Star Trek Online Space Combat, With Friggin Laser Beams
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
number at 60% space combat missions). Within a very short time of
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.
first thing to understand about captaining your ship is
the layout of the controls. The UI for ship maneuvers has undergone
iterations and the latest is by far the most intuitive, putting the
your hands. Space combat is really about 5 things; ship movement, offensive
defensive actions, managing resources, and utilizing your bridge
Bridge officers could be under managing resources, but I like them to
empowered than just being a resource.
style="">Flight School Basics,
maneuvering your ship.
like driving a car, each ship has basic motion controls
for forward and reverse, with various speeds available up to ludicrous
style="width: 189pt; height: 183pt; visibility: visible;">
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
the double up arrow at the top of the speed
adjustment provides for a very fast burst of speed, at the expense of
your other activities.
can steer using either the mouse (holding down both
buttons) or W, A, S, D keys (very similar to other MMOGs). If you have
an enemy, the camera will always center on that enemy so steering with
mouse can take a bit to get used to. Moving into position is critical
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
defensive opportunities. The key to blowing the enemy out of the sky is
the firepower aimed at the weakened defenses while keeping the enemies
pointed at your strongest shields.
style="">It’s time to offend.
(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
front phasers, rear phasers and forward photon torpedoes. The phasers
to bring down shields, and torpedoes will eat up enemy ship hulls.
style="width: 79.5pt; height: 126.75pt; visibility: visible;">
style="width: 264.75pt; height: 62.25pt; visibility: visible;">
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”
style="">Much improved from the
earlier versions, the combat hotkeys and options have become very
Essentially anything you put in your hotbar for ship combat wil
quick-draw box (shown on the left above). This box has three
it with the upper righthand corner being a game-povided macro style
fires all available weapons at the target. Click it early, click it
often is my
style="">Each weapon has a different
field of fire, also called arcs. Hovering a mouse over the different
will show the firing arcs so that players can tell where the firing
located. Another visual clue is that the weapon buttons light up when
targeted enemy is within the firing arc and range (conversley buttons
out when the target is out of range).
style="">Best offense is a
is all about shields. The goal for minimizing
incoming damage is to not take any! My anticipation is that shield
will become much more involved as we get into the higher levels. There
multiple shield management tools at your disposal. First and foremost
shield energy. Using the arrows in the shield UI, players can bolster
shields by drawing energy from the shields not being attacked.
style="width: 189pt; height: 183pt; visibility: visible;">
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
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
mouse game of maneuvering to keep the right shields facing the enemy
maintaining prime attacks will be a challenge.
style="">Call in the
of having to micro-manage each facet of ship
resources, we’re given a handy utility for quickly divvying
style="width: 131.25pt; height: 137.25pt; visibility: visible;">
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
seems appropriate, increasing the energy going to one
area will decrease the levels of energy going to others. There are four
energy options (balanced, weapons, shields, engines), but players can
customize the look and presets as well (layered
button in the upper right).
style="width: 78pt; height: 108pt; visibility: visible;">
style="width: 75.75pt; height: 108pt; visibility: visible;">
style="width: 79.5pt; height: 108pt; visibility: visible;">
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)
energy does take a while to shift between the different
options so plan accordingly. This is another area of the game where
use the default settings for the early areas and not suffer; however
these tools will greatly enhance a ship’s capabilities when
style="">A good leader is only
as good as the people he/she leads.
officers are a key component for managing a player’s
ship. Bridge officers will attain skills and training for increasing
efficiency as well as adding special abilities. The special abilities
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="width: 197.25pt; height: 72.75pt; visibility: visible;">
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
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
mouse as they maneuver a ship for optimal fire output while keeping
shields “enemy facing” all the while balancing
power demands and using bridge
officers to their fullest.
are the basics for starting your career at the helm of
a ship, the number of ways these building blocks interact is anything
however. It’s easy to get tunnel vision during a close battle
concentrate on firing weapons, but many times a little defensive boost
bridge officer special skill will be the determining factor. Keep all
in mind as you set up
into the stars.
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