Overview and Review of Star Trek Online
Star Trek Online STO MMORPG MMO Gaming Video Games Online Gaming Review Guide
Today I will be talking about the upcoming MMORPG, Star Trek Online. This game is set to release on February second of this year. Before I really comment on the game, I would like to discuss the different aspects of the game itself. Hopefully this review will provide you a good understanding of the game itself, focusing on specific aspects of what makes this game both good and bad, and help you make your decision on whether or not you may be interested in this game. So let us begin!
About Your Class Choice:
There are three different careers you can choose for your character; these are Engineer, Science, and Tactical. While skill wise, these careers are not very different (there is one skill branch difference and they all focus on ground combat), the abilities are what really set these careers apart.
-Engineers are primarily a tanking class. They are good at taking damage, and buffing up their shields. On ground they can also lay down devices that heal, put down turrets, or even lay out mines.
-Science officers are primarily a support and de-buffing class. They are good at healing other players, as well as weakening their enemies.
-Tactical Officers are built to deal out damage. They have abilities that strengthen their own weapons or weaken an enemyís resistance.
*It should be noted that regardless of the career you choose, you can still fly any type of ship.
The only other major difference in the career you choose is what type of kits you will be able to use. These tend to fall in line with each carriers description. More about this will be discussed in the Ground Combat section.
Picking a Ship:
Once you get to tier 2, there are three different types of ships you can fly: Cruiser, Escort, and Science. Each of these ships have their own strengths and weaknesses.
-Cruisers tend to have larger shields and regenerate at a faster rate. These ships usually have extra engineer stations, and tend to have balanced weapon slots on the front and aft of the ship. They are also bulkier so they move and turn slower.
-Escorts tend to have more weapons slots on the front of the ship, and are much more maneuverable. Escorts have the weakest shields and they tend to have more tactical stations.
-Science falls somewhere in between as far as shields go. While they have fewer weapons, they are usually better at disabling and weakening the enemy ship. They tend to have more science stations.
As you attain higher ranks you will get access to higher tiers of ships, each type of the three different types of ships gain certain advantages specific to their type. In general, Cruisers become stronger and gain more weapon mounts, Escorts get access to stronger weapons, and Science gain access to special deflectors and sensors.
Bridge Officers (BO) work on your ship and make your ship perform above and beyond what it is normally capable of. Bridge Officers are separated into Engineer, Science, and Tactical. The BOís skills are completely different then that of the captains, but each type of officer has skills similar to that as a captain of the same type. Meaning, an Engineer BO tends to have skills that strengthen your shields, Tactical boosts your DPS, and Science will de-buff or heal. To use a Bridge Officerís abilities in space, you must first put them into a station on your ship. However engineers can only be at an engineer station, etc. BOís add an interesting twist to space combat, for example: an engineer captain in a cruiser can still deal out some burst damage with a tactical officer, or hold an enemy in place with a science officer using their tractor beam.
Every ship has at least 1 station of each type (as far as I am aware) and usually multiple of a certain type. So, the player is still focused on a certain role, but has a few abilities outside of that role.
Space combat accounts for around 60-70% of Star Trek Online. As such it is quite a bit more complex then ground combat; this leaves room for more strategic play. First I will cover the defensive side of space combat.
Your ship has four sectors of shields (Forward, Aft, Starboard, and Port) these are your first line of defense.
(In combat, you will see a visual representation of your shields around your ship like this)
Your shields are fairly durable on their own, and will absorb large amounts of damage from torpedoes and mines. However phasers, or any beam type weapon, can take down your shields quickly if youíre not careful. If one section of your shield takes too much damage, it will fail and your enemy can attack your ships hull directly. To counter this you can either turn your ship so your enemyís attacks hit a different section of your shields, or you can repair your shields.
At the bottom, just off center, is where you can control the repairs to your shields. By clicking on one of the arrows you can reroute power towards a certain section of your shield to rapidly restore it; however this will drain some of your shield strength from other areas. Alternately you can click on the ship icon in the middle. This will distribute power evenly to all of your shields.
There are two different classes of weapons you can use to deal damage which I will call Beams and Torpedoes.
-Beams include Beam Arrays, Turrets, and Cannons. These weapons are good at taking down shields. To keep it simple the difference between them comes in the form of DPS vs Firing Arc; the smaller the firing arc, the more damage per shot it will do.
