STO PvE and PvP Impressions

I’ve been able to play the game for several more days now and explore a good amount into the PvE and PvP gameplay.  My Federation Captain is now up to level 7 and I’ve been able to max out several of the sections under the skill trees.  These have unlocked an ability or two but for the most part have left me feeling the same as I did before maxing them.   Graev and I have done the majority of our leveling and PvE in a duo but brought in our friend as a third last night to do some of the quests.  We noticed that adding a third person drastically increased the difficulty of a mission that we had attempted the previous day.  This leads us to believe that missions scale in difficulty — a nice feature.

Several of the missions we have done have been bugged.  The Orion sector exploration quest has been especially bugged in that it does not give credit for completing various systems.  Sometimes you’ll go through the entire map, finish it, get a message that you completed it, but then have it uncompleted in your log.   When the missions can take 30 minutes just for one objective out of 6 it gets aggravating to have to redo it.

Both Graev and I really enjoy the PvE.  We’ve agreed that it’s enjoyable simply because it’s Star Trek.  If this were anything else we would probably have uninstalled already.  Why?  It’s really repetitive.  Whether you’re going to explore anomalies, nebulas, kill klingons, or scouting something it’s all the same.  You warp in, pew pew a few ships, scan something, warp out.  The objectives may read differently, but 90% of the content I’ve done has all mushed together in my head as nothing more than really fun ship combat.

The other 10% of content that hasn’t been forgettable is a particular story arch we’ve been working on.  The “Undine” aka Species 8472 (from Voyager) have been up to no good.  Weaving the Klingons into the story and a couple big battles and ground missions and the story is enough to make it memorable.  When the identity of the Undine was revealed we both went “Woah!” and suddenly we were interested in what was going on because we already had a prior knowledge of this race being extremely dangerous and bad news.  Without such appreciation, perhaps this mission would have been like all the rest.

At level 6 the ability to make a Klingon character unlocked.  I made a Klingon female that would give Lursa and Betor a run for their money, heh heh.  Exploring Qo’nos amounted to exploring a couple rooms in a building. 🙁  I was really hoping for a lot more out of the infamous Klingon Home World.  My character is awesome though.  She’s leveling very quickly and I’ve already been able to participate in many PvP battles.  My Bird of Prey is very maneuverable and with a little skill left over from my PotBS days I’ve been able to stay behind my enemy and take advantage of the forward disrupters + torps.

PvP in general though is a let down.  While I may enjoy the ship combat mechanics of the fights (as I do in PvE), the execution is off.  Klingon content really is just clicking a button on the hud to choose a game mode and queue.  Once your queue pops you warp in and participate.  Klingon Sector Space is a cleverly disguised version of the exact same screen that pops up when you want to queue.  It’s just a bunch of sectors you can fly to in order to queue instead of just clicking them on the menu.  Once you’re inside these battles (aka arenas or battlegrounds) it’s fairly sloppy and rushed..  Maybe it’s too many ships at once or ships do not live long enough, but a few people focus firing can destroy anyone in a matter of seconds.  Everything is chaotic and feels thrown together without the cohesiveness and strategy you would come to expect from such a capable combat system.

Now that I have experienced it for myself, I have something I want to say to some people:  Shame on you for lying or speaking out of ignorance about this not being Monster Play.  Klingons are almost identical in every way to Lord of the Rings Online’s Monster Play.  In both Klingon and Monster play you get a character who can advance in skills, participate in PvE and a very limited form of PvE, and essentially exist for no other purpose than to PvP against the fleshed out and complete “Federation” or “Free Peoples”.   Assuming it was the intention all along to make them nothing more than Monster play, it’s not a bad implementation.  It does work in this sense.  PvP gameplay being horrible is the biggest problem facing Klingon Play.  A failure to live up to potential though is another story but one we can set aside.

One thought sticks out more than any other in STO:  How long can I continue playing when it feels so repetitive and rushed?  I’d like to see the missions vary a great deal more.  Perhaps they change later on; I half expect this.  They still feel too repetitive right now.  There’s also a lot more that can be done with PvP to make it feel less thrown together like polishing up the objectives and looking into the mechanics of PvP ship combat against players.   Long-term appeal is going to be very questionable.

  • In light of all those impressions, Keen, do you feel that STO will last you longer than PotBS and Lotro or not? Since the game seems to borrow heavily from PotBS ship vs ship combat and all its potential, minus the economy, and the PvP is the monster play from Lotro, is it worth it to get life time sub for it?

