I have to commend Cryptic on their rather successful Star Trek Online launch. Over the past week I’ve only been denied playtime once since the official debut of the game. That’s a metric ton better than I had anticipated. I was expecting rampant server disconnections, login/authentication server issues, and multiple roll-backs from all of the instability. As far as I’ve experienced, this is definitely not the case. While I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the launch has been flawless, but it has been exceptional compared to WoW’s launch in 2004.
My impressions haven’t swayed much since my first taste of the game, ground combat still bores me to tears and space combat is still the best part of the game. Once you finally reach Lieutenant Commander and get your first real ship things start to take shape. I really appreciated the fact that your first promotion yields a token to trade in for your first cruiser, escort, or science vessel. As planned I used my token to pick up an Excalibur class Cruiser which I proceeded to mix parts from the other two cruiser class ships.
As previously stated ground missions are still on the dull side, but I have encountered some missions that have been intriguing despite the archaic combat mechanics. I recently completed an episode named Smuggler’s Blues that had me pointing out Starfleet regulation violations to the Ferengi bar/station owner. There was even a moment where a freighter’s captain and crew took offense to my snooping around and a large scale battle ensued in the bar ala Star Wars.
It’s moments like those that give me hope for future episodes where they’re more than just “beam down to the planet and defeat X number of Klingon crews.” In some ways it was teetering on the edge of actually feeling like a Star Trek episode which is a good thing to be sure. There have been a few other missions/episodes that I’ve experienced that continue to give this feeling, but there are still plenty of filler episodes where you’re just killing waves of Klingons/Gorn/Orions without much character to them. To be fair there are many MMOs that fall back on this staple, but with STO’s ground combat, it gets real old, real fast.
I have been trying to make this sore spot in gameplay a little more enjoyable by replacing my shield recharge kit with a ground turret kit, which has helped … a little. Dropping a turret prior to engagement helps create the illusion that I’m being strategic, but ultimately means little as to how the battle pans out. Combat still devolves to standing around shooting each other with little risk of wiping. There’s only been one occasion where my team came close to wiping which happened after accidentally pulling 3 groups of enemies. Yet my science officer was able to keep me up and I was able to take down enough enemies to allow for the resuscitation of the rest of my away team.
I’m looking forward to the away missions, coined raidisodes, that require 4 other captains/players because I’m deathly sick of my brain-dead AI away team members blindly charging into a fray. Hopefully these raidisodes will actually provide some challenge by requiring some semblance of strategy to overcome. I’m sure they won’t ever amount to much more than what I’ve experienced so far, but the ability to employ strategy will be a welcome change and addition. I only hope that some of these raidisodes are scattered throughout the leveling process and are not reserved for the current end-game.
Other than trudging through the ground missions I’ve found a new type of mission that I dislike in STO: space missions with nebulas and/or other anomalies that disable your impulse engines. Even with all energy diverted to engines travelling through these missions is painful. Especially when there are numerous patches of gas clouds that cause massive damage to your hull if they ignite near you. Briar Patch, I’m looking at you.
Variety in space missions is also becoming an issue where the vast majority of them involve killing X number of enemies. I shouldn’t be surprised by that fact, but it does put a slight damper on the otherwise enjoyable space combat sequences. It’s just that when you warp into a system and see that you have to kill 5 patrols for the 20th time that you start to realize that maybe it is difficult to come up with interesting generic missions. Nonetheless having a cruiser helps make these missions a little more palatable but I’m considering buying an Escort class ship to get a taste of what it’s like to play as DPS in STO.
I’ll have to broaden my exploration as I’ve pretty much kept to the Sirius and Regulus sector blocks. My noobness and slight anxiety of exploring the unknown have kept me from blindly traveling into the farther reaches of space. I’m becoming a little more confident with my ship’s capabilities and my motivation to explore is growing, so I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before I visit DS9 and decide to travel through the wormhole to squish some Dominion arse. ^^;