Star Trek Online: Seven of Mine

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After hopping back into the U.S.S. Rain Bunny, the crew returned to the Delta Quadrant (third best of all quadrants!) for the next mission of Delta Rising. We responded to a distress call from the U.S.S. Callisto, but when we got there, it was smashed up and good.

However, some (all?) of the crew beamed off to a nearby station, including Seven of Nine. Guess it’s her turn for a mission spotlight, so get ready for catsuits and wondering why she couldn’t take off those last two bits of facial prosthetics.

Turns out we landed in the middle of a tussle between Voyager alien species that are obviously from some episode I never watched. Instead of turning around and politely booking it out of there, we did what Starfleet does best — stick our nose into everyone’s business and perform photon torpedo diplomacy.

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After a couple of rather tough fights (the Rain Bunny is definitely not a cruiser), we ended up down on a planetary surface trying to reboot a defense grid so that falling ship debris didn’t wipe out all life there.

Also, Seven of Nine showed me that she has no concept of personal space. For the first few minutes, she was about six inches away from my face at all times, as the above picture attests. C’mon, lady, I’m not even trying to fuel some sort of weird fanfic story. Also, my Breen officer is watching.

Breen guy: “Don’t mind me! Heh heh.”

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I actually like how they stepped up the fight difficulty in this mission. It wasn’t a pushover the way STO battles usually are, but instead delivered a frantic, down-to-the-wire firefight from all quarters.

Although when giant mechs dropped out of space I groaned at how unfair the devs were being… until I realized that those guys were on my side. Then I groaned that I would never get to use something that cool in this game. Cryptic, I would pay to stomp around in a mech all of the time, do you hear me?

Star Trek Online: Making friends in the Delta quadrant

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This place is so Borgy that even space itself has turned green. Or perhaps there was a St. Patty’s Day parade.

Now that things are calming down a little following the Agents of Yesterday intro missions and the Risa summer event, I’m able to get back to questing my way through the episodes in order. I’m still in the middle of the Delta Rising series, so I guess it’s time to do a handful of random missions to make friends with various cameo races from Voyager.

Two out of the four have to do with the Borg and pretty much all of them are just cruising around in your ship and blasting stuff. If nothing else, it was a good excuse to get back in touch with this Atrox carrier. I know last time I spoke of it I was super-excited about getting this ship back, but I have to say that after an hour or so with it, I’m sporting serious reservations.

Mostly my complaint comes down to the sluggish nature of the ship. It’s as agile as a loaded oil tanker and that makes getting anywhere or participating in combat more of a backseat event. Sure, it’s cool to see all of my fighters swarming about, but I have to ditch my torpedoes to go full turrets just so that I can always be fighting.

I’m starting to think that I might want to go back to my heavy escort carrier. Fewer ships, sure, but the photon torpedo spread and the faster speeds and turning would be quite welcome indeed.

Agents of Yesterday is an all-too-brief glimpse into an alternate Star Trek Online

Yeah, things aren’t looking good for the crew of the U.S.S. Pickled Worm. But that’s when you get when you allow a temporal agent to start calling the shots and sending you careening across time.

So last week Star Trek Online released its third expansion, Agents of Yesterday. It might well be the smallest expansion to date — more than a content release, for sure — with about 11 missions, a temporal agent reputation system, and more ships (gotta sell those ships!). Six of the missions are the 23rd century captains-only, so if you don’t roll up a new character, even a temp one, you won’t be seeing them.

It’s a strange format that’s trying to have the best of both worlds and not quite satisfying the hunger for either. Cryptic said that it had discussed creating an original series (TOS) version of Star Trek Online, but wisely decided that it wouldn’t be worth splitting the community and dividing its efforts. So instead we get an extended TOS tutorial/story arc, some one-off missions that anyone can do, and the bizarre inclusion of 23rd century ships in the 25th century universe (then again, it’s probably too late to start nit-picking “should this ship be present and flown by Starfleet captains” in STO).

I’m not saying that the expansion is bad — I actually enjoyed the first six missions. I loved the attention to detail in creating this past Star Trek era, down to the sounds, visuals, and music. The cameos were neat and it’s pretty cool to see how well the STO interface and mission system works with this era. It’s not the first time that we’ve gone back to the 23rd century, so we knew it could be done, but it is nice to see some love for it.

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Good to see Uhura getting some time in the command chair! Also, did anyone else find it strange how very little (almost non-existent) we see Kirk in this expansion that features the Enterprise so heavily?

But for the life of me, I don’t get its purpose other than to be a throwaway 50th anniversary promotion. Brand-new players who choose the 23rd century will be yanked out of that era within a couple of nights, and veterans have to roll up disposable characters just to see these new missions. It’s kind of awkward, especially for those who might have wanted to stay in the 23rd century. Cryptic’s always had a problem with scope in STO — just ask the Klingon faction, which for years struggled with a dearth of content. Yet here we have a new “faction” that’s not one at all, it’s merely a different Lieutenant experience before you’re doing the same thing as everyone else from levels 10 through 60.