  • The intention for Klingons was always that they be a full faction just like the Federation. If you check out G4 TV, they even have an interview with an employee of Cryptic that said as much (interview was taken before the klingons content was cut in order to make the ship date, reducing them to pvp only class for advancement).

    Cryptic could’ve delayed the game for a lot of changes, but I think they looked it over and felt if they delayed it to fix klingons, they’d probably have to go back over and fix ground combat, sector space, and many other things that just didn’t get the needed polish .. then you have a game delayed another year.

  • Given that you’ve been playing less than a week and everything you say apart from “but it’s Star Trek” is negative, I wouldn’t think you’d be playing for much longer.

    Allods CB4 starts tomorrow…

  • Having played (and walked away from) LOTRO PvMP, my gaming partner and I require Klingon PvP in STO to be demonstrably different in only one way: queueable battlegrounds and arenas. I have not yet been able to take part in the PvP and so will not comment on their quality, but the mere existence of these options makes all the difference between a game we are willing to play, and one we are not.

    My PvE experiences couldn’t be much different from yours, either, as I don’t find the missions to be any more repetitive than any combat-oriented game I have played in the history of ever, but difference is the spice of life, etc. etc!

  • @Luk: That depends on if I subscribe or not. If I did subscribe, the game would definitely last longer than PotBS. I feel the Star Trek aspect alone would keep me willing to log in each day to progress a little further and eventually try to see all the different ships and places from the series. A lifetime subscription though is not worth it at all. Do not fall for that scam.

    @Jason: I think a year+ delay would have made the game better. Yeah, Star Trek is currently experiencing a revitalization with the movie but this is Star Trek we’re talking about. Five series, Eleven movies, and over 40 years of being apart of our culture is enough to justify that Star Trek would remain popular for another year.

    @Bhagpuss: The ship combat is a lot of fun. I like the implementation, even if its been borrowed from other games. But yeah, aside from Star Trek there isn’t much to praise in the game.

  • Anyone that said Klingons (as the are in game NOW) isn’t almost an exact copy of LotR Monster Play either never played a Klingon in ST:O or was looking through some serious rose colored glasses.

    As was said by Jason, Cryptic axed almost all Klingon content to make their launch date and basically said “Hey, if you want the content, we’ll be more than happy to create it for you!”

    As the game stands right now, its center won’t hold. There is too much in game that people (like me) are overlooking just because it’s Star Trek, damnit!

    Strip that away and what we’re really left with is a massive grind of doing the same things over and over and over again.

    Granted, I love the ship combat so that takes the edge off a bit and the main storyline flowing through the game is actually very engaging and well done. But to get to those moments, you have to plod through a ton of the same old same.

    What really hurts is that there is just so much damn potential they could draw from and turn this game into. Maybe that’s just the Star Trek lover in me speaking, but there is some hope.

    Enough to probably get me to subscribe, but no where near enough to sign up for anything long term.

  • I’ve been playing STO for awhile and liked it for some time, also don’t know much about Trek. I did try and log in today to play for a bit but I started to feel nauseous so had to go out and jog instead 🙂 Also the game gives me MASSIVE headaces. I’m not sure if it’s the space combat, the ground combat or the warping here and there, etc. I will say the space combat is fun and does require your attention. The really sad thing is there seems to be nothing on my mmorpg radar that will be out anytime this spring or summer 🙁 Allods don’t let me down!

  • I’m with several commenters here, it’s still interesting, but it’s interesting *because* it’s Star Trek. I asked myself a couple days ago if I would still like it if it wasn’t Star Trek, and my thought was “probably not.” The only major draw now is the ship combat, which remains fun even after doing it over and over again (It’s almost gotten too easy since I got my cruiser, though). Sadly, ground combat isn’t quite so enjoyable, with the only thing separating it from other games is now, instead of hitting it with a sword over and over to kill it, I’m shooting it over and over with a phaser.

    And the bugs: Ooooooh the bugs. My first try at an exploration mission has led me to not touch them again. It took me a good 6-7 tries to satisfy the 3 needed to complete the overall mission. And I can’t count the times I’ve beamed down to still appear as my ship, which frankly wouldn’t be too annoying, as it goes away if you wait a tad, except my bridge crew doesn’t appear with me, forcing me to reload or relog to get them back.

    The story arcs in the episode missions are pretty neat, and there are a lot of neat easter eggs to find (Who else thought “ZOMG Sulu!” When they got that quest?). That’s mostly because of the content though. If it wasn’t Trek, and I wasn’t getting all the little tie-ins, it would be your standard click-through to get to the quest fare. I’m happy I’m finally caring about the quest text, but I’m disappointed it’s not more.