-Torpedoes include Torpedoes and Mines. These are best at dealing damage to the hull of a ship. Basically Torpedoes can only be fired one at a time, but will collide with your target. Torpedoes cannot be shot down. Mines on the other hand get laid in space where you place them. If an enemy gets close they will trigger and follow that target attempting to collide with it. The advantage to mines is that you lay 5 at a time, the downside however is they can be targeted and destroyed.
Another thing about torpedoes and mines is they have many different types. Each type will have a different effect such as: Photonís recharge faster, but deal less damage. Quantumís deal higher damage, travel faster, but have a longer recharge timer. Other types can penetrate shields more, land dots, slow targets, etc.
Something to note: Phasers can deal damage to the hull, but usually around 1/10th to 1/15th the amount of damage as a torpedo. On the flip side, torpedoes can deal damage to shields, and have a slight penetration to the hull, but over time phasers still do a better job. IMO torpedoes should be saved when you are about to drop a shield so that you have the recharge ready to do full damage; otherwise fire at will commander.
There are a few other things on your UI that can help change how you fight. The first is your power allocation. This is to the right of your ship icon on the bottom of your screen. Here you can choose to put power into your weapons, shields, engines, or auxiliary. As default they all start out at 50, but you can use the presets or your own custom layout to allocate power as you see fit.
-Giving power to weapons will increase your damage
-Giving power to shields will decrease damage taken
-Giving power to engines will increase your movement speed
-Giving power to auxiliary increases efficiency of certain abilities (such as buffs/ debuffs/ healing)
Your attack module is fairly easy to understand. It shows you all your weapons currently attached to your ship. Clicking them will cause them to fire. Alternately you can click one of the three buttons on top which (from left to right) fire all beams, fire all torpedoes, or fire all weapons.
Tip: right clicking your weapons puts them in auto fire mode (depicted by a green outline) when you have a target and select a weapon to start firing, it will automatically continue firing that weapon until the target is destroyed, cloaks, or you tell the weapon to stop firing. This is handy to do for your beam weapons as it would get quite annoying spamming them. Lastly your speed can make some impact on the combat. This is mostly used to get around a target to a spot you want, to keep the same speed as your target so you donít overshoot them (or start hitting a different shield), or used to adjust your turn.
Out of combat there is also Full Impulse, which lets you get to where you want quicker but also lowers all of your power to systems to 5 each. Be careful not to use Full Impulse to get into a fight too quickly as it will leave you vulnerable for a while.
Space Hotbars and BO Abilities:
Most of your control over your ship can be done here. You can place all your abilities, shield rerouting, devices, and weapons onto your hotbar. Under your hotbar there are spots for all of your bridge officers currently working on your ship. As of beta I do not know if you can use multiple powers from one BO or not (as these unlock later). It seems you can have one per BO and possibly switch the selected ability out of combat.
If you ever played Pirates of the Burning Sea, the ground combat in STO is an improvement from thatÖ but not by much. While in ground combat, you have some abilities based on your class, as well as get to use class specific kits. These can do a wide variety of things such as disable weapons, drop mines, heal, throw grenades, etc. Thus far, it seems that any career can use any type of weapon as well as shields and body armor. While in ground combat, you have a shield that protects you (for a while) and then you will take damage directly. Out of combat your shield will recover rapidly, however your health will not. Thankfully you can use cover when your shields are low to restore them. Alternately you can use items or abilities to do the same thing.
In ground combat you can have up to 4 BOís (or security) with you, or if you are playing in a group, each group member will reduce the friendly NPCís by 1 each. Playing with other people defiantly makes this game more enjoyable, however BOís will auto heal you usually making ground combat fairly easy. While this lowers the risk of death in ground combat, it almost makes the game less enjoyable.
As of right now, PvP doesnít play a very large part in STO. The majority of PvP are scenario engagements where the Federation and Klingons fight each other for control of zones. To capture a zone, you just need to stay in the area until the icon turns to your symbol. (red for Klingon, blue is Fed.) You need to hold zones to prevent the loss of reinforcements. When one side gets to 0 they lose.
Another form of competition between the two sides is PvE scenarios. How this is supposed to work is there is an objective and you are trying to beat the other side to completing it. Iím unsure exactly how these work as they were broken in open beta when I played. There are also forms of PvE and PvP scenarios for ground combat as well, however when I attempted these, they were not working correctly either. The one I did try seemed to be a rescue mission for the Federation. There are probably area control missions for ground as well.
Cryptic has said they are looking into the possibility to letting players control zones, thus creating a back and forth push for zone control influenced directly by the players. As of right now this is just an idea and no guarantee it will be in game.
