I have been in need of something new to play since coming back from holiday. A lot of the older games on my hard drive just don’t interest me enough even to double click them at the moment – I can’t really say why. In any case we finally watched the Star Trek: Into Darkness movie last weekend and that was enough to awaken a desire to try this MMO.
The game is easy to access via Perfect World’s Arc client (the same I use to run Neverwinter). We have accounts for Neverwinter already so no delays from account sign-up issues. The game seems to play well enough although I had some troubles with the initial graphics setup, it’s an older game than Neverwinter and it shows in the more cantankerous side to the engine.
Creating my first captain, an Andorian engineer, I launched into the game alongside my partner’s newly minted character, a Trill scientist. The selection of races is pretty impressive. Yes, it’s true that they’re mostly humans with some facial changes but then that’s equally true in SWTOR – in a perverse sense STO is truer to the Star Trek universe than SWTOR is to Star Wars since you can play most of the major Star Trek races out of the box.
The tutorial is lengthy with plenty of dialogue to click through and a combination of space and ground missions as well. The game fails to mention that (at least as far as we could tell) grouped new characters cannot do anything together until after they’ve exited the tutorial sequence. So we had to solo the first chain of missions before arriving to stand next to one another at Earth Space Dock. It’s hardly a game-breaking issue, we had the same problem in Neverwinter in fact but I would like an MMO to admit that you can’t group rather than let us group but then give no way to swap to the other player’s instance.
Since then we’ve managed to run a mission together with no big problems. My partner’s scientist accolade (a bonus step to the mission just for scientists) bugged out, probably because we didn’t do the steps in the exact order needed but the mission was fun otherwise. Space combat is impressive if somewhat confusing at this early stage. It closely resembles a simplified version of Starfleet Command, an old tactical spaceship combat game also based on Star Trek. The ships move with a certain realism, you have control over power levels, shields and speed and of course an array of weapons the use of which requires some tactical thinking as position of your ship relative to the target matters.
Ground missions are standard MMO fare in comparison, running around an instance clicking on things, killing enemies and interacting with friendly NPCs. We’ve not yet done anything that complex but both halves of the game could be enjoyable and there’s certainly a ton of customisation to be had for your character, your bridge officers (somewhat like SWTOR’s companion characters) and your ship(s) as well. My partner noted how disconnected the two halves of the game feel, ship missions and ground missions. I understand the point but then the two types of content do fit well with the various Star Trek series and movies – it’s part of the setting to have ship combat and ‘away missions’.
I don’t know yet whether we’ll play STO for very long, but it’s nice to have something new to explore at a leisurely pace and since it’s free to play there’s no barrier to us continuing to play this game for some time to come.