Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Unplanned Detour Into Space

I wasn't planning on playing Star Trek Online. While I've been a Star Trek fan since the original series, I've read all the previews over the past months and knew this wouldn't be the kind of Star Trek I had in mind. Plus, I hate to fly. Or at least I did in every attempt I've made in other games including SWG.

It was out of sheer boredom that I accepted a closed beta invite and began the long download. My husband even remarked, "Why are you bothering with that? You know you're not going to like it." I just shrugged. Maybe at least the ground missions might be somewhat fun.

I've gotten so spoiled with quest markers in more recent games, that sometimes I wasn't sure where to go in the tutorial. But nothing that a bit of exploration couldn't resolve. Once out of the tutorial and onto the space station, it astounded me the number of players asking where to find certain npc's on the station. The station is not that big and is easy to navigate. Yeah, we've gotten spoiled with quest markers and have become lazy.

I picked up some missions here and out into space I went. And I had no idea what I was doing. And I blew up. A lot. I logged off frustrated as I expected but was determined to give it my best shot for the duration of closed beta. Taking a better look at all my ship options, it really wasn't all that confusing relative to other games and after a few changes to how I was handling fights, I was the victor more often than the victim. I was flying and actually having a bit of fun.

One of the aspects to the missions I enjoyed was auto grouping. If someone else just zoned into the same mission, you'd be automatically grouped with them (however, you can change this in options). Usually, there would be three or four of us and it made the missions more quick and efficient. On easy missions, generally nothing would be said. We'd go in, get the job done, zone out and disband. On some of the more challenging missions, we'd talk about trying things differently and have a good laugh when we'd get blown up. Fortunately, at this point there was no death penalty and you could just fly right back in to join the fight.

Then I came across the larger scale missions. These reminded me of the public quests in Warhammer. There generally would be 15-20 players with a mission to kill several groups of enemies. After completion, the zone resets in 5 minutes so you can do them over and over. One of the final patches before open beta resulted in an increase in the difficulty of the smaller missions. They became almost impossible to complete solo and eventually everyone just seemed to stick with the large scale battles, as it was more efficient to level this way.

Ground missions weren't particularly exciting, but I hadn't been able to experience many of them since I just was not receiving many of them as quests. But oddly I was having enough fun in space that I wasn't missing it.

There's a lot of zoning. Everything is instanced. But the upside to this is that there is only one server and I like that. And as I said previously, you do need to do a bit of digging sometimes to find your way around. Sometimes a mission may take you to a certain cluster that's in a different system. You'll need to check the star chart to find the cluster, see what system it's in and determine what direction it is relative to your current point. It's nothing difficult, but just takes more time than what some players might be used to.

Unexpectedly, I did find myself having enough fun that I preordered. I know some players feel the missions are too repetitive and maybe my enjoyment will be short-lived. So we'll just have to see how long the fun lasts.


Thallian said...

I think I'd like the auto grouping. Of course I have a high tolerance to douchebags typically.. This sounds promising, especially since it won you over to buying a pre-order.

Aspendawn said...

Hehe well not sure about my tolerance for that but I did like this feature. I'm not one to ever do pickup groups in any mmo. But if there are others working on the same quest as I am at the same time, I think it's great to group us up and get it done more quickly.

It's not everyone's cup of tea for sure as you read from the forums. It did catch me by surprise that I was enjoying it.

Anonymous said...

I think the autogrouping part is quite fine for the space combat; it sort of makes much more sense than autogrouped away teams.

I have no clue either how long the gameplay is going to last, but I think it is fun. And as longas it is fun I will play.

Aspendawn said...

My thinking exactly. It's definitely fun for now so I'll continue to play.