We Just Played Star Trek Online - More Space Combat, More Ground Battles

We play through another session of Star Trek Online to give starship combat and on-foot missions another whirl.

If space is the final frontier, then Star Trek Online may represent an opportunity to boldly go where no nerd has gone before. The online game from Champions Online and City of Heroes creator Cryptic Studios will let you play as an officer with either the Federation or the Klingon Defense Force. It will let your virtual space cadet pilot a starship and also lead an away team on foot.

Someday, you too can seek out new life and new civilizations. You can also wear a really cool Federation uniform, too!

Our tour of duty this time around was a different--but definitely not the first mission in the game--and mostly self-contained task that required us to respond to a distress call in a distant sector. From the in-game "astrometrics" star map, which abstracts the humongous distances between star systems in space, we charted our course and hit full impulse power, carefully avoiding any encounters with enemy starship squadrons that appeared on our map.

Once we arrived, we found the space station under attack by Orion pirates, who appeared in small, varied squadrons. Though there will be several different ship classes for your character to control in the game, there will also be different classes of enemy ships. These include larger cruisers and carriers, as well as much-smaller, faster fighters. Depending on what sort of ship you're using (and the ships of any teammates you've brought with you), you'll likely want to focus your fire on specific targets. Taking out any fighters first seems like it's usually a sound plan because these ships are faster and nimbler than any capital ship--plus, they go down quite easy. Unfortunately, cruisers and some other enemy ships will compensate for their slower speeds with additional tricks. These include heavier shields and heavy-hitting photon torpedoes, as well as painful space mines, which certain enemies can drop in abundance.

Getting caught in a minefield while being strafed by enemy fighters zipping past you and having larger warships dump photon torpedoes on your head seems like a more intense experience from what we'd seen in our previous, easier tutorial missions, but even though there's definitely a lot more going on, Star Trek Online's space combat still isn't a hectic game of clicking wildly. Combat is still paced like a naval battle--larger ships take time to come about and each of your ship's four shields (fore, aft, starboard, port) are usually pretty good at holding out long enough for you to either divert energy to the chewed-up shield area or activate an engineering special ability if you have an engineering officer that can instantly repair your shields to full.

Winning battles on the ground with an away team is just the beginning.

Actually conquering your enemies in a space battle really seems to be a matter of carefully timing and lining up your shots just right--kind of like what you'd expect from a system inspired by the traditional broadside-based combat of the Age of Sail. Most of the time, you'll be at the helm of a ship equipped with both phasers (the laserlike beam weapons that deliver continuous bursts of damage while in play) and hard-hitting photon torpedoes, which aren't very effective against shields but deal huge amounts of damage to an exposed hull. And as it happens, if you have a good science officer onboard, you may have the ability to fire a special tachyon beam that will cut through a shield like a hot knife through butter. So, bringing down an enemy capital ship is all about keeping your foes within firing range while tearing up your target's shields, dropping them with tachyon fire when available and following up with a well-timed torpedo salvo that will hit home after you've dropped your enemy's shields but before those shields have had a chance to regenerate. However, you still can't afford to keep your enemies too close because aside from abilities, like the aforementioned mines, destroyed enemy ships still go up in a fiery explosion that deals heavy damage to any nearby ships or targets. This explosion can be even more dangerous in the middle of a minefield if nearby mines sustain enough damage to go off themselves.

After fighting off the first wave of pirates, we zipped about the quadrant picking up clusters of dilithium crystals floating in space to help repair the space station by simply flying within range and pressing the "F" key to "interact" with it (to collect it, in this case), which was similar to Champions Online. After dropping off the crystals at the station, we hightailed it to another quadrant where various strange anomalies had been sighted. While these particular anomalies were tied to the second leg of our quest--specifically, we were tasked with approaching each one, then scanning it--other anomalies can exist elsewhere in the universe and occasionally yield treasure caches of minerals. There are also other objects if you take the time to explore and find these hidden goodies. Unfortunately, each anomaly was guarded by Klingon forces, who, as it happened, were laying siege to another space station embedded in an asteroid.

