Star Trek Online: Annual Update

by on February 24, 2011

If you follow MMO news on GodisaGeek, you’ll know that Atari and Cryptic Studios recently celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Star Trek Online. That means it’s been almost a year since our initial review of the game. We felt it was time to give you an update on the ins-and-outs of the Online adaptation of Roddenberry’s Universe.

An MMORPG is like a good cheese, they tend to take a while to mature. The difference between a good MMO and a great MMO however, is community. When the developers take on board feedback from the playing community to help improve the game with future updates, that’s when you know you know the maturing process is going well. We’re pleased to say we’ve been seeing a lot of this over the past year with Cryptic Studios, and one thing Atari and Cryptic have been clear on since day one is their dedication to updating content.

The big content updates are known as Seasons. These are basically expansions to the game, which are provided as patches at no extra cost. Season One back in March 2010 introduced new PvP game types and maps, off-duty uniforms, new stances, new hairstyles, the captains log (a web app for displaying your captains and ships online), new ships, new skills as well as respec options, new ship bridge variants, and accolades among others. It was a feature-fest, to say the least.

In Season Two, released in July 2010, the player level cap was raised from 45 to 51, which of course was big news to long-term players. Diplomatic gameplay was introduced, adding a method of leveling up your character without picking up a phaser. Season Two also saw the introduction of mini-games, such as Dabo, which can be played on Deep Space 9 for that authentic Star Trek feel. Arguably one of the most popular features of Season Two though, was Feature Episodes.

Feature Episodes are sets of missions that go live on a weekly basis. Every weekend players log in to join the live session of what is essentially an episode of Star Trek. This is immersion at it’s greatest and is probably the closest most Trekkies will ever come to actually being in an episode of Star Trek. The missions can be played at a later date, but you really should try these when they are happening live, to get the full thrill of a story unravelling in front of you, at the same time as everyone else.

The latest season to date was Season Three. On 09/12/2010, this introduced an amazing new technology to the game known as The Foundry. The Foundry is especially exciting for one big reason: it provides ‘User Generated Content’. The Foundry (currently in Beta) allows players to develop their own mission, which can be obtained by regular players. That means you can design areas with in-game assets to create scenarios from your imagination. This is not only exciting to the players and Trekkies, but the avid level designers and storywriters too. It’s an enormous step for the MMORPG genre as a whole and we think there’s going to be a lot more UGC to come in 2011.

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The C-Store has also been a point of interest in Cryptic games of late. Providing a micro-transaction payment system to purchase in-game content is becoming less controversial and more industry-standard. Champions Online has recently gone free-to-play, relying almost entirely on the C-Store to bring in revenue. While it’s not expected, or even wanted, for Cryptic to take this approach with Star Trek Online, the micro-transaction model is definitely something to keep an eye on. I suspect we’ll see it popping up in a lot more big MMO titles over the next couple of years.

We expect the next content-rich ‘Season’ to appear around April/May of this year.  Players can keep up-to-date with upcoming content releases via the STO Calendar.

I will end on a quote from my review last year; With such a huge fanbase, solid game, and regular content updates, I can see STO being around for a good while.

Star Trek Online is available on PC now. You can read our review of the title, which recieved a favourable 8/10 score, here.

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