Star Trek Online is a free-to-play MMO developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World Entertainment based on the sci-fi series Star Trek. STO was released on PC back in 2010, so if you’re a PC gamer this is old news. It has recently been upgraded and released on Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Developer Cryptic has previously made free-to-play MMO Neverwinter.
The graphics have been revamped and it looks really nice. The special effects look pretty good, especially in ship vs ship combat. The audio in STO is really nice. I was amazed to see the voice casting in this game, including Majel Barrett-Roddenberry reprising her role as pretty much every Starfleet computer voice ever. All the audio is taken from the 2010 original PC release, meaning we still get to hear Leonard Nimoy as Spock, which is fantastic.
The game is split up into episodes, with each episode having three missions. The stories can feel a little repetitive if you constantly play one after another, partially due to the fact that every enemy ship I’ve boarded so far was the same type, so obviously the ship design will get a little familiar. The way the episodes are laid out is similar to a star trek TV series, where there is a background story and some of the episodes have a direct link to this plot, and some are completely unrelated. You can also complete side missions given to you by various characters, such as mining expeditions or search patrols. You can choose to play as either a Starfleet, Romulan or Klingon officer. The game is set after the events of the TV shows and movies, with war now having broken out between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets.
For each mission you complete, you earn experience points, as well as some equipment or power-ups. You can also earn lock boxes, which have a chance of containing very rare and valuable items. The is an online store where you can purchase ships, outfits and other items. To open one of the aforementioned lock boxes you will need to buy a master key from the store. The store items don’t really provide a purchasable advantage, as you still have to reach the level needed to unlock an item before you can buy it, so you’re mostly paying for cosmetics and second choices.
Each faction has a main base of operations, Starfleet has Earth Spacedock, the Klingon Defense Force has the Klingon homeworld of Qo’nos and the Romulan Star Empire having found a new base after the destruction of Romulus. You can visit these bases (only the one for your faction, don’t go getting brave) and you’ll be met with vendors offering various different items, as well as stations for you to customise your own ship, uniform, bridge crew and pretty much anything else you can think of. You can also open the chat box if you’re having a hard time and ask for a little help and advice, there’s always plenty of people in Spacedock, you’re bound to find one or two players with a few words of wisdom.
When playing missions you will either be in your ship or on the ground. Whilst playing in your ship you’ll have access to all your weapons and a selection of abilities that you can equip by changing your bridge officers. When on the ground you can swap between your primary and secondary weapon, which each has three attacks. You can’t customise the ground attacks in the same way as the ship weapons, the ground attacks are determined by the weapon you have. You can also carry medical sprays, fire extinguishers and pets, as well as other items that can provide certain power-ups.
Now we’re on to value for money (this should be quick). It’s free. Yes there’s microtransactions, but today you’d have a hard time finding a game that doesn’t have microtransactions. At least with this game you don’t have to spend £60 to get the game just to see if you like it.
And finally we get to my personal opinion, I love this game. I’m not only going to play it again, but I’m excited for the next time I’ll be back online. I enjoy the gameplay in STO, especially the ship to ship portions. I really like the level of customisation of both the uniforms and characters in this game. The advanced character creation is more in depth than anything I’ve seen in a console game (including fallout, until playing this I thought fallout was extensive). Cryptic Studios have already operated two different promotions since launch, with many more on the way. I also really enjoy the fact that there are a few different multiplayer game modes, known as PvE, PvP and mission sharing. I really like mission sharing as it helps my friend level up (as he’s a bit below me) and I get experience points and a lock box at the end of every mission. It also means one of us can go for the main mission while the other one completes their relevant side task.
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