I kept meaning to make remarks on it as it happened, and kept getting sidetracked again and again and again. And before I knew it, we’d gone through all of it. Oops.
So now I’m gonna take a look at how it all hung together. And by “it”, I mean the Iconian War content that closed out the massive storyline that’s been interweaving throughout the history of Star Trek Online. Hang on to your hats-we’ll be covering the first four episodes in this post, with a future post (possibly the next?) covering the back half, and maybe another separate one to remark on the queues. Note that due to the nature of this post, there may be spoilers. Beware! Continue at your own risk! (Yes, this means for the first time on this blog, I’m slapping a “read more” tag so that the innocent may maintain that innocence for a bit longer.)
Still here? Well, then, let’s wade in up to the eyeball, shall we?
In some ways, the Iconian War’s origin as an overt conflict began with the episode “Surface Tension”, the last of the Solonae Dyson Sphere episodes, when an Iconian popped up at the Klingon Homeworld, made the usual sort of threats, and killed off members of the Klingon High Council. The entirety of the Delta Rising expansion featured a desire to get allies against the Iconians, and by the end of the episodes related to that ended, we got to see that the Iconians had been involved in that as well. Along the way, Empress Sela of the Romulan Star Empire-who had been involved with the whole mess in one form or another-had been captured by the player characters during an expedition in the Delta Quadrant, offering information on the Iconians-on her own terms, of course.
That’s where the episodes begin.
Uneasy Allies: This episode is what set the stakes for the Iconian War. It began with a straightforward continuation from the Delta Rising content, as a crew member from the USS Voyager requested assistance-which led to the revelation that Sela had escaped custody (mainly because she was on a ship detected in the Hobus star system, where you were investigating. Nice of the governments to keep their captains informed, right?). The adventure took the characters on a bit of a tour of their pasts, as featured locations include the base on Hobus where an Iconian Gate was located and the Nopada system (of the still-among-the-best-episodes Coliseum episode). It also kicked the war into high gear, because it also featured another Dyson Sphere, packed to full with Iconian warships-and resolved the final fate of the last Praetor of the Romulan Star Empire, Taris (who had escaped custody herself during the Facility 4028 episode). Sela herself manages to stay out of custody, as she makes sure she doesn’t wind up where the characters end up after escaping the Iconian Sphere-now at the abandoned world of Iconia in local space, but not before imparting a minor detail about the Iconians that would prove to be crucial to the future.
Obviously, there’s a bit more to the episode-I’ve omitted a surprise moment or two here-but I’m trying to be concise. The episode was a pretty solid one, although I still had issues with how Sela showed up with no prior notes about her escaping. Yes, there might’ve been some fiction written in a dev blog that covered it, but that’s only relevant for folks who were actually reading those at the time-which you can’t expect new players to have done. Or, for that matter, many players. It was a bit clumsily done, but it can be overlooked. The episode included a bit of a moral dilemma which didn’t really impact the episode much-or for that matter, the War arc-but it was nice to have it there anyway, showing that sometimes you gotta deal with the devil. There was a minor puzzle as well which was a bit crazy; once you figure out exactly where entry points were, it wasn’t so bad, but I had a bit of trouble in that initial start. After that, it’s fairly straightforward, and I didn’t have any problems on it with other characters.
This episode also was the first to start offering new rewards per week, this one being an equipment set, making them better if you had all the pieces. I can’t speak to how good or bad they are-my main characters who ran the arc are pretty much where I want them to be as far as sets go, and I’m not a big number cruncher anyway.
Blood of Ancients: If the previous episode had the Iconians marshaling their forces, this episode had them unleashing them upon the quadrant. A defense of Starbase 234 (near Romulan Republic space) goes poorly as the Iconians strike toward New Romulus. While the Iconians themselves do not get involved, one of their servitor species, the Heralds, make their first appearance en masse (although one showed up at the end of the last episode) on the surface of New Romulus itself, and a desperate move to use the Iconian gate there (which worked out so well the last time it was used) leads to some of the only beings to remember the Iconians back when they were new-and leads to their deaths.
