The last couple of posts have looked at the Iconian War in Star Trek Online, episode by episode. What I’m going to do in this post is talk about my thoughts about the War in a larger scope. As with the previous posts, there will be spoilage here, so don’t click on the linky below if you still haven’t done the missions and don’t wan’t to know the spoilage stuffs!
Okay. Here we go.
As a concept, the War was a solid story. There had to be an ending to the War, and it didn’t look likely that it would involve main force. Not unless the devs went with an Iconian victory, which come to think of it might have led to some interesting stories ahead. But those stories really wouldn’t fit the tone of Star Trek-particularly in a game which has been accused on any number of occasions of forgetting just what that tone is. (Also ignoring the fact that you ask a dozen Trek fans what that tone should be, and you’ll get multiple answers, depending on their favorite ST series.)
This isn’t to say there aren’t flaws. The biggest-in my opinion-is the reliance of the players having done a lot of the queues for the Iconian reputation to know what Sela was doing behind the scenes, making the arrival of the Dominion seem like a deus ex machina during “Midnight”. Even worse: we are told again and again during the arc that the Alliance is losing the war, but you’d never know it until we got to the last few episodes when the Alliance fleet gets spanked. The devs seemed to rely heavily on the players reading the fiction written on the STO site to get a real handle on just how the war is going. But that fiction is a really dated sort of thing, and over time nobody’s going to be able to find them-especially given the habit of PWE to overhaul their forums and web sites.
At the same time, I also think it’s unrealistic to have asked for Iconians to show up out of nowhere and blow up planets or the like. Some forum posters were crying out for a “Red Alert” instance like we see with the Borg or the Tholians, except featuring the Iconians-and honestly, I think they may have a point. Time spent on a trio of queues might have been better spent on such an alert to give a feeling that the Iconians could strike anywhere.
I haven’t said much about the queues. I found them to be sort of a “meh” necessity to up the Iconian reputation. The missions in themselves aren’t bad: one involves an Iconian attack on Qo’noS, the Klingon homeworld, in the space around their space station; another is the second half of that attack, on the surface of the planet; and the last is an assault on the Herald Sphere, one of the command centers for the Iconians-a mini-dyson sphere in its own right. The space missions were pretty fun, although I felt the flashing lights going on in the Herald Sphere could give me a roaring headache-and I even did the ground one by accident, which went as badly as you might expect given that my ground equipment and skill set isn’t as well honed against Iconian Heralds.
But while the missions were decent, they suffered by one simple fact: doing them again and again and again and again made my brain bleed. I honestly felt like it was a chore, and that’s a bad thing for repeatable content. At least with some of the previous reputations, there were alternative methods like battlezones (which would’ve been good to develop for the War here, too-another missed opportunity). But I also accept that the devs only have so much time to develop stuff, and they’re not always going to develop the stuff I like. The fact that they put together so many episodes in a fairly short stretch of time (compared to their usual speeds) is impressive enough for me.
One of the big themes that was hinted at in the first episode of the arc and went into full bloom in the back half was the idea that Iconians were not capable of time travel. When it was mentioned in that first episode, you had to know that this was going to be the big push on resolving the situation. I guess the Alliance was feeling pretty good about using time travel as a tool during the whole Delta Recruit event, because they sure didn’t seem shy about using it here. I’ve said it before: “Time travel is not a toy”. Ultimately, the entire war rested on the fact that the Alliance screwed around with time (and indeed, required a Predestination Paradox to happen). After the War, I certainly hope that time travel gets stuffed in a box and left alone for the foreseeable future, because it’s begun to feel overused by far in this game. (Example: City on the Edge of Never, the Devidian arc, Temporal Ambassador, Delta Recruitment.)
For all the flaws, though, the series of episodes finished the series up in a Trek-like manner, even if it overlooks the minor problem of the millions of dead; this may be handled a bit with the next season which I predict should hit either at the end of this month or the beginning of the next. There’s also enough of loose ends to be picked up in the future as well, such as an Iconian who holds a serious grudge (and from what we saw in the past, he can hold it for hundreds of thousands of years) and an escaped former Empress (which *sigh* you only find out about reading the fiction on the web site-again). With the change in tone comes a probably switch of mains again; if exploration is really going to be a focus-even if it’s not an exploration system like the one the devs took away-then my Starfleet main may get first crack at them. There’s also new queues coming, and a new duty-officer-like system that instead uses your old ships as assets. So there’s stuff coming down the pipe that looks to be interesting enough to look through.
Of course, my next post is likely to be looking at a different game’s upcoming content-well, sort of, since it also opens up content I didn’t actually do when it first released.