Star Trek Online is a space game. Sometimes though, the space guys have to come out of their cute little ships and do some actual work. Without a hull and photon torpedoes at your disposal, it’s critical to make the right preparations and then bring the battle to the bad guys.
Ground combat is somewhat of a hybrid between MMOG-standard fighting and a first person shooter. First and foremost though, this game is more strategic, not twitchy. Choosing targets and attacks is strategic, jumping around like your butt is on fire while spinning in the air and shooting in every direction is twitchy. It’s an important distinction because sometimes the battles get pretty hairy. When things get nutty, simmer down and logically progress through the choices and hand them their heads.
Many of the traditional MMOG staples are included. Tab targeting still works, melee and ranged combat are involved and I will always need healing. Speaking of basics, you have got to go check out Dalmarus' Ground UI Guide. Always read the manual!
Who to invite to the party.
Star Trek Online borrows a bit from the TV series and fills in any party with generic henchmen so that you’ll always have a full group. It’s an interesting dynamic that allows two people to group up and then use their bridge officers to fill out the compliment of the away team. Early on players don’t have many choices, but Bridge Officers are fairly easy to come by (everyone needs a job these days). As you fill up your roster you’ll need to start making some decisions. As with most MMOGs, a balanced group is going to work well.
Designing a Team. My character is a Tactician Officer and he can dish out some very nice damage. He doesn’t take it very well though so I fill in around him with an engineering officer who can replenish his personal shields and a science officer who can replenish his health. It’s awesome to be in a fight and watch the AI team members work as advertised. I’ll be getting beat about the head and shoulders by a Klingon Swordmaster and all of a sudden my health bar fills up and my shields get fully charged.
On the ground.
Once on the ground (or in the targeted ship), the fun really starts. I will say this now and you can thank me later. Crouch. Trust me. Crouch. It takes a bit to get used to (pressing “C”), and MMOG players aren’t typically tasked with personal posturing, but crouching makes the damage numbers go up nicely. It also reduces incoming damage a bit which helps too. Did I mention my new catch phrase “Crouch Early and Crouch Often”?
Learn your special purpose in life. Each weapon has a special attack and kits can also provide additional skills so it’s critical to keep all the best moves on the hotbar (and remember to use them!). How many times have you been waiting to respawn and thought “now what does that cool looking button do? Oh, that is a knockback which stuns all enemies, well that would have been a good call a few minutes ago.”
Let your team do their thing.
The Away Team is actually pretty good at what they do (even if you dress them in red). Lead the team, but also let them do their part. This means that (a) the away team needs to be prepared and assembled well, and (b) as their leader you allow them to fulfill their responsibilities. As stated earlier, the AI of the away teams I’ve used have worked quite well. I had one particularly great healer for a bridge officer and I promptly asked her to marry me.
Choices Out The Wazzoo.
There are so many choices when it comes to filling out the bridge officers. If the mission rewards don’t fit the bill, Bridge Officers can be purchased for 100 Starfleet Merits (this is also the currency used to train bridge officers). Fill in between bridge officers used for space combat with those used for ground combat because the skills are vastly different. A leg-sweeping tactical officer won’t do much good out protecting the mining facilities, but in close quarters nothing beats a good leg sweep (except a photon grenade).
Dress for Success.
cruising through the wreckage that you’ve wrought during
both ground and space combat, inventories will fill up with quality
gear is good for both you and your bridge officers (for the most part).
sure to load them up with solid gear and don’t just vendor it
though, bridge officers don’t show up unprepared for work.
They typically have
decent weapons and gear and you wouldn’t be embarrassed to
sit with them at a
popular lunch spot.
Unlike space combat with multi-sided shields, ground combat is all about flanking damage. The damage numbers go through the roof if a shooter can get an enemy from a flanked position. For this reason, I let my team start the fights when possible. This does two things. One, it puts their lives on the line first instead of mine (I’m the leader, I have to survive darn it). Two, it draws the fire of the enemies in the area and then I can take a few steps off to the side and blast the targets while achieving full flanking bonuses. If I’m good I’ll stun them and then get off a bunch of flanking shots before they can turn on me.
The only thing constant is change.
While ranking up and assembling teams, the only thing that will stay the same is a character’s name. Everything else will change. With the changes it will become critical to maximize both the space bridge officers and the Away Team. The Away Team won’t be called to action as often as the fly boys (and girls), but they will be critical to the success of any Captain’s ship.