First Impressions - Star Trek Online

What's Daniel Jackson doing in Star Trek?

After playing Guild Wars 2 I've half-heartedly made a promise that I wouldn't be sucked into the world of MMORPGs again, since obviously they tend to be a huge time sink but also because most games in the genre don't tend to be very innovative. A couple of MMORPGs based on franchises I'm a fan of (namely Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Trek Online) went free-to-play over the past couple of years and while I was tempted to give them a go (because of the universes they're based on) I didn't cave in, thinking that any MMORPG that's had to go free-to-play is obviously not doing too well in terms of numbers.

Anyway, seems like I couldn't hold out any longer and on a whim, I decided to download Star Trek Online because I was getting the urge to go "Star Trekkin' across the universe" and here I am, 30 hours later with some first impressions on a game that's been out for almost 4 years.

What I like

  • Star Trek Universe: This was the big drawcard for me and I guess many Trekkies as well, since there's a whole galaxy to explore with people, organisations and locations from the TV shows. There's a lot of cameos by familiar characters and some characters are even voice acted by the original cast (e.g. Leonard Nimoy, Michael Dorn, Chase Masterson, Denise Crosby, even the late Majel Barrett who sadly passed away in 2008).
  • Free: The game is free-to-play which I would normally steer clear from since it often translates to Pay-to-Win, however from what I've played of the game so far, it doesn't seem to be one of those games.
  • Character Customisation: Surprisingly you can do quite a bit with your chracter customisation, almost on par with games such as The Sims or The Elder Scrolls. You're even able to create your own alien species if you're that way inclined.
  • Lengthy campaigns: As mentioned, I've played for around 30 hours so far and I haven't even finished one of the story arcs, despite there being 7 for the Federation, which also excludes the tutorial. Then there's always the Klingon and Romulan campaigns to complete meaning there's potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay here.

What I don't like

  • Some inconsistencies: There are some situations in the game where as a Trekkie you'd be scratching your head at how they came to pass. For example, one mission involves escorting an emotional Vulcan to another star system. Wait, an emotional Vulcan? Doesn't that ring any alarm bells? Apparently not which isn't very consistent with Star Trek lore.
  • Inconsistent audio: Some characters have voice acting while others do not. Others start off being voice acted but then aren't later. I think they would've been better off to not have voice acting at all except for some additional cutscenes.
  • Lack of music from the shows: You can tell Kevin Manthei is doing his best to mimic the themes from the show and having them play at the appropriate times, and before I go any further he must be commended for a job well done. He really manages to make the soundtrack sound like it fits in a Star Trek show. However, it would've been nice to hear the actual themes and music used on the shows. I think hearing the Deep Space Nine theme when approaching the station in-game would be priceless.
  • Graphics: The ships generally look fine but when you're on the surface of a planet, there's something not quite right about the graphics and they look rather dated. The game does happen to be almost 4 years old though.
  • Ground combat sucks: Ship combat is definitely where it's at and is far superior to ground combat. Having said that though, I usually have no idea what I'm doing in either ground combat or ship combat mode and often just end up spamming abilities. It would've been nice if they had a system similar to Guild Wars where it's not about the quantity of skills but the quality (i.e. how to build an effective build when you only have limited slots) but alas, a missed opportunity.
  • Lazy mission design: The way that missions progress tend to be very predictable and follow the same formula: enter system, attack Klingons. Land on planet, attack Klingons. Beam back to ship, attack Klingons. Rinse, repeat. Frankly I would've liked some more missions that didn't rely solely on combat - since after all, the Federation is meant to find the peaceful solution first right?


Judging by the number of hours I've already invested into the game, you can tell I'm pretty keen about this game, at least for now. I'm guessing this game would appeal to Star Trek fans and science-fiction fans in general, since science-fiction tends to be poorly represented in the MMORPG world (with fantasy obviously taking the lion's share). As I'm already Level 50 (the maximum level) I'm interested to see if the experience starts to become stale since there's always a bit of excitement associated with unlocking new things each time you level up. The end-game will now be tested but considering I'm more of a player that appreciates a good story, I might be sticking around for a long time regardless considering I'm only about 1/7th the way through the campaign.

[ LINK: Official Star Trek Online website ]