Star Trek Online Closed Beta First Impressions

I purchased Champions Online with great hope that a new way of doing business and game design would liberate me from some of the same old boredom I experience from time to time in my MMORPG game play.  Champions Online took my attention for about 30 days, and it lost it.  On the surface one might attribute this to the typical attention span of a gamer, but that’s not my case.  I am a devoted gamer who is really trying to find that special game that mixes a great narrative background with which I have some emotional connection to a system of progression and game mechanics which offers a lot of variety and non-repetitive game play.

I ran into the Champions relationship with expectations far higher than what Cryptic could deliver.  Also, just to be fair, I never had any substantive emotional connection to the Champions RPG.  The combination of instanced areas and real monetary transactions made it a non-starter for me.  However, the graphics and customization were beyond amazing. Star Trek Online continues  in that regard.  The advantage that Star Trek has over Champions, in my case – and I imagine a lot of other folks as well, is that I am a Trekkie.  I love Star Trek.  It is a core mythology and story world to me.  Every day finds this nerd making some Star Trek reference.  I do this without even considering it.  It is a normal daily operation to reference shields up or fire phasers.  What’s amazing:  most other people – even non-Trekkies – get the reference.  This narrative space owns mass appeal.

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Based upon my hyper-enthusiasm (i.e. hope outpaced reason in my case), I intend to be a wee bit more subdued in my anticipation of Star Trek Online.  My lifetime Champions subscription provided me access to the closed beta for STO.  I wanted to offer you my initial observations and provide some basic information about the game.

Official Site: http://www.startrekonline.com/

Let me offer the basics about the game – none of which are going to be too surprising considering that the basics of the game come from the creators of Champions Online.

  • Character creation:  outstanding customization – right out of Champions Online.  You can choose from the basic races that we all know and love, or you can create a entirely new race.
  • It is instanced.  You start off in a tutorial and then move into what the game designers call sector space.  The beginning sector is Sirius Sector.
  • Fleets:  These are guilds.  In the Sol Sector’s main space station, you will find many administrative characters with which to interact.  The Fleet creator is one of these.
  • You level up your ship.
  • You level up yourself.
  • You level up your ship’s crew.
  • You choose your ship’s crew from Science, Engineering, and Tactical positions
  • Your ship has an amazing amount of beginning customization options in terms of nacelles, saucer, and color.
  • You name your ship.
  • Space Combat:  You manage your shields and perform various engineering configurations such as Attack, Speed, Defense.  You ship’s crew skills allow special attacks and defense in combat such as jamming targeting scanners or restoring shields when they are low.  Think in 3D!
  • From Sector Space, you go into various star systems such as Sol or Vulcan.  There are encounters in Sector Space including public quests.  One quest: Starbase 24 – a major klingon assault required a fleet action against a Klingon onslaught.  I fought in the fleet action and it was great fun.  Imagine 20 starships fighting off a determined fleet of aggressive Klingons!

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The ground based game and combat is nicely done as well.  The big difference between Champions and STO on the ground based game (aside from super travel powers) is that the loot system actually gives you real loot.  Not weird symbols – but armour and pistols and things you can get your mind around.  If you haven’t experienced the Champions Online loot system (powerups and attachments), then this might not mean anything, but it’s important that I have a real loot system and Star Trek Online possesses it.

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Here are my initial impressions in summary form.

  1. Graphics:  Outstanding
  2. Game play space:  What a blast!  I teamed up for one combat mission, and it was a unique experience. 
  3. Game play ground:  Very nice.
  4. Recommendation: Buy it and try it.

Obviously, the closed beta had broken quests and was a bit laggy, but this is to be expected.  I am really impressed with what I saw, and I would give it a go if I were you.  I am putting my money down on that statement, as I bought the $79 collector’s edition.  You also get some great extras if you pre-order the game.  For pre-order gifts, check out http://www.startrekonline.com/exclusives to see what goodies might come with your pre-order.  Personally, I ordered the collector’s edition from Gamestop.  This was chock full o’ goodness, but at a steep $79 price:

  • Deluxe Packaging: Futuristic 3dX holography set in a high quality brushed aluminum finish. Heavy duty construction with magnetic closures and nested compartments for all components.
  • Deluxe Manual: High end, hardbound, art book, manual, and disc case in a single, elegant package. “HD Printing” on over 40 glossy pages of exclusive art from the Star Trek Online Universe.
  • Communicator Badge: High quality cast metal design based on the in-game badge model. Fully 3d Sculpted with recessed burst and curved contours.
  • Guest Passes: Credit card style buddy passes to invite three of your friends for a ten day trial of Star Trek Online.
  • Red Matter Capacitor: A unique item that charges up and delivers extra energy to all of your ship’s equipment for a short time. A device that, when used, gives you a small bump in energy, has a long recharge.
  • Next Generation Uniform: Uniform Options from the Next Generation. The timeless look worn by Picard, Data and Riker.
  • “Deep Space Nine” Uniform: Uniform Options from the “Deep Space Nine” Series. Grey shoulders, on a black uniform, just like Sisko, Worf and Dax.

In addition, you will receive

  • a constitution class starship with this pre-order that looks like this:

  • Access to the game two days before it launches.  Early head start begins January 29, 2010.
  • Access to the open beta that starts January 12, 2010.  You will receive your beta codes by email on 1/11/2010.

Product release is scheduled for 2/2/2010.



Comments

  1. Well, for a game I had zero interest in, you’ve got me intrigued. The screenshots look good. Curious to see more about the space combat.

  2. i am really excited about this i just wonder why the official website doesn’t give enough info about this and why i haven’t heard anything about it until my friend mentioned it.

  3. Yeah, overall I think the official website does a really bad job at selling this game. The site is vague and often very cagey about the features for a game which is due out in less than a month. Nonetheless I have heard enough to try it. I am pretty excited too.

  4. Guess we can’t say that Cryptic hyped the game up too much too soon :)

  5. Unfortunately, because of Gamestop’s legendary incompetence, many players who purchased Champion’s through Gamestop weren’t able to play on release day. I’d avoid Gamestop like the plague.

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