One to Beam Up

In case you’ve been away from the internet for a few days, Star Trek Online went into open beta. A lot of good information has already been posted, so I’m not going to repeat it here. Instead I just wanted to give my impressions from the closed beta and my expectations for open beta, and my plans for launch and the live game.

My Bias

Like Werit and Pete, I’m a fan of Star Trek. I’ve seen all of the shows (although I’m young enough to have watched TOS in reruns only) and the movies. My favorite two series are TNG and Enterprise (except for that crappy opening theme music they did). My favorite captain is Picard, my favorite character is Data, and I never hated Wesley Crusher. I’ve played (I think) all of the Trek computer games, but I most enjoyed Star Trek: Armada.

U.S.S. Grace

Closed Beta Experience

I got my CB invite on November 24th, and have been able to play in most of the testing sessions the Cryptic has held between then and now. I played a Tactical Officer up to Lieutenant 6 (level 6 basically) twice and did a variety of patrols, episodes, and open missions. The space combat has been exactly what I wanted from day one. The ground combat was just ok, I didn’t hate but I didn’t love it.

Again if you want more details there are already quite a few good posts linked above.

Open Beta Expectations

Open beta started on January 12th, and two days in the game is under some epic level stress testing. For a game so many people claimed not to care about, there are a lot of players logging in. This makes for an excellent test for the February launch day flood, but I’m sure is frustrating for people getting their very first impression of the game. I hope and expect that the lag issues will clear up during the first week, both from players who were more interested in sight-seeing leaving and from Cryptic improving the code and server infrastructure.

I never saw any of the open beta day 1  issues of loading into a planet instance as your ship, or into space as your captain, or beaming to a surface without your away team, in closed beta even when a new influx of players was causing lag and disconnects. My assumption is that these issues are caused by a massive influx of open beta players. This seems to be correct, since on the second day of open beta most of these issues weird loading seem to have gone away. Now I’m just seeing disconnects, some slow loading screens, and some rubber banding.

Plans for Live

I am happy with what I’ve experienced so far in closed and open beta. There are still bugs and rough edges to the game, but it feels no less complete or buggy to me that Fallen Earth was when it released a few months ago. Based on my closed beta experience, I’ve pre-ordered the Digital Deluxe edition from Direct2Drive. I’m planning to spend at least six months on the game, maybe more depending on what kinds of subscription deals Cryptic offers. The only thing I haven’t decided is if I’m keeping my EVE subscription during that time.

If you’re in the open beta feel free to send me a tell or a friend invite, Captain Kae@bluekae.

Leave me a comment if you have any questions about the game or are curious about how it compares to another MMO.

15 Comments

  1. LongascNo Gravatar says:

    But hating Wesley Crusher is no individual feeling, but a cultural thing. I suspect you are a Taliban, Mr. Kae. 😉 I cancelled, but I am on the fence. I really like the space combat and the short gaming sessions. Note that I just tie dozens of them together as MMO addict, but it is a different feeling from EVE and other MMOs.

    You know that away missons make me feel miserable and bang my head against a wall, to lessen the pain. 🙁
    I experienced the spaceship in away missions, but as Tipa already posted a pic of that, here is my man on the moon: http://bit.ly/74dvka

    Cryptic should have taken half a year more and especially worked on the away missions. The story and that is all fine, but hey, Cryptic can’t do better animations than that? Just press space and start running, it is… awful. Close combat feels especially awkward. This is why I asked you if Champion’s Online plays the same, as I then would seriously wonder how people can enjoy that as core part of the game.

    What are the deluxe edition bonuses actually? I checked at Direct2Drive, I guess nobody has better info what the close defense battery and especially the “Joined Trill” race (?) actually does. It sounds like an XP boost race. :>

    Anyways, I plan to get a Cruiser or Escort (level 10 or 11) before the beta ends and then re-evaluate. I just fear we would pump money into a veritable banana product and support a BAD TREND in the gaming industry, especially regarding MMOs.

    • SenteNo Gravatar says:

      Cryptic has done far better animations in both Champions Online and City of Heroes/Villains – it has been one thing that they have been quite good at. Ground combat used to be faster than it is now, they deliberately slowed it down to give room for more tactical choices, and added the pause button on top of that.

      Either it is intentional, or not enough effort has gone into it yet – or they put the gfx team interns on it 😉

      • BrianNo Gravatar says:

        I like the character animation a lot more in Champions than in Star Trek, that said I did find myself not as bothered when playing last night by the STO character animations as I was previously. I’m not sure if it is because I’m getting used to them, because I didn’t spend anytime on stations, or just running small map combat away missions.

  2. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    While I agree it would be great if Cryptic could’ve taken more time with the game before release, I’m sure there are business constraints (both financial and contractual from Atari) that are pushing them to launch sooner rather than later. I’d rather they release early and continue to improve than sit in development too long and pull a Duke Nukem.

