Over in STO-land, the first series of the weekly episodes has reached its conclusion; the next series set in a couple of weeks. Now that the Deferi arc has concluded, I can offer up my thoughts on the arc as a whole.
Simply put, if the next series is as well put together, then it’ll show that the devs have got something really special going here.
The missions: a pretty nice blend of exploration (Orellius Sector Block was new, the Deferi a new race), puzzle solving (primitive, true, but not horrible: the Preserver “tone key” and the “arrow puzzle” meant using the brain instead of the phaser), combat (the Breen offered new challenges in space and on the ground), and non-combat (the entire medical episode). In addition, the introduction of a pair of new dailies helps out folks trying to accumulate emblems for their vice-admirals, and adds more repeatable work for the Klingons. Of particular note is the Breen patrol ship, which Federation players can attempt to solve diplomatically, and Klingons can solve…less diplomatically (well, it’s Klingon diplomacy, anyway).
The opposition: the Breen hadn’t been seen in-game prior to the weeklies, although they were a known Star Trek race from DS9 (primarily). I know they remind folks of the outfit Princess Leia had when she pretended to be a bounty hunter (Ubese, if memory serves), and there were cracks about them reminding folks of Cylons, but they do conform strongly to what was on the television screen, and have presented themselves as a danger to be reckoned with. I wouldn’t mind seeing them show up again in some episode arc (weekly or otherwise).
The rewards: I have to admit I haven’t used the cryo grenades as of yet-I know you can presumably purchase more after doing that episode, but I’ve got a blind spot as far as those are concerned; but seeing how effective they were on my crew in the missions, I’d say that using them for the Good Guys side would be a pretty solid advantage. The transphasic torpedo-mine launcher (good for any and all levels) is a weapon that tempts me to have my Klingon start putting points into the skills for it; setting up mines at long range is nice, and the use of it has made me reconsider my stance on mines in general (at least a little bit). The tubers by themselves are no great shakes-but the tribble breeders quickly learned you could breed out a “cryo-tribble” using them for tribble food for the right sort of tribble; a nice bonus against cold-using opponents (like, say, Breen). The biothermal dampener is an odd one; it’s basically a minor “freeze” effect that ends the moment someone tries to move. In most ways, it’s the snowball of STO. I can see people hitting Andoria with these things for fun. The last mission hands out a hand cryo-beam weapon, which seems to be offering an excellent expose chance in my experience with it (expect nerfing at some point); its second attack has a massive “wind-up” time, which makes its use tricky against clumps.
The special reward: Until the beginning of the next series of weeklies, completing the arc will also award players with a Breen bridge officer. I expect this one will cause screams going forward, both when they become “no longer available” and when they (almost certainly) hit the C-store. It’s decent enough-my Klingon is using him now, as is my Borg captain, but Walt just has him in the assignments stable as I’m pretty happy with where his crew is at. I won’t lose sleep by being unable to “cash in” on the Breen boff later on, though. Some people would prefer that there’s more customization for the Breen, but given that this guy’s a limited time offer, I can understand why the devs didn’t go too deep into it. Maybe if the Breen ever become available as a player race-something I would save for another faction if I were the devs (like, say, a Dominion faction?).
And there’s the little things like the episode titles I mentioned in my last set of comments on these episodes, and the nods to Trek lore with the whole history of the Preservers (that we know of). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we don’t hear from them again…someday.
So far, we know a little bit about what’s coming for the second series. It’s going to feature the Devidians, one of the more nasty groups in the game; so nasty that the devs are doing a redesign of them so that players won’t want to bang their heads on solid steel by way of preference. It’ll take place in an established sector block: the Neutral Zone, Eta Eridani. And really, as spooky as they are, could we expect anything less for a series that’s taking place around Halloween time? (I mean, sure, you could use the zombie-like Borg, but I’m glad the devs went in this direction)
The devs also recently shared some info on the table on future work. User generated content mechanics that will be close to as robust as what the devs use (believe that when I see it)? Tholians? Borg tech attachments to ships-VISIBLE attachments? Could be some good things in the future for Star Trek Online.