First Impressions: Star Trek Online
STO went free-to-play this month. If you’ve listened to our podcast then you know I just don’t get MMOs. I grew up playing Warcraft, but WoW doesn’t do anything for me. I grew up loving Star Wars, but SWTOR and Galaxies both did nothing for me. So when I first started up STO, having grown up with it, I assumed the same response. Instead, I find the game to be very rewarding. In fact, it’s exactly what I want in an MMO.
Gameplay: the reason I don’t like MMOs is they all boil down to fetch quests. STO does a good job of masking this, and often avoiding it, but tying each action into the survival of the Federation/Empire. The fetching is still there, but you can avoid most of it by not partaking in random side quests. All quests are clearly organized in your log so you know which are necessary to the story and which are, what I call, distractions.
Price: the F2P version is excellent. You have access to the main story quest (organized by “episodes”), as well as a large fleet of starships. There are several weapons and items to purchase with in-game currency rather than do I eat or starve and play an MMO currency (also known as real-life USD). I just recently was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and was given, at no cost, what is basically the NCC-1701A, commanded by James T. Kirk himself. It’s been updated for Picard’s day and performs great. I can liken it to the experience a Star Wars fan would have from commanding the Millennium Falcon in Galaxies. It feels nostalgic, as well as powerful in the context of the game. Not a bad reward for free.
Fidelity: it’s not the sexiest game in the world. But, on the flip side, that means I can play it on my powerful desktop PC, or my wife’s laptop. Graphics are acceptable, especially for an MMO, but it won’t turn any heads. In fact, navigating between sectors looks like Homeworld. For those of you too young to remember, Google it. The game does include sound effects from several Trek series’, but that’s not actually a selling point. Many of those sounds are fine, but aren’t improved by HD or surround sound. Although, it does help to make you feel like you’re in the Trek universe.
I don’t consider myself a huge Trekkie. I’m a fan. No doubt. But I basically stopped watching after the second season on DS9, the second episode of Voyager, and the first season of Enterprise. Still, STO does for me what other MMOs have not, it’s made me a bigger fan.