Something interesting to note is that it seems that skill point gain in PvP is quite rapid; some players have even said it is the fastest way to level up.
Other things about PvP:
PvP Currency: (Medals)
Medals are given as PvP rewards which can be traded in for various items
PvE Currency: (Badge)
Currently not in game, have similar items compared to PvP currency
Medals and Badges are given out based on your teir. So you only get a specific type while you are a Lieutenant and you will gain a different type while you are a Lt. Commander. As of right now you cannot convert these different types up or down between the different versions.
Quests are attained from certain NPCís, however once you talk to them once, you can hail them from anywhere and gain new missions. Another form of questing is simply entering any system from sector space and you are given a mission to do. These missions tend to be less rewarding, but there are a lot more of these.
-A patrol mission happens when you enter any system, you will be given a random patrol mission. This can vary anywhere from helping a federation ship, defeating pirates, exploration, and more.
-There are NPC enemies located around sector space, you can either fly into them or they can fly into you to engage. These are instanced fights against NPCís that tend to put multiple people, even if you are not grouped, together into the zone. To complete the mission you just need to destroy a certain number of enemy groups.
-Larger then Security Missions, Fleet actions can involve 10-20 players (approx) where they are given objectives, similar to PQs in Warhammer Online For example: kill 60 frigates then kill 20 Cruisers, then kill the Dreadnaught
- Unfortunately besides being an easy party finder, a fleet doesnít really do much as of right now. The idea of letting fleets level up and giving them guild functions as a reward has been stated as a possibility, but nothing certain as of yet. Fleets do get their own symbol that can be placed onto your starship (on certain models).
Personal Thoughts and My Verdict:
While I was never a huge fan of Star Trek, this game does seem to follow story and the IP fairly well. I have heard some people complain about aspects of the game that donít hold true to the IP; these seem to have been purposely changed to make the game more entertaining for the casual player. Crypticís view has always been fun first, cannon second.
Defiantly the strongest part of this game has to be the space combat. The controls work fairly well, there is defiantly a difference in ships handling, and I like how you are not exactly stuck to one type of ship. This could also make for some interesting combinations later in the game. (A Science Officer using Escorts? Could be a fun PvP build).
Ship customization and gearing is quite well done in this game, and part of what makes the space combat entertaining as well. Basically when you buy a ship, itís more or less you are buying the parts for all the ships of that type (usually 3 different ships). From there you can customize your ship how you wish with all of these different parts, change colors, the ship name and model number. And yes you can actually see your ship name and model number on your ship in space.
On the flip side, ground combat and fleets are not all that enjoyable and do seem to need some work. While talk of making fleets more of a living entity, there really hasnít been much to be said about ground combat as of right now. Itís okay, but just gets stale fairly quickly.
Iím somewhat indifferent on the PvP as of right now; however if Cryptic puts out territory control that could add a lot more entertainment for those of us that are really into PvP.
Sector space and Questing in STO seem to be in the right place. While Sector space (and all the instancing in general) makes the game feel less like an MMO, there is some good that comes out of it. It helps allow the game to run only one server, meaning you no longer have to worry about where your friends, or other people you meet, play. You will never have to worry about server merges or your entertainment being dampened due to the fact you chose the wrong server.
As far as questing, I somewhat enjoy how it is set up. It forces you to visit different places in deep space and around the known galaxy, but gets rid of the tedious travel back and forth that most games require. Again this is to put entertainment first, and it will probably keep players from getting bored or annoyed from having to do extra traveling.
Personally, I believe this game is fairly well rounded, but defiantly could use some work. For people who are casual gamers and only have a few hours to jump on and do something, this game will defiantly fit your play style. (pvp is very easy to get into, or you can knock out a few quests). Star Trek fans will probably enjoy this game; or if youíre just a sucker for aerial and space combat games you will probably get enjoyment out of this game as well. If you are more of a gamer who puts a lot of time into the game they are playing or someone that is really into PvP, you may want to skip this one. Questing (especially ground missions) can get quite boring over time, and as of right now the PvP is kind of meh. With no actual death penalty and PvP feeling somewhat lacking, STO seems to drive away players that are looking for a game to devote a lot of time to.
From my experiences in Open Beta, I would rate this game a 7 out of 10. Itís defiantly on the right track, but I would really like to see some improvements to the PvP game play, and some changes to make the ground combat a bit more entertaining.