Yet another PC game is out on PS4 – Star Trek: Online (STO), the 2010 MMO by Cryptic Studios and Perfect World is now my new obsession. It’s free-to-play and there is 6 years of developed strange new worlds for you to experience. I first played STO on PC shortly after it’s release. I poured hundreds of hours into the game and loved exploring the galaxy in the Enterprise 1701-E from Star Trek: First Contact. To this day I still believe it’s the most beautiful ship in the Star Trek universe. Although I can’t import my progress, I am now able to enjoy this MMO on my PS4 and XBOX One, and the UI has been optimized for the experience. The folks at Perfect World were kind enough to provide me with a few content packs for this article.
Just as I chose to do on PC so many years ago, I started this new trek as a Starfleet cadet. Right off the bat you are awarded command of your own Miranda-class starship. It’s nothing fancy but ‘Trek alum will recognize it’s origin. The other playable factions are Klingon and Romulan. From a story perspective, the Federation and Klingon empire are at war, while the Romulans are scrambling following the destruction of their home planet. The latter you may recall from the introduction of the new J.J. Abrams reboot with Chris Pine, title “Star Trek.” The 50 years of ‘Trek cannon can be found throughout the game’s story. Much of it is available for free by Perfect World and Sony, in that you don’t have to pay for PlayStation Plus to play the game. While I appreciate that violence can be more fun than scanning anomalies in a video game, the constant battling doesn’t feel like pure ‘Trek to me. As a kid I would imagine being captain of the Enterprise and rarely did I engage in battle. I’ve been looking for a Star Trek game my whole life that is more like a simulator rather than an action game. But, hey, STO is still a blast regardless of my hopes and desires.
Space combat was the draw for me. I wanted to sit in the captains chair and look out at the battle scenario from that perspective. I wanted to choose if battle was needed and to have time to determine if we should divert power to shield, use that power for weapons, tend to a potential core breach, etc. Instead you fly around in circles with an auto-lock on the enemy while you press the various skill buttons. It’s not what I wanted but it’s still fun. Particularly while you’re the captain of an iconic starship that you love, such as the Enterprise E. Combat also improves over time as you gain more advanced gear and upgrade your ship-centric skills. Nearly every mission is a combination of space and ground battles. The ground battles are not enjoyable to me. At least not those that I’ve played (I’m level 11 at the time of writing this but I was much higher on PC back in 2010). I found them trite and arbitrary. Keep in mind this is an MMO from 2010 – and not until Guild Wars 2 had any real progress been made to improve MMO ground combat (IMO).
If you haven’t played STO, and you’re a fan of Star Trek, you need to give this game a try. It may not be perfect (what game is) but the setting, music and characters from Star Trek’s illustrious history are plenty to keep you entertained for hours upon end and to happily live with flaws. From 2010 until this summer (2016), STO was relegated to PC gamers only. But now console owners have an opportunity to try, for free, the best Star Trek game out there. What are you waiting for? Make it so!