Join us for the second installment of my weekly Star Trek MMO log, in which we explore the depths of unknown space and gain a taste for blood as the fiery Orion battle maiden, Verdania.
In last week's Star Trek MMO log, I started my Federation character Qix, raising him to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and securing him his second-tier Starfleet escort vessel. This week I tool about a little more with Qix before taking a long, dark walk on the player-versus-player oriented Klingon side of the game.
Be sure to keep up with the Star Trek MMO Log every week, so when the review comes after the fourth installment, you know where I'm coming from.
Wednesday, February 3rd, 7am Eastern
Having spent most of launch day either working or sleeping, I wake up a little earlier than usual the day after launch to see how the game is doing. Logging into my Federation character, Qix, I set course for the Xarantine sector to complete the patrol mission I was involved in when I reached Lieutenant Commander.
As I travel, I check out the new ship. My Escort is slightly more powerful than my starter ship, the biggest difference being the addition of an extra tactical station on the bridge, and an additional weapon in the front. It seems that the ship upgrades in the game are focused in one of three directions, tactical, science, and engineering, with one specialty gaining extra focus with each level of vessel. Since Qix is a tactical officer himself, I'm following that path.
So I have an extra tactical slot, which is nice, but both of my tactical officers have the same power, a special attack that lays out a spread of photon torpedoes. It's an area-of-effect attack, which so far hasn't proven too useful. I'm going to have to replace one of them soon. Officers are like equipment in the game. Some provide more damage, others more defence. It's actually rather clever.
I enter the Honed system, my last stop in my patrol, and am greeted by something a bit different. Local authorities hail my ship, explaining they need Federation help. Several unarmed ships have been attacked in the area. The authorities suspect Romulans, but they need me to find the wreckage and scan for evidence in order to verify their suspicions.
Scanning the first wreck, my science officer reports that residual energy common to Romulan weapons is present, but we need to scan another two wrecks to be certain. I get the odd feeling I am going to be attacked at some point during this mission, but I soldier on.
Aha! Two wrecks in and my science officer has detected residual traces of antiprotons. We reconfigure sensors to scan for them, and now have to find a few more wrecks. Still no sign of enemy ships, but I am wary. It turns out my hunch was wrong. It was the Romulans who instigated the attacks, but I don't have to fight them! The local authorities now have what they need to seek sanctions against the Romulans, and my mission is complete, without a shot fired.
This is exactly the type of mission I enjoy in Star Trek Online. Space combat is lovely, and ground combat is passable, but these missions that put me in the role of space detective really make the game for me. Plus, the mission is over in 10-15 minutes, giving me a quick fix without me having to invest significant time to get anything done.
I suppose I should go ahead and get a head start on work for the day.
After I check out the Hromi Cluster.
The Hromi Cluster is a sector of space filled with spatial anomalies. Some produce components for Star Trek Online's version of crafting, while others are unknown systems. In one system I have to land on a planet's surface and scan strange plants. That's over in a few minutes. The other two systems I visit feature new races, seeking to establish trade with the Federation. In other words, they need 10 units of trading materials.
This brings me to the trade system in Star Trek Online. A savvy player can make energy credits by buying commodities in one system and flying them to another. It's not an exciting way to make a living, but it's certainly profitable. Unless you're buying them to give away to new races seeking to establish trade with the Federation, that is.
I "hearth" back to Earth Spacedock, warp out, visit a wandering trade ship to pick up supplies, and head back to Hromi. Easy experience.
It's now 8am, and I really should get ready for work. It's very hard to slack off when you know there's a possibility your boss will be reading all about it.
Oh look! You can enter your bridge and walk around!
OK, seriously working now.
Thursday, February 4th, 8am
There are several things I should be working on, but I can't resist hopping online for a few quick missions. I finally take the new ship into a combat situation, and it performs like a dream. The extra weapon slot makes a big difference, as does the added power of another tactical console.
I guess I should explain.
Your ship, like your crew, have inventory slots. In a way, it's like you have several characters to equip: you, your crew, and your ride. The starting ship has slots for two fore weapons, one aft weapon, shields, deflectors, impulse engines, two devices (generally consumables, like shield batteries), and one slot each for engineering, tactical, and science consoles.
In the show, the console would be the station your officers stand at during battle. In the game, they are special devices that add buffs to your ship. A tactical console might add to torpedo power, while an engineering console will help with power management.
When you get a new ship, the three different types weigh heavily on your choice of vessels. My newer ship, for instance, comes with an extra tactical console spot, as well as room for another tactical officer. A science vessel, on the other hand, would have extra science slots.
As you progress through the game, your ship choice ultimately defines your role. By the time I have my Defiant-class ship, I'll be one bad space mother.
Anyway, combat works, and I have to as well.
Friday, February 5th, 9.30pm
It's time to try the Klingon side of things! Once your Federation character has reached level 5, you have a chance to create a character on the Klingon side, with a different selection of races, all of which tool around on Klingon ships.
