Star Trek Online Space Combat, With Friggin’ Laser Beams

Star Trek Online makes no bones about being a space combat –centric game.

style="">Star Trek Online
makes no bones about being a space combat –centric game. The
majority of the
missions will include space combat (previous interviews with Cryptic
has the
number at 60% space combat missions). Within a very short time of
starting your
career in STO, you will be shepherding your new ship into
harm’s way. Since we
are going to spend so much time at the helm, it’s time to
complete a brief walk
through of space combat and provide some pointers for you new captains.

The
first thing to understand about captaining your ship is
the layout of the controls. The UI for ship maneuvers has undergone
several
iterations and the latest is by far the most intuitive, putting the
power in
your hands. Space combat is really about 5 things; ship movement, offensive
attacks,
defensive actions, managing resources, and utilizing your bridge
officers.
Bridge officers could be under managing resources, but I like them to
feel more
empowered than just being a resource.

style="">Flight School Basics,
maneuvering your ship.

Just
like driving a car, each ship has basic motion controls
for forward and reverse, with various speeds available up to ludicrous
speed.

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style=""> id="_x0000_t75" coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75"
o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe"
filled="f" stroked="f"> joinstyle="miter">

eqn="sum 0 0 @1"> eqn="prod @2 1 2"> eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"> eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"> eqn="sum @0 0 1"> eqn="prod @6 1 2"> eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"> eqn="sum @8 21600 0"> eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"> eqn="sum @10 21600 0">
gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect"> v:ext="edit" aspectratio="t">
id="_x0000_i1033" type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 189pt; height: 183pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image001.png"
o:title="">
style="width: 218px; height: 225px;" alt="STO-Ship Shields"
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/79901/preview">

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style="">This ship is stopped with full shields, 100%
hull health and a full
crew.

 Clicking
the double up arrow at the top of the speed
adjustment provides for a very fast burst of speed, at the expense of
power to
your other activities.

Captains
can steer using either the mouse (holding down both
buttons) or W, A, S, D keys (very similar to other MMOGs). If you have
targeted
an enemy, the camera will always center on that enemy so steering with
the
mouse can take a bit to get used to. Moving into position is critical
in ship
combat as you will always want to monitor the enemy’s shield
strength (as well
as your own). Make sure you move into a position to maximize offensive
and
defensive opportunities. The key to blowing the enemy out of the sky is
keeping
the firepower aimed at the weakened defenses while keeping the enemies
guns
pointed at your strongest shields.

style="">It’s time to offend.

Sometimes
(ok, most of the time) talks fail and players have
to resort to violence. When this happens, it’s time to start
clicking; there is
no auto attack in this game. Starting out, each ship has three basic
attacks,
front phasers, rear phasers and forward photon torpedoes. The phasers
are good
to bring down shields, and torpedoes will eat up enemy ship hulls.

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style=""> id="Picture_x0020_2" o:spid="_x0000_i1032"
type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 79.5pt; height: 126.75pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image002.png"
o:title="">
id="Picture_x0020_3" o:spid="_x0000_i1031"
type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 264.75pt; height: 62.25pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image003.png"
o:title=""> style="width: 108px; height: 171px;" alt="STO-Fire When Ready"
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/79902/preview"> style="width: 355px; height: 85px;" alt="STO-Space Hotbar"
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/79903/preview">

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style="">There
are two forms of hotbars for
attack skills as well as a “Fire everything we got”
button.

style="">Much improved from the
earlier versions, the combat hotkeys and options have become very
intuitive.
Essentially anything you put in your hotbar for ship combat wil
populate the
quick-draw box (shown on the left above). This box has three
auto-pickers above
it with the upper righthand corner being a game-povided macro style
button that
fires all available weapons at the target. Click it early, click it
often is my
motto.

style="">Each weapon has a different
field of fire, also called arcs. Hovering a mouse over the different
weapons
will show the firing arcs so that players can tell where the firing
cones are
located. Another visual clue is that the weapon buttons light up when
the
targeted enemy is within the firing arc and range (conversley buttons
will grey
out when the target is out of range).

style="">Best offense is a
good defense.

