This month I come to you with another gaming article! For those who are getting slightly concerned I will be switching back to Tech next month for the year’s end. This month though, I have decided to take the chance to talk about something that I have become quite passionate about over the last year: Star Trek Online PvP (Player vs. Player).
Star Trek Online was released in February 2010. The game started out in development a number of years earlier through a couple of different game developers. For a time it was uncertain if the project would ever make it to release, it did. In 2010 Star Trek Online was a very rough game; it felt like a beta for many months after launch. I played for about three months upon launch and then abandoned the game. I abandoned the game for a number of reasons but the main two were that it was heavily grind based and it did not feel like Star Trek.
Fast forward two years to February 2012 and the game went Free-to-Play. This encouraged me to have another look at the game and the changes that had been made since launch. The game had certainly improved and there were new pieces of story added that tied nicely into previous works of Star Trek. Two examples of this are tying into the small Iconian storyline started in Star Trek The Next Generation and resolving the mystery of what happened to a fleet of Dominion warships on season 6 of Deep Space 9. Since then occasional feature episodes have been released tying into past TV episodes featuring the voice acting of Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar / Sela) and Michael Dorn (Worf). Star Trek Online has even begun to develop the Tholians, a xenophobic species only seen on a couple of episodes. There is also a healthy PvE community with no shortage of events to take place in. Star Trek Online satisfies a need on my part for Star Trek lore that is not based around the new alternate universe established in the 2009 movie.
For the better part of 2012 I experienced the games PvE offerings with a couple of fleets (clans) and three prominent RSBandB members (Trekkie, Earth, and Southrend amongst others). From the very beginning of playing Star Trek Online I had an interest in PvP. A couple of months after I started playing my fleet was doing an in-house PvP match amongst ourselves, I had never tried PvP before. To my surprise even though I did not like RuneScape PvP I really enjoyed PvP on Star Trek Online. It was not long after this first introduction that PvP became my favorite part of Star Trek Online.
PvP in Star Trek Online has a steep learning curve to say the least. If a new player is unexperienced heading into a PvP match on their can be pretty intimidating. My analytical skills that have been applied to RuneScape and StarCraft over the years allowed me to gain a firm understanding of the mechanics of Star Trek Online. With Star Trek Online being a MMO the game content changes constantly and it is very important to keep up with these changes to know how to best run your ship. It is entirely possible that a tactic that works one week could be changed entirely the following week if an update has been queued to that area. It is this understanding of game mechanics and the use of it to create a PvP strategy that makes PvP fun in Star Trek Online.
Over the past year or so while I have been playing competitive PvP, I have seen a variety of changes have been made to the game that forced me to think of new strategies. Star Trek Online has three classes that can be played: Tactical, Engineer, and Science. Tactical officers are designed deal incredible amounts of damage in short periods of time (aka spike damage). Engineers are the super tanks of the game, can deal sustained damage, and can make excellent healers. Science officers often focus on debuffing the target (making them vulnerable and making them less dangerous), controlling targets, and healing. Over the past year the engineer has faded from usefulness since tactical officers are better in PvP for high damage bursts and science officers can heal as effectively as an engineer. This is one example as to how game play can change and players need to adapt accordingly.
Over the past year I have played a variety of these roles and I do have my favorites. My favorite setup to fly is a science controller providing there are enough heals on my team. My second favorite is the tactical battle cruiser.
The science controller does exactly what it sounds like. Typical operation of the science revolves around the target caller for the match choosing a target and then the controller will immobilize the target or move him out of the battle arena. Simultaneously as the target is being controlled the target is has their resistance debuffed and any running buffs removed. Normally in the span of 20 seconds or less the target is killed. After the attack has ended the science controller moves back to a healer and guardian role by watching for incoming threats. The science controller I run is the ultimate example of versatility. It can be tweaked in mere seconds to add more healing or add more control if necessary. This is why it is my favorite; it is also very annoying to the other player ;).
The tactical battlecruiser is also a favorite because it can stay in a fight and deal impressive amounts of damage. In a way, flying a tactical officer can be easier than flying a healer unless you are the target caller for the match (more on this later). The operation of this type of ship requires the target to often be immobilized before the attack can begin. If the target is not immobilized or debuffed the defence rating of that target is too high, this just means that the damage output will not be as effective. Once the target is immobilized the tactical battlecruiser activates its damage buffs and lets loose on the target. It is quite satisfying to see a target disappear in front of your eyes.
Each match run ideally has 4 fellow fleet members or competent players. These players have a set composition and a set role. As of writing this we currently have at least 8 possible combinations of players that can be brought to a battle for different types of situations. Each of these compositions will have one primary target caller and one or two backup callers often focusing on watching the enemy to ensure they will not cause any problems for the team. In terms of composition, it is also very important that each person on the team is aware of the capabilities and downfalls of each ship brought into the match. Without appropriate team synergy a match falls apart quickly and results in a loss.
Now I present you a video of one of our in-house matches:
(music courtesy of Earth)
The time taken to level a character in Star Trek Online ranges from a couple of days to a month depending on how active of a player a person is. Once the character is levelled up it takes about 35 days of commitment to logging in for a couple of minutes to start reputation levelling projects. Once these 35 days have elapsed and the character is geared adequately, it is time to start PvP. This 35 day reputation system adds extra passives which do help in competitive PvP but are not required for those just wanting to test out the waters. The 35 day grind also adds the ability to purchase special end game items, some of which are useful for PvP. I have completed this process far too many times but it has been worth it. Here is my character roster:
I could continue and describe the operation of each of these but that would make for an article that is far too long, so I will just summarize. Star Trek Online is free to play and almost everything in game can be earned through hard work. The actual process of leveling up a character is the easy part, the end game 35 day grind is what gets most players. If you have any questions about PvP in Star Trek Online post in the discussion topic or send me a private message. Maybe we will see some of you in game!