    The deluxe edition has a few nice cosmetic pieces: NX registry number, a “Khaaan!” emote, and an Original Series uniform. The emote was really what sold me. I imagine the ship and officer items will be okay, but I doubt I’ll use them for too long. Yes, the Trill race basically gives you some bonus initial skill points to spend. Really, I doubt any of the different pre-order bonuses will give you much of an in-game advantage, so it is best to just pick one that has some cosmetic stuff you like.

    Well, I’m sorry you disliked the ground stuff so much, but at least you gave it a try. Sounds like your current plan is the best, skip launch and give it six months or more to see how it develops. I’m pretty happy with the game as is for what I want, which is a break from LotRO and Champions for a few of hours a week.

  3. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    Close combat is very different between the two games.

    In STO you are basically limited to a single strike (with your palm or weapon) and maybe a special attack like a leg sweep. At least based on my limited experience, which is pretty limited since I preferred to focus on ranged combat. But I don’t tend to move around to much once I’m in position to fire. I may shift position if a grenade is thrown at me or a target moves behind cover.

    In Champions there are several power frameworks that are entirely about melee combat. You move around quite a bit more, things happen faster, and the entire experience feels more fluid.

    Based on interviews and forum posts, I would say that the STO combat was designed that way, to focus primarily on tactical setups of ranged combat with the flanking and exposed mechanics.

  4. ScopiqueNo Gravatar says:

    I am more forgiving then my esteemed collegue Mr. @Longasc when it comes to the animations. That kind of thing never bugs me, really, unless it’s aggrevious graphical errors (like falling through the world or somesuch).

    I’m really not sure if I’m enjoying STO or not. I mean, on one hand, I find that the mission text is providing enough “story” for individual missions that, in it’s own context, allows me to forgive the fact that I’m doing the same thing over and over. On the other hand…

    I’m planning on playing at release, mostly because I have some friends who are real ST fans, and who have been waiting for this for a long time. Hell, one of them who is a die-hard WoWie has given it a dash of prase…his usual response is “if it’s not WoW, it’s meh”, so I consider this to be a win-win situation for us.

    However, the fact that the forseeable future of STO is: space combat, ground combat, space combat, ground combat, space combat, back to base, space combat, ground combat, space combat, ground combat…etc, does not please me. I suspect that this is one of those MMOs I play STRICTLY to be social; I don’t know if I will be able to muster the willpower to log in and solo, several times a week. We’ll see.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      I’m not a fan of the officer running animations either, but like you they don’t really bother me. The only animations I’ve ever had a real problem with were Warhammer’s Shadow Warriors.

      That’s pretty interesting about your WoW buddy, had he actually been in the beta yet?

      I haven’t decided yet if the combat will get old for me. Really depends on how obsessively I play, but I stayed interested in CoH for quite a while and Champions as well, so I think I’ll be okay with STO for quite some time. Depending on how the game grows, by the time I’m sick of combat there may be other things to do. That was certainly the case of LotRO.

    • LongascNo Gravatar says:

      STO is definitely not the take on the ST Universe that the TV series had. I think this might disappoint a lot of Trekkies who envisioned more a Bioware style rich storyline driven gaming world.

      But Cryptic – probably unintentional? 😉 – uses the strength of instances, “one world” and very casual (you got killed? you simply respawn) gameplay that might scare away more ambitious players, but it definitely has appeal to me.

      Most groups I have played with were very nice. Except the group I formed at what is supposedly american prime time for gaming! Ha, this was my nasty Nazi-bashing of America. Sorry, I could not resist. 🙂

  5. Openedge1No Gravatar says:

    @Brian
    “I’m sure there are business constraints (both financial and contractual from Atari) that are pushing them to launch sooner rather than later. I’d rather they release early and continue to improve than sit in development too long and pull a Duke Nukem.”

    Yup, cause it worked for Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Tabula Rasa, and Hellgate: London

    Rock on (and I will be seeing STO ranked in the low 50’s to 100′ on Xfire in no time)

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      I would be more worried if this was an NCSoft game, but Cryptic doesn’t have the same record (yet) of closing down under performing games. Hopefully as long as they stay at break-even or midly profitable (like the old SOE comment about having enough players to keep the servers running) the game will stay up.

      Only time will tell, but I’m having fun now and that is what really matters to me.

  6. LongascNo Gravatar says:

    I might have unsubscribed, but I also cancelled my Guild Wars Preorder before I bought the CE in the end. Did not regret it. I think interesting relationships always start with a lot of friction. This does not mean I believe I will ever love the away missions part. 😉

    But let’s see. You will see me in the Beta a lot for sure.

  7. […] Blue Kae – “I am happy with what I’ve experienced so far in closed and open beta.” […]

  8. xXJayeDuBXxNo Gravatar says:

    I am most interested in the space combat, but worried that the game will have content similar to Champions Online.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      There are tons of places you can try to get a free beta key from, there’s a list on the STO site. Feel free to message me on Raptr or Twitter if you wanted to know anything specific.

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