Wednesday, 3 February 2010

STO: 2nd Time Lucky

Post Soundtrack: “The Gods of the Yoruba” by Gerardo Frisina

The head-start is almost over, and what have I achieved?  Well, the highlight so far is probably my tier 3 heavy cruiser, the USS Discordia, NCC 99309-B.

Isn't she pretty?  Sure she turns like a bus, but she's got it where it counts.

I’ve been delving into the awfulness that is the forums (admit it, I don’t think there’s any official forums to a game this popular that isn’t heavily troll-enriched, and the STO forums are no exception) in order to pick up tips on cruiser captain talent builds (important considering Cryptic have yet to finish setting up any re-spec options), boff (bridge officer) talent selections, and equipment tips.  Needless to say, there is indeed some gold amid the dross – if I’m feeling enthusiastic, I might even post some links at some stage.

Basically I’ve just been doing what I do so well, which is levelling quickly – Commander Noube is currently sitting at level 21, which is Commander Rank 1 and (as the screenshot above demonstrates) opens the third tier of ships up for captains.  (New ships become available at 11, 21, 31 and the last tier at 41 – the current level cap is 45, i think)

My first ship, the T1 light cruiser (kitbash edition)

I’m finding levelling is fairly smooth going, although I’ve come across the occasional small drought (possibly due to my haphazard route across the sector map, where I haven’t exactly followed what would appear to be the designer’s expectation) which I’ve evened out with some time spent doing exploration missions.

There have been some buggy quests still, including one that took four attempts to finish – fortunately the second though fourth attempts were only from the last spawn point in the ground portion of the mission, which was not as frustrating as restarting from the beginning would have been.  And one ground fleet mission seems to be bugged quite thoroughly (although the name of it escapes me), leaving it almost impossible to complete.

Join Starfleet, meet interesting aliens and kill them - preferably before they kill you

But for all the buggy quests, the ones that do work can be quite…  absorbing – especially the ground combat missions.  Yes, it’s all fairly formulaic (although it’s more ‘Kill 10 boars’ than fed-ex quests), but I’m enjoying it on the whole.  The scenery brings to mind a combination of the TOS physical sets and the corresponding matte paintings the gave those sparse physical locations a sense of scale.

Some examples from my time levelling:

The scanner in action.  And trees.


Scanning for signs of intelligent life.  Trying on this desolate planet because readings were unreliable on the forums.

Nuobe looking dignified.  No, she won't smile for the camera.

Back to space, though.  And cruisers.

For those who aren’t playing the game, there are three ship classes.  Cruisers (epitomised by the Enterprise in the original series and the Enterprise-D in TNG), Escorts (the Defiant in DS9) and Science (the ship from Voyager).  Their roles are very roughly equivalent to tanks, dps and healers respectively.  But only very roughly, as each can have considerable overlap thanks to the abilities of the bridge officers who occupy your bridge, and the abilities that each class of captain possesses.  (Confused yet?  Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into it much further for the time being, so it won’t get any worse)

In the beta I went with an escort, because laser pewpew!! is fun (and it’s the most straightfoward ship class to play).  When I was reaching level 20 or so, however, it was becoming pretty rough going – the Romulan missions were wiping the floor with my escort.  My current cruiser, however, is getting through the same missions a lot more effectively (and with a lot fewer deaths) – my dps may be lower, but it’s hard to underestimate the toughness of a decently equipped cruiser.

My tier 2 cruiser, the Discordia-A.

Anyway, I’ve been working on upgrading equipment and items and crew as I’ve progressed and it’s going fairly smoothly (other than the occasional server downtime, which works wonders at ensuring that I get things done away from the keyboard).  I’ve not quite run into the brick wall that is the sharply reduced turning speed of tier 4 cruisers, but the reduction of speed from the T2 to T3 has given me a taste of what to expect – it’s a good thing I’ve been reading up on the subject, or it could have put quite a damper on my enjoyment of my chosen ship class.

There’s not really much more to say for now, other than “I’m enjoying the journey.”  So here’s some more screenshots to make it look like I’ve been busy.

Fleet actions.  Think of them as pug 15-20 man raids.  (Be glad you're not the npc klingon mob everyone's targeting)

The scenery screenshot from above with the UI showing

Exploring the Briar Patch.  Note the giant cheezel asteroid in the upper left.  Btw, I hate nebula missions.

Same location, with the UI showing

Look familiar?  Sounds familiar, that's for certain.  (The images in the portal change, too)

My promotion ceremony.  It's not quite up there with the end of Star Wars episode 4, but it'll do.

But it’s time to boldly go – the server is back up, and Starfleet needs my services!

To infinity and beyond!