After Hours

Explore the galaxy of Star Trek Online

Wally Bahny says Star Trek Online is well suited for any fan of Star Trek, RPGs, or gaming in general. Read his rundown of how to create characters and play the game.

The much anticipated Star Trek-themed multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is finally here. Created by Cryptic Studios with support from Atari, Star Trek Online teams hand-to-hand "ground" combat with ship-based space combat for a thrilling adventure. From its top-notch character creator to the easy-to-use interface and controls, Star Trek Online is well suited for any level of fan of Star Trek, RPGs, or gaming in general.

Character creation

The first thing any new player must do after purchasing and installing the game is to create their character. Unless you paid for a special edition, the first faction you can create a character in is the Federation. Three career paths are available (Engineering, Science, and Tactical), each of which has its strengths and its weaknesses, but all lead to command.

Engineering officers can use powerful machines and other technological tricks to withstand damage and confuse and control enemy attacks. Science officers can create energy fields that weaken, damage, and hinder enemies; these officers can also heal team members. Tactical officers have a wide array of damage-dealing abilities; these officers can also take the enemy threat off of team members.

After choosing your career path, you choose your race and gender. Federation races include Human, Andorian, Bajoran, Benzite, Betazoid, Bolian, Saurian, Trill, and Vulcan. Each race has one or two required "traits," plus you can add two to three more for a total of four traits. Another option is to choose the Alien race, thereby giving you full control of your appearance and all four traits using the custom designer.

The custom Alien designer is the most advanced I've seen; it allows for adjustments in the shape and style of many aspects of the head (including the nose, the eyes, the ears, the mouth, the jaw, and the cheeks), the body (including the shoulder, the torso, the arms, the hands, the hips, the legs, and the feet), and more. You can also create your uniform using similarly advanced controls. In addition, the designer allows you to customize your characters that are a specific race within that race's feature parameters in many of the above aspects. Players who want a quick start can choose from "standard" feature sets.

When creating your character, you can give it a Name (a nickname really) and a Ship name, as well as an optional formal name and biography. Once you complete this step, you submit your application to Starfleet Academy, and you're on your way.

Starting the game

The game takes you into a breathtaking cinematic fantasy narrated by Leonard Nimoy as Spock (Prime). Outlining the events of what transpired after the end of Star Trek Nemesis, Spock takes you through his valiant attempt to save Romulus, as first mentioned in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie and then on to the difficulties with the Klingon Empire. Then, he announces that the Borg have returned. This is where gameplay begins. You are a newly minted Ensign fresh out of Starfleet Academy. The ship you are serving on has come under attack from the Borg. The game will walk you through a short tutorial of controls and then allow you to proceed with occasional guidelines as to controls and functions.


You are guided by a nearly seamless series of quests that take you to other ships and starbases and through combat. Along the way, you learn how to use various weaponry from hand phasers and phase rifles to ship-based phasers and photon torpedos. Also, you are able to pick up additional crew members as your skill increases; these crew members give you additional abilities in space and ground combat.

Throughout the game, you get skill points when you complete quests. These skill points help you to become Captain and even Admiral. Spending the skill points gives you additional abilities in ground and space combat.

Overall, the game has an astounding look and feel. The movement controls are easy to learn, and the graphics are amazing. Also, unlike most games, Star Trek Online features collision detection, which makes characters go around each other instead of being able to walk through each other; this includes the ship-to-ship combat as well as the ground combat.

Cost and subscription fees

Star Trek Online costs $49.99 USD; this includes your first month's subscription. The monthly subscription renewal is $14.99 USD, with discounts for multiple-month purchases (check out all of the subscription options). The game is available from all major game retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online. Get your copy today!

If you purchased Star Trek Online, tell us what you think of the game.

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