Star Trek Online: Gullibility, thy name is Starfleet


“Remember when this game used to be about our adventures and exploits? Now we’re literally background characters to a couple of aged actors.”

So there’s this frustrating trope that Star Trek does, mainly in Voyager, which is that when the ship or crew comes under attack, everyone just sits back and lets themselves get beat up for a while before actually fighting back. It’s as if Starfleet has some sort of “turn the other cheek seventeen times” mandate, and it is really frustrating to watch in episodes.

Well, now I can say that it’s even more frustrating to experience in a game, because we’re moving on to All That Glitters (surprisingly, not a LOTRO crossover). And this mission is rife with this trope.

It starts out with the Doctor asking for assistance to help probe a ship. Well, that turns out to be a trap from the Vadwaar, naturally, so ensue a little prologue combat. After that the Vadwaar commander shows up and says, oopsie, those guys were fighting without permission and can’t we all be friends? This is where the mission starts being frustrating, because there is no sane, rational choice to tell Gual (the commander) to cram it, that we do not negotiate with people who just tried to kill us. No, the choice is, “Sure, let’s sit down for peace talks! Would you like to come back to one of our defenseless space stations?”


That brings us (sigh) back to Neelix and the Talaxian base. Gotta reuse those set pieces, after all! There’s an amusing bit as Neelix and the Doctor have a catch-up montage while my crew is fiddling around in the background, wondering if they can defect to a different Federation where people don’t walk around asking for muggings.

Well, as expected, Gual isn’t there for any peace talks. Instead, he basically starts goading us into a fight. And when that doesn’t work — because the game doesn’t let me Han Solo his butt and fire first — he just up and shoots a random Talaxian cook who comes into the room.


This was actually really funny because, thanks to Cryptic’s always buggy engine, Gual’s shot clearly missed this guy by about three feet. I have screenshot evidence because I was slamming on the print screen key during this cutscene. I guess death by proximity?

With the cook dead, you’d expect our crew to fire back… but no, we’re still stuck in wonky cutscene land, where Starfleet is as meek as kittens and the bad guys can commit murder and then lazily beam away. But not before ordering a massacre of the base.


At this point my eyes hurt so dang much from rolling, but at least I am freed from cutscene paralysis and can just start attacking. It’s what I do best. There’s a part of the mission where you are supposed to have a Sophie’s Choice moment where you can only save one room of Talaxians, but this fails to be compelling because:

  1. They’re Talaxians
  2. They’re nameless, faceless NPCs that you never met before

Lots of firefighting ensues, and a friendly Deus Ex Alien group beams in to help (not that we needed it). In the end, Gaul gets away, Neelix is oh so sad, and as the commanding Admiral on the scene, I order total war against the Vadwaar. Also the Talaxians, just because I can.

Star Trek times three


Star Trek Online

Let’s bundle together a few Star Trek thoughts today, starting with the continued adventures of the U.S.S. Whatever Ship I’m Flying Today. I think I’m back to the Atrox Carrier, but that doesn’t matter.

After a promising start, the Delta Rising expansion seems to be bogging down into a series of missions that are either glorified cameos of various Voyager races or some ground stuff that doesn’t feel like it matters. Listen, if you watched Voyger, then I’m sure this is all quite thrilling, but so far I’m not seeing some great story here. Or even stories.

Currently I’ve been sent down to the surface of a war-torn planet to wage a three-woman war against the Vaadwuar, which sounds more like a piece of furniture a rich person would have than a terrifying alien species. I guess they’ve gotten some advanced tech and we’re curious about that, but who knows?

I don’t mind Star Trek Online’s ground game, but I will say that mission pacing falters if you are asked to spend long stretches of time in it. I also don’t quite understand why I’m going into a known combat zone with a truncated team instead of a full five-character party.

Here’s hoping either the narrative will perk up or we’ll shoot through the rest of this expansion and get to the next episode series.


Star Trek Discovery

OK, we really need to talk about the reveal of the new Star Trek series, Discovery, from SDCC. It was certainly a good time to do so, with the 50th anniversary and the new movie and all, but I have a gut feeling that they had to rush to get this out and what emerged was weirdly half-cooked and not nearly as exciting as the announcement of a new Star Trek series should be.

I will say that I like the title (and logo) very much. Discovery is at the core of Trek and the word certainly ties into the franchise perfectly. Great name for a ship and a tip of the hat to the space shuttle too. It’s also heartening that out of the little the showrunners revealed here, they did confirm that it will take place in the “prime” (original) universe and not the JJ-Trek timeline. The movies are fine and all, but it feels right that the TV show stays where it all began.

Then we get to the teaser trailer, which is nothing more than some music and the launching of the U.S.S. Discovery from an asteroid hanger. I can’t be diplomatic here: This is one insanely ugly ship design, and to make matters worse, the CGI for the trailer looks positively awful. Like mid-90s cutscene bad. This is why I feel like it was rushed out the door in time for an event, because this is just shoddy. About halfway through the teaser I thought I might have accidentally clicked on some fan-made video instead, it was that bad.

I’m OK with change and all, but I’m sorry, if a ship is going to be the icon for your series and the vehicle to take you through it, this is like shooting yourself in the foot with the starting pistol for a race. Yeah, I don’t care if it’s an intentional homage to the design of the (rightly) unused design for the Enterprise for Planet of the Titans/Phase II, it’s a woofer. Gold plating? Big triangle base? Angles every which way from Sunday?

It’s been kind of sad watching Trekkies twist themselves into knots to try to convince themselves that this is fine, this is a good-looking ship, it’s all going to be OK, don’t cry, etc. Maybe you actually do like it, but I’m not going to white knight this atrocity.

Sure, we don’t know much past all this. Maybe it’s a hint at a cross-faction venture with the Federation and Klingons. Maybe it’s another prequel show. Another theory is that this is a ship cobbled together from older ships in a far-flung dystopic future. Maybe this is one of many ships to bear the name “Discovery” that will be seen. We simply don’t know. But here’s what I’m hoping: That if this will be on-screen next year, it better start looking better than a 1970s reject.

Star Trek Beyond

I did want to end on a positive note — I was able to get out and see Star Trek Beyond this past weekend and was pretty happy with it. Lots better than Into Darkness, with fewer forehead-slapping moments in which key aspects of Star Trek were disposed of or desecrated. Space felt a little bigger, and exploring it felt a little more interesting.

It was definitely more of an action film and it still had ridiculous tech designs (the Yorktown is just waaaaay too big of a station and impractically designed… I spent half of the movie wondering how it could’ve even been built), but for the most part it started to pull out some of that classic Star Trek feel.

I think what redeems this entry is that all of the core characters really do get more time to talk and interact. McCoy and Spock have an adventure together, Chekov gets some one-on-one with Kirk, Sulu takes more of a command role, Uhura sticks up for the crew, and Scotty gets a surprising amount of scenes (which I’m sure was influenced by Simon Pegg writing the script). Lots of great references to the series (giant green hand, heh). Good stuff, all.

And (slight spoiler if you haven’t seen the trailer) they finally trash that weird Enterprise design and deliver a much better connie in the 1701-A.

Star Trek Online: Seven of Mine


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.


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.”


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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!”


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.