Star Trek Online: Awakening
The new story arc Awakening, launched this week in Star Trek Online. The first instalment, Beneath the Skin, saw Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp, returning as Commander Paul Stamets in an adventure that takes the player back into the Mycelial Realm. Cryptic have also added a new Task Force Operation, several patrols and numerous of “quality of life” fixes. The event system has now been removed from the reputation panel and added to the mission journal and now tracks progress in a single experience bar. Furthermore there is a new ongoing event which when completed rewards players with an Elachi Qulash Frigate [T6]. The developers have also revised yet another Tier 6 ship skin. This time round they have improved the aesthetics of the Kelvin-Timeline Intel Dreadnought Cruiser (AKA U.S.S. Vengeance from Star Trek Into Darkness).
It’s been a while since we had a story update in STO. Although I have enjoyed the various narrative threads of each previous mission set in the Discovery era, they have been somewhat disjointed. Finally in Awakening, the various dots are connected and I suspect that the arc will be concluded. Beneath the Skin sees an assault in Andorian space by rogue 23rd Klingon Matriarch, J’Ula. This results in the creation of a rift between space time and the Mycelial Network. As all data regarding this realm is classified, the player has to call upon the expertise of a holographic Commander Paul Stamets and enter the rift. Probes sent by J’Ula have leaked Hargh'peng radiation and are causing sickness and corruption throughout the Mycelial Realm. Furthermore, in a surprise twist, we discover that the Elachi where native to the fungal zone prior to being subsumed into Iconian servitude.
As ever with STO, the new story is inventive and draws heavily upon multiple threads of established in-game and canonical lore. There are numerous elements to the plot but complexity is not always a stumbling block, if handled well. Cryptic are aware that not all players may be familiar with all the elements from Star Trek: Discovery so there are several instances of characters pausing to deliver substantial quantities of expositionary dialogue. It does at time slow things down but it’s a necessary evil. The presence of Anthony Rapp is a big bonus to the proceedings. He maintains his acerbic, passive aggressive demeanour and at appropriate points delivers some great quips. As ever with Cryptic, they excel with the little things that add to the ambience. The baby Tardigrades are great as they scamper around the Mycelial Network. And the Elachi who was previously a Romulan was a great call back to an earlier story line.
There is sufficient new content to be getting on with for the present. My concerns about a decline in narrative material has been somewhat tempered. The new patrols are more complex than expected and it’s nice to see the return of characters such as the rogue Ferengi entrepreneur Madran and Lukari Captain Kuumaarke. Plus a major bonus to all this is the fact that the latest mission Beneath the Skin rewards the player with an Elachi Bridge Officer, which is the best news I’ve had since I acquired my Holographic James Kurland. And as developers Cryptic are still working on bug fixes and “quality of life” improvements, I shall patiently wait for classic content such as the classic mission “City on the Edge of Never” to be returned to the game. In the meantime, gaming peripherals vendor Steelseries currently have a Star Trek Online giveaway to celebrate the launch of Awakening. Just create a user account and you can claim a free Ferengi Bridge Officer for the Klingon faction, along with a B’Rotlh Bird of Prey Ship . Free stuff is always welcome and its nice to see the KDF getting some love.