Gimmick? I wouldn’t be upset with you if you called it such.

It just feels like a missed opportunity with the 23rd century faction. Again, the missions ARE really well done. Having them pay homage and even intersect with classic episodes brought a smile to this ex-Trekkie’s face. But I would have expected 23rd century sector space to be a semi-permanent home to those who wanted it to be. Maybe open it up to Foundry content creators to pick up the ball and create more missions.

Full disclosure, I still have yet to do the cross-factional Agents of Yesterday missions that anyone can access, which should throw in more time travel and TOS-era adventures. I’m merely expressing my consternation that the “23c” captains are robbed of a full experience the way that the other factions get.

Star Trek Online: Two new(ish) ships

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The other day I finally finished up my Risa dailies to earn my first free tier 6 ship in the game. From the picture, I thought it looked a little goofy, to be honest, but once I flew it around for real, I came to appreciate its beauty and alien-ness. It’s certainly different from the standard Starfleet ship design and has kind of a sleek, organic flow to it.

I probably won’t be using it other than in my admiralty campaign, but it’s just nice to have. When I got it, a notice informed me that I would have access to this ship across my entire account, something that made me think for a second…

So I went to the C-store and looked up the old Atrox carrier that I bought years ago, and sure enough, it was unlocked account-wide. I know it’s silly, but I really didn’t realize this until now. In the span of one night, I attained two more ships for my fleet.

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As much as I’ve liked the Rain Bunny’s heavy carrier escort, it doesn’t hold up in design compared to the Atrox. I just love this sleek, exotic-looking beauty. So I switched all of my stuff over, including a wing of Peregine fighters.

It’s a bit of a change — the Atrox handles like a slug compared to the escort, but on the upside I get to launch two full wings of fighters (12) verses just one wing (6) in the old ship. I also couldn’t bring over my torpedo point defense system which I really loved in the escort, but to take the sting out of it, the Atrox has two more device slots.

I’ll evaluate between the two and see, but right now it’s good to be back into the role of a full carrier captain.

Star Trek Online: Neelix and nihilism

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The Rain Bunny: It will be the last thing half of the galaxy will ever see. Launch all fighters!

Since today is Agents of Yesterday’s launch, I thought it appropriate to get a blog post out on everything I’ve been doing in Star Trek Online that’s completely not related to the recent expansion.

Cryptic had reactivated several featured episode series with special rewards, so I made it a priority over the weekend to get these done before they went away for who knows how long. I realized I was a complete dope, because it wasn’t after I replayed the entirety of the Breen arc to get my new bridge officer did someone inform me that I didn’t have to re-do the whole chain if I had done it before — only the last mission. D’oh! Following that, I got the shard of possibilities (I can summon multiple mes!) and the goofy cane, then declared that effort a wrap.

I also finally finished up my Risa dailies and earned my free T6 escort. I don’t see me using this a lot in my regular travels, but I was glad to get it for the neat console and to use as another pawn in my admiralty campaign.

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Then it was off to the next Delta Rising story in that arc, this one featuring… (sigh)… Neelix. OK, I guess I can’t totally blame Cryptic for roping in any regular cast member it could get, and I have nothing personal against Ethan Phillips. But even I, a non-Voyager watcher, find Neelix incredibly irritating, and I’m sure the game’s producers weren’t unaware that his inclusion would be like throwing a bucket of fleas in the face of a family having a picnic at a park.

So he’s annoying, he was finally booted off of the ship at the end of the show, and now we’re back to see how Neelix has done for himself over the past 30 years. Astonishingly, he hasn’t accidentally killed himself or found someone else to do the job for him, so Neelix is kind of the Big Cheese down at the cracker factory. Or the Telaxian asteroid colony, a sort of hellish limbo for this ugly, ugly race.

For those hoping that this episode would somehow redeem Neelix and make him less of an obvious attempt to shoehorn in a comedic sidekick, sorry to say that you’ll probably end up resenting him just as much if not more. The whole episode is Neelix getting you to clean up one mess after the other, including a rather long and unnecessary chain of conversations in which you try to find which lazy and/or incompetent Telaxian has to work a particular shift.

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Also, Neelix got himself a girlfriend/wife who is just as death-prone as he.

So here’s one pet peeve I have about Star Trek Online: The game very rarely allows you a wide variety of dialogue choices, instead forcing you to select the only option which is, in Starfleet fashion, unfailingly polite, diplomatic, and simpering. Sarcastic responses and hostile tones are only rarely offered — and definitely were missing in this mission.