We beamed aboard the station itself in an away team that consisted of ourselves, a Cryptic staffer, and three computer-controlled officers. As in our last session, our characters were set to be on a much higher character level than our foes (to make sure we didn't keep dying). Star Trek Online's hand-to-hand combat remains a pretty dynamic experience that, as we've explained in our previous coverage, gives you access to two different weapon loadouts, each with three different combat skills that recharge fairly quickly. Our character was equipped with a hand phaser with one loadout and a phaser sniper rifle with another. By using the powerful sniper shot ability on our rifle, we were able to take down those dirty Klingons at a distance while our teammates rushed in and used melee attacks. This particular mission was fairly straightforward and required us to simply clear out a few Klingon details guarding the control room. Then, we took the control room and guarded it from a few waves of Klingon invaders looking to take back the station, though they didn't last long against our powered-up party of the Federation's finest.

The final frontier will be here next year.

That ended our latest session of the game, but it left us intrigued to try out more combat, particularly with some of the higher-end starships that will have more options to mount additional weapons and more crew slots to access officer abilities. Star Trek Online seems like it will offer a colorful and highly authentic Star Trek experience in a streamlined, accessible package. The game will launch in early 2010.

Written By

Want the latest news about Star Trek Online: Legacy of Romulus?

Star Trek Online: Legacy of Romulus

Star Trek Online: Legacy of Romulus

Follow

Discussion

36 comments
zeniftan
zeniftan

I just watched the Giantbomb "set phasers to fun" videos for this info, so I didn't really need to read this. Oh well... "Khaaaaaaan!"

SgtBallou
SgtBallou

This game has alot of potential but i think they headed down the wrong path. It should be about adventure not a gankfest like Eve. Maybe thats just my preferences coming out... not a big fan of PvP. I see there is some PvE aspect but I have never seen a game mesh the two together without leaving something behind... for me its the fun that gets left out.

TechnologoDoom
TechnologoDoom

And potentially coming out on the XBOX360 too at some point? A MMO for the console would be pretty darn sweet

Patad
Patad

Looks like a poor mans EVE Online. Hope I am wrong as I love the franchise, but, thusfar, not the games of it.

big-boss-91
big-boss-91

i haven't played a multiplayer online game also, do we have to pay monthly for this? monthly fees is what puts me off online games

MMOaddict2009
MMOaddict2009

I am a huge Star Trek fan as well as a major MMO player. IMO this game resembles nothing good from either. The gameplay looks bland, the Asteroids-like quality of combat is banal and the ground combat is laughable at best. The refusal of the devs to listen to much of the audience on this one constitues a failure in the works. Check cryptic's record, folks, this one's a turkey.

dx900
dx900

I never played an online multiplayer game before. If this new Star Trek game is as botched as the previous ones, i probably never will

darkmask1991
darkmask1991

"Star Trek Online may represent an opportunity to boldly go where no nerd has gone before.." Im seeing this 5min after watching the movie. And I cant just stop laughing.. xD

SunTzuJJ
SunTzuJJ

So is the Space combat 3D? or is it 2D?

september_basic
september_basic

A prudent approach might be to permit asking an enemy to surrender. This permits an overwhelmed opponent to be captured. There's a naval tradition as regards surrendered vessels too...

farrell50
farrell50

ah20s, I think you may have missed oflow's movie reference , but I agree; lots of potential in this game

ksose
ksose

Yes in the US 10 or 15USD per month might not be match, but in Europe 10€ is a lot to pay for a monthly fee. 5€ its acceptable but 10 or 15€ its just to match. Considering that a game in Europe costs 50€, in just one year the cost off a on-line fee is almost 2.5 times that of the game price. Its just to match for a normal user. And people the gaming industry is one of the must lucrative businesses around. 5€ a month reasonable, i think.

tiggerlu
tiggerlu

Star Trek the movie made this game even more "awesome-ness" than before...i hope they don't screw this one up, i'm excited...!

