Star Date: 01.13.2010
Captain’s Log: This is Ensign Annikka, acting Captain of the U.S.S. Chimichanga. Current mission, to rescue survivors from damaged ships. My crew is dead, and I am alone and adrift in the Vega System. Communications are down, I am unable to hail Starfleet. I now regret not paying attention to the piloting basics. I put out a distress call, and am told that the Vega System “is buggy”. I have decided to travel in a northern direction at full impulse, but I feel that the U.S.S. Chimichanga may turn out to be the next U.S.S. Voyager.
I will recount my experiences thus far, in the hope that others may learn from them.
On star date 01.12.2010 I reported for my first day of duty on the U.S.S. Chimichanga. There must have been many others reporting for duty on the same day, as the turbo lifts were full and there was no visible queue. Disappointed, I decided to spend some time on my appearance and learning more about the available career choices.
The character customization options are robust, as one would expect from a Cryptic game. However, some of the options seem redundant, such as “Base Complexion”, as they barely register a change in your character. Eye colour changes are very subtle, apparently in the future everyone is born with blue eyes. I call genetic engineering shenanigans on that one. A variety of “Scars and Tattoos” are available, but the tattoos are all tribal scars which seems unnecessarily painful. Uniform customization is very nice.
Upon finally boarding the U.S.S. Chimichanga, I was informed that we were under attack by the Borg. Small explosions rocked the ship and NPCs walked around looking like they had a purpose. I was quickly greeted by our Klingon Captain. He looked quite young and didn’t sound the least bit like a Klingon. Apparently it was also not a good day to die, because Captain Klingon hastily assigned me my first mission. I was to report to sick bay where I would meet the EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram), otherwise known as Zachary Quinto of Star Trek Movie and Heroes fame. I hope Atari didn’t waste too much of the Star Trek Online budget on him. I found Quinto to make a rather unconvincing EMH.
Looking around the sick bay, bridge, and other parts of the ship, it’s undeniably Star Trek. Graphics are top notch, as are the various effects you will see during the STO tutorial. The game also feels very “Cryptic”. Am I in Champions Online or Star Trek Online? Not sure yet. You’ll even find the same NPC spam in STO that is seen in Champions Online. Just replace the word “Hero” with “Borg”. After having a nice look around, I began working on the tutorial missions. Use my medical tricorder to get the vitals of one of the injured, destroy Borg drones, go on an away mission, etc.
Typically I rush through tutorials, barely reading a word on the screen. But in STO I felt compelled to read, I was actually interested in the mission text and was very immersed in the game. Then it happened. My dog had to go potties. They always know when I’m enjoying myself. BTW, it was a “Number One”. Ha!
Back to business. It’s time to choose a career path, I go the Engineering Officer route with my Andorian. The tutorial briefs players on medical, using the turbo lifts, transporting, using the consoles and ground combat. All pretty straight forward. I was equipped with a couple of heals, phaser (damage and stun), and a kick attack. The kick attack results in a knockback quite often. The phasers do adequate newbie damage, and although it takes a fair amount of phaser spam to down them, you can take on three Borg while barely taking damage. Of course, this is just the tutorial.
One unfortunate aspect of the Star Trek Online beta is lag. During gameplay I experienced many “lost server connection” warnings, and my character was skating and experiencing regular throwbacks. Based on global chat, the majority of players were experiencing much of the same.
Alright, so now the shit has really hit the fan. I’ve been made “Active Captain” and have been sent on my first space mission. When the game switched to the space view I thought I had fallen through the map. I could see my character floating amidst ships, debris and asteroids. Then my character turned into my ship.
It’s time to learn how to fly. Or not. I’m smashing the keys like a two year old, but nothing is happening. Not only can I not reach warp speed, but I don’t think my ship is even moving. Wait, now my ship is going backwards. Crap, I’ve managed to strand myself in dead space.
“There is nothing on the censors, Captain.” No shit. Phew, the game throws us back to the starting point. Going backwards again. I am leaving the Vega System at full impulse. I am the worst Captain ever.
Alright, making some progress here. Uhm, it turns out that I was flying backwards because I thought the back of the ship was the front of the ship. Hey look! I see the USS Montreal. It won’t let me fire on them. I’m having a lot of trouble getting the hang of this flying thing. I’m not sure why I’m piloting to begin with, since I’m the Captain and all. Lazy crew are all getting shitcanned when we get back to Federation HQ. Not sure what to do about my flight issues. I’m still lost in space. I’ll try again tomorrow.
Star Date: 01.14.2010
Captain’s Log: It’s time to go in for another shot at the space portion of the tutorial. I enter the game to a baby blue screen and a lone spaceship, with nothing to be found in any direction. I was hoping that logging out would have respawned my ship to the starting point. I chat out a call for advice. Sounds like others have had similar issues, there is no help to be found, I’m on my own. Ahhh, change instances! Hurrah, it works! Or so I thought. I did manage to switch instances, but the game put me in an instance for a different mission than the one I was working on.
Oh well, this gives me the opportunity to learn how to fly and try out the ship weapons system. Firing weapons in the tutorial stage is rather bland, just spam until the job is done, much like in ground combat at this stage of the game. There is a learning curve when it comes to flying. It will take some time to become adept, but now that I know which is the ass end of the ship things should go much smoother.
Time to try to get back to my quest instance. I see someone chat about being stuck in the same predicament, but she needed to be in the instance I was in, and I needed to be in her instance. Want to trade ships? I repeatedly instance to no avail. I am stuck in the wrong mission. I may have to send out my first GM petition.
Although Star Trek Online is about to launch, please remember that the game is still carrying around its beta tag. A lot of the current issues (such as lag and bugs) in the game could be fixed prior to launch. The only aspects of the game that I am able to provide a proper opinion on are:
Character Customization: A
Ground Graphics: A+
Space Graphics: B-
Voice Acting: Shit
To be continued…