This is where I paid in blood in some of my characters and how they were geared. The Heralds beat my characters around like a drum. The lower level scrubs weren’t much of a worry, but their boss level guys were brutal, not to mention their lieutenant level sort of guys. I’ve spent a fair amount of time and treasure (so to speak) on gearing my ships; I’ve been a bit more lax on the ground equipment, and that showed. It was especially obvious with my bridge officers who have varying quality of armor and weapons. The Heralds did succeed in showing that the Iconians were a serious threat, though, and the finale was as good as a decapitation strike against the only beings that might have a shot at revealing a weakness.
It’s worth noting that at this point, the Klingons have taken point as far as coordinating the defense-or to put another way, a Klingon was the primary contact for the Iconian War missions. The rewards didn’t include a set of equipment, but did feature new “Resonant” weapons, as well as training manuals for a new skill that could be used by some of your bridge officers.
Delta Flight: The name evokes the old Delta Flyer from Voyager, which makes sense since the primary spokesman showing up in this episode is Captain Tom Paris, former helm officer of that starship and designer of the Flyer. Information’s come about revealing that the Iconians are working on a method to bring the Solonae and their fleet out of subspace and into the Milky Way-which would be real bad. (Conveniently, the work is being done in reachable space. I’d have been tempted to have them come through in, say, the Andromeda galaxy and then use gateways to ferry them to the Milky Way. Probably a good thing I wasn’t leading the Iconians, right?) Paris has put together a small fleet of highly maneuverable starships to go and destroy this portal, and your character is recruited to assist. Never mind the fact that you might be (like I was) flying massively huge ships that maneuvered like a pregnant yak. You needed to be able to fly a precise course to avoid Herald patrols, and at one point even repel a boarding action on another ship-which happened to be commanded by Miral Paris, Tom’s daughter. A final assault on the portal brings a rare total victory for the Alliance of Klingon, Federation, and Romulans.
This episode featured the debut of Tom Paris’s actor doing VO work, along with a new look and voice for Miral Paris (which got retrofitted into missions previously featuring her). This was a pretty straightforward mission, and the rewards didn’t feature any exotic mission sets. The character of Tom Paris has matured a lot since his Voyager days (which isn’t a big shock-it’s been 30 years!), and it’s possible he subscribes to the James T. Kirk philosophy of promotions: “Don’t let them promote you!” All in all, the episode was a nice, uncomplicated episode with a heap of space action.
It’s worth noting here, too, that new tier-6 “pilot ships” were released for each faction on the C-Store, which allows characters who have officers with Pilot skills to use those skills. I can’t speak to their performance, though. To help convince you, another reward was a training manual to allow one of your bridge officers to use piloting skills. Nice, huh?
House Pegh: This one brought the Klingons into the war in a much more personal way; one could make a case that this is the Klingon Episode for this arc. House Pegh is a secret bunch of…well, you could make a case for calling them assassins; at the very least, their goal was to win without the baggage of “honorable combat”. The goal was to take advantage of some data taken in the previous episode to sabotage one of the Iconian war assets: a set of generators producing Omega particles, which power much of their forces, preferably without screwing up subspace by detonating them. The mission almost immediately runs into unexpected turns, as the leader of House Pegh turns out to be one of the most legendary Klingon warriors of all time. That turns out to be a good thing, because the strike goes pear-shaped almost immediately, as an Iconian shows up personally to stop the attack, leading up to a clash of champions with tragedy awaiting. A hasty escape allows you to transmit crucial information in case you fail to escape as the Herald ships close in.
While there was certainly space combat in this one, this was a primarily ground mission, and the Heralds continue to prove they aren’t a pushover. The mission also succeeds in doing something that no other episode in the game has done: put an end to a known character from one of the Star Trek series. It sends him out in a classic manner, though, as he manages to also do what nobody had yet been able to do against the Iconians, with ramifications to be seen later down the line. As far as rewards, for a few weeks, this episode featured a “weekly reward”, which allowed either a tech upgrade to increase the stats of one item of equipment, or a specialization point that could be applied at post-level 60 for that system. Once the next episode was released, that reward was removed from House Pegh and applied to the next episode-and so forth, throughout the rest of the War. The rewards also included an unlock for a space or ground trait usable by your character, marking a wider gap away from the standard awards given in the past.
The situation is looking bleak for the Alliance, and the worst is yet to come! Next time, I’ll look at the back half as things go from bad to worse for the Alliance, with a desperate hope waiting in the wings!