Meet Verdania Haru, Orion science officer, former slave girl, and captain of the I.K.S. Greenhorn.
Since you have to reach level five before joining the side, Star Trek Online dispense with the tutorial, dropping you smack dab in the middle of The Great Hall of Qo'nos.
Instead of earning officers gradually, like the Federation do, I have to prove myself in hand-to-hand combat with four different NPCs, showing that I have the Klingon spirit within me. A nice touch, I thought, even if the combat is a bit loose.
After a quick tour of the facilities I gain an entire level, plus access to the Klingon content. Warping to my ship, I take on my first mission: patrolling for Federation ships in the Kahless Expanse.
The Klingon content is mainly focused on battle. The map of the area I start in is littered with fleet actions, random battles, war zones, and areas like the Kahless Expanse, which I head to immediately. My first mission involves scanning unknown signals to see if the Federation is nearby. I scan the first, and bingo! Engaging Federation ships.
Immediately upon entering the battle zone I am in a firefight. The Klingons don't screw around. Gaining my bearings quickly I dispatch several smaller ships, and then look about the area. There are Federation patrols everywhere, and I quickly take out the six necessary to complete my mission.
The next mission? More battle!
An hour into playing my Orion slave girl gone good (or bad ,depending on your viewpoint), I hit level seven (Lieutenant 7). At this rate I could be in a new ship by late tonight / early this morning.
Or I could eat some Chinese food and watch television. I'll do that.
Saturday, February 6, 11am
I return to Klingon space, this time hoping to get a taste of actual PVP combat, but first I take a detour to check out one of the Fleet Actions, to see if the large, static missions were any different on the Klingon side.
Not particularly. In fact, this Borg mission is pretty much the same as a Federation mission I ran last week, only this time I blew up in a Bird-of-Prey.
Nursing my wounded honour, I limp over to sign up for the player-versus-player queue.
There are several options for queues to join, and once I join up the game seems to automatically assign me to three of them: two Klingon House Battles, which involve Klingons battling other Klingons, and a large-scale territory battle, in which Klingons fight against rival houses or the Federation for control of points in space.
I wind up in a House Battle moments after joining the queue, with my team playing against another group of like-minded ridge-heads. Immediately one tactic comes to my attention. Most Klingon ships have cloaks, so one player on the opposing team plays the decoy, flying about in circles like an idiot. One or two enemies will head for him, taking potshots, and then the rest of the enemy team decloaks, tearing the attackers several new hull breaches.
I play several rounds over the course of the next three hours, taking the tactic and making it my own. The key to winning seems to be staying together; lone ships are picked off easily, but large-scale battles can go either way, depending on the skill of the players.
Speaking of skill, I have a quest in my queue called "It Is A Good Day To Die." In order to complete it, you have to be killed 25 times by enemy players. I've not completed it yet. (Writer's note: As of Sunday evening I still hadn't completed it.)
I have to say that I enjoy the ability to hop online, get into a quick PVP battle, and then hop off again. The Klingon side of things feels more like your typical online action game than an online role-playing game. I constantly hear players on the main channel complaining about the lack of Klingon content, but it hasn't affected me so far, as I have plenty of other things to keep me busy.
Like my review of White Knight Chronicles, which is due on Monday. I should probably go play that.
Sunday, February 7th, 7pm
It's Super Bowl Sunday, everybody, and you know where I am!
Yes, I'm at Starbucks. My girlfriend has a closing shift, and since the store is dead on Super Bowl Sunday, I decided to lend my support by playing Star Trek Online in a chair close to where she was. I'm so romantic.
More Klingon time for me today. I take Valeria through several more House Battles, at one point scoring hits on each of the fifteen kills needed to win the round, which lends itself to some very impressive screenshots. (Writer's note: Of course it helps if you actually take said screenshots.)
After a few House Battles and one relatively quick territory game against the Federation, who we trounce quite soundly, I reach Lieutenant grade 11, which means it's time for a new ship.
Behold Verdania's new Raptor-class ride! It packs a bigger punch than the Bird-of-Prey models, but lacks a combat cloak, meaning once I'm under fire, I stay under fire. Oh well. I'm a big girl. I can handle it.
I spent most of Monday writing up my review of White Knight Chronicles, and most of today recovering from the lack of sleep that comes from having to complete a major role-playing game, so I didn't get a chance to go online over the past two days, but I often thought of the game fondly, which certainly accounts for something.
The Game So Far
As much as I've been enjoying my time on the Klingon side, I find myself missing Qix and his Federation starship. Fighting an endless string of battles can only keep you going for so long. Perhaps that's why Cryptic made having a Federation character a requirement for participating in Klingon gameplay. It certainly isn't enough to stand on its own. Perhaps they'll expand on it in time.
As for the next week, I plan on seeking out new life and new civilizations with good old Captain Qix. Perhaps I can get into a Fleet? Perhaps mentioning my character's in-game identifier is [email protected] will help.