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.

Gameplay

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.

16 comments
TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

but, druge dealers create a lot of "customers" by giving out free drugs and then their "customers" are hooked. WOW does the same thing. They give you a free ten day trial to allow you to play and like the scum bag drug dealer, you are hooked and don't mind paying the $50 for the software and $15 a month. STO and Warhammer haven't figured this out.

Mabrick
Mabrick

After Enterprise you'd think they would figure out that Trekkies are not dumb. We require a certain level of intelligence and cleverness that has only grown since TOS. Why in the world they would turn Star Trek into another hack-and-slash, level-grind MMO is beyond me. Pretty graphics are nice but they do not make the game. If you want a real space combat MMO where real people make real decisions affecting every aspect of the game then play EVE Online. It is far more mature as a game and IMO the social aspect is beyond untouchable. Save Trek for the movies, that is where it belongs.

dadown
dadown

I finally realized where STO really misses it. When you do missions in STO, even though you are supposed to be the captain, you are not the one making the decisions, your crew members are! They are all linear story lines where you are told what to do and you aren't given any choices about how a problem should be solved (usually, its just 'kill all the opposition'). In traditional Star Trek, crew members will make several suggestions, but the captain can reject them all and in some cases, even reject directions from superiors when solving a problem.

QA_In_Vegas
QA_In_Vegas

but from everything I've heard and seen, this is all about attack and move up, attack and move up. I was seriously hoping we'd hear about more diplomatic ways of resolving issues..."sabre rattling" as some of our esteemed TV series captains would call it. Was there no thought to a more elevated approach to problem-solving and quests? Even Disney's Toontown Online has their "quests" (which they call "Toon Tasks") do more than just beat up "cogs" (the bad guys). You have to collect things, find things, run errands...may sound childish, but below the surface there's a philosophy that advancement doesn't HAVE to come at the price of constantly killing someone else...a lesson you'd think STO would have deeply embraced. (Forgive the double post elsewhere in TR...I never started a top level post before.)

lmiller
lmiller

Love the game; however, keyboard controls are a little choppy (i.e. if you move left or right, the character tends to turn sharply not gradually). Other than that it is awesome!

pjwvieviwdhy
pjwvieviwdhy

Time will tell

Curious00000001
Curious00000001

After playing for about a week STO seems like it may be around for good. The highlight of the game is the ship to ship battles which even at the lowwer levels are a blast. The ground portions of the game seem to be a last minute addition and the graphics are definitly not up to par with the space combat or even some of the other MMO games out there such as WOW but there is potential. My biggest issue so far is it is probably the most complex MMO out there so the learning curve is rather high and figuring out what to do can be challenging to say the least. One issue that is rapidly being resolved it the game was obviously buggy when released but in just the first week they seem to be ironing them out. I expect within a couple months when things smooth out this will be a truely amazing game that will draw in a considerable amount of players (even non-trekies).

N_Bushnell
N_Bushnell

When you get right down to it, STO is simply another run-of-the-mill MMO wearing an ill-fitting Starfleet uniform. Doubly bad: the uniform is red. I strongly recommend people stay away from this game. If it survives the first year, which I think is doubtful, then it might become something enjoyable.

dadown
dadown

I was looking forward to a great new MMO in space, but after playing in open beta for over a week, I lost interest in even playing the free beta. It has the Star Trek window dressing, but I don't feel like I'm in Star Trek. It feels more like I'm playing pirates of the caribian in space, killing everything with no negotiations. Movement is like you are in a submarine, with no direct up or down and sluggish turns. If I want to play a space MMO, I'll play Eve Online instead where they have harvesting, crafting and an amazing marketing system. Even Earth & Beyond, which failed several years ago, was a better space MMO. Star Trek is supposed to be about exploring the unknown, diplomacy and solving mysteries. In STO, the answer to any conflict is 'kill them all'. And where is the in-ship experience? About the only place you see it is in the tutorial. On your own ship, you only get a non-functional token bridge and you can't even visit the rest of your ship! Another example of poor design is that all the ship weapons have exactly the same range! Then you add in things like every location in the game being an instance and it really spoils the atmosphere. I'll give it another look in 6 months, but its going to take some drastic improvements before they get any of my money.

david.house
david.house

This really helps me. I feel the same way as you about Trek. Kill everybody and blow everthing up is not what Trek is about. I'm looking for exploration and mystery solving. True to Trek would be to make the "crush, kill, destroy" aspect available, but very secondary. I'll pass...

QA_In_Vegas
QA_In_Vegas

That's a pretty hard slam. Me thinks you may be a WoW employee or at least devotee??? ;)

kentontator
kentontator

With AoC and Warhammer I bought them when they first came out thinking they would be sweet, only they were riddled with bugs and terrible game play. I am not buying another MMO at launch ever again. besides this game looks to much like City of Heroes.

deICERAY
deICERAY

Remember the first Trek game that was a text grid? That was as good as Trek games got... I have a shelf full of other Trek games to prove it. Rather than list and critique them, they all basically sucked, except the first ASCII game, which was a blast to play. Some franchises just never get their feet under them. MMO games are for dropouts and retirees - otherwise you just don't get your money's worth.

melias
melias

I enjoyed playing MTREK on the University's Vax 11/750. H*ll on the other user's though. (what, 15 minutes to compile!?)

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