First Thoughts of Star Trek Online

I pre-purchased STO because I knew it was one of those MMOs that in spite of the previews and revires, both professional and amatuer, was one which I wold have to try for myself.  Recently people’s thoughts of it have been discussed on my guild’s forums.  I posted the following to that topic…

So far I’m on the fence.

Space combat is decent but a tad too binary for my tastes. It is a little simplistic, especially given that it modeled after Star Trek. The maneuvering for position and shielding is nice. As pointed out it is reminiscent of PotBS. This is especially true if you get in the habit of getting on the same level as your target and then level off.

But the constant button mashing for beam fire is horrible. They cycle every 4 seconds. There should be an option to target a ship and tell my crew to fire until I tell them to stop. There’s no disadvantage to firing beams too much so there’s no reason not to slap the space bar repeatedly.

Also the minimal damage model is disappointing. Shields can be hammered down. Hull can be damage. But all the components on the ship are untouchable. How many times have we watched the show and had the tension ratcheted up by calls of specific subsystems that failed? Every freakin’ time a shot was fired, that’s how many times. Even PotBS had a better damage model. Sails damaged? Ya slowed down. Cannons were damage so your fire got weaker, etc. The same should’ve happened here but thus far it has not.

Which brings me to the binary aspect of combat. Either I can take a hellish amount of fire and scrape through or I take a hellish amount of fire and insta-die. The latter comes up most often in open space missions which scale the combat to the number of people in the mission. We’re in light cruisers facing off against multiple battleships, heavy cruisers and light cruisers. Of course the instant our shields drop we’re toast. On the flip side I can rush into combat with 3-4 even level cruisers and walk away unscathed all without minimal maneuvering to rotate shields. Just put them off port/starboard, let my 3 beam weapons (dropped the torp launcher), slap space bar, tap A or D to keep my turn going and spam the reinforce shield button for the side the enemies are on.

Hopefully it gets tuned a tad better before release but I do think the lack of a more complex damage model is hurting their prospects of combat.

Ground based combat is decent. AI pathing it atrocious. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had a crewmember get hung up on terrain. It is definitely more fun with multiple people. Most of the time, however, it’s been crouch, tab, fire, repeat. Not exactly challenging. Of course I’ve put in almost 250 hours into first person shooters since I started tracking such things with XFire so that might just be my skewed perspective of things taking root.

Tempering all of this is the fact I know this is still 2.5-3 weeks from release. I know there are chances for improvement. However I don’t see major changes to the way the game plays until after release. The game is rougher than City of Heroes was at the same approximate time. Then again CoH’s launch was one of the smoothest in the genre. So I’m hopeful that things will improve. I’m not disappointed I preordered. I just hope they don’t leave it as it stands for the long run.

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