Those two words hold a lot of expectation. A hell of a lot of expectation, with a feeling of ownership and a dash of protectiveness for the spirit of the legacy it has forged.
Five series, eleven films, two Spocks, enough captains to form a fleet the Star Trek Franchise is big by any standards and now it has a new strand to be added to the continuity. Star Trek: Online. A hybrid of groundside squad combat mixed with tactical space based battles that tries it’s best to evoke the feel and look of the world of Star Trek.
Set thirty years after the tenth film Nemesis, STO expands on the main timeline whilst weaving some of the background of the reboot into the narrative. The Federation is at war with the Klingons, the Romulans are brooding, waiting and dreaming of past glories that they can regain – by any means they can. Gaps in the fabric of the universe are letting enemies seep into our reality even as the remnants of the Dominion and the Cardassians try to forge a new path. Into this the Borg return sowing more dread into the mix of a volatile corner of space, deadlier than ever before as they vie with Species 8472 the ‘Undine’ for the ultimate fate of the galaxy.
All the while something stirs in the shadows.
Starfleet is at breaking point, with the war against the Klingons draining resources and the sudden emergence of the Borg attacking a colony a time for the best of the best to emerge is here and you are one of those who have the mettle to be a starship captain.
Character creation is detailed enough to allow for individuals but simple enough that you do not get bogged down in details. Choose to play a federation character, or after attaining your sixth level, create a Klingon Faction character. Pick a profession, choose your race, pick from a skill set, determine your appearance and away you go. There are opportunities later to visit tailors to change your look and to add an off duty uniform if you like., plus chances to respec skills if needed later in your career.
Once done it is time to take that step and reach for your destiny as you find yourself pitched into the battle at Vega against the Borg, guided by a holographic doctor - the latest generation EMH – of the ship you are aiding you move through the use of tricorders to scan, phaser and melee attacks and all the basics you need to survive being attacked by cybernetic beings (and anyone else) who wish to add you to their collective. Along with a Bridge Officer you return back to find that you are the only Officer left of the command crew. Congratulations you are no Captain and have all the responsibilities of that title. From here you learn how to take part in space combat, refine groundside skills until you return to Earth Space Dock and a hero’s welcome and a bundle of new orders that propel you along.
STO has a number of strands that are woven through it, you start off dealing with the Klingon threat, move through to the machinations of the Romulans, then the Terran Empire and True Way Cardassians until you finally square off against Borg and Undine. Whilst each area is a separate phase of evolution, mirroring your own development and the abilities you and your ship has, there are threads that filter through with a guiding story throughout. A story that at times is obvious and at other times subtle, with each story mission structured like an episode, with multiple acts to each mission, mixing the space and the ground based activities much as you would expect, leading away missions to complete objectives that allow you to return to finalise space based ones.
There is a lot to appeal to the out and out fan, you can visit classic locations, bump into characters from the series or find yourself facing off against enemies that you may not have expected. A lot of effort has gone into this whilst making it accessible to those who have not analysed every episode of every series and who wish to just to play. If you get them great if you don’t then it doesn’t matter they can stand alone and often somewhere, a loading screen or mission text, there will be an explanation. There are also the usual Cryptic Studios fun things that have barest relevance to the actual game. Such as Uridium being an element found at one point and so on, a few puns and a few other sly references. The different types of Tribble that can be bred all have names that seem to come from the production team being possibly the most in-joke of the lot.