King_Wii
King_Wii

Dirty Klingongs, Federations finest? Bah the federation will fall under the might of the Klingon Empire. At least we have enough honor to fight toe to toe, rather than fling verbal barbs! Seriously though STO looks like its going to be great. I honestly can't wait for it to come out and the next three or so months will be very, very, long.

ah20s
ah20s

lol oflow apparently does not like the universe... wow. Anyway this has a lot of potential to draw in non-startrek fans if the game is going to deliver an excellent experience and from what these screen shots have to offer they have the gfx aspect down that's for damn sure. As far as it being pay to play I hope it's not like D&D Online in that aspect but I will definetley lay down a monthly fee since I know I will be spending that everytime and know what I'm getting from my money as I do understand they need to keep the servers running it's not necessarily about housing the people and feeding their family lol... servers just cost a lot to maintain I wouldn't look at it past that point in the sense that your clothing their family like sohenso puts it.

ah20s
ah20s

lol oflow apparently does not like the universe... wow. Anyway this has a lot of potential to draw in non-startrek fans if the game is going to deliver an excellent experience and from what these screen shots have to offer they have the gfx aspect down that's for damn sure. As far as it being pay to play I hope it's not like D&D Online in that aspect but I will definetley lay down a monthly fee since I know I will be spending that everytime and know what I'm getting from my money as I do understand they need to keep the servers running it's not necessarily about housing the people and feeding their family lol... servers just cost a lot to maintain I wouldn't look at it past that point in the sense that your clothing their family like sohenso puts it.

sohenso
sohenso

I agree one hundred percent with yoooomannnn below. Pay to play keeps developers and their families fed and housed so they can keep developing games. If you don't want to subscribe to the business model, stay out of the game. Don't waste everybody's time complaining that entertainment costs money. Go! Go! Star Trek! Can't wait to see it.

oflow
oflow

Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. I second the notion that I hope they dont F this up.

yoooomannnn
yoooomannnn

I don't know why there are always people talking about the cost of MMORPGs under every single article of every single MMORPG. This game will cost the same as every other MMO: $50 for the game, $10 to $15 per month afterwards. This fee is both to offset the cost of production (this game has been in development for 3+ years and hasn't made a penny of profit, yet), to pay for maintaining their servers, and to pay the team that the company will have producing their content and balance patches. It's not greedy and it's not exploitation; it's business. They're not developing this game out of the goodness of their hearts. They may enjoy making games, but they have families to feed. And somebody has to pay to maintain these games over their 3+ year lifespans. Remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for." There are flat $50 single-player RPGs with few content updates, and there are free-to-play MMOs of much lesser quality. If you want to play a massively multiplayer game with regular updates, you're just going to have to get over the subscription fee.

zomglolcats
zomglolcats

Buying lifetime memberships for a new MMO is always a bad idea. Just ask the people who bought a lifetime sub to Hellgate London.

Caemyr
Caemyr

Looking forward to this game...hopefully it will be done better than FALLOUT 3 was.

Taffelost
Taffelost

Don't buy lifetime memberships please. If enough people do there's no incentive for the devs to keep developing. They need to stay hungry and on the ball. They need to keep deserving our money every month. This will be better both for us and the game in the long run.

fetfet99
fetfet99

@Elfy310 I think its going to be $15USD a month and about $250USD for a lifetime membership. (u can always check on the star trek online forums). Personally, I'm a Star Trek fan who would usually get really excited for an upcoming game in the ST universe. However, I'm not a fan of paying to play a game after purchasing it and think the entire idea is merely greedy exploitation. It's a pity, because this game could have worked out really well as a regular RPG and act as a developed form of ST: Legacy, which itself had heaps of potential.

malstyne
malstyne

The reviewers never answer what's important: IS IT 3D DOGFIGHTING or CHEESY 2D POINT AND CLICK? The latter has been done and is boring. When the former happens in an mmo we'll have a hit.

TrojanSC
TrojanSC

I would prefer something more capital ship based... Like it looks too third person to really feel like Star Trek.

Elfy310
Elfy310

It looks good, but its probably going to be a pay to play type.

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

looking really forward to this. i jsut pray to god it wont cost so dang much to play it like champions. i already pay for xbox live service, i really shouldnt have to pay even more than that to play one game online...

Gruug
Gruug

Lifetime sub here I come!

clarkydm
clarkydm

This is the only reason I can find to upgrade my 3 year old dinosaur of a P.C. I cant wait.