Star Trek Online - Become a Starfleet Captain
Become a Starfleet Officer
I have been a fan of the Star Trek series since I was quite young. I used to watch reruns of the original series (often referred to as "TOS" - The Original Series) on TV before I was even in school, I am sure. When the movies came out, I went to see them all in the theater (I was 9 when the first movie came out), up to and including Nemesis. In the 80s and 90s, I was a HUGE fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG is the shortened version) and watched every episode. I am sure I've seen them all at least once, but likely more than twice for most! I tried REALLY hard to get into Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (ST:DS9). I just couldn't get into the stagnancy of being on the same station all the time in the same part of space with nothing really happening. The Dominion War was cool and all, but not enough to really hook me. When Voyager (ST:VOY)came out, I fell in love with the franchise yet again, as they were in a new sector of unexplored space meeting new challenges, and creating new and amazing characters (The Doctor and Neelix were my favorites . Then came Star Trek: Enterprise (originally just called Enterprise and shortened to ST:ENT) that was the prequel to TOS - many people didn't like it, but I thought it was a great series! The war with the Xindi wasn't the best, in my opinion, but it was definitely an interesting arc, and I like how the Xindi had the six different "main" races.
So, in the last almost 40 years, I have often wondered what it would be like to captain a starship, fighting evil aliens, and helping out those in need. When I first heard about Star Trek Online, I thought my prayers had finally been answered!
The New Beginning
Star Trek Online is set in the year 2409 - 30 years after the events in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis. It follows the original canon, not the reboot version of Star Trek in the current series of J.J Abrams movies, though there are some tie-ins to the new series (the super-nova at Hobart that destroyed Romulus and Remus; mentions of Spock's attempt to stop the destruction with "red matter" and a mention - that I have seen in a recent mission - of Nero and his ship, Nerada).
When the game first came out, there was an outcry of the game being boring, horribly put together, and not a game that any Trek fan should get into. This kept me away from the game for a while, until they changed the game from pay-to-ply to the new free-to-play model. At the time that I joined in the free-to-play, the game had been fleshed out more, and it seemed that players were much happier with the content and the gameplay. I cannot speak from personal experience about the origins of the game, but in the last year that I have been playing (inactive until recently, however), the game has eveolved, added more content, and been a fun experience.
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Gameply in Star Trek Online takes place in a number of different ways. There are shipboard missions in which you control your starship from an outside view, and can watch and steer with either keyboard or mouse controls. In these, you see your ship from a distance (which you can adjust with the mouse wheel), and when in battle, you see a representation of your four shields (fore, aft, starboard and port) as well as the phasers, cannons, and torpedoes you are shooting and being shot with. There is a lot to learn about captaining a ship, and there are many skills and weapons to use, but I will get to some of that in another article.
During the shipboard missions, you have the option of directly steering the ship from your outside view, or you can engage a sort of auto-pilot mode by indicating on the map of your current sector, where you want to go. Alternately, you can use Energy Credits (which you receive as payment for missions, or for selling stuff you loot) to Transwarp directly to the destination. The cost varies by how far you are travelling, and can be quite expensive. If you don't mind taking up to 5 minutes (perhaps longer if you go from one end of the Alpha Quadrant to the other), driving yourself can be much more cost effective.
Some of the missions require that you beam down to a planet to investigate, attack, defend, or some other set of objectives that can range the gamut of Star Trek's possible away mission objectives. For this, obviously you cannot have a ship flying around on the ground, so you are presented with a third person view of your character which you control with a conventional WASD and mouse combination. You can also bring other crew members with you, whom you can choose to accompany you at various points along the way, or simply choose a generic security officer. If you go the way of hand-picked crew, you can tailor your range of skills that are brought on the away mission - but again, that's a whole other topic for another article!
How Deep Is This Rabbit Hole?
I know, I've already pointed out two separate parts of the game that will end up requiring a whole new article to explain - the game is just that deep! There is a lot of customization available to be had from the structure and color of your ship (nacels, windows, saucer section, etc.) to the skills you choose on your crew and for yourself. The skills chosen from each character add to the dimension of your ship and away team, and can change the way you play from the way someone else does.
I haven't gotten back into the game enough to really remember every nuance, but I am re-learning it again after almost a year away. I can almost feel that I am the captain, making life-and-death decisions for the 100+ crew on my ship, as well as whomever I am helping or trying to defeat! The space and ground combat systems are fun and interesting, and exploring strange new worlds is just as fun as it ever was when I watched the TV shows.
If you are a Trekkie, a Trekker, or just liked Star Trek, you should try this game out. It isn't going to be for everyone, and there will be things you may not like about it, but I have had an amazing time playing so far, and look forward to getting back into my Captain's uniform again whenever I can!
Have you played? Do you think you will? If you have an comments, please let me know!
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