Star Trek Online
With the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek this year, it seemed a fitting time for Arc Games to bring the well established PC MMORPG Star Trek Online over to Xbox One and PS4. As I’ve been playing STO for a few months on PC, it seemed as good a time as any to do a review. Sadly the review will be of the PC version (The Xbox One / PS4 release has had a considerable graphical update, which is apparently in beta for the PC, with a view to rolling out soon.) However, the base game and how it plays apparently remains unchanged across platforms, apart from minor differences to accounts. There is no monthly option on the consoles, whereas the old monthly subscription can still be bought for PC.
So without further ado:
Star Trek Online began life in 2010, as one of the wave of MMORPGs that came out to cash in on the World Of Warcraft gravy train. As such, you had to purchase the game, and subscribe to a monthly fee. As per the general evolution of these games, in 2012 the game became free-to-play – retaining an in-game currency system, called Zen. Zen can be purchased from the online store, allowing for purchase of in-game spaceships, outfits and other items. As such, at this time, the game can be completed, with end-game content becoming playable, without paying a penny.
Now, make no mistake – this game is designed, from the ground up, to try and coax you into spending money. And if you’re a Star Trek fan, doubly so. You want that copy of Kirk’s ship from TOS, don’t you? Or how about Voyager? And if you do want Voyager, you’ll obviously want the authentic Intrepid class Bridge to go with it? And a Seven of Nine outfit? The list goes on – you get the idea. Everything is for sale in this game. And to give you some idea of how much money we’re talking, 3000 Zen is the cost of some of the meatier ships in the game. You can only buy 2400, or 60360 Zen, at either £15.99 or £39.99.
So a minimum spend of £32 to buy the ship. That’s a pretty expensive 3D model. Even more, as it’s not required – you can reach end-game content without spending a penny, as mentioned.
Or have a look at this thread on the official forums, talking about the probability of a ship being dropped, during a limited time offer. (In case the thread is taken down, the probability of a 23rd century Tier 6 ship being dropped, was 114 from 10,000 chances.)
But, if you can power through and ignore that, you can still have a lot of fun – at times. At other times, you’ll come across the limitations of the game engine, or occasionally poor mission design. Or encounter the occasional server problems the game experiences. Or come across some awful writing.
The game lacks polish. There are bugs here and there. Voice acting can be awful – when it works. Other times, voice clips fail to work, altogether.
However, as a Trekkie, I can overlook this. I want some old school Trek action, and this is pretty much the only option available to me. And it’s pretty casual. It is structured in a way that can work with “15 minutes daily” play, or “an hour or two, every once in a while” play. The game has been developed in an episodic fashion that mirrors the idea of a TV series; currently on Season 11.5, regular “events” are held. Over the summer, a shop was established on Risa, allowing Captains to pick up jetpacks and “fly” over the famous Trek holiday resort. At the moment, there is an event allowing for various loot from completing the PvE Mirror Universe missions.
There are also a wide range of player-generated missions, called “Foundry Missions”. Considering the passionate user-base, as you can imagine, there’s a great deal of content available – albeit of massively varying quality.
For a free game, that allows you to play with friends – and I say this, as someone who usually “hates” MMORPGs and free-to-play games, I enjoy this game. It’s fun. It’s not necessarily “good”. But any Trekkie who longs to take on a Borg Cube, launch Photon Torpedoes and issue “Fire At Will” to their Bridge crew… this hits the spot.
Pros: It’s Star Trek! And not that new JJ monstrosity!
- Multiplayer gaming that lets you take a fleet of friends into action in the Star Trek Universe.
- Plenty of missions and “things to do”, all for free.
- The PvE end-game content is enjoyable in a “mindless go in and blow shit up” sort of way.
- Some of the missions are very well done.
- Space combat is great fun, blowing stuff up all over the place.
Cons: Show me the money!
- Want more inventory space? More ship slots? More ships? Better weapons? Better officers? Better weapons? More shiny things? SHOW ME THE MONEY!
- The existing PC engine is a bit rough around the edges. Various graphical glitches and oddities.
- Lacking a lot of polish and finesse.
- Some of the missions are bloody awful.
- On-foot combat is clumsy as hell. Spam that fire button and pray.
If you don’t like Star Trek, move on. This is for dedicated Trekkies only, in my humble opinion. You need to have a love for plastic backgrounds, and dodgy aliens with zippers on show. This game is very reminiscent of TOS in that way; what it lacks in polish, it makes up for with heart. It’s fun. It’s not always well done. And yes, there are some glaring bugs that don’t seem to get as much attention as, say, the next expensive shiny ship that goes on sale.
But as a free-to-play MMORPG, what’s not to like?
Free Stuff For One Day Only
As an added bonus – limited to the 8th September, for 24 hours – if you log in and go to the C Store in Star Trek Online, you can claim a free 23rd Century Pack. This gives you:
In celebration of this amazing achievement, Star Trek Online will be giving away the 23rd Century Bundle for free! We’re doing this for 24 hours, beginning today at 2pm Pacific time on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. This bundle includes the Class F Shuttle, the entire Original Series Ship Interior, the Command Tunic Uniform, the Medical Officer Uniform, the Formal Dress Uniform, as well as a TOS phaser weapon.
Who doesn’t like free stuff? Go get it quick.