50 MMOs in 50 Days #43: Star Trek Online

Last played: 2012
Experience: Extensive

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.

screenshot_2010-02-06-22-18-24Two 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.

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7 Responses to 50 MMOs in 50 Days #43: Star Trek Online

  1. STO was cool in the sense that I got to be apart of the Star Trek Universe. I had no idea what I was doing though. After awhile I was able to wander off and get killed by the Borg a lot. I usually have it updated because I never know when I might just want to jump in and be in space.

  2. You know how I mentioned before there have been very few MMOs that I found legitimately unpleasant to play? ST:O is the other.

    It’s been a long enough time since I tried it that my memory is hazy on why, exactly, I hated it. I seem to recall it being rather overwhelmingly complex — or at least just poorly explained — from the perspective of a new player, and I think I found the ship combat too slow or too awkward or something. Like I said, it’s been a while.

    There are times I wonder if I should gave it another chance — it’s possible I judged it too harshly, and I can be a Romulan now, so that’s something — but between my overwhelmingly negative first impression, my less than stellar opinion of Cryptic in general, and my waning interest in Star Trek as a whole, I can never quite find the motivation.

    • jasonwinter says:

      Yeah, I referenced that slightly at the end when I talked about everything you had to keep track of. And I only just thought of it now when you wrote that, but I also remember thinking it was utterly abysmal at achieving what should have been its primary goal: getting non-MMO-playing Star Trek fans into MMOs. It was pretty complex, even for me, when I first got into it, and I can only imagine what it was like for someone who didn’t have experience playing MMOs. For all the hardcores complain about it, I’d wager SWTOR is a lot easier on people who don’t normally play MMOs.

      If you didn’t like it at launch, then yeah, I’d suggest taking another look at it. I don’t remember if it seemed any “simpler” or if they’d explained things better, or if I just felt more comfortable playing it, but it’s been four years, so they’ve probably refined it a bit.

  3. Pingback: 50 MMOs in 50 Days #50: Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates | Wintry Mix

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