After a week and a half of this trial code I’ve found; thanks to sheer serendipity. Free-to-play Star Trek online from Cryptic Studios seems to have it’s certain perks and quirks. Seeming with a busy worlds and galaxy, it’s not stop adventure front to back. Fitting for every style of gameplay. Though the names and lingo changed from your usual fantasy, there are more roleplay elements and elegance to it.
Let’s begin with the story, here’s the summary that will pull you through half the game. Spoiler, but at least SOPA cant suck it. You start off in a battle between a fleet of ships and the Borg. because of the death of the senior staff, you now command your first ship. So now you begin to repel the enemy off you ship slowly being assimilated and dismantle to serve the Hive. Once you do that you are granted field command (a.k.a. captain a ship). And you begin to jump into the affairs between all the hostile races like the Klingons, Cardassians and the Romulans. With new tech comes new challenges where the old world of Trek now dissolves into conflict. You are now part of it to solve it’s problems before the Federation has to fight on all fronts.
Of course it wouldn’t be an RPG without a few things, like stats and skills. In this game, slight changes from your usual game but still same mechanic. Level up, get a skill, level skill. What’s new is since you have a team for single player missions, you can teach specific skills to them if you reach a threshold for the skill. For me, it’s unprecedented since most games with a buddy system would run it’s own skill sets or copy over player skills sets for your buddy. Of course, some skills are restricted to players; but most of all, these skills you earn are passive meaning levelling your bridge officers (your buddies) is essential to receive active skills to use like healing and damage dealing. However, the game is merciful so you are granted some abilities during ground based content through kits.
The play is divided between ground and space, meaning skill tables for each; one for space (for all 4 types, engineering, tactical, science, operations) and one for ground (your class you’ve chosen.) For most of the missions, you have a split between ground and space. Some balancing is required since you would have to spec for ground and space of single play and multiplayer PvP/co-op. Of course if you want to a perfectionist, you can go one or other; but you miss out the fun of the other half. However, playing in three dimensions does provide some challenge since you have to align you arcs to fire a certain way and manage ship systems as you play. It’s not about the best ship with the most damage, it’s also a bit of mental prowess to manage 4-6 things at once.
Beautiful and accurate down the last movie chronologically in the Trek world (Star Trek: Nemesis), the artists and modellers kept the ideas of the Sovereign and expanded to accommodate a fresh 25th century look. Though some classics are still in, some have been meticulously textures to resemble it’s CGI counterpart from the shows and those of the ideas of fans and developers have mixed in the old world to the new creating some innovative ships.
The world itself sells it’s short. The galactic map is seperated into 2 to 4 sectors of space you load to. Though not a full galaxy since some stars and locales in the Trek universe are presented, don’t expect a procedural universe. Though keeping true to it, every place has a purpose of being thus being in that place. So are the social zones to congregate and simply to enjoy the sights. From the iconic Academy garden in San Fran circa 2409 to DS9 after the Dominion War where a periodical wormhole appears just beyond the great void. Memorable locales and locations you’ve always wanted to visit.
Yet so much is unique and only Star Trek can only provide. Remember Assassin’s Creed’s little assassin missions? That’s in here too but the probability of success comes in four degrees all jam packed into a convenient interface. Each of your little dudes you will never see has traits and an occupations fit for certain jobs and some would botch the mission if you put them in. Neat little piece for those who want to just sit back and let them do the work. Rewards can range from your usual currency and experience to rare weaponry and craft items.
Adoption of the free-to-play model has really brought up the playing populace to overcrowding, which only enriches the experience of a busy on going battle to maintain diplomacy and the unknown. There are inexhaustible missions from the lore to the user-generated content. Always imaginative and creative with the story, Gene Roddenberry would be proud.