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I’ve been a lifelong style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek
fan, and I wear my Trekkie badge proudly. (I’m a Trekkie, not
a Trekker--I roll old-school, baby!) I grew up watching the
original series and have seen Spock’s brain stolen probably a
thousand times. I’ve seen all the movies, watched the newer
shows, and even trekked to see the style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek Experience
last weekend at the Kennedy Space Center in the blistering thousand
degree Florida heat. Therefore, I eagerly awaited the arrival of style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek Online,
and when it was launched in February of 2010, I gladly bought my
collector’s edition version of the game so I could wear an
original series costume in-game.

To say that I was underwhelmed by style="font-style: italic;">STO
would be an understatement. While there were aspects of the game that I
liked (starship combat), the overall experience feel sparse, rushed,
and incomplete to me. I didn’t feel that I was part of an
MMOG, but rather I was playing a single-player game. I’ve
been away from the game for a year now, but I’ve kept abreast
of the additions to the game made by Cryptic and I thought it was time
to take a second look at the game and see if it was worth coming back

Space Looks

My first impression was a positive one in that you can now finally turn
off that ass-ugly astrometric grid for space travel. when I first played I always felt as though I wasn’t travelling through the
majesty of space, but rather that I was just moving across a giant
piece of graph paper. Now, with the ability to turn off the blue grid, the game feels more immersive to me as I travel from system to system. While
this feature isn’t a huge gameplay mechanic, it directly
impacts the visual appeal and immersion of the game especially since
you spend most of your time in your starship.

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Space travel goes from

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Starship Interiors

One thing that always grated on my nerves was your inability to walk
around your own ship. You spend most of your time on board your ship, so
you'd think that you would be able to enjoy the amenities found
there. One of the key factors in any style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek
series is the depiction
of shipboard life. Crew members walking through the corridors on their
way to important tasks, the medical dramas that enfold within sickbay,
and, in the case of the original series, the engine room where any
hostile forces will be sure to seize control of first. Your ship should
be a living, breathing entity and this was not realized at STO’s
launch. When I left the game originally, Cryptic had just
added bridges so at least you could walk around your bridge and invite
friends and guild mates.

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My ship finally feels alive to

Fortunately, Cryptic has added two levels for you to explore on your
starship: the crew quarters and the engineering level. Now you can
enter your ship’s lounge, check out the sickbay, go to the
transporter room, and watch your warp core in the engineering room.
Better yet is the constant stream of crew members walking around your
ship doing various tasks. All of this really helps bring the starship
to life. For an extra bonus, you can invite others to join you on
your ship or you can walk around theirs and hobnob over Romulan ale.

More Places to Socialize

Talking about starship interiors reminds me that there was also a lack of places to socialize in style="font-style: italic;">STO
when the game first came out. I always felt all alone in the cosmos as
I warped from one sector to another. Now it seems that Cryptic has paid
more attention to giving players areas to socialize as people, not
starships. I particularly like the Starfleet Academy as a nice place to
gather, as well as the starship interiors.

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Enjoying the gardens at
Starfleet Academy.

Also helping out on the social front is the dabo mini-game, which gives
players a reason to visit Deep Space Nine rather than just to gawk at
the scenery. I would like to see more mini-games to come out in the
future to encourage players to hook up and have some fun. Players want
to feel that they're part of a larger universe filled with other
players, and fostering social interaction helps to build a strong

Diplomatic Missions

Content is the most vital issue in any MMOG, and style="font-style: italic;">STO
had a disturbing
lack of content in the beginning. Cryptic has addressed this in a few
ways, one of which is the diplomatic missions. The diplomatic missions
are not my favorite cup of tea because there's no combat, but they do
provide more missions for players. Even more importantly, they
pull the player deeper into the lore of style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek,
thus immersing them
in the game world even more. Besides, any new content is welcome in my
opinion even if my idea of diplomacy is a warm phaser!

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On Vulcan to do a diplomatic
mission. This place is too hot for my Andorian blood!

Featured Episodes

Another welcome addition to game content is featured episodes. These
episodes are story arcs comprised of several different missions, all
revolving around a central theme. To date, there have been three arcs
(the Breen, the Devidians, and Cloaked Intentions). Personally, I love
a campaign where you play a number of missions that follow a specific
storyline. You become personally involved and engaged with the ongoing
story, and you gain a sense of accomplishment when you resolve the
story arc. Of course, the special loot isn’t bad either!

I enjoyed the three story arcs that Cryptic has put out so far, and I
hope that they do more in the future. The reason why most Trekkies
became so is because of the stories told in style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek.
Everyone has a
number of favorite episodes that they can instantly reel off the
details of at a moment’s notice. Strong storytelling is a
mainstay of style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek
and the featured episodes do well to follow that

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Fighting the Breen in a
featured episode. Eat some phaser, scumbags!

Foundry Missions

Keeping up the drumbeat of content, content, and more content, we now
look at the Foundry system in style="font-style: italic;">STO.
The Foundry allows players to create
and publish their own adventures which other players review, and then
everybody can play the user-created missions. This system really
breathes new life into the game because most style="font-style: italic;">Trek
fans are incredibly
imaginative and can come up with some fascinating adventures. Plus, it
adds tons of new content to the game, which makes everybody happy. Like
the Mission Architect system in style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes,
the Foundry can
exponentially explode the number of missions available to players.
I’ve played through about a half dozen of Foundry missions
and have pleasantly impressed by them. As I always say, more content
equals gamer happiness.

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Which Foundry mission should I
do next?


Overall, I was very pleased by my return to style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek Online.
has been very busy in the last year expanding the game. I
don’t feel like I’m playing a single player game
anymore, but feel instead that I’m finally playing an MMOG.
The increased content, ship interiors, non-graph paper space, and other
additions have really made style="font-style: italic;">STO
a better game. This isn’t to
say that there are not things that need to be done. On the contrary,
there is still quite a bit to do. Klingon players need more official
content, there must be more emphasis on socializing, and Cryptic
definitely needs to add the Romulans as a faction. (The Romulans are the
coolest alien race in style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek.
Just watch Balance
of Terror
or style="font-style: italic;">The
Enterprise Incident and see
if I’m wrong!) Still, I plan on
sticking around style="font-style: italic;">STO
for the time being.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016