The last week, season 9 for Star Trek Online has come out on its Holodeck server. This means I get to check out what’s new and the challenge to unfold for a Starfleet captain. To start it off the developers have provided a review of what the universe has been through since the game’s conception.
Story in short so far, Klingon’s are suspicious of everyone and started to wage war against the Federation. Romulus is destroyed by it’s own supernova star, thus ending the Romulan Star Empire. The Borg returned in their attempt to take the Alpha Quadrant. The Jem’Hadar provide a friendly reminder the Gamma Quadrant is still dominated by the Dominion. The Undine have been undermining the superpowers to dismantle them. Within the conflicts from the past, the Federation and Klingon look forward to the future. The Federation and the Klingon Empire forge a “no touching” alliance to hold off the Borg and assist in the resettlement of the former inhabitants of the Hobus star. In the Tau Dewa sector in the former Romulan territory, Romulans and Remans have created the New Romulan Republic. Learning from past mistakes of the clandestine Tal Shiar, the Republic work toward establishing a new homeworld and to create a future for the Romulan people based on unity and cooperation. Recently, the Romulan, Federation and Klingon alliance has found an Iconian gateway which lead to the discovery of a another gateway which lead to a Dyson Sphere in the Delta Quadrant. At the same moment, the Voth have taken interest with the Sphere, specifically the Sphere’s Omega particle technology. Old enemies are united to enter the year of 2410. And yes, it took 8 seasons for the year to change once unlike the TV series.
The dubbed features for this content update is mostly visual changes to Starfleet’s Earth Spacedock and character customization additions, introduction of the Undine as the main protagonist for this season and instances and missions associated with it. First thing I did once the patch was install was examine the visuals. At first the patch pushed the graphics up to display the new aesthetics of the characters. Once I was loaded in the game, I set a course right for Spacedock. Coming out of warp above Earth, it was indeed different. The ships moving to and form the drydocks and the station seems to be lively. Upon docking, it was definitely a new sight and definitive change in the colour palette. In short, I’ve spent a long play session just looking at every decal, object and NPC in the changed social zone. Apparently they have added a reason why the zone layout has changed. To avoid spoilers, please play it for yourself. In short, we the players lose a little to gain some different. Like the exteriors, the zone is lively with NPC’s and have much of a shopping mall feel when it comes to the item NPC’s. If the item and exchange area feels like a mall, then the ship interaction NPC’s is the information desk. Aside from the tall ceiling and open space, it’s easier to navigate and feels less crowded unless you walk into the high traffic area.
To the story content, the Borg missions have changed to include a prelude to the Undine storyline. The missions feel long which can be good and bad. Good being it feels like an episode, the bad is the voiceover gets interrupted by accident in certain areas. Double upside, the Borg storyline no longer feels out of place and supplemental. Now the bulk, the Undine story.
To avoid spoilers in short, the action is intense and the story is an obvious changer. It takes away from classic games concepts and maintains the feel of the Trek intensity once enveloped in the series. This is the season where there are no exclusive additions in fleets but a lot of additions to hold people over until new episodes are released such as the Voth Zone in the Solanae Sphere being overrun with Undine.
Change in the reputation mechanics does make it way easier and less of a grind. First off, main rep projects are separated in two; 20 hour dailies and 1 hour hourly projects. Each of the projects reward a box containing a random object from the project’s store. Also it seems, the project item sets are more linear to be easier to find and redeem which results in making missing set pieces a bit impossible to receive unless you have the project queued prior to the update. Overall, it allows the content to be easier to experience and less of a time gate.
Lastly the Undine STF of two space and one ground 5-man instance. The ground mission is part combat and part detective work. You figure out who on Bajor is an Undine spy and rid the city of Hathon from the Undine spy network. One of the space instances is assault against the planet killer shipyards in fluidic space. The other instance is a counter-offensive above some of major species’ homeworlds. This instance requires attacking on 3 lanes and destroy 2 fluidic rifts. If this idea sounds similar then yup, it’s that kind of game; great way to suck the DOTA crowd.
It’s a balance in art and content changes which slowly advances the storyline. There are small bugs at the moment of this post but negligible. Of the start, season 9 of STO is a good start; the only surprise would be fulfilling season unlike the last few seasons which were devoid of episodic content.