STO: A New Captain
About a month after the release of Star Trek Online I did a review on this blog as well as an interview with Craig Zinkievich, the lead for STO during launch. Well today we approach the 6 month anniversary of Star trek Online and we also have a new “Captain” at the helm, Daniel Stahl.
When I last review this game I gave it a C+ in my scoring, a Good Game but not a Great Game. However the nature of MMOs are that they evolve over time, they grow and become something else as the game expands. With this in mind I thought it would be nice to take a look at STO today and see what had changed over the intervening 6 months.
The general look of the game has not changed all that drastically from launch with the exception of some new ships, uniform options and races. Basically these are all skins for the existing models but they do offer a change in the way the game feels and some other advantages.
When I first looked at the game I was playing a Science Officer that was a human. Right now my play time is dedicated to my new Caitian Tactical Officer. Yes he is a humanoid shaped cat and yes he has a tail. No he does not use the litter box nor is my ship named Catnip.
Graphics is one area that STO has excelled in with great looking space combat and not bad ground combat. Speaking of ground combat that was one of the short comings in the original release and while it has seen some attention it has not gotten the level it deserves. I know a lot of people do not like it but personally I feel it is a nice change of pace from only having either space or ground as a combat option.
In the original release there was a lot of talk about there being no death penalty. Basically your character would just respawn and there was no lose. Cryptic heard the cry for a tough game and delivered with the game now supporting three levels of play.
- Normal is what the game shipped with, no death penalty and the default difficulty level.
- Advanced is the next level up and introduces a death penalty. If you are defeated you risk a chance for suffering an injury which can reduce your effectiveness until it is corrected. This level also ups the difficulty of the missions.
- Elite is the highest level and increases the chances of the death penalty applying.
The concept of this system is good but the implementation seems needs some work. As it stands right now there is not much of a bonus in the rewards from play at higher levels. This has been commented on by Cryptic and is being worked on. I have been playing my Caitian so far completely at the Advanced level and the difficulty of most missions has been noticeably advanced, there is definitely more challenge. This system works well however because it allows the more casual player to not be forced into a higher difficulty level.
Another new feature offered is a level balancing system that will allow lower level players to play with their higher level friends. As with the difficulty system this is still a work in progress but is a very good feature when it works. The issue is some missions and fleet actions do not seem to correctly read the level balancing system.
Coming up around the six month anniversary Cryptic is releasing the second major update for Star Trek Online, Season 2. There are a ton of features coming up this time but for me the exciting one is more places to go in my ship. I now has access to my Ready Room, Quarters, Engineering, Engineering Lab, Transporter Room, Medical Bay and even a Lounge (think 10 Forward).
The above pictures where all taken off the “Tribble” test server. The use of a fully functioning and open to the public test server is not new but Cryptic is making good use of it. Players come and try out new features and then report back and Cryptic is listening with many of the latest updates coming based purely on player feedback. Cryptic goes a step farther and even holds events with the developers on the server that allow a direct interaction between the players and the developers in game.
Now I can hear the question already as well as the complaint about the ability to walk more around the ship. The complaint will be that it lacks a lot of interaction options. However this is not as big a deal as it may sound. Think of this setup in the same way as Turbine did houses in LOTRO. Additionally the sixe of these areas will allow you to bring buddies into them and allow for role playing options.
I could of course do a much more detailed look at STO but I think you can get the idea that the game has evolved, but how much. If I where to review it today I would give STO a solid B score (85% for those that want numbers) While it has still not reach the status of being a great game it is a very good game which is a lot of fun and allows the Trekkie to experience some of the Star Trek universe. With the new updating adding more RP options, missions for Klingons and Federation, a change in the level cap, a weekly mission release plan, a diplomatic system and better exploration options the future for STO continues to look good.
I believe Star trek Online is a near perfect example that we need a new system for reviewing MMO games. These games live, breath and grow over time, something traditional gaming does not do. STO is a beautiful example of this as it started off a bit rocky and has grown into a solid game with a chance to still achieve greatness.
Like the last review I had an opportunity to speak with Cyrptic and specifically Daniel Stahl. Again this is a two part interview with the first part airing live on the show and the second part ONLY available over the internet.
The recording presented here are the sole property of the Computer Ed Show and WJPF. Please do not post these interviews on another site without written permission and links should be to this blog post, NOT the recording.
Daniel Stahl Interview Part 1
Daniel Stahl Interview Part 2
I invite you over to Hi Tech Legion to discuss this review and interview in the forums, the direct thread link is below.