    All in all, most of the game’s charm is because, as Nemesis eloquently put it, “it’s Star Trek, dammit!” Ship combat is the only element that to me feels genuinely fun, the rest is rather lackluster.

    And I have to agree, Keen, the game would certainly benefit heavily from another few months to a year of development. I certainly get a vibe of “the suits want to push this out NOW, so we’re finishing up what we’ve got.” Which can be dangerous when it comes to an MMO.

  • Oh, and I wanted to add, I’ve noticed the scaling missions too, which is nice until you get some douche who quits when the battleships show up, or some dweeb who sits just outside of their weapon range and won’t budge, and then you’re stuck with a mission you’ll have to restart…

  • @Keen To juge PvP you really need to go in Tier 2+

    I agree with everything you just wrote, but it seems that tier 2 adds an extra layer of complexity (i.e. Ship types) that helps PvP to be a tad better.

    In a fantasy MMO, the equivalent of STO Tier pvp would be 20 warriors sword and boards vs 20 dual sword rogues. Now in tier 2 Klingons still dont have much options, raptor DPS or BoP dps, but on the starfleet side im seing a good mix of Escort, science and cruiser vessels. Now each encounter you see different types of weapons, you see strange new blue beam that seem to debuff you. As i say, one extra layer.

    My Klingon is like lev 13 and all i did was grind the PvE mission in the Khaless Expanse where you need to kill 10 Feds ship. Its the most effective way to level a Kling right now. Again fantasy comparison, if the most effective way to level is to repeat that first kill 10 rats quest.. theres a pve problem.

    All that being said, i like STO. Theres bound to be balancing issues between ship types. Right now Science vessels tank better than cruisers ;/

    Im an optimist, but 2 weeks away from release.. It does feel unfinished..

    ~Higgs

  • At lev 11 you get the Lt.Commander promotion and a tier 2 ship.

    For my part, i think im going to end my beta here. I saw and learned what i needed. I dont want to spoil too much of the PvE storyline on the Fed side and i dont want to invest in a Klingon to have him deleted.

    I am part of the Legendary Rangers fleet (http://www.legendaryrangers.com/). Its big, mature and casual guild. I was with them in WAR and they were a fun bunch. We are openly recruiting for STO if you guys are looking.

  • I’m a Star Trek fan (not a hardcore one) and I don’t dig the game. Even if it was Babylon 5 (my favorite sci-fi show) I would still not dig it. It just looks bad. (not talking graphics here)

  • Nice review. The more I read about the STO, the less I’m convinced that the game has any long term appeal but that it just seems to cater to the Star Trek itch we all get. I really want to give the game a shot but I’m just too busy right now to be bothered with it. I guess that says a lot in itself.

  • I’m still on the fence about this one. Maybe cause it’s beta but I get the itch to play. Log in and play for about 20min. Log out and then an hour later the cycle continues.

    My major gripes so far:

    1) Over Instancing. What’s the point of warping to the Sol System instance just to fly a few km to star base and load another instance? Seriously I usually don’t mind instancing, but it’s so over used.

    Even when you get inside you have to go through another load screen just walking a few feet into the Admirals office. UGH!

    2) Sector space. This small grid representing the space between objectives is horrid. It makes me feel detached and ruins the sense of being in space. I am usually never vocal on official forums, but I have stated a few times my disdain for this.

    SOLUTION: Make this part of traveling viewed from the bridge. Plot your course, engage, watch the view screen, or your science officers booty while you warp to your next objective. It makes more sense. It would add more immersion for the IP. It’s win/win.

    3) Exploration. It’s a no brainer that this is a must have for STO. I haven’t seen the genesis (?) system in place yet so we’ll see.

    Overall, I agree with most of what’s been said here. It is fun because it’s Star Trek. As always Cryptic delivered on customization. I love customizing the look of my ship.

  • That’s a really good idea about Sector Space. I think that’s one of the things that really irks me about Cryptic. I mean how many bad choices can one company make?

  • @Keen:

    You say that it feels too repetitive “right now,” but hold out hope that it may get better. Can I ask how much time you’ve spent so far, and whether you have any reason (other than wishful thinking) to suspect that it will become, er, unrepetitive if you keep playing?

    From my perspective, if it gets repetitive within the first few days of play and stays that way for the next few days of play, it’s already well on its way to being dead to me. There’s gotta be some kind of “hook” early on, or I just can’t be bothered to stick it out hoping for something good down the road.

