Time and Time Again

The beginning of the signing of the most important treaty of all time, thirty seconds before things went to hell.

Seems like it’s been a while since I said I’d put up remarks on the current storyline threading through Star Trek Online, doesn’t it?  Let’s see about rectifying a bit of that now.

New Dawn is the current “Season” in STO, and it was heralded as a return to exploration-at least, as far as story goes.  If you were thinking exploration content was going to make its return here, you’re out of luck.  In some ways, we’re looking more at something that’s sort-of emulating Star Wars: The Old Republic.  It’s not exactly as interactive as that game’s storyline, but the ideas here is that we’re getting episodic content, and while it’s not at a one-per-month cadence, it’s not doing horrible.

There have been thus far three episodes released for the new season-not counting the revamp of the Cardassian Struggle story arc.  And the shape of things seems to be aiming at an effectively-abandoned story arc from the Star Trek: Enterprise television series.

The first episode was “Sunrise”, an optimistic title taking place after the “Midnight” of the Iconian War.  The players are asked to investigate a problem with a star in the Ferenginar sector, and it features a new alien species, and meddling time travelers.  Yes, if you thought the time travel hijinks in the Iconian War were done, you thought so, so wrong.  In fact, if you thought this was going to be all peaceful-like, well, that  one’s gone too.  The Tholians are involved with a star’s early death-and you’re the only one who can stop it.  Well, you and someone from another time period coming to call.  In fact, you could say this episode is yet another example of why Time Is Not A Toy.

The consequences of that episode unfold in “Stormbound”, where you have to recover the Macguffin before the Tholians can do more damage with it; and it turns out that a species called the Na’khul have been targeted.  Who are these guys?  You could be forgiven if you didn’t know them as one of the species that were heavily involved in the Temporal Cold War that permeated the first couple of seasons in Enterprise.  There wasn’t a whole lot to the episode, although it does feature a trip aboard a Tholian ship, so make sure you have your environmental suits.  It can get pretty toasty in there.  If you’re sensing a theme developing for these episodes, you’re probably right on the money.

The current storyline recently released a new episode, and it threatens to shake the core of the setting.  “Time and Tide” brings you through time once more-but this time, it’s to the future, where you are to witness the signing of the Temporal Accords, which in theory will help stop meddling in time.  But your past literally comes back to haunt you, as a time traveler declares vengeance upon the signatories of the Accords and the Federation in particular for screwing up the timeline in the first place-and he has a very, very personal reason for his actions-a reason, in fact, you were present for, and arguably were responsible for.  If you didn’t think that wasn’t going to come back and bite you during the Iconian War…well, oops.  Just another example of why Time Is Not A Toy.  The time traveler also has the backing of a few other fairly significant aliens, whose title should be easily recognizable to folks who watched Enterprise.

The three episodes may not have the epic scope that the Iconian War did, but then, it’s better to bring the story into a more tightened focus after such a conflict.  I’m a bit uncertain about the “temporal genie” being let out of its bottle, to borrow a phrase; time travel is a messy thing to start with, and when you start propagating that all over the galaxy, I feel you’re opening yourself up to a mess.  Then again, Dr. Who’s been dealing with time travel stuff for decades; maybe I’m being needlessly concerned.  We’ll see how that shapes up.

A side note:  the developers finally released tier-6 versions of the flagships (Starfleet Odyssey, Klingon Bortas’qu, and Romulan Scimitar), and to nobody’s great surprise, there’s no special discounts or the like for those who purchased the tier-5 versions.  (I don’t know why someone would’ve expected it; there wasn’t any for the tier-6 versions of other ships that have rolled out:  why would this be the exception).  I hemmed, I hawed, but I finally decided I’d dump the Zen into the big megapack that gets all three versions for all three factions.  It’s not as big as it sounds; I haven’t actually spent much in the way of Zen since the game went freemium, so the stipend has just been accumulating; whenever I have purchased something from the C-Store, I’ve supplemented that stipend with Zen acquired from the Dilithium Exchange.  And while my tier-5 flagships are technically 5Us, two of those were effectively free upgrades for assorted reasons, and the other was-again-via Zen+Exchange.  Finally, I was patient enough to wait for sales, which I took ruthless advantage of.  The flagships were released at 15 percent off, and I decided waiting for them to qualify at the next 20 percent off sale didn’t really net me all that much of a savings, so I dumped a large amount of my accumulated Zen into those ships.

I’m not horribly impressed with the redesigns for the most part; while I have the option of using parts for the new designs for these new flagships, I chose for the Federation and Klingon ones to use the same ones I’d been using originally:  the original Bortas’qu and Odyssey looks.  In contrast, I did like the designs for the Romulan flagships, which I liked to think shows the difference between the Romulan Empire’s Scimitar and the Romulan Republic’s outlook, so I decided to change up the look for my main Romulan’s ship.  (My Reman, however, whenever I get around to changing up his Scimitar, will remain as the original look-after all, in the final analysis, I still sort of think of the Scimitar as a Reman design-which may be the other reason I went with the new look for my Romulan main.)  I’m still working to figure out use of the consoles; because I’m fond of the ones that went with the original T5 versions, and combining with the new T6 ones may have significant impacts on the performance of the ships.  I’m no powergamer, but I do want to at least remain effective.  We’ll see how that develops.

Also of note:  the STO fleet has managed to get a Research Lab holding up to tier 1, so at this point, the Corps of Discovery has at least tier 1 in each holding except the Spire, if I recall correctly.  While I’d love to get the Spire up and running, I’m thinking advancing the second branch in the Dilithium Mine may be the way to go, since it will open up the prospect of fleet mark discounts on projects, and that could be a bit of a big deal.

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