What’s In a Game? Star Trek Online Season 8

Ah, Star Trek Online (STO).  A game worthy of praise in many respects, and it just keeps getting better.  But what exactly is it?  You’re in luck, folks, because that’s what you’ve got me for.  To boldly go where no gamer has gone before.  Waidaminute, I’m hearing that’s a bit…too…campy?  Ok, fine; to explore the reaches of the internet for awesome games.  Better?

Originally produced by Cryptic Studios, it is now owned by Perfect World Entertainment.  It’s rated T for Teen on the grounds of Fantasy Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes.

Now that we have all of the housekeeping taken care of, let’s get to the fun stuff!

Star Trek Online has an incredibly immersive play experience. From ground combat to space combat, you really feel like you’re living inside an episode.  Some locations will be familiar, while others will be expansion by exploration.  Space really is the Final Frontier. Many familiar races are playable, which is a huge plus.  Tons of people get into character in STO and roleplay their race and role beautifully.  My main character is a Betazoid Blueshirt- basically human but with black irises – which is the same race as Lwaxana Troi. Maybe you don’t want to play for the Federation (Star Fleet).  Is our brass just a little too…tame…for your taste?  You’re in luck!  As of Season 7: New Romulus the Klingon Defense Force has a fully playable faction (previously level 20-50, and most leveling was through PvP).  The Romulan Faction has also been introduced, offering players a chance to join the Romulan Republic and become an ally of either the Federation of KDF.

Now, I mentioned “Blueshirt” earlier.  That means he’s a Science/Medical officer.  Their role is primarily support/healer in Star Trek Online, and their ships of choice are (fittingly…) Science Vessels.  SVs offer the same kind of combat support in space as they do on the ground, but their special Subsystem Targeting makes them really handy for all of the DPS in the area!  Redshirts are Tactical/Security, while Yellowshirts are Engineering/Operations.  Redshirts fill the role of DPS (damage per second), because their insane buffs to firepower (such as Overwatch) amp up their damage considerably. In space, Redshirts usually fly Escorts.  Escorts are small, maneuverable glass-cannon (meaning low defenses with incredibly high burst damage) style ships.  They’re excellent at getting around to the enemy’s weakest shield and unloading a huge cannon barrage to take them down.  Yellowshirts excel on the ground as being either support or tanks. They conjure up gizmos and gadgets such as Support Drones, Cover Shields, and Beam Turrets to do their dirty work for them, all while running around behind the scenes to keep things moving.  Having a good Engineer is like having a second Science Officer on the ground, and in Space you don’t stand a chance without an Engineer in their Cruiser.  Just like on the ground, Cruisers are the tank ships.  Low on maneuverability, high on defenses.  In a recent patch they were given some taunt-tools (FINALLY!) to help them perform more efficiently.

So you want to be a Redshirt but such fancy flying doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? That’s fine!  While your captain’s unlocked abilities work best on their own type of vessel, I’ve seen plenty of Redshirts in SVs, Blueshirts in Cruisers, and Yellowshirts doing insane damage in an Escort.  It takes a bit of work to pull off, but any captain can effectively fly any ship.

Because the game is set after the events of Star Trek: Voyager, the color schemes don’t match up perfectly for fans of The Original Series, but they still follow the same trends.  For fans of older eras, uniform options are available all the way back to The Original Series for a small price in the cash shop.

And while we’re on customization, WOW!  You really get to customize not only your crew and captain for a unique appearance, but you get to trick out your ship as well. Different types of ship weapons appear in different colors, and each has a specific effect.  Plasma, for instance, is a blue/green and has a chance to apply a small Damage over Time (DoT) debuff.  Shields and engines can alter the color of your hull or warp trails.  Your ship can be an absolute rainbow if you really want it to be…though that’ll cut down considerably on your DPS.

As for Season 8, the new content is awesome.  Captains sitting at max level have the opportunity to enter The Solonae Dyson Sphere and battle the Voth.  It feels a lot like open-world raiding but without the boss.  For the Space side of things, all three factions will be working together to stop the Voth from obtaining the potentially devastating Omega Particles.  On the ground, you’ll be battling through waves in a point-capture scenario, trying to push back the Voth and take the Omega Particle Silos for the Omega Task Force. It’s a lot of new daily and repeatable content to tinker with, but unfortunately the “Episodes” in this new season feel very lackluster.  It feels more like an introduction to the new area rather than the meat and potatoes.  Luckily the repeatable content is enjoyable and seems to advance the story.

A quick note about future columns: hopefully they won’t feel quite so clunky.  In theory, my future articles will focus on the game as it is now (usually as it was when I started playing it) and future follow-ups will focus on a more in-depth analysis of the update at large. Seeing as this was the first time out, I had to talk about STO in all of its glory…but also wanted to focus on the new stuff before I forgot all of it!

On a personal note, thank you to everyone who has commented (and who continues to comment!) on these posts with ideas and feedback.  I’m reading it all and will try to play each and every game you submit, within the limits of my laptop.  I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you all!

Until next time, continue to ponder What’s In a Game?

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