  • If you pay for this game just because it has an IP you are familiar with(Despite it being a mediocre at best game) you are just enabling other publishers to continue the loop of piss poor games that we all despise.

  • I have reached level 7 too, and my major point is the lack of new “stuff” (call it abilities, ship diversity, …).

    Waiting for level 11 for a new ship is really too long with the same boring missions. I do have now Mk 2 equipment for my ship and my crew, but it’s not enough to justify the time invested.

    It took me some time to get adjusted to sector space, but after an initial disgust, I do start liking it. It’s impossible to travel faster than c normally, so warp use a different space geometry and any representation is better than those stargates we had for decades. As for the bridge, I would like some use of it, for example ship upgrades should be done from bridge (no loading time please…) with the relevant officer.

  • Keen, difference with monster play in LOTRO is that monster play was not instanced.. the only saving grace of LOTRO “pvp”

  • I’m going tl;dr on you here so bear with me.

    First to note: I’m NOT a Star Trek fan at all, i dislike most of the Star Trek universe, frankly.

    I’ve been toying with ST:O for a few days now, and I actually kind of like it so far. The ambiance “feels” right, like when you’re in the Sol starbase, it feels like you’re on a giant starbase in space. Sounds, graphics, lighting is all done well.

    The music throughout the game is also very stimulating and fitting.

    The ship combat is fun also, I played PotBS and EVE, and i think this game is a mix-and-match between both. I always hated that direction had no purpose in EVE, you just locked on, and autopiloted to range, fired every weapon and had a sammich. The battles in ST:O are intense and effectful, and you get a lot of tools at your disposal early on.

    I like the phaser vs. shields, then drop in some torps to knock out the hull style combat.

    I kinda liked the ground combat too, not the best avatar combat system ever, but a huge step up from PotBS. I like how you can customize your away team, train them up etc.

    I also liked the auto-group-match system where you are put together with other people doing the same quest. I have never seen a case where people drop out or run away from battleships, i’m sure it happens, but i had positive experiences in general.

    One nice touch was also the Starbase 24 mission. Where if you go too close to it, it will give you an on-the-fly mission to come help out in a battle against some klingons. You warp in with other federation vessels and fight off npcs, and the story progresses through the mission. some ground combat and some ship combat. It was kinda fun.

    People complain about the sector space map. I honestly don’t mind it, it’s nothing but the same as staring at the 3d map in EVE anyway, except less confusing.

    Now for my complaints.

    Why didn’t you allow for full 3D flight? WHY? It’s so FLIPPING annoying that i can’t make a loop or barrel roll with my spaceship.. what? is there some gravity well that’s prohibiting my ship from rotating around its axis?

    Then the camera JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST that f****ing thing is obnoxious. it has some kind of auto-center feature where it refuses to stay still and starts rotating all over the place as soon as i let go of my mouse button, and i go from perfectly centered and focused to “i have not a single clue what i’m looking at right now” in 2 seconds flat.

    Instancing. Now, to be clear, i don’t mind that they sharded the world – i think in fact that it was great tool to give you a sense of being a lone explorer in the universe (sector space), but also being able to group up automatically as you warp into a mission / space combat area.

    What i DO have a problem with is the incessant load screens. Picture this: You are in space and you want to go turn in a patrol mission to a guy in the admiral’s office on the space station in the Sol system.

    1. Click F to enter Sol
    2. wait for load screen.
    You are now in ship-combat view.
    3. Click F to dock with Sol space station
    4. wait for load screen
    You are now aboard the SS in 3rd person view.
    5. Click F to enter the admirals office
    6. WAIT FOR LOAD SCREEN
    Now you’re in the admiral’s office in 3rd person view
    7. Talk to Sulu, turn in the quest, get a new one.
    8. Click button to undock
    9. WAIT FOR LOAD SCREEN
    You are now in ship-combat view outside the space station
    10. click button to enter sector space
    11. WAIT FOR LOAD SCREEN

    voila, back in sector space. What.a.waste.

    Another thing i hated was the PvP queue. I mean COME ON! you spent so much effort in making the game a nice illusion, this PvP queue just makes it come crashing down. Queue for PvP? Oh yeah! i remember that episode of Star Trek. Now add to that a 30 minute+ queue to pewpew for a little bit.

