Star Trek Online Review: Tier 1

I have finally made it to level 11 or Lt. Commander if you want to use the proper terminology and as I said I would write a review when I reached that level. So here it is!

Let’s just start this review by stating some facts to keep it nice and clear. I have played the game for a total of 16 hours in release and about 10 hours in open beta. This is not even close to enough time to do a full review of the game. I believe for a mmo that it requires at least 6 months to truly understand the game and to give it a real review. But I do think that 16 hours is enough time to tell if you like the game and it is enough time to write a first impressions kind of review which is what this will be. I only played one class and did not play a Kligion or any PVP.

Character Creation and Tutorial

I picked a human engineer as my first character. The character creator is fantastic just like all other Cryptic games. The tutorial is good the first time and is really bad the second time. It is way to linear and there should be a way to skip it the second time. I find this with most games that choose to instance the first few levels to let you get used to your character, for alts it sucks.

The game does a good job of teaching you the basic controls but does a terrible job of telling you what each skill does and how it affects your character.

Questing

The mission structure is again fun the first two or three times you do them. The patrol missions follow a very similar pattern and get very repetitive. You must go to 5 systems and then kill/scan/save/salvage 5 things around/on that planet. Each thing will be protected by 3 normal ships or 1 bigger ship. Rinse and Repeat.

The story missions are much better and are really fun to do but there are not enough of them to get you all the way up. They are like mini episodes of a show. They are very well done and I have even run into some characters from the series or offspring of the characters. It is really cool if you watched any of the Star Trek show. They are pretty long but if you get interrupted it will allow you to continue where you left off.

There are also these fleet actions also known as Public Quests. I only did one of these but I did it a few times and while it was fun the reward was terrible. I barely got any skill points and the loot was worthless. They need a lot of work to make them worth doing for me.

Combat

Space combat is very well done and feels very strategic. You have various systems to manage and choices to make when you are fighting; it is a very engaging and rewarding system. I have spent a lot of time fine tuning my tactics to kill as quickly as possible and it has been a lot of fun. There is so much that you can do and learn to make you more effective like picking your officers and training up your skills. It is one of those systems that is easy to learn but takes a life time to master. It is some of the best combat I have experienced in an MMO in a long time.

Ground combat is completely different than space combat and uses a different set of skill. Ground combat is more like your traditional MMO combat except you have 4 pets with you that you can train and level up. I find ground combat to be a lot of fun, sometimes it is a little long and gets frustrating but I believe that is because I put all of my training points into space combat so I am gimped on the ground. The ground combat does feel kind of added on and could use some polish.

Graphics

Well it is beautiful and runs very well on my mid range system.

Immersion

This is where the game falls apart. The game is very instanced and you have to zone 3 times just to go from a base to another system. It kills the massive feel of space and turns it into little areas to kill things in. There is no sense of exploration or of the vastness that is space.

Then we have sector space, probably the worse implementation of travel EVER. It is a big blue grid that is broken up into sector blocks (more zones) and it is supposed to represent warp travel. It looks nothing like space and just totally kills any immersions you may have had. It is just terrible.

Conclusion

The game is the best Star Trek game available and many will enjoy it a lot. But if you are a mmo tourist like me it is not a very long stop on your trip to find the perfect mmo. It is missing the depth to last very long for some one that is not seriously interested in the lore. Like most Cryptic games it does one or two things very well and totally fails at the other things.

I give it a totally random score of

90/118

Buy Star Trek Online

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Hoopla over the C-Store

It seems a lot of people have a strong opinion over cryptic charging for different federation races at release. It has taken me awhile to decide what I think about this type practice. On one hand I don’t really want to play either race so it really does not bother me that much. On the other what happens when they do want to charge me for something I want?

I think the root of the problem that people are having with this is that cryptic is still charging a full subscription price for the game. I think if they lowered the price to $9.99 a month or offered you 500 cryptic points each month people would not be bothered by it. I would defiantly like the 9.99 per month subscription rate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg though. They will start to offer ships, weapons, uniforms, and various other items. When they start to do this people start to feel that they need to buy everything, instead of people just telling cryptic to take a flying leap they will actually buy it. That is why they do it; players purchase these items and still pay the monthly fee. The only repercussions that they get are some angry bloggers and forum posters.

My over all feelings for this is that I don’t really care. They can try what they want. I will not buy any of it until they lower the subscription costs.

Some Star Trek Online Screen Shots

This is on one of the first missions you get. I am about to rescue a stranded mining ship

This is right after I beamed down to a planet. This has been my favorite mission so far. It had several steps with multiple ground and space missions. It shows me what this game is capable of.

Where did the seamless worlds go?

When the second generation of MMOs (DAoC, AO, FFXI, and Shadowbane) was being release this was one of the biggest selling points for these games. Big open worlds and no zones, at the time this was one of the big complaints about EQ (King of the mountain at that time). So all of the developers were working on ways of making a game that did not have small zones like EQ.

DAoC actually accomplished its goal of making most of the world seamless. The only times that you zoned were into dungeons and the capitol cities. When they added an expansion you would have to zone in to it also. But the world was big and alive. You could actually walk around the capitol cities they existed in the game world. This really added to the feeling that you were in a real world and felt real.

Then out came the 3rd generation MMOs (EQ2 and WoW) EQ2 stuck to its guns and continued the zoning thing the zones were huge but you still had zones. WoW on the other hand has a pretty much seamless world there are zones but only where they make sense. Wow’s system is very similar to DAoC and I personally believe is the right way to do it.

Now come the current generation of games and the first one out of the gate is Age of Conan. Age of Conan decided to go extra heavy on the zones. Then WAR is released and what do you know every zone is instanced. We also have the recent cryptic MMOs that don’t even try to hide that the entire game is instanced.

Now that the history lesson is over, why are they doing this?

Developers will tell you it is to customize the experience for the player, it is make the story better, or even reduce lag. But the real reason is Laziness! That is why. By making everything instanced they are able to dynamically allocate resources based on load and it saves a ton of money and time doing it this way. Every server can load any instance, it is really a very cool technology. But it is killing immersion in games.

In WAR the map and the physical world do meld well together through most of the game. But when you get to the end game and you do a city siege all of the cool siege weapons that you have been using just disappear and you zone into the city. You are not trying to break the walls down you zone into it and fight over some flags. Then you fight some PVE battles and in the end you really had no effect on the real world. Mythic really screwed the pooch on city sieges they should have been epic but they ended up being and epic PVE zerg fest.

Now to the game that prompted this entire wall of text Star Trek online. The entire game is instances which would not be so bad if they were large, but they are not. What kind of space has small zones? Space is huge the zones should be huge. They should all be connected by space it should be seamless. Cryptic really missed the entire premise of Star Trek

Space… the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

How the hell can you do any of that if there are 30 other people in the zone with you? There should be expanses of empty space with random encounters and planets to explore. How can you make a Star Trek game without exploration? HOW?

By making the entire game instanced. They were lazy and decided to make it on the Champions Online engine because it was easy. But don’t worry you can customize your ship like nobody’s business.

Developers stop being lazy and make a real game. If you want to even try to compete with WoW the world needs to feel like a world.