Like many in the blogosphere, Star Trek Online‘s ‘Season Two’ lured me back into playing the game. To be fair, thanks to my lifetime subscription, I never really left. But I definitely hadn’t played in the last three months, a solid half of the game’s current lifespan.
Getting back into the game wasn’t as difficult as I thought it’d be, especially because I decided to fire-up a new character. The Federation News Service is still around and in very good health. There’s almost always someone on, and some are low ranked like me! I was particularly glad to see Ruz in the game, as I was afraid he’d fallen off the face of the Earth, and I really love his after action reports on the Tirpitz. (Can’t currently read many, though, because of spoilers!)
Some thoughts, stealing formatting inspiration from Bullet Points:
STO didn’t launch with achievements (‘Accolades’), but they were released sometime in the past three months. Like many returning players, I was hit by a massive wall of text when I first logged on to an old character, retroactively receiving dozens of awards for past actions.
I’m a completionist, which means Accolades are both a boon and a curse. I like unlocking achievements, especially when I get small state bonuses for things I’ve done. But I’m also deathly afraid that I’m going to be unable to fulfill some accolades (like, for instance, what if I hadn’t know I should rescue all the crew members of the Azura?!), or that the game won’t register I’ve completed an achievement. Right now, I’m fretting over the fact that my Delta Volanis Wanderer accolade is stuck at 8 of 15.
Friends & Ship Interiors
I’m really glad that alot of my internet friends have returned for Season Two. It’s been nice shooting the breeze with other bloggers, and even running a few missions together. Also: dancing.
What can I say, GeeCee’s T’Andy doesn’t see a single elevated platform that doesn’t look like a dance pad.
In my mind, ship interiors go hand-in-hand with friends, because it’s inside of player ships that the FNS usually congregates and says hello. Many new bridges have been put into the C-Store, including facsimiles of the Galaxy, Defiant, and Intrepid bridges, and Cryptic has expanded ship interiors to include several other features: a Ready Room for the Captain, Crew Quarters, and an Engineering deck. There’s currently nothing to do with them, but I’m not surprised. I’m certain that over the next few months, Cryptic will add some basic functionality, filling in content in their typical way. It shouldn’t be hard, either: for instance, players could go to Sickbay to heal themselves and their crew.
Diplomacy & Relief Missions
One of the big features released in Season Two was an alternate leveling system focused on diplomacy. Like alot of players have pointed out, the ‘let’s go in and kill everything mentality’ of some of the missions doesn’t really jive with the Federation of the television series.
Initially, diplomacy is largely made up of non-violent Exploration missions. Thanks to some earlier changes, Relief Missions – you know, those sucky missions where you have to give some failing planet Shield Generators, or Provisions? – are now the missions I most look forward to: they’re fast, they net me 10 Diplomacy XP, and they reward you with a ‘token of gratitude’ that when used, becomes a great piece of equipment that can be sold to cover the cost of the materials you just gave away. It’s a fantastic turnaround, considering that Relief Missions were the one type of mission I used to always avoid.
Outside of the Exploration-cum-Diplomacy missions, there are First Contact missions (which I’ve not unlocked yet), as well as a few ‘preset’ quests that have been created to give you a bit more Diplomacy XP. One of them – “Quarantine” – has been the most Trek-like experience I’ve had yet in the game: a disease vector gets lose on my ship, forcing it into quarantine and stranding my captain on K7. Finding the cure was totally a “tech to the tech” moment – which, for better or worse, is very much a Star Trek trope.
All in all, I’m really liking STO. Syp quoted a fleetmate saying that the game had started to get pretty good while no one was looking. That’s pretty much how I feel – there are still things that I’m unhappy with, and that’ll be the subject of a latter post – but man, STO has come a long way in six months.