Over the past few weeks I have been privileged to participate in the Closed Beta of Start Trek Online (STO). It was a dream come true for me because I’ve been following the progress of this MMO since it was first announced with another publisher a lifetime ago.
Today the game goes to Open Beta in preparation for a launch on February 2nd and the NDA has been dropped allowing me to post about my experiences with the game for the first time publicly.
Although I am the first to admit that the game is far from perfect I want to say upfront that I consider it a very fun game with lots of future potential. I had fun during the closed beta even with some of the frustrations that are inherent for MMO beta tests. The game has come a long way even in the few weeks I’ve been involved with it. The development team has been responsive to the findings of the testers and have made corrections to game play in areas where the game wasn’t meeting expectations.
You quickly end up at the helm of you ship as the most senior officer left alive after the attach and are thrust into the world of starship command. And ultimately in an fight with an iconic Star Trek enemy.
From there you move out into the galaxy taking receiving periodic missions from StarFleet Command and otherwise picking up patrol missions to various sectors or exploring star clusters of unknown worlds. You find yourself frequently in combat in a galaxy which is in conflict but you find time for the occasional diplomatic mission or exploration mission as well.
The game includes both a very robust and exciting space combat engine and a very fun ground combat system as well. You can go it alone for most of the missions in the game if you wish but my experience is that almost all of the missions are a lot more fun with other players. The missions and patrols scale to the group you are in. In addition there are massive group actions called Fleet Missions which are essentially large instances where multiple players work together to achieve a goal.
You ship includes slots of Bridge Officers which extend your abilities and assist you on away missions. Bridge Officers can be trained with new skills by players who have acquired the skills to train new commands or by other Bridge Officers who will train your officer and then return to StarFleet Command for further assignment.
As you gain experience in the game you eventually get promoted and are eligible to command larger and more powerful ships. Your Bridge Officers can transfer with you and you can promote them provided they have the required experience. Beyond your first starter ship you choose between three different types of ships Cruiser, Escort, or Science. The differences in ships amount to how many Bridge Officers of each type (Engineering, Science, Tactical) you have and the weapons slots and maneuverability of the ship. You are allocated on new ship with each rank promotion but can acquire others as well if you wish.
There are some elements that aren’t in the game that I wish were there. You can’t explore much of your ship yet only the bridge and it doesn’t really have a function beyond sightseeing and social gathering. The crafting system is very rough and needs to be fleshed out more. The game is far more combat centric than I think most players wished though the combat is fun. Ultimately though the building blocks for a great Star Trek MMO are there and that is really all I had hoped for.