Defense
is all about shields. The goal for minimizing
incoming damage is to not take any! My anticipation is that shield
management
will become much more involved as we get into the higher levels. There
are
multiple shield management tools at your disposal. First and foremost
is re-allocating
shield energy. Using the arrows in the shield UI, players can bolster
failing
shields by drawing energy from the shields not being attacked.

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style=""> id="Picture_x0020_1" o:spid="_x0000_i1030"
type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 189pt; height: 183pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image001.png"
o:title="">
style="width: 218px; height: 225px;" alt="STO-Ship Shields"
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/79901/preview">

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style="">Shields can be managed by clicking the
arrows to draw more energy to a
failing shield.

Shield
management also comes in the form of skills for both
the players and their bridge officers. Skills can help repair shields,
re-enforce them or provide speedier allocations. As stated earlier, the
cat and
mouse game of maneuvering to keep the right shields facing the enemy
while
maintaining prime attacks will be a challenge.

style="">Call in the
management team.

Instead
of having to micro-manage each facet of ship
resources, we’re given a handy utility for quickly divvying
up resources
(energy).

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style=""> id="Picture_x0020_5" o:spid="_x0000_i1029"
type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 131.25pt; height: 137.25pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image004.png"
o:title="">
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/79905/preview"
alt="STO-Balanced Power by default"
style="width: 119px; height: 146px;">

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style="">The default power plan is balanced across
weapons, shields, engines and
auxiliary.

As
seems appropriate, increasing the energy going to one
area will decrease the levels of energy going to others. There are four
default
energy options (balanced, weapons, shields, engines), but players can
customize the look and presets as well (layered
button in the upper right).

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style=""> id="Picture_x0020_6" o:spid="_x0000_i1028"
type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 78pt; height: 108pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image005.png"
o:title="">
id="Picture_x0020_7" o:spid="_x0000_i1027"
type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 75.75pt; height: 108pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image006.png"
o:title=""> id="Picture_x0020_8" o:spid="_x0000_i1026"
type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 79.5pt; height: 108pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image007.png"
o:title="">
style="width: 450px; height: 187px;" alt="STO-Energy Options"
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/79906/preview">

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style="font-style: italic;">Three
default energy options for Weapons, Shields and Engines (speed)

The
energy does take a while to shift between the different
options so plan accordingly. This is another area of the game where
players can
use the default settings for the early areas and not suffer; however
using
these tools will greatly enhance a ship’s capabilities when
used correctly.

style="">A good leader is only
as good as the people he/she leads.

Bridge
officers are a key component for managing a player’s
ship. Bridge officers will attain skills and training for increasing
ship
efficiency as well as adding special abilities. The special abilities
can turn
the tide of a battle and need to be used. It’s easy to forget
about them, but they
really need to part of the combat rotation for every captain.

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style=""> id="Picture_x0020_9" o:spid="_x0000_i1025"
type="#_x0000_t75"
style="width: 197.25pt; height: 72.75pt; visibility: visible;">
src="file:///C:%5CUsers%5CJay%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_image008.png"
o:title="">
style="width: 265px; height: 99px;" alt="STO-Bridge Officer"
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/79904/preview">

style="text-align: center;" align="center"> style="">A first tactical bridge officer provides a
boost to torpedoes, use it.

style="">Bring it all
together.

Luckily,
the game baby-steps players into how all of these
mechanics work for the most part. Captains won’t lose every
battle if they
haven’t mastered each of these nuances to space combat. On
the flip side, the
players who learn to play the game well will be dancing on the keyboard
and
mouse as they maneuver a ship for optimal fire output while keeping
maximum
shields “enemy facing” all the while balancing
power demands and using bridge
officers to their fullest.

These
are the basics for starting your career at the helm of
a ship, the number of ways these building blocks interact is anything
but basic
however. It’s easy to get tunnel vision during a close battle
and just
concentrate on firing weapons, but many times a little defensive boost
and a
bridge officer special skill will be the determining factor. Keep all
of this
in mind as you set up
into the stars.

For
more detailed information on the rest of the user
interface and some handy tips, read Dalmarus’ href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/sto/space_ui_guide">STO
Space UI Guide.


To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Star Trek Online Game Page.

Last Updated:

About The Author

Around the Web