Visiting Energy Ribbons

New framework, but not the most impressive episode for it.

Quiet as a mouse, a new episode landed in Star Trek Online last week.  It snuck in when I wasn’t looking.

The episode was mathematically inevitable.  According to Trek lore, the energy ribbon known as the Nexus manages to cruise its way around this region of the galaxy every 39 years or thereabouts.  The last time it managed to blow up a planet-or it would have, if not for the efforts of Enterprise captains Jean Luc Picard and James T. Kirk.  39 years after that?

2410.  Or, in other words, the time and setting of the back portion of the Star Trek Online storyline.  A story concerning the Nexus was inevitable-especially in light of the 30th anniversary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation series.

For all of that, the newly released episode-Beyond the Nexus-isn’t exactly the most impressive episode written.  It’s another episode that feels like filler, taking away from the still-developing Lukari/Tzenkethi storyline (although that story does get name-checked, which means this episode will likely be slotted in the Lukari arc when it ends its feature run).  There’s nothing inherently wrong with fillers; but there didn’t really seem to be much effort put into the development of the story and mechanics of the episode.  The art was nice, but for the most part, there was little “wow” factor to be found here.

In some ways, you can’t do much with the Nexus.  How are you going to replicate paradise for your character?  Everyone has a different conception of what their character’s idea of paradise would be.  You could go into someone else’s version, of course-like Picard did with Kirk’s-but Picard still had to resist his first.  So a trip into the Nexus proper probably was never in the cards.  Then again, this episode turns the idea on its ear a bit:  someone who saw the Nexus as a prison wants out.  And let’s face it:  an ideal prison is the kind the prisoner doesn’t want to escape.  That’s food for thought as to the purpose of the Nexus, hm?  (That’s just me rambling; no evidence that more than one person sees it that way in the game, but it’s an interesting thing to consider.)

The plot for this episode is pretty straightforward:  ship researching the Nexus stopped communicating after encountering a ship that had previously been lost to the Nexus.  Your ship is sent to investigate.  Expect exchanges of fire between ships and their crews after being boarded.  It’s not quite as monotonous as the old exploration missions of “find 5 of this, kill 5 of that”, but it’s definitely a step down in quality.  I hope this is because the devs are putting their A-game on next year’s probable Dominion-themed expansion (which I don’t believe has technically been confirmed yet).  Despite this, the resolution of the episode is very much in the spirit of ST:TNG (did I mention an anniversary?  I think I must have), and could possibly lead to a follow-up at some point in the future.  I can’t believe this will be the only time we get the Nexus referenced in 2410.  And I will admit, too, that there’s a section in the episode that put a smile on my face that involves one of the most infamous purveyors of holodeck content in Star Trek lore; the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Oh, there is one more thing that makes the episode stand out a bit more than some; it features the second voiced appearance from a member of the Enterprise-D/E crew, Geordi La Forge.  (The first, of course, was Worf, and we also had a silent, not-confirmed-but-heavily-implied appearance from Geordi’s closest friend.)  There’s a strong implication that we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the ongoing story arc, and very likely beyond; I did mention an anniversary, didn’t I?  We still are missing a number of the big names doing voice-overs, but I don’t believe it impossible at this point; after all, they managed to get most of the crew of Voyager in the game.  Surely they can pull off a few more.  I doubt they could get Picard in, but I could see Troi, Crusher (either one), and maybe even Riker to make appearances here.

We can hope, anyway.  In the meantime, we still have a new Season that’s coming up in October, which will have another episode which is likely going to be more involved than this one, plus a new major fleet holding (something more on the scale of the fleet starbases than the other holdings), which should make life interesting on the final frontier.  And as I recall, we can expect something in another week or two.  Something to do with an anniversary….


Emerging from the Far Side of the Galaxy

Well, well, well.  Isn’t THIS interesting?

