I’ve recently been interesting in more stratey oriented gaming. So spurred on by the fun of playing the turn-based Shadowrun Chronicles, I decided to jump back into Star Trek Online.
Back when I briefly tried the game last year something didn’t click with me. The game can seem very complex to a new player – especially when you begin to unlock the more advanced systems like crafting or the Duty Officer (DOff) system. This time around I’ve found the game easy to understand. I’ve been playing it when time permits for the last month and have made pretty fast progress on my Klingon tactical character (from about level 14 to level 38).
Although I think of myself as slightly more of a Star Wars fan than a Star Trek fan I’ve certainly watched the movies and TV series over the years. I also really loved the Starfleet Battles tactical board game – the space combat in STO is a pretty good homage to that legacy. It is simpler than I remember SFB being, but still with enough complexity to be interesting (weapon arcs, shield arcs, relative positions in 3D space, power levels, tractor beams etc).
Part of my issue I suppose with the game back when I was last playing was the feeling that encounters were pretty confused, both in space and in ground-based away missions. Stuff just happens while you’re attempting to learn (or remember) all the controls and options. Space combat can feel frantic since the game is quick to send multiple opponents at you. Ground combat feels chaotic as your four NPC bridge officer team runs around showing just a touch too much initiative.
But the game offers the tools to control the chaos, something I didn’t notice or learn about on my first attempt. Simple things like telling your NPC away team where is safe to stand makes all the difference – because even if you’re slow at understanding fast developing tactical situations they are very quick to lay shields and heavy hitting artillery for you. They just need a bit of help not standing in flames, or acid or the like…
As for the space combat I think practice makes all the difference. I did have trouble surviving some of the more challenging early missions but lighter Klingon vessels have a cloaking device so you have more option to stay hidden in-between mission steps to repair back to full. Nowadays, armed with more understanding of some space combat strategies, I’ve eschewed the cowardly cloaking tactics for a more full-frontal assault strategy, my lovely Vor’cha battle cruiser is quite literally my pride and joy.
STO, like Neverwinter, is a pretty easy game to jump back into. Not currently a candidate for a “main MMO”, but something I can happily dip into to queue some DOff missions or to run a few story missions. The mix of ground and space combat is pretty unique in the genre (since in SWTOR space combat is more of a PVP thing); what can I say I’m a sucker for firing a full spread of photon torpedoes at my enemies!