Reviews: Star Trek Online

Good, not great.

Gameplay: Ground combat is OK, pretty simple "press 1 to shoot, press 2 for special shot". Space combat, while frequently imbalanced due to blatant power creep (especially on the PVP side) is frankly awesome, with beautiful environments, incredible customization of vast numbers of possible ships, and missions that range from casual-friendly to gritty teamwork-demanding raids.

Story: It starts out weak, although the Romulan story is awesome, gets a lot better through Delta Rising (the forced Neelix presence excepted), and then drops through the floor in the Iconian War arc. The Kobali arc is reviled for its dubious morality, and the Iconian War is considered a massive disappointment due to the overuse of Hollywood Tactics and blatant railroading. This is partially a fault of the engine, which does not allow even the partial story customization that SWTOR does.

Community: Stay away from the forums. Starfleet Dental and Shutup Wesley are trolls, but throw great parties. Find a good fleet, and be sure to ask and shop around to ensure that you get a good one (not Dental). If you remember these rules, you will be fine.

FTP model: All content is free, which is good. However, the cash shop and lockbox ships are considerably better than most of the free stuff, though you can get some rather nice ships during the summer, winter, and anniversary events. Do NOT use lockbox keys, they are a waste of money. Safer to buy a pack of 10, sell them for several million credits on the exchange, then buy your lockbox ship from there.

Devs: Let's face it, PWE is only interested in your wallet these days. The devs try, but honestly after 2 divisive E Ps (especially De Angelo, widely hated for the last couple of big updates), bannings of many prominent forum members for arguing with PWE, and the Iconian War arc, the players and the devs have a lot of bad blood between them, especially the PVP players who are pissed about getting next to no updates ever and having to deal with rampant power creep.

Power creep: The game's biggest drawback. The structure of the game is top-heavy, with a lot of grind in endgame PVE, but much less of a need to actually do all of the grinding. Basically, you'll grind your Borg reputation set, grind level 5 on all reps, then never touch most of the content again.

Verdict: 6/10, could be better, could be worse.

Infinite Diversity through Infinite Combinations

In the Vulcan philosophy, there is a term, IDIC. Infinite Diversity through Infinite Combinations. It's been joked that this should be Cryptic Studios' slogan and motto.

No where is this more evident than in Star Trek Online. Star Trek Online, or STO, had a rocky begining, and as someone who played in the beta, I can tell you that at the time of launch, it was in a very poor and sorry state. Having only recently returned to it, though, I am more than pleased to say that Cryptic has latched onto something for this game that truly makes it unique amongst MM Os.

Creativity.

STO already has extensive customization in the form of the "Gestalt Avatar" which is made up of your Captain, your B Offs, and your ship, all of which is fully customizable. If you can't find a race you like amongst the iconic races, you can always just make one up. This level of customization dwarfs even the very robust Champions Online, in wich you only have one "Avatar" at a given time.

Further adding to this are the Ship Interiors, which allow you to invite friends over to your ship. This has been used in everything from the obvious Role Play, to even just having parties.

Now, Star Trek Online is comming out with the Foundry, wich allows players to custom make interriors, as well as upload their own mission content, and, eventually, starbases, planets, and ship interiors. Cryptic is setting this game up to be a creators dream, where the only thing limiting it is the limits of the fans and players imaginations.

There are several bugs, however, and many of them have been there since launch. Cryptic is working on these, though, and they actually do their best to keep the community informed about what they're doing and when they're doing it, wich is very refreshing and reassuring.

The game isn't for everyone, it's still a long way from being 'Complete', but it's increadibly fun, and This Troper at the very least recomends that it be given a try.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you like to RP and are also a Sci Fi fan, not nessisarily just a Trekky, then you MUST give this game a try. If you're just into RP, I also recomend it. No other game I have ever played has lent itself to RP more, between a rich history, extensive customization, and the Foundry, it's almost built for RP. The RP community is a little hard to find, but large, active, and friendly.

Much better after two years.

I first tried this game in around December '10-Jan '11 and to be honest, I didn't really get into it. Sure, the customization was cool but that was about it. I decided to download it again after it went F 2 P, and it has improved massively. Better ground environments, better... well, everything really. I've actually been hving fun with it now, even on a limited free account. The shooter control system is better (in my opinion) and the missions are very much improved (I've just completed the Klingon story arc).

Year 1 Retrospective: I have to admit, it's getting better. Getting better all the time.

Let's be honest here, a lot of Star Trek fans were underwhelmed with STO when it first arrived. They had reason to be. The ground combat wasn't much fun, the space combat (while good) could get a fair bit samey, there was a huge focus on war and the poor Klingons didn't really get much to do at all. (Not that having a PVP faction is bad per se, but the design team set the grind ratio way too high.) For me, I stuck with it. I had to; I paid for a lifetime sub and I was pretty confident that it could improve. (There was also the fact that I wasn't hyped up for it, so I enjoyed a lot of the good points to it)

It wasn't long until the changes began to arrive. Some were subtle, some were pretty big. People started to look forward to the idea of Seasons of Mission and the Klingons started to get more stuff to do. But there was still the big elephant in the room. Basically, the fans didn't think that the development team were paying any attention to them; in an MMO this is considered bad because the whole point of an MMO is to gradually improve itself to get more subscribers. Then Dan Stahl took over as project leader, and suddenly the perception changed. He created a section where the fans could see exactly what the development team was working on, what they were looking at doing for the future, and quantifying when certain updates would be arriving.

That was the turning point in the relationship between the fans and the dev team. The forums still remain a hotbed of argument, but in the grand scheme of things the fans were contented. Now, 1 year on and the game is much better than where it began. This is, to be honest, the state it should have been launched in. (Not that that was Cryptic's fault, that was Atari forcing them to finish a year earlier than they planned it to). With the mission replay and Episode Creation tools, Diplomacy, better crafting and much more content STO is now in a place where it can work on it's next big project.

STO needs to revamp its ground combat. Right now, it's the only thing that lets the MMO down, and it's something that Star Wars: TOR will have in the bag from the get-go. If Cryptic can pull that off, then by all accounts STO has a good future ahead of it.

Now if only the critics would give it a second chance instead of treating it as an eternal punchline...
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