Last played: 2012
Usually, when I leave a game, I leave it for good, especially if it left a bad taste in my mouth the first time. That was my experience with Star Trek Online. I got into it shortly after its launch in 2010 because, hey, I’m a Star Trek nut. I even got a lifetime account from Cryptic Studios, but it wasn’t enough to keep me interested.
I’ll admit to not having followed the game much prior to its launch – something I rarely do today unless I have low expectations and don’t mind being surprised by good or by bad. I was picturing something like an actual Star Trek experience, with players teaming up to fill the various roles to run a ship – someone would be captain, someone else is navigator, engineer, chief medical officer, and so on.
That wasn’t the case. There were three classes: security (tank/DPS), science (support/healing), and engineer (support/debuffs). Everyone had their own ship. In other words, it wasn’t Star Trek the MMO, it was the MMO that happened to be about Star Trek. Crafting and PvP were similarly uninspired. I left after a week or two, thoroughly disappointed.
Two years later, after the game went free-to-play, I’d heard that there had been a lot of changes and a lot of new stuff implemented, so I checked it out again. And you know what? I liked it. Some of the game’s worst errors had been cleaned up in the intervening years, and once I got over the fact that it wouldn’t be a “starship simulator” like the TV show, I found plenty to like.
I particularly liked the Duty System, which granted your ship a number of junior officers and other personnel you could send on missions that would take a certain amount of time to complete and carried the risk of failure, or even death for your personnel. As some of you know, I got my first job in gaming with Decipher’s Star Trek CCG, and having to match up the right skills to send people out on missions felt just like that game’s mission system. It also instilled in me a sense of caring about named individuals outside of just my bridge crew. The regular missions also help the game feel like a TV episode, sending your ship to several distant planets and mixing space and ground action.
My one primary complaint, at least in the early parts of the game, is having to manage a crew and a ship. That’s seven “characters,” in addition to your captain, who need to be equipped and properly skilled, and the skill system was still confusing, at least as of the last time I played. Honestly, the hassle of having to keep up with all that was a major reason for my drifting away again, but I’m sure I’ll get the urge to “boldly go” once again someday.