun, talky, mission so I’m not gonna spoil it.

Back to the next patrol hop and it appears we have a major Klingon invasion going on in this system – there are half a dozen player ships in the area and a team is quickly formed. There’s a range of Klingon attack ship, Bird of Prey, and battle cruisers, and the fight is seriously tough. A few of the players, initially at least, seemed to be thinking in a ‘planar’ way, but once they got the hang of the 3D combat, the sky lit up like a Pink Floyd concert. Phasertastic!

And that’s all I’m gonna right for now cos I’m knackered!


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