star-trek-online

Under the new games section of the slow running, and hard to navigate Xbox One store a new game showed up, Star Trek Online! I had to try it out and after 14.4 hours of “exciting” game play later here are my impressions.

A movie needs to catch the audience right away. If you pass the 20 minute mark without a great hook all is lost. An MMORPG takes longer, but past the 10 hour mark is dooms day. That’s a lot of time in itself. But for a game that could suck up hundreds or thousands of hours of your life it’s important to give it a fair trial. So how is it so far?

Meh, it’s more than I expected for a console MMORPG but is missing some magic that is really making it standout. It works on the console and you can play the story fine, but getting into the deeper aspects of the game such as raiding, parties and friends seems clunky and hard to figure out. The main quests keep popping up but you are left kind of wondering what the world has to offer on your own. It seems like there is only really the main Federation Starbase to explore so far. Or that’s all I’ve found. O ya, I’m playing as a Federation lacky for my first character.

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Ah, some of the NPC characters look like zombies! Run!

There are tons of quadrants to the galaxy and you will soon be rushing past all them wanting to be able to go down to each one. If you just run off and explore, you don’t see much you can interact with. I went with a science concentration, but there is no way to gather data, research or even just learn about the planets or things you are doing. Space never felt so barren. I wanted to just explore, not fight and relax and learn about bogus sci-fi planets, people and societies. And collect crap and craft things. Ah. Sad.

Maybe, I’m missing out something. Or maybe it’s so hidden that it’s too hard to figure out. I want more though. These main quests are getting boring. I’m half way through the list of Federation vs Klingons ones and I find myself just skipping through them having getting the idea of what happens at the very end of the missions.

I came off playing Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) for a good solid 3 months. So this game feels like a step backwards. The highlight being, walking around the planets, but they seem very small. I was hoping for more of an experience like WOW. Where each planet would be a new world to explore. That’s what’s great about SWTOR and certainly if that comes to the Xbox One I will most likely renew my subscription.

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The phrase would not be written in English on Vulcan. Silly developers. Tricks are for kids.

For this game, I don’t know what I will do. I might try to finish up the main Federation campaign and see what I can do once my character is leveled up. Space combat is half the game and it’s very beautiful to look at but feels basic. The controls of the game are good for a console. But in space battles it’s kind of hard to fire multiple upgrades at the same time. There is an auto fire but it seems like that works half the time and does not work the rest.

Ground battles become just a mess of laser and grenade fire. They give you an option to zoom in like you are playing Call of Duty or something, but this is MMORPG action. You just need to put your character in the best spot for the dice rolls in the background. I’d rather use the L shoulder button for something more useful. If you die you just respawn in the same area, so really no concern. It would’ve been nice to see your crew get killed off or being able to hire red-shirts to level up.

Space navigation is a problem. It’s often hard to figure out where to go next. There is a handy auto-warp feature that makes getting across the galaxy faster but it’s broken. Sometimes you pick a planet to go to and it will get there and leave you ready to dock or orbit. But other times it won’t. It will send you dashing off as if the planet was not there. You come back to check on the game and find you are even farther away than you started. Often I’ve had to just warp back to Starfleet and start over.

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Ah, The U.S.S. Zarkov. All hail ming!

After missions are completed it’s tricky, because if you are not careful you will get sucked into doing the same mission again. If you hit the A button it starts the mission over and if you leave it will not say you finished it. This happened way too many times. Other times I would beat an area not to have the quest giver pop up so I can complete my quest and move on. I’d have to just log-out of the game and usually that fixed it. I’m seriously worried about game breaking bugs and errors like this later on in the less tested parts of the game.

The game is free-to-play. I do appreciate being able to do seemingly a lot for free. But, what do I get if I pay? It seems to also be hidden. It’s like the outline of this game on what’s good and what’s the point is lost. In SWTOR it would clearly show you what you get if you pay. And it was clearly worth it if you thought you might play the game more than a little bit. I guess there are skins and different ships to pick from.

One of the more annoying things is the classic ships and uniforms are hidden behind pay walls. So, I just colored my guy to resemble a classic uniform. They give you Star Trek Generations kind of uniform. But that’s so dull. The other uniforms feel sci-fi and tech driven, not like the Federation. Some half done fan fiction it feels like. Too much tactical and not enough crotch room I’d say. But, I can understand why they do it. Who does not want a classic ship and uniform! Curse the Ferengi!  That’s got to be a violation of the 18th rule of accusation, ‘A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.’

There are cool upgrades you can deliver to your bridge crew / away team. But there is no way to interact with them and they don’t have backstories like in SWTOR. It’s also hard to manage your gear and figure out how to earn energy credits and craft. Three of the most important things in an MMORPG. So I’m left with just admitting that I will just enjoy the single player aspect and the story and not think of it as a long term game to play. But the stories are just average and some of the writing is bad and not in the spirit of the series.

That’s all I can think of so far. It’s an ok experience. I want to explore the galaxy and all that jazz, but this game is just kind of mediocre at best in my first impressions. Beam me back up Scotty, I’m bored.

-SDR for ZeBunker Games

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