If I couldn’t kill Neelix — and I couldn’t — the very least the mission could let me do is insult him and berate his unfailing uselessness. But nope, it’s all “what can I do for you!” and “no problem!” and “what other messes can I mop up for you, my good fellow!”

Grrrr.

Let’s just hope that with this mission over and Neelix safely deposited on a new homeworld, he will recede into the rear-view mirror, never to bother Trek again.

 

Star Trek Online: Mind meldin’ with Tuvok

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Captain’s log, Stardate July 1, 2016

The U.S.S. Rain Bunny has decided that the Dyson Sphere mission chain was silly and superfluous, and therefore we have jettisoned those in favor of starting in on the Delta Rising content. Considering that we are almost right on top of Star Trek Online’s third expansion, it feels right to at least get into its second one.

Voyager was never my favorite Star Trek series. For one thing, it came about after my interest in Trek had dropped off, so I’ve only seen a few episodes here and there. But I’ve seen enough SF Debris productions to know that it was more of a missed opportunity than a truly great series. So I’m approaching the expansion with more of a blank slate than normal, officially neutral in the whole like/dislike spectrum.

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The expansion starts out with a visit to the iconic Voyager. I found it kind of funny that the second you beam aboard, the lady who greets you says that there’s no time for a tour — and then the rest of the mission is basically an extended tour of the ship. I don’t blame the devs for doing this; it’s kind of creative and a change of pace from the normal mission structures. Plus, a lot of work had to have been done in recreating the Voyager for this expansion.

While Delta Rising didn’t get Cap’n Janeway back — Star Trek Online can’t seem to afford any of the top-billing captains — it did secure five of the show’s cast members. That’s impressive, although did we have to bring Neelix back? At least he’s not in this mission.

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Neat detail on the bridge: the dedication plaque.

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Hey, it’s Tuvok. This means that, out of the three MMOs I’m currently playing, Tim Russ has done voice work in two of them (he was one of the Orochi guys in The Secret World talking about “red shirts”).

We’re trying to track down the evil Doctor Cooper, who is actually a shape-shifting Undine. Cooper’s assaulting Tuvok’s mind from afar, so I have to jump into his noggin to fight this cerebral incursion.

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The mindscape is actually pretty well done. In addition to touring around the Voyager, there are several optical illusions and opportunities to blast the show’s crew members, as I’m doing to Harry Kim in the above picture.

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There’s nothing really frustrating about this mission, and I like how it concentrates more on telling a story than making it a nonstop battle with the Voyager as a backdrop. Jogging around these corridors must have seemed like coming home to the show’s fans.

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Eventually, we track down Cooper in fluidic space, where he’s got this gigantic bio-ship under control. After a fight, we beam aboard and convince the rest of the Undine that Cooper is a gigantic jerk and that they should really team up with the good guys to fight the Iconians. Cooper gets “repurposed” into something else. I like to think as a bidet for the enlisted men’s restroom.

Star Trek Online: Spheres of Influence

I’m at a very happy point in my Star Trek Online career: I’m finally as far as I’ve ever been, which means from here on out it’s all brand-new missions to complete. And there are a lot of them too, since I’ve got the Dyson Sphere series, the Delta Rising expansion, the Iconian War, and the Future Proof missions. Plus, y’know, the new expansion coming out in a week or two here.

It’s enough to keep me and the crew of the Rain Bunny quite busy.

The first of these “new” missions was Sphere of Influence. This had me head over to New Romulus to help those peeps activate an Iconian gateway, despite the vibes and Worf practically shouting “THIS IS GOING TO END VERY VERY BADLY.”

Also, I’ve lost track of who are our friends and enemies. I thought we were just fighting against the Romulans and Klingons, but here are best of friends. I’m not really tracking the alliances and factions very well, I fear.

Anyway, surprise surprise, things end very badly. The newly activated gate starts bringing the cavern down on us, so everyone leaps through the gateway into some unknown facility. There, according to horror movie law, we all split up and start getting picked off one by one. One guy gets his blood replaced by synthetic something, which isn’t as helpful for living as you would think.

Eventually we come out onto a series of floating platforms, which is easily the visual highlight of the mission. It’s quite well-done, too, as the sky keeps shifting to show you different major planets of the galaxy and the dire plans that the Iconians have for them, like gentrification on Earth.

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“Hey Worf? I think it’s time to boogie out of here. The enemy has formed a raid team — and we’re the boss target.”

This mission was so long, in fact, that the first night I was playing it I logged off in the middle of it and found my progress reset about 20 minutes back. Alas.

Eventually we steal a carrier and destroy a space gateway to keep a fleet from invading or somesuch. I thought it was pretty amusing that the game was then giving me a tutorial on using carrier ships, even though the Rain Bunny is one. Launching fighters, you say? How novel!