A Star Trek MMO came out a couple years ago (2010 to be exact), released by the publisher Perfect World Entertainment and developed by Cryptic Studios. I had no specific interest in Star Trek Online, and I also do not typically enjoy science fiction games (a few exceptions apply, such as Mass Effect). I began to play it to see if it would be something my father would enjoy. He had always been a fan of Star Trek, and I’ve always wondered how he would interact with online worlds. So, I decided to download it and try it out so I would know whether to recommend it to him or not. To my surprise, I found it quite interesting.
I set out by creating a member of Star Fleet. As you can see from the screenshot, there is the choice to be aligned with Starfleet, Romulans, and Klingon’s. Each has many races to chose from (some overlapping). You also chose what specialty you wish your avatar to be a part of (Being a bit “Star Trek” ignorant, I had always thought the colors related to rank, and not specialty; it’s nice to finally have it cleared up). You’re able to further edit the appearance of the avatar, and them name your avatar (First and last name), as well as name your ship, for you are not just creating a Star Trek avatar, but a Captain.
Starting out in the game you find yourself graduating from the academy (Starfleet faction remember). This represents the tutorial and it guides you through explaining the controls in a setting immersed in the Star Trek universe. You find yourself being appointed first officer, you run into hostile Klingons, they kill your captain, and you take the chair. After engaging the Klingons, you come into contact with another vessel of starfleet, and run into yet another issue with the return of the Borg. You beam down to a colony in an attempt to save its inhabitants.
Graphics are what you would expect for a game released in 2010, and are just fine compared to today standards. Nothing spectacular, but plenty detail for a good sense of immersion. On your missions you get to select your landing party, and they assist you in your mission and combat. You move on the ground with the standard WASD controls, using the mouse to move the camera and select targets. This game utilizes TAB targeting.
You use the number keys to select abilities to use (hotbar), however you also have control over your avatar in regards to “crouching” and “looking down the scope”, both of which increase your stats for combat. While easy to forget for a veteran MMO player, it does help add to the feeling of a shooter, and I found myself feeling like I was playing a version of Mass Effect that used abilities like Dragon Age. There is also bonuses based on your position, and you can inflict flanking damage on enemies.
You continue to progress through this tutorial mission, combating the Borg and assimilated civilians, and eventually succeed in destroying their equipment jamming your extraction of civilians, and are able to beam out of the area (certainly an exciting moment for Star Trek fans).
Back in space, your ship engages several hostile Borg vessels. As this is a plane with Y and X axis, I found it a bit difficult to maneuver. Naval combat (none-the-less, space combat) is foreign to me, and not being able (rather, recommended) in pure head on confrontations, I even managed to die. Luckily the respawn counter came up, I respawned, and managed to take out my foes with ease as their health did not reset. This may be a difficult part of the game for others as well, however they may find the concept of space combat more exciting than I do.
Upon successful completion of the mission (tutorial) I am officially upgraded to the rank of Lieutenant and given command of my own vessel. I am then free to take up missions from NPC’s present at the space station.
From this screenshot we can see that not only is the players avatar important, but so is their starship that they command. Several different models can be seen here, all piloted by different players. You can see the names they ahve given their vessels as well, and engage in chat as if you were in any standard area in a typical MMO.
My time has been short with STO, but I had to make sure I could answer one question. You can in fact move your avatar around your bridge and talk to your crew (you can also customize their clothing, physical appearance, and names). You can also have your friends warp into your bridge. Not only that, but you also have the freedom to explore many parts of your ship, such as the crew quarters and engine room, all populated with your own crew.
Despite my lack of interest in the genre, I have found myself quite intrigued and will be looking at this MMO more in the near future. This is an MMO that draws upon a wealth of Lore and culture generated from other forms of media, such as the Star trek television series and movies, but also the fan culture that has made it a staple in todays pop culture. To enhance my understanding of this virtual world, I have even begun to watch the Star Trek series and movies. I will report back as I learn more.
You can access this game by going to https://register.perfectworld.com/sto_splashD. This will allow you to immedietly create a free account, from which you can then download the game, log into it, and begin creating your own Star Trek Online avatar.