Questions by Benjamin J. de la
Durantaye, Executive Editor, Ten Ton Hammer

Answers by
Zeke Sparkes, Star
Trek Online (Cryptic Studios)

The launch of Star Trek Online
is approaching quickly and one question on everyone's mind is "what
about the endgame?" Cryptic hasn't spoken much about what awaits
players at maximum level, and what carrots are going to be dangling to
keep players interested pas the level cap. This week we spoke to Zeke
Sparkes of Cryptic Studios who was glad to tell all about STO endgame. style="font-weight: bold;">

Ten Ton Hammer: What is the level cap in style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek Online
style="font-weight: bold;">

Zeke Sparkes: The level cap is
Admiral Grade 5. Through normal progression you’ll be able to get into
Admiral and a little into the Admiral rank so that you get to play with
some of the cool big ships and big abilities.

Each rank has ten grades for a total of 45 grades in the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: After players reach
Admiral 5 can they still earn skill and officer points that they can

Zeke:  They can still earn
bridge officer points. Once they hit that cap they won’t be able to
earn any more skill points for themselves. So what they’ll be focusing
on is getting new bridge officers, building those bridge officers up,
getting new equipment, getting new ships, that kind of thing.

Ten Ton Hammer: What is waiting for
players at the end game?

Zeke:  We’re actually
doing a rolling release for the endgame stuff. First, you’ll go through
the regular content. Shortly after launch we’re going to unlock the
Borg hub, which is where the end game is focused.

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When we do that first unlock there will be a new exploration star
cluster that you’ll be able to do dailies in. There will be a bunch of
Borg deep-space encounters in that new sector. Since it’s a new
presence for the Federation there is a whole lot of new enemies there.
Then there are several episodes that lead into the real Borg storyline.
We touch on the Borg periodically as you go through the game and then
it sort of starts culminating here at the end.

Then we’ll be releasing really, really tough episodes that are locked
in to be five-man team specific content. So if you do the ground
missions, for instance, you won’t have your away team make up the rest
of the team; you’ll have to have a total of five players to get in
there and really do it. And they’re just kind of ‘cranked to 11.’ These
are the really tough ones.

We’ll be unlocking three of those and then the end show piece is an
even bigger, even tougher episode where you wind up going against the
Borg Queen.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are these episodes all

Zeke:  Absolutely.
Depending on how far into the progression they are and how difficult
they are, they have different lockout times for them. You won’t be able
to do the Borg Queen daily, but most of the others you will.

We also have daily missions for the Star Clusters and PvP for endgame.
All of those will give you access to endgame rewards.

Whether you want to do the really heavy instance-focused content, the
PvP content or the exploration content, you’ll be able to advance and
get the endgame rewards through that.

Ten Ton Hammer: These episodes include
ground and space combat?

Zeke:  Absolutely. Like I
said too, they are locked in as five-man. You could try it with less,
but you’re going to have a hard time.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there a level
requirement for them? Do you have to be Admiral 5 to access them?

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Zeke:  You can try them
earlier, but they are geared towards being Admiral 5 and many of them
are actually leveled higher than that. So you really will need to have
gotten some of the endgame progression under your belt before you can
handle the tougher ones.

But, we’re really keen on letting you play with your friends no matter
what the circumstances are. So you will be able to get into them
earlier; it’s just going to be really hard.

Ten Ton Hammer: In
some previous games we’ve seen epic quests which take a long time to
complete. How do the endgame episodes compare to those?

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Zeke:  We kept the same
philosophy when it comes to the unit length for most of them. We really
want you to get in and get something cool done in an hour or so. The
Borg Queen is a little bit longer but she has a couple of break points
that are really easy to stop at. That is probably the biggest one. I
would expect that once you figure it out and get it going, to do the
full episode will take somewhere between an hour and a half to two

We like that time unit. It’s a good amount of time so that you’re
involved, but it’s not tiring.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will the rollouts of
the endgame episodes be free updates or part of the in-game
microtransaction store?

Zeke:  Yes, they'll be

Ten Ton Hammer: When will the episodes
be introduced to the game?

Zeke:  We’ll start rolling
them out shortly after launch. Within the first week or so we’ll unlock
the first bit and let players get further and further into the
advancement. We want to introduce the feeling of probing deeper into
the Borg menace and unlocking more and more of what’s happening there.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will raids be in the

Zeke:  The three episodes
and the Borg Queen is the largest of all the episodes. They’re geared
towards five-man, not ten or 20-man episodes but they are more similar
to what people expect out of raids than regular episodes. They’re
really tough. You have to figure out what the tricks and schticks are
for the bosses. Going in there and doing just straight up damage
probably isn’t going to get you through. You’re going to have to figure
out what their tricks are. So we expect there to be sort of a learning
curve for those where you need to coordinate really well with your team
to get it taken care of.

Ten Ton Hammer: So are there any
20-man episodes in the game at all?

Zeke:  Not for launch, but
we do have Fleet Actions. That’s where you get multiple teams going
together. The endgame episodes, however, do not require you to get
multiple teams, go to a planet and pick which teams are going in.

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Ten Ton Hammer: When can you start
doing Fleet Actions?

Zeke:  Those are available
as early as level four, so they’re not exclusive to endgame.

Ten Ton Hammer: What else can players
do apart from the hard episodes to progress their character at endgame?

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Zeke:  There’s sort of an
equal progression in either the really heavy five-man episodes, the PvP
rewards, and there’s a special endgame exploration star cluster. There
are also deep space encounters like in the rest of the game that are
very Borg specific in that hub. All of those will have rewards of the
really awesome endgame progression loot.

Ten Ton Hammer: Does the endgame have
different PvP content than the rest of the game?

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Zeke:  Not at launch.
Basically you will be in a bracket of the high level characters and
then you will get a different reward system, still based on the medals
system like before, but a different caliber of medal that you get for
competing against the other admirals.

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of gear can
players get from the endgame content?

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Zeke:  You’ll be getting
some advanced high-tech stuff like anti-proton beams and tricobalt
devices, which are all lore driven; all the high-end big powerful
scientific mojo.

Ten Ton Hammer: How long do you expect
it will take the average player to get to the endgame?

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Zeke:  It’s roughly about
80 hours I think for the average player.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016