I mentioned before that I’ve been playing Star Trek Online Beta and it just ended yesterday. I think it lasted 2 weeks? That seems like a REALLY short beta to me, but I haven’t been in a lot of them so maybe not. You’d think it would certainly last a lot longer for an MMO since there is so much content (haha… there isn’t much content).
First lets talk about leveling. In two weeks I made it to level 43 (max level is 50). There are plenty of beta testers that made it to 50 in this VERY short period of time. Leveling felt like a new alt that had a full set of heirloom items. The effort required to level was next to nothing. I spent a lot of time killing mobs that were literally 13 levels above me.
Starting out everyone has the same class of ship, Miranda class, that can be modified for different looks. Levels 11, 21, 31, 41, and 50 you get the ability to upgrade your ship which gives new graphics and extra slots to equip things into. At level 11, your first ship upgrade, you are able to pick a specialized type of ship escort, cruiser, or science vessel.
I’ll talk about the questing system below.
Talent / Skill System: C
At each of the level tiers (11, 21, etc.) you gain access to a new tier of abilities that you can spend the skill points you earn. I only tried out a tactical officers so it might be different if you are science or engineering but all of my talents were simply to increase a certain function. A lot of them were things I never used which leads me to believe the talent trees are the same for every class. All of the talents were X% increase, be it damage or health / shield points.
Luckily there is a redeeming quality in the system that comes from your Bridge Officers (BOs). BOs are just NPCs that you take down to planets as part of away teams (when you don’t have real life players to group with). BOs have abilities that you spend skill points on to increase (usually it just lowers the cooldown on the abilities). There are 3 types of BOs, tactical, engineer, and science and have abilities according to that.
Some of the abilities are insanely overpowered. Torpedo: High Yield III allows your next torpedo shot to fire 3 extra torpedo’s. You combine this with Quantum Torpedos that have a long cooldown but high damage for some pretty nasty shots that will utterly rip apart some lower ships. Mainly its just a lot of balancing issues in the abilities.
User Interface: B-
The UI has been refaced a couple of times and its not a bad UI. It’s simple, sleek, and gets the job done. Everything seems at your finger tips and for the most part easy to find. Nothing really negative to say about it.
The minus comes from the fact that the space map is atrocious. You have 3 maps. One is the galaxy map that shows, get this, the whole galaxy. It shows each ‘sector block’ (read: zone) and the sectors that are in it (2-4). Then there is the sector list, that lists each planet in the sector block you are in. There is however, no way to get a list of planets in other sectors, you simply have to fly around and check each list. Note: If I’m wrong on this please someone correct me.
My only problem in this area (which probably doesn’t completely have to do with the UI) is that the game is definitely not optimized. I don’t have any problem running two monitors when I’m 25man raiding but to play STO the game is really… laggy? jerky? delayed response time? when I’m playing with it like that. I didn’t really count it in the score for the UI though.
Storyline / Questing: D
They have this system called Genesis that can create quests on the fly. This sounds awesome! It is not. Why? There isn’t very many variables in the Genesis system. This is how it works… it decides if you will be doing space or ground. Then it decides between gather or kill. They think the variety comes from the fact that you might be killing Klingons or Romulans or Borg oh my! It gets REALLY old REALLY fast.
I lumped Storyline into this because it brings the questing grade up a notch. The federation side is pretty good, you have some decent storyline with an okay flow. You learn a lot of random information about Star Trek, its all good. The Klingons have no storyline. If you have played Champion’s Online (I haven’t) I’m told it is similar to the villains option. It would be like if all the quests / storyline were on the Alliance side and the only reason to play horde was so that you could kill alliance. The Klingons exist only for the Federation to have someone to pvp against.
Note: Cloak is OP.
I really like the variety of equipment you can get. Different types of weapons do different things. You have phasers and disruptors that lower a targets resists and tetryon weapons that have increased damage versus shields or plasma that puts a dot on the persons hull. Different colors and looks… really loved this part of the game. Just from the color of someones attacks you can quickly tell what kind of weapons they are using (but not the rank or if its an uncommon or rare item… which is good).
Space Combat: B
This is what they should have focused on and said fuck ground combat. I don’t care if away teams are a part of Star Trek… Eve + Star Trek ships = win.
Getting used to space combat coming from WoW is a bit rough. Adding that 3rd dimension can really throw you off sometimes. You also have to manage the speed of your ship and its speed effects your turn rate (which is really important). Another big aspect is the fact that weapons have firing arcs. Depending on the direction your ship is facing and the relative position of the enemy ship you could be in a position where you have no weapons that fire! It is a great part of the game and I did like it quite a bit. You can focus on frontal attacks, loading up on heavy weapons that have a small arc but pack a punch or go for larger arcs with lower damage but allowing you to strafe around your opponent.
The difficulty I faced in space combat though was the adjustment from WoW. In WoW you are used to that instant turning… STO is NOT like that. The importance of firing arc would be nullified if you could instantly turn any direction which lends itself to making the game feel a bit… sluggish. You’ll get over it quickly though and at higher tiers the ships have better turn rates and you can get gear that increases that.
Ground Combat: F
I’m slightly bias here as I didn’t want ground combat in the first place. I wanted Eve’ish with Star Trek ships. The ground combat does suck though. I found myself often facing some random direction because I had an enemy targeted so my toon would run in weird positions. They also recently nerf’d the NPCs… REALLY nerf’d them, far beyond what they meant to I think. It caused there to literally be no challenge. I would spring from the entrance to the end of the little instance you’d be in and then tell my cohorts to focus on a target at the end (where I was at). They’d run to me and drag all the NPCs we ran past and we’d just AE them.
It feels half assed. I really didn’t enjoy it.
I really love Star Trek. It’s the reason I preordered it, its the reason I played beta, its the reason I will likely play at least a month or two of it. It is also the only reason I think anyone will be playing it for the first month or two.
I didn’t see any form of a high-end type content, I didn’t find any challenge to leveling, the system as a whole was poorly optimized and was causing lag with really amazing systems and the game felt rushed. Maybe Cryptic jumped in over their heads, I don’t know. I haven’t played any of their other MMOs.
People have said to me… most MMOs start out shit and get better as they go though. I don’t understand why I should have to take that into account. I didn’t buy Dragon Age: Origins and then they mailed me the ending a month later. I paid for a finished product and my monthly fee goes to improving that product. Asking me to pay for your game while it should still be in beta (or worse, alpha) phases isn’t fair to the consumer. I hope the game gets better, I really do. Giving it an… unpleasant review makes me kind of sad.
Will I play it? Yes.