Star Trek Online: The Other MMO
It’s a curious thing that despite having played the MMORPG Star Trek Online, fairly regularly since its launch in 2010, I don’t write about it consistently. This realisation has given me pause for thought because I’ve spent a of lot of time playing my primary character over the years. I enjoy the fundamentals of this game. It is very lore friendly, with strong narratives and themes. As a hybrid free-to-play game it is very accessible, especially to new players. There are regularly events and activities scheduled throughout the year, outside of the core game content. And yes, if you want to sink a fortune buying ships from the cash store, you certainly can do so but it is not essential to have a positive game experience. Yet despite many positive points, looking back over my written output this year, STO doesn’t get as much attention from me as LOTRO. Which I guess is the reason for this post. I feel “obliged” to say something about the game.
At present in Star Trek Online, the seasonal festival Q’s Winter Wonderland, is in full swing. As ever it is packed to the gunwales with activities. Players can battle the Kramp’lhri, enjoy a snowball fight, try Klingon fishing as well as take part in a pie eating competition. The daily “Fastest Game on Ice” contributes towards claiming a new, shiny Fek’Ihri S’torr Warship (T6). If you earn this on one character it unlocks across your entire account for other alts. Compared to other Winter Festivals, the one in STO doesn’t quite feel as false and contrived. Having the bizarre variety of events pan out as part of a scheme cooked up by Q works quite well lore-wise. The events themselves are also enjoyable and there is plenty of scope to earn the respective yuletide barter currency. After all, who doesn’t want a Christmas sweater for their Gorn captain?
The episodic nature of much of the narrative content of STO means that it‘s a game that can be tackled in either bite size chunks or at length, depending on your preference. I often play in fits and starts, when I’m between other games. At present I’m slowly advancing some alts through older content and bringing them all slowly up to speed with the various reputation factions. I have sufficient ships at present and have a build that I am happy with, that gets things done. So, there’s no need for any major tweaking for the moment. STO certainly provides me with a healthy fix of MMO excitement but unlike other games such as LOTRO, it doesn’t blow me away with its community and wider social component. I converse and exchange ideas with other in Reddit Alert chat when I log into the game, but I don’t “know” other players as I do in other games. And I miss that to a degree but the community although friendly is very insular and self-sufficient. If you want more, then you have to seek it out. It doesn’t proactively come to you.
Unlike some MMOs that have struggled in recent years, STO seems to be ticking over quite well at present. It is currently tied-in to season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery and has voice acting credits from Mary Wiseman, reprising her role as Starfleet Cadet Sylvia Tilley. A road map for the year ahead has already been published, indicating that the game has further feature episodes, epic events and taskforce operations to come in 2019. Admittedly a lot of this will be more of the same, but for an MMO that is coming up to nine years old, the addition of new content is always welcome. If Cryptic could also spend some time on “quality of life” improvements and polishing some of the game’s rough edges, then that would certainly improve community relations. They’ve been strained of late. But overall, I am pleased to have this MMO at my disposal as it has proven, over yet another twelve months, to be a dependable game. Whether filling the gaps in my leisure schedule or being its focus.