Star Trek Online recently unveiled its next season, “Emergence”, and dropped some intriguing information along with it.  Here’s the trailer, in case it’s been missed:

Got some very interesting things in it.  First and foremost, we have the first main character from the Star Trek: The Next Generation series to lend his voice to the game show up:  LeVar Burton, aka Geordi LaForge.  (He’s not the first major name in the game, though; that’d probably have to go to Tim Russ from Star Trek: Voyager.  Yes, there were other voice actors from episodes in the assorted Trek series, but Russ was the first from a main cast.)  At this point, we’ve had main cast appearances from the Original Series, the Next Generation, and Voyager; okay, I can stretch a point and include Deep Space Nine with Michael Dorn, but I always considered him more with TNG than DS9.  So, if you stretch that point, we’re looking at only Enterprise as a series lacking voice representation from a main cast member.  That would probably require time travel hijinks, though.  Let’s probably hold off on that.

Emergence is promising a new Fleet Holding.  Guess I’m going to need to start hording supplies again to help my fleet get to a tier-1 there.  The holding is going to be located on a new homeworld for the Lukari and Kentari, and it seems like moving up tiers will probably add structures to the holding, which is something we haven’t seen a lot of since the original holding, the Starbase-which you can see being constructed as it goes up in tiers.  Figure on it being a new Dilithium sink in the game.  Also of interest:  a new specialization path, simply called “Miracle Worker”.  I’m absolutely SURE it couldn’t POSSIBLY have anything to do with engineering in any way, shape, or form, right?  </sarcasm>  That said, it could be a very interesting spec path, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about it.

Of course, the season couldn’t be a season without a new feature episode, and it will feature Burton along with the ongoing arc with the Tzenkethi and the Lukari.  Could we start seeing some answers forthcoming about the Tzenkethi’s drive to wreck certain worlds?  Let’s hope-a title called “Emergence” is a hopeful sign there.

And now, for the elephant that comes crashing into the room at the tail end of that trailer.  You DID watch that trailer before reading this, right?

That elephant represents what is quite possibly the next STO expansion:  there’s a whole lot of Dominion ships rolling out of the Bajoran Wormhole, and I can’t believe we’d be doing an effective repeat of yet another DS9 invasion.  If it is an expansion, it leads one to wonder what can we see here.  Could we finally be seeing the devs open up the Gamma Quadrant beyond the wormhole?  Could we see a new faction-er, let’s call a spade a spade and call it more of a subfaction, because that seems to be loads easier for the devs to handle.  THAT could explain the rather slow pace of content recently.  Or could we be seeing something that’s been long awaited (at least on my side of the screen):  a new exploration system?  The Gamma Quadrant would be ripe for that sort of thing.

We’ve had a good chunk of content over the last few years that have hit all the eras of Star Trek.  The Iconian War has strong ties to the Next Generation’s era, and one can argue that the Legacy of Romulus is tied to that sort of storytelling as well; the Delta Rising arc drew hard on Voyager’s day, while the Temporal arcs leaned hard on the days of Enterprise-and brought in the Agents of Yesterday that took us back to the Original series era.  DS9 has been off to the side for a long time, with its biggest representation being that old feature episode series, and it’s about time that we have something big attached to that series.  And hey, I recall reading in the forums that half the reason that the DS9 interior never really got revamped was because there wasn’t content to hook it to.  An expansion could well herald a new revamp of DS9.  The only question is whether it would try to tie even tighter to the TV appearance, or go the Earth Spacedock route and do a 2410 remodel.  (Or they could go really crazy and go the same route as the novel series, and blow up the station entirely and replace it with a brand spanking new station.  That’s probably TOO crazy-DS9 is too iconic to go that route.)

But since we’re looking at 2018, it’ll be a long wait.  That’s okay, though-because the Lukari and Tzenkethi issues still need resolution, and that’s a story that’s still unfolding.  Still, I’m looking very much forward to the future, as DS9 was always my second favorite of the Trek series.  (Hey…you don’t think we could see the return of the Sisko, do you…?)