Star Trek Online: TaH pagh taHbe’

The announcement I have been waiting for ever since Champions Online went f2p finally arrived (some days ago. Hadn’t had the time to ramble about it earlier ^^): STO will go f2p as well. Cryptic has also added further details by now. The one thing that’s probably the most important: What do you get for free? It looks pretty reasonable to me. In fact, I think it might sound a little too good, actually. Why should I pay a monthly fee? ;)

If you’re wondering why Klingon content gets pushed back to when you’ve reached level 25 with your Federation character: They apparently want to redo the Klingon content and I assume it’s not a good idea to have a zillion new f2p-players hop onto Klingon side to find out it’s not really good. ;) There’s a new Q&A with the game’s executive producer Dan Stahl who’s also answering a few questions about upcoming changes.

I started playing in May but quit again about 1 1/2 months later. I liked it but in my opinion, it’s not worth a monthly fee. I loved the character design, though. So that is one of its big plusses. But character design alone doesn’t make a good game, right? So what does Star Trek Online have to offer apart from that?

There is space combat and then there’s ground combat. I played before they changed ground combat. So I can’t talk about how it’s now. I didn’t mind it before the change, though, and from what I’ve read, it’s become better. So if you ask me, it can’t be bad now. ;) Space combat was… nice! You have your ship and fly through space. Usually, I’m prone to motion sickness (or simulation sickness as it’s called in video games, I think). But here, that’s not an issue (Star Wars Galaxies, on the other hand, led to me being very, very sick for more than an hour after watching 5 minutes of its space combat): You can zoom out pretty far and you’re moving rather slowly. That might be negative for other people who want fast and action-packed combat. I love the look and feel of flying through space with your ship. And I love how you can even change bits and pieces of your ship’s design and its colours. That’s all very important to me. The missions themselves, while being fun, get boring pretty fast. The biggest issue I had was the repetitiveness of them. I always felt like they consisted of the same thing: Get into a sector around a planet, kill the 1 – 3 spaceships that approach, move your spaceship a bit further, kill the next 1 – 3 spaceships. Rinse and repeat. *yawn* It’s fun once in a while but I found myself not being able to do more than one mission a day. Then it didn’t take long and I spent days not logging on at all. Then I did one mission and exited the game again.

What I expected of the game was lots of diplomatic missions, lots of exploring planets and all that. So essentially, doing what the crews on the TV series are doing. Not shooting at ships over and over and over again. The most fun I had was doing one player-made mission… now THAT is an area where STO shines. Players can create missions and you can also rate and comment on them (which again helps you as a player to pick the best ones and leave out the still-bugged ones). I played through one (forgot its name) that had almost no fighting in it. Instead, there was a focus on story. That was beautiful! I also loved a regular (that is, done by Cryptic and not a player) quest series on Memory Alpha surrounding a male Ferengi and his two brothers. No fighting there either (well, unless you count them bickering at each other, of course ^^). I really wish the quests/missions consisted mostly of doing stuff like this and less of fighting. Yes, I really want to play an MMO where I’m not forced to fight and kill all of the time and can still advance my character. Is that really too much to ask for? ;)

As mentioned in my character creation blog entry, another highlight was finding a tribble! What I want to do once the game’s free to play is try to breed them!

I know I’ve probably listed a lot of bad things about the game and not so many good things. I do not think the game’s worth a monthly fee! Which is also why I quit the game again after less than two months playing it. I do, however, think that they didn’t do a bad job and want to spend more time in the universe. I’m a “moderate” Star Wars fan (watched all the reruns of The Original Series and got into the Next Generation a few years ago. I’ve seen most of the movies but not any of the other TV series) and I loved seeing the world in an MMO setting. I just wish that apart from stuff like tribbles, Ferengi etc. I’d get more of a “Star Trek” feeling. Less fighting, more exploring, please! Getting to play this game once in a while (maybe once or twice a month, for example) sounds really good to me and that’s why I’m absolutely happy about the change.

