It’s probably no big shock to realize that I’ve often lambasted Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment on their work on Star Trek Online. I spent a good portion of the last year or so taking shots at them and their business policies. And, honestly, I still have issues with those policies. But it does look like that they’re doing something unusual again: they’re putting out good stuff.
For example, the game is now celebrating its third anniversary. Like previous anniversary events, the character Q is there dispensing his “wisdom” and offering a mission that rewards Dilithium (which is used to buy higher end stuff in the game, or traded on an exchange for the company’s virtual currency), a mystery box with stuff, or the third anniversary party popper, which does strange stuff like the two versions released for the previous anniversaries (this one brings out balloons). But that’s the minor aspect of the anniversary.
The first anniversary debuted the new Earth Spacedock; when released, it looked very different. The new one restored the version most people are familiar with (well, the one most Trek fans are familiar with). Full disclosure: I actually didn’t mind the old version, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the design for other stations somewhere along the line. All that said, I’ve always liked the traditional design. The change also affected the interior, although not quite as dramatically as the exterior.
The second anniversary debuted the class of starship that included the Enterprise-F, the Odyssey class (and the Klingons got their own in the Bortas series of ships); a special mission was available that allowed a character to captain the ship in a shakedown cruise-which ended with an unexpected confrontation with its opposite number, making it a clash of the new ships. The award for the mission was a basically stripped down version of both ships (the “good” versions debuted in three different forms on the C-Store not long after. I had issues with this.)
So there’s a history of doing extra special stuff for the anniversary. This year, we got a new mission: and this features plot elements from the Next Generation episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. I won’t drop much in the way of spoilers, but I’ll say that this mission was a pretty well done one. At no point do you draw your phaser (well, not on the ground, anyway), but you do get to experience the sort of stuff that could’ve happened in the Next Generation series. The rewards for the mission are two versions of the Ambassador class ships-the class which included the Enterprise-C-or the Kamarag class, if you happen to be in the Klingon Defense Forces. The two versions are a Commander level ship, and an Admiral/General level ship, suitable for endgame use.
The best part? This mission, unlike last year’s anniversary mission, won’t go away! Only the Commander version of the ship will be obtainable after the 14th, but the mission itself will be incorporated into the existing “episode structure” in the game. That’s a lesson that STO’s sister game, Champions Online, could learn from.
As far as how good the ship is? Well, I haven’t messed about with them much as of yet. But to be honest, the ships are fairly minor compared to the mission itself.
The biggest news, though, is the hint of something in May.
This teaser image was released, and there’s a lot of speculation going on about it. It’s being touted as the big thing with the next release-which the executive producer says is “too big to be a Season”, which is how they name their big publishes. There’s a lot of chatter that it may involve the coming of a new playable faction: the Romulans. The hints that the character creator in the game is going to be getting a revamp may very well indicate the truth of that rumor. On the other hand: we have the Klingons, who have been waiting for 1-50 level content since…well, hell, since the game was launched. This could conceivably get ugly: if the Romulans are released with 1-50 content, I can see a Day of Rage rivalling what EVE Online got when it introduced monocles. On the other hand, I’m uncertain what reaction would be from those wanting Romulans if they get the same sort of treatment as the KDF-which is to say, must get to a certain level with a Federation character to make a Romulan, and it starts at level 21. The really optimistic hope that not only will the Romulans get 1-50, but the KDF will also finally be brought up to par. Interesting times ahead, and it’ll be interesting to see what information comes out in the next few months.