Star Trek Online – First Impressions

I wouldn’t exactly characterize myself as a Star Trek geek or a Trekie as I’ve only seen a few TOS episodes and my favorite Star Trek is the last 2 1/2 seasons of DS9, the most hated Star Trek out there apparently. But I am a fan of Star Trek as a whole. I love the stories, the deep science and the very deep and intricate universe that is crafted. So when I heard there was going to be a Star Trek MMO my inner geek jumped with joy.

I  currently play two games, World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2. MW2 is going to be quickly replaced by Battlefield Bad Company 2 when it comes out. So I’m giving some first impressions as an MMO player and a Star Trek fan.

First thing I have to say it that it’s buggy and there are stability issues. But the game isn’t even a month old, with the pre-release customers getting access via the beta client on January 29th 2010 and everyone else on the US on February 2nd 2010 and Europe on February 5th. Could there have been things to help this out? Sure Cryptic could have had an open beta to stress the system and work out the stability issues. This is something that I’ve seen other MMO’s do and I think it works really well. If your luck your open beta users will also discover bugs and cheats that you can patch before paying customer start using the system. In three months if the game is still having this large amount of problems then you can gripe, but for now all I can say is be patient or play something else for a while.

Also unlike WoW, and I assume other MMO’s, the game doesn’t come with any free time. I think when I started WoW I had 30 days to play when I bought the game. Here you spend $60 bucks on the game and immediately pay another $15 for your first months of play, pretty crappy in my opinion.

My other gripes are pretty minor and will work themselves out in time. The economy seems extremely thin and a little messed up. The Exchange (STO’s version of the Auction House) is littered with long running highly priced junk. I have four currencies (Energy Credits, Starfleet Marks, Explorer Marks and Marks of Honor). This seems excessive in this stage of the game. WoW didn’t launch with that many and added them over time, which I think is the right way to go. The game just really teaches you some basics then throws you to the wolves. It took me forever to locate things on my galaxy map because you can’t zoom into a sector, you have to fly to that sector then look. I would love to be able to set a course to a system in another sector and my ship fly me there.

Cross zone and cross faction chatting is a mess. Each area you are in the game has multiple zones or instances. You can view this like Dungeons in WoW, where your 5 man is separate from others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a Deep Space Encounter (like a 5 man dungeon) and hear some dude screaming for help in a completely different zone. Once you get into sector space cross zone chat is like Alliance trade chat, it’s a mess and completely full of garbage. Cross faction chatting is going to lead to griefing and taunting, but for some people that’s ok and others not so much. The best thing is when you ignore someone it does it for their entire account, so they can’t get on another character and continue. This is a new MUST HAVE FEATURE for every MMO.

I’ve got an extremely long post thus far and all I’ve done is point out my issues with the game. But I really do like it. Space combat is a completely blast and I love the experience and 3D space fighting. I’m currently a Lieutenant Commander 6 (level 16 in WoW years) and I’m piloting an Escort, think of the Defiant from DS9 a little damage dealer like that. I love zipping around strafing the larger moving Cruisers, it’s lots of fun. Escorts are the DPS dealers in STO, Cruisers like the Enterprise in TNG, are the ‘tank’ class and Science ships, like Voyager in the series, are healers and buffers.

There are three professions, Tactical Officers, Engineering Officer and Science Officer and they provide the best benefit to those ships. Tactical in Escort, Engineering in Cruisers and Science in well Science. But you can piloting any ship regardless, it’s just the best overall fit.

You can leave the ship and be on an away team as well. Ground combat is a little clunky but completely tolerable. But I don’t play STO for the ground combat but it does offer a nice little break. I tried my hand at space PvP last night and had a complete blast with a few members from the Fleet (guild) I’m in.

Because I’m not max level and am still progressing through the content the game is fun and exciting. People who are already max level are complaining that there is no end-game content, although they did add a little bit a few days ago. Even if your not a fan of MMO’s, you really never have to interact with anyone. I would have no problems leveling all the way to the max level without joining a fleet or really interacting with other people. But I like social interaction when I play games so those are things I do engage in and have fun with.

There is so much in the Star Trek universe that I’m excited to see what the future may hold for Star Trek Online. Even if I don’t play more then a day a week or a few hours a month I’ll probably keep my subscription alive so I can relax from WoW or Bad Company 2 and blow up some smelly Klingon or some Borg drone every one and a while. If you like Star Trek but hate MMO’s pick up the game and try it. It feels more single person to me then any other MMO I’ve ever tried which I think works well and if you can find a way to disable Zone chat it would be space travel’ie, ship blowing up fun in the vacuum of space.

About: Shawn Jackson

I’ve spent the last 18 years in the world of Information Technology on both the IT and Development sides of the aisle. I’m currently a Software Engineer for Paylocity. In addition to working at Paylocity, I’m also the Founder of Resgrid, a cloud services company dedicated to providing logistics and management solutions to first responder organizations, volunteer and career fire departments, EMS, ambulance services, search and rescue, public safety, HAZMAT and others.

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