Ya know, I was going to start this forward looking collection of cool stuff about Cryptic’s forthcoming Star Trek Online with a look backward at Perpetual’s time with the license, but I couldn’t. The Perpetual people were making the game they wanted. It wasn’t the game *I* wanted, but they weren’t making it for me. They were making it for people who wanted a Star Trek game that wasn’t very different from World of Warcraft.
Here’s why Cryptic’s version of Star Trek Online may be the one I wanted.
Ships: You get to captain your own ship. You can customize your ship’s appearance, change its weapons, engines and so forth, and though it will remain recognizable as a ship of its class, it will be yours.
Crew: You will have a Bridge Crew that you recruit, train and level. You control everything about them — their race, gender, gear — they are yours to command. The better they get, the better your ship becomes at its mission. Choose a science ship if you want to see how things work. Or a long distance exploration vessel if boldly going is your thing. Or get some good tactical crew and load the photon torpedoes for battle.
On away missions, you can just order four of your bridge crew to meet you in the transporter room — or meet up with some of your friends and have no NPCs along at all.
Races: You can be nearly any major race that ever appeared on any of the shows. Or make your own race, come up with your own history, story, planet and so on. You never have to look remotely like anyone else.
Exploration: The Bartle test pegs me as ESAK — Explorer, Socializer, Achiever, Killer, in that order. Star Trek Online has achievements for seeing unique cosmological phenomena, and bringing unique items back to Federation space. I love the idea that I could just zoom around, so far from Federation space that no alien race I meet would even know of our existence, just hanging in space, taking readings from a particularly active nebula with an unusual stream of high-energy chronotons being directed at a nearby black hole… hmmm….
Yeah, I’ll be the one in the old Miranda-class science vessel. Mine won’t be the strongest or the fastest, but it might well be the furthest. Back in old EverQuest, I loved finding places nobody ever went; the scattered bandit camps in South Karana, the stranded gnomish pirate ships in the Western Wastes, sneaking alone through the old, pre-nerf Plane of Hate to snatch a book from the bedside table of a creature who could kill me in a second if it turned around at a bad time, and I’d have never gotten my gear back, either. Nowadays, no place is really very far. STO will allow me to get lost again. (Um, okay, EVE Online has places that are really far. Another space game!)
Missions: There will be planetary missions, ship-to-ship combat missions, beam into enemy ship and attack them missions, and exploration missions. There’s the possibility, down the road, that player admirals will be able to assign new missions. Combat won’t be just about targeting someone and setting your phaser on kill. You’ll have the Vulcan nerve pinch, judo, the bat’leth, etc to use. I have no idea if ripping your shirt off will be optional.
Being able to have my own starship, make it look like what I want, make my own character look however I want it to look, train my own bridge crew and bring them — or not — along on missions making all the missions potentially soloable a la Guild Wars. Being able to just point my ship toward the second star on the right and go on till morning and come to someplace nobody has ever been… I dunno. But I think this is more or less just the Star Trek MMO I have always wanted. Well, except for being able to group together with other players to form the bridge crew for a major starship; I’d have liked that, STO doesn’t offer it.
Nothing I have read even hints of a “Kill Ten Romulans” quest, and that’s a good thing. I’ve grinded levels just about as much as I ever will. Life is too short.
It does seem that Cryptic is planning on releasing Champions Online well before STO, so the hints that we might get it this year are probably off base. Which is too bad; it would be a perfect time. But that will give me time to play with Champions Online, too.