Star Trek Online: Life After the Balance Changes
There has been a great deal of discussion on the STO subreddit about the recent balance changes. The subject has also been explored on numerous Tube videos over the last four weeks. As with any game, there’s a lot of technical jargon associated with the various systems and mechanics. Players also use a lot of acronyms and bespoke phrases when referencing content. Subsequently, there can be a steep learning curve to min-maxing and pursuing DPS in STO. Despite having regularly played since the Delta Recruit Event of May 2015, I still struggle to absorb all the subtleties of this MMOs. Certainly, the minutiae of the balance change are lost on me. However, I understand the obvious alterations and have no doubt in my mind that Space combat “feels” different.
Unlike some players who go to extremes to experiment, I have broadly taken the path of least resistance with my ship builds in STO. I followed the recommended skills point allocation by the DPS league for tactical officers after that system was revised last year. I also stuck to the prevailing meta of Antiproton Beam Arrays when it came to weapons choice. I ensured that I used the most commonly referenced, consoles, traits and Bridge Officer skills. Overall this has served me well and I managed to reach a DPS parse of 34K. However, the recent thirty percent reduction in power of “Fire at Will” and the obsolescence of Embassy Plasma consoles has reduced my DPS by nearly half. Combat takes longer now and forces the player to think more strategically. I can no longer just rely upon brute force and ignorance.
Furthermore, the balance changes have been universal so NPCs are now more robust. Red Alerts can be more challenging, especially the Tholian invasion. On several occasions, I’ve been in a low DPS PUG which has resulted in the countdown timer expiring before the team has cleared all enemy vessels. The current Mirror Invasion Event can also be a bit of a slog, especially if the portals aren’t closed quickly and there’s an excess of Terran ships to dispose of. Due to the drop in DPS, I’ve been swapping out consoles and ship sets to see if I can improve the situation. So far, tactical and Lobi consoles seem to have a positive impact. Basically, anything that can boost damage, critical chance and severity is beneficial. However, on a positive note Beam Overload and Energy Siphon have been boosted. Pets now feel like they’re pulling their weight. I may also return to a torpedo or cannon based build, although success with these is still very much dependent on piloting skills.
In all fairness, I can’t really complain about the balance changes that Cryptic have implemented. STO has endured a set of meta builds for too long, resulting in a substantially overpowered player base. Those with very high DPS records, pursuing minmax excellence, have not been handicapped by this rebalance but instead have been present with an opportunity to explore a wider variety of builds. PVE remains relatively easy, allowing casual players to advance through the story arcs. Furthermore, the rebalance has meant that previously side-lined gear and equipment may well prove viable again. For players such as myself, I can continue with my low-level experimentation or simply wait for some generic builds to become established.