While playing the game, I was also annoyed to see so many things behind a “paywall”. I am paying a monthly fee, why do you want additional money all of the time? That’s a thing that really annoyed me. I already didn’t like it with World of Warcraft. But there, I didn’t even realise there’s stuff I can’t get in the game because I’d have to visit their web store to see the non-combat pets and mounts. In STO, on the other hand, I saw it constantly every time I wanted to customize something (just so we’re clear: They didn’t ask for money for content. Only for customization. Like TOS-uniforms, for example)… right there in the game’s interface! Without a monthly fee, I think that’s perfectly alright. I am not paying every month anymore and then I’m open for paying for stuff like that, especially if it’s nothing game-breaking that makes me more powerful. ;)

So, in conclusion, I’m happy about the change and if you’re a Star Trek fan (even if it’s just a little bit ;) ), then you might want to check the game out once it goes free to play. They have some very nice things in the game but not enough to make me play every day or even most of my gaming time. It’s just right up my sleeve for playing once in a while, though.


  1. If I’m understanding the general gist of your article correctly; that you wish the developers of STO had put a little more RPG in their MMORPG (exploration, diplomatic mission, going planet-side to solve a mystery) then I’m 100% with you on that, and from what I’ve read around the interwebs so are a lot of other folks.

    Personally, the “combat” scenes of the various Star Trek series were never very good in my opinion (a couple of note worthy exceptions) but the actual “RP” elements of each episode had me tuning in each week. The characters, and the situations and moral delimas they found themselves in, were the main appeal of that IP. The developers of STO apparently were unaware of that… or perhaps just didn’t know how to code it…

    I played STO (very briefly) and found it to be a pretty uninspired effort for the most part, and definitely one that focused on the wrong aspects of the IP for truly widespread success. That does still leave an “un-tapped” potential out there, if someone else wanted to take a stab at the IP again in the future and direct their efforts more accurately towards the RP side of things but, I suspect that will take quite a bit of time due to the rather unfortunate (financially) outcome of this most recent effort.


    1. Yep, that’s what I’d love to see in the game. And that’s why I like that players can create missions. But of course, players can’t ‘fix’ what the creators of the game did wrong in my eyes.

      I’ll still go back to the game, but as I said, only because it’ll be f2p. And it definitely won’t be a game that I can play every day which is too bad. It’s a great IP – although I start to believe that developers should just stay away from already established IPs for MMORPGs. ;)


      1. You have a valid point there… using an already established IP does have the extra baggage of pre-established expectations from fans of the IP, and a fair amount of creative restrictions as well. Some IPs (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars… just to name a few) are almost too good to pass up though. Unfortunately, the developers aren’t always fully understanding what it was about the IP that gathered such a large fan base to begin with, which of course increases the risk of missing that all together when developing the game for them.


        1. And in some cases, it attracts too many ‘general’ MMO players who do not overly care about said IP. I’m thinking about Lotro here and the demand for a magic-using class it apparently had. So the runekeeper was introduced which is still hated by lore-junkies because it’s very much on the border of “butchering” the lore. ;)

          A great IP is a great opportunity because it already comes with players and thus, potential buyers. You do not need to convince those players to like your world and buy your game. You automatically have them (which can be seen with Star Wars The Old Republic right now. I’ve read more than once that somebody said ‘It might not even be a good MMO… but… It’s STAR WARS!’). On the other hand, it comes with more expectations than an unknown world and thus, it’s harder to satisfy people. And if the world comes with restrictions (no flying mounts or mages in Lotro) or expecations that aren’t close to the current usual gameplay in MMOs (Star Trek with its exploring and diplomacy and the usual concentration on combat and fighting mechanism in MMOs), then you do have a problem.

          So, still disappointed that Star Trek isn’t what I was hoping it’d be. But… it’s STAR TREK! ;) Or in other words: Better than nothing, I guess. And for f2p it comes at the right price. ;)


    1. When Champions Online went f2p, they said that if it proves successful, they might think about doing the same with STO. After I played STO for a month and saw the shop they had and everything, I was certain that f2p (or “freemium” rather) was the only logical step they could take with the game.

      So it wasn’t a surprise when they said that f2p is coming. Champions Online is apparently successfu, so the question was just WHEN they’d do the same with STO. ;)

      As I said, it’s not a bad game per se but for me, definitely not enough for a monthly fee. If you’re in the slightest interested in the game, I’d say try it out. The differences between free and paying players are rather small (if they’re sticking with what they suggested), so it doesn’t seem like you’d miss out for not paying a monthly fee. :)


      1. The inclusion of non-combat, Lore Missions on a daily basis might just be interesting enough for me to take a look. The combat of STO never really *did it* for me, but I do have a fondness for the IP, and missions specifically focused on lore could be just the thing to pass some time with.


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