    Bugs. yeah… betabetabeta… hopefully they have a big stack of Jolt in their garage, because there are a lot of game breaking bugs. like what keen mentioned. The patrol missions that take 30 minutes, and when you’re done it resets. uuh. thanks… You go from being stoked that you finished off a few battleships singlehandedly, to a … oh shh… i have to do this AGAIN? then you do it again, and you STILL don’t get credit for it. sigh.

    End game. Noone knows what the end game is, in fact, if you ask on the STO boards you are more likely to get flamed for asking such powergamer questions! Star Trek had no end game! There is no end game! Go back to WoW you fratboy xbox gamer you!

    So i guess that means that you’ll do a bunch of quests, get some new shiny ships, shoot more enemies that scale with your ships capability, shoot some more bad guys on the ground that scale to your capability. And no matter how many klingons you send scattered out in space, or how many you burn to a crisp with phasers on kill, nothing in the game world changes, nothing you do matters. the pvp is for looks only, another “arcade” within the game of no end game.

  • My Impressions so far…

    I’m a big Star Trek fan.. not the dress up and go to conventions type, but I grew up watching the show in the 70’s and have watched every movie and show spin off.

    This game is no where near ready for release and will not be in the near future. Cryptic Studio seems to feel they have to pimp themselves out to every retail outlet and taco stand. They literally have a deal with Del Taco?? you get a shuttle pet for buying some food. You know they don’t have any confidence in their own game when they are offering “Life Time” memberships and you can only get the deal before it goes live. They would have been much better off by offering all the options to every retail outlet and letting the buyer choose which pre-order option they wanted when the game goes live.

    I’ve played the game to level 11.
    I made Lt. Commander and got my new Cruiser Class ship which is supposed to be a tank class ship and bigger than my last ship. Guess what… it now looks smaller than my previous starter ship.

    Space battles are repetitive, but strategically fun IF you are trying NOT to die. In most MMOs you fight many different types of creatures and have to use different strategies, but in STO you fight a small, medium or large ship. They all start to look the same. I used the same strategy over and over and over again. The game killer for me is the NO penalty for dying. This means you don’t need any tank class (Cruiser) or support class (Science). You just explode, wait 10-15 seconds to respawn and you are back full health and fighting again. You don’t even need to repair or spend cash to repair. How come a smaller ship the Escort class can mount cannons, but a bigger Cruiser Class can’t?

    The away missions are short and just plain boring. Two away missions I went on just had me scanning a couple of objects and beaming back to the ship. No fights and nothing moving on the planet. In fact all away missions which are on planets all look great, but lack an ambience of a living world to them except NPCs. No wild life roaming or flying. Away missions that are on ships all begin to look the same. No strategy involved as my away team kills everything for me.

    I won’t even go into the many bugs I’ve encountered because the developers obviouly are just rushing this out the door to let the paying public be the open open beta.

    I’m going to Gamestop Monday to cancel my Colletors edition. I really wanted the metal badge, but this game needs to much work to be fun at this time. I really do wish Cryptic all the best as the basics are there for a good game, but the fun factor is not.

  • I actually uninstalled my STO yesterday. I was going to play. But I got this rush of realization that I didn’t actually like the game.

    I think the last drop in the bucket was after an away mission where I had to knock out 3 towers on a Gorn planet. It was so.boring. Ground combat is awfully boring and ecerytime I get an away team episode I cringe.

    I’ve also resorted to using a macro application for space combat. Because if you have more than one forward facing phaser you cannot auto fire them. Instead you have to mash the space bar repeatedly. You’d think as the digital embodiment of captain Kirk. I could just issue the order: FIre phasers. No. Don’t stop until I say so.

    Another huge game breaker is the fact you cannot effectively have more than one torpedo launcher. If you fire one. The others go on cooldown.

    Klingon play has been a huge letdown. It feels tedious boring and gimmicky from day one. And it also seems to serve as some kind of attractor of all the uber pvp darkfall reject angst preteens who name their ships and captains according to some scheme of misspelled sexual activities or racist innuendos. Great.

    After some conversations with other players I’ve come to the conclusion that there.is.no.end game. None. This is a huge minus for me, I want something to look forward go in the game. I want guilds to have a purpose other than the social aspect.

    Another minus was that they made space combat WAY easy. It used to be that you had to balance your shields weapons and speed to beat your enemies. But now. Just autofire and fly I to the thick of them. Make a sammich and come back to loot.

    All that being said. The quest system in fed space is great and you are easily immmersed as being a bold captain going where no humans have been previously or however the saying goes. It didn’t feel like quest hub mania like WAR for example. Or Klingon play for that matter.

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