STO- Slowing Down

I didn’t play Star Trek Online a whole lot this week.  I’m not really sure what to do in the game, or how to spend points I’m accumulating in various things.  I fly around and get into it with Orion raiders and minor Klingons, but I don’t really know what to do next.  I could look it up, but I feel it should be intuitive in the game, and higher level zones should be goals on a map that tantalize and beckon a player to level up and be able to explore them.

I still compare things to WoW.  The improvements they made to the interface, and letting new players know what to do, where to go, and how to advance are just second to none from what I’ve seen elsewhere.

I also don’t know anyone who is playing STO, so that doesn’t help, either.  There’s nothing better than playing with friends, and so far I’ve not met or grouped with anyone else in STO.

STO- Not Bad at All

A few days into Star Trek Online now, and I’m really enjoying it so far.  At first, it was a bit daunting finding my way around, and wondering what to do next, as the areas are so big, but the missions have sent me out into content I can readily handle, and I’m learning how to progress through the levels and ranks.

Chris Rickenbacker is now a lieutenant, and almost 4th level.  He’s captain of an old Constitution class starship, just like the Enterprise from the original series.  The phasers even sound the same, which are different from the next generation era phaser sounds.

Deep Space Nine was really the last show set in this universe.  They created so much in TNG and DS9, and then tossed Voyager into a little bubble on the other side of the galaxy, and Enterprise was back in time, so we haven’t seen much of how the alpha quadrant has progressed – until now.  We may not have any movies or series on the horizon to carry on the legacy, but this game does an excellent job of telling stories, and giving us tidbits on the fates of characters and locations we knew from the episodes.

The writing is what makes it good.  Instead of quests, we have “episodes”, which can be multi-part.  It can start in space, lead to some away-team action on a planet, and then back into space for some ship-to-ship combat.  The feel so far is very faithful to the Star Trek franchise.

Game mechanics are a little strange at times.  I don’t like how every game now divides characters up into either tank, healer, or DPS classes.  I don’t like that we have to play for a while to unlock Klingon races and ships – that should be available from jump.  Characters have person armor equipment they wear.  There’s a currency that’s used for customizing ships and skills.  So much of the content can purchased for real money, it makes me think they’ll most likely switch to a play-for-free model, just like Cryptic did with Champions Online.

I’ve been at it for less than a week, but I feel I’ve at least gotten my eight bucks worth so far.  I have a long way to go, but I don’t know if I’d subscribe yet or not. It needs to have a pretty good higher level content system.

STO- Getting the Hang of Things

I spent a little more time with Star Trek Online this evening, and I think I’m getting a feel for it.  I explored the spacedock above Earth, and saw tons of other players and ships in the proximity.

STO- Meet Chris Rickenbacker

Servers were up this morning!

I researched the controls a little more, and know what I’m doing for movement and interaction now. I have the basics of combat down, both for the ships and ground missions.

My first character is a guy named Chris Rickenbacker. He’s an ensign on the USS Fender, and when all of his superior officers are grabbed by the Borg, he becomes acting captain of the ship.

Further observations – we have an inventory, which was missing in City of Heroes. There seems to be some equipment to put on, but I have to research it more. I hear there is crafting and an economy, so I’m looking forward to finding quite a bit to do.

I’ve heard about locations I want to visit, like Deep Space 9, Risa, and the Klingon homeworld.

More to come!

STO- First Impressions

I got Star Trek Online installed and patched fairly quickly.  Here are my initial impressions –

One giant server. From what I can see, all players are in the same space. I haven’t encountered any instances yet.

Character creation was pretty versatile.  Lots of options.  I don’t like that I have to play as the Federation first before I can unlock the Klingon side.  Many races were purchasable through the C-Store, as well as there only being 3 character slots, with more purchasable through the C-Store.  In a free-to-play game, that’s okay, but in one with an active subscription model, showing the player more things you want to sell him that seem like they should be standard choices is not cool.

I made my guy and started the first mission.  Movement was easy.  Interacting and communicating with objectives was not as clear as in World of Warcraft.  I played that game for six years, so I tend to compare things to it, and the expectations from other games is very high.  Combat was pretty easy.  I just hit the fire button over and over again and the game auto-pointed at enemies.  I got stuck in a crouch position and was duck-walking for a while, and couldn’t figure how to get out of it.  The graphics and texture were excellent.  The sounds and feel were good. I saw a few other players running around.

Ship combat was pretty cool.  The graphics are good, but the three dimensions were throwing me off a bit.  It was very easy to wander far away from your objectives.  Again, once you got near them, I just pushed a button to complete things, like beaming survivors over.  It probably gets more complex later on, but it was pretty simple to start with.  There were a few other player-controlled ships flying the same mission, so that’s a good sign.

Yesterday morning, the game was down for maintenance, and I was busy in the evening, so I didn’t make any more progress.

This morning, the game is again down for emergency maintenance, so again, I can’t play.

It has potential, and I think I need to learn the controls better. I can’t do that until I get back in the game, and 2 of my 30 days have been spent offline, which is mostly coincidence. It’s been up in the afternoon and evening, but my primary gaming time is early morning.

Choosing a New Game

So, what to play during a break from World of Warcraft?

I know I didn’t want another fantasy, sword & sorcery genre game.  Over the past year, I did the free trials for Rift, Warhammer, and Age of Conan.  Right away, each one felt like WoW with a different skin.  Each one had differences, but the same general feel was there. I knew nothing in that vein would be fresh enough to hold my attention for a while.

I looked at the super-hero genre. I love comics, and flying around beating up bad guys is kind of fun.  I still have City of Heroes/Villains, and it’s free to play now, but that engine is even older than WoW, and I wasn’t feeling the pull. Paragon City never really became a place that felt like home to me.  I tried the free demo for Champions Online, and it felt just like CoH.  The trailer for DC Universe Online totally licked ass, and the game looked ind of interesting, so that’s one I may eventually try.

What I really wanted to do was venture into space in a sci-fi flavored game, but the choices are pretty narrow.  There’s EVE Online, which is a game I’ve tried before, and I have a character a little beyond the newbie level.  So much of it just seems like text boxes, though.  Cargo holds, the auction house, training – it was all text. Some of the space scenes were stunning, and the shop controls were neat, but I don’t feel like thinking that much right now.  I’m much more of a visual person, and I wanted something that was more pure eye-candy right now.  EVE was my runner-up choice though, so I will likely come back to it and give it a more serious spin at some point.  The Old Republic sounds pretty cool,  but it won’t be out for at least a few months.  I saw some other sch-fi themed games, but they were shooters of tactical sims, and not what I was looking for. That left me with my final choice.

I ended up going with Star Trek Online.  The lore that Cryptic has built this on is pretty solid.  The premise is good, and the flavor is exactly what I was looking for.  Flying around in Federation and Klingon starships is pretty fun.  And being able to leave your ship and wander through the Trek universe has some very appealing aspects to it.

I found the standard edition of the game at Gamestop for $8.  Yes, only eight bucks.  It comes with 30 days of play-time, and an original series Enterprise in-game ship to fly.  I look at it as a month long unrestricted demo, so I’m pretty sure I’ll get at least 8 dollars worth of enjoyment out of it. I’ve paid more than that for a 2 hour movie that sucked.