I can’t explain the currents of my whims and tastes, but I found myself once again drawn to Star Trek Online (I know, I know) after reading a bit about the Season 2 update. I wasn’t under any delusions that it suddenly morphed into an awesome game, but I needed a bit of mindless violence and visual eye candy. So once again my computer felt the cold, icy hands of Cryptic clutch at it.
Fun fact number one: Did you know that I was still paying for a STO subscription, even though I canceled it back in late May or early June? If you did, then you’re not my friend because you didn’t tell me. But apparently, yes, I’ve been shelling out fifteen bucks a month that went overlooked on our bank statement. This got more fun as I discovered that the ability to submit a ticket on their website didn’t work (huh, guess that cuts down on customer service’s workload) and the phone number I fished out of a directory led straight to an answering machine. Fortunately, one of the devs came to my aid over twitter and directed me to another place to enter a ticket.
So that’s still in the works.
Fun fact number two: I logged back on to my highest-level character, only to be assaulted by what I can only describe as a one-minute long wall of text, as the game kept spamming accolade achievements and XP increases and level dings all over the screen, catching me up on the past few months. It was pretty funny, and I think I got two levels out of it when it was all said and done.
However, I decided to roll a new character — a Bajoran science officer — to see the new changes from the beginning. I had fun naming my Borg bridge officer “Three Point One Four” because, as Tipa said, “She likes pi?”
Everyone likes pie.
So far so interesting. I tried a couple of the diplomacy missions, and really couldn’t figure the one on Vulcan out (in my defense, the quest stumped a lot of other folks too — I think the direction given was too vague). The Memory Alpha diplo quests were easier to understand, and actually reminiscent of classic RPG dialogue quests — talk to people, piece together clues, make crucial decisions based on info gathered. Diplomacy’s a good idea to have in the game as long as they work hard to make it at least half as interesting as combat.
STO gets a lot of crap thrown its way these days, much of it deserved (it still lacks a lot of compelling, repeatable content; the item shop practically screams “money grubbing insanity”; sector space still exists what is up with that come ON Cryptic), but it’s certainly not all bad. As someone said in the fleet last night, this game has gotten pretty good when nobody was looking.
There are two parts of the game that really connect with me. The first is being able to have a ship that you piece together and outfit — I have enough virtual people MMOs, I think I needed a virtual vehicle MMO as well. The second is that space combat in particular isn’t as fixed as combat in other games. There’s a surprising amount of strategy that goes into it, not only with positioning but also how you outfit your ship. For my starter ship, I dumped the torpedoes and decided to invest in two forward-firing disrupters (one a dual bank, one a dual cannon), then because the starter area is pretty easy, I fly around all the time with maxed-out power to the weapons. The end result? If I can keep an enemy in my sights, they go down and fast. But there’s certainly a lot of different ways you can go with ship builds and how you attack.
I’d like to see the top tier one of these days, but it’ll be a while coming if ever since I’m juggling a few different MMOs (and another new one for my Game Archaeologist column next month) at the moment.