Some concerns have been brought to our attention that the author only played 57 minutes of Star Trek Online’s demo. He did not play the full retail game, though he invested significantly more time in EVE Online. We apologize to Star Trek Online for this and would like to remind our readership that this piece is not an official review, but rather an editorial generated by the author, a regular contributor to our publication. We have added this statement so that readers can better interpret the article fairly. We will have an update for you soon.
I am going to be honest with you dear readers, I have never been that fond of space. I mean it's OK, up there above the sky, all black and starry, and just think, without it millions would be left without wonderful desktop background images. The truth is that I have never really been into space ships, astronauts and sexy Jim Kirk adventures; give me a goblin and a two-handed mace and I will show you a man with a 2x critical of orgasmic joy. But alas, I am aware that many of you show arousal at such galaxy ridden pursuits, so without further ado I present the intergalactic edition of Fighting Talk.
Hello and welcome back! Today we pit two space-fairing MMORPGs against one another: Eve Online versus Star Trek Online. Just which is stronger? Just which is better? Just which has bigger space cajones? It’s Trekkies versus Evies, Galante versus Klingon; just who is better? Just who has the greatest crinkled brow? There is only one way to find out! Unhook the telephone, send your loved ones away to shelter, and as always clutch a genital of your choice with nervous tension. Let's. Get. Ready. To-A-Ruuuuumble!
In The Red Corner
Eve Online is the undisputed champion of the space MMO world. With seven years of development and an army of hardened subscribers, CCP's game is a world conquering, galaxy overthrowing force. Noted for its insanely steep learning curve, challenging game mechanics, and intriguing difficulty, Eve Online is one the last few remaining "old school" MMORPGs. While this game polarizes opinion, no one can doubt its place in genre's hall of fame. You have be tough to survive New Eden, is Gene Roddenberry's creation up to the challenge?
In The Blue Corner
Star Trek Online is a relative newcomer to the MMORPG arena, released in February of this year reception and opinion has been divided. While Cryptic Studios are no stranger to the genre, their latest offering seems to be a mismatched affair of space fairing ideals and a somewhat super hero inspired game engine. With this aside however, Star Trek Online does offer hours of entertainment and Trekkie nostalgia. Love it or hate it, no one can deny that this game is Eve Online's only major contender; can it stand up to pressure?
It is important to note that the following is subjective to the author and an opinion piece. Each category is scored out of ten, the winner being the one I deem "right good".
To put it poetically, space is proper massive. Eve Online boasts a game world so big that it makes all other MMORPGs curl up into a ball of shame. The game contains around 5,000 interconnected star systems, and while these are sometimes made up of nothing more than a space station and an asteroid belt- one cannot but revel in the scale and scope of CCP's game. The developer seemingly understands just of what an MMORPG should comprise. Rather than instancing and creating a linear world, the numerous paths and ways to tackle the game seep into every pore of its being.
Of course there are one or two drawbacks to the size of New Eden. There is a necessity to find a space station which can be your base of operations and this can become a problem when you join a corporation around 35 jumps away. A lot of your Eve Online time will be spent travelling to waypoints and jumping to and from gates, however, without this, it just wouldn't feel right.
The size of Eve Online is part of its irresistible charm; a universe by definition has to be a sprawling affair filled with space stations, worm holes, random encounters, asteroid belts, and somewhat transparent planets. Eve Online's gaming world is perfect for its purpose, CCP have done a fine, fine job. Did I mention low space as well? 10/10
The world of Star Trek is one unknown to me. Oh sure I know of certain elements that have leaked into popular culture: Spock, certain sounds and sights, the USS Enterprise, Khan and his wrath etc. For many, Star Trek utilises a license that is known but the real appeal here is another space fairing MMO other than Eve Online. So how does its gaming universe shape up compared to the delights of Eve Online?
To be quite honest it’s a mixed bag. The World is richly detailed and the addition of land roaming avatars as well as space travelling ones is welcome, however, after focusing on two perspectives of play, everything seems a little underwhelming to say the least. For a game that purports to universal exploration, it seems unnaturally linear, galaxies are nothing more than instances and everything unfortunately whiffs of Champions Online.
It is not all doom and gloom however, aside from the fact that Away Team missions (ground missions) are mostly terrible, the look and feel of the environments presented are fairly nice. A highlight for me personally is the ability to dock in space stations and roam around, this all adds a feel of intergalactic immersion and is something which Eve Online should and is possibly looking in to.
As mentioned before, Star Trek is a conjurer of mixed feelings: while it is impressive to look at, the overall linear feel of the game coupled with the sense that is essentially Champions Online in space makes for a somewhat disappointed gaming universe. Underwhelming, but it is only fair to note that Cryptic are seeking to remedy this. 4/10
Choices, choices, and more bloody choices. Eve Online is all about seeking out an individual path and progressing through the game with steely determination and zeal. Players are given the choice of a number of initial skills to learn and these choices will ultimately reflect your future experiences. Will you choose to specialize in combat or industry? Eve Online is all about finding a play style for you and while it is essentially classless, there are important decisions to be made and to stick by.
Progression and skill learning is all done in real time, one skill such as Navigation level 2 may take a number of hours, get further towards the cap of 5 and you will be looking at a couple of weeks. Customization and player individuality is key in Eve Online. The game harkens back to the older days of MMORPGs in that you will find a lot of your time spent looking at stats and attributes, trying to maximise the potential of your character. However, it must be said that you can get as in-depth or shallow with this aspect of the game which is a great strength.
The only downside to the player character within Eve Online is simply cosmetic. Other than creating a portrait for your character, nothing really distinguishes your characters identity or look. While you spend most of your time looking at the metallic shininess that is your ship, you cannot experiment with colour schemes, spoilers, or even body kits. It is a small gripe but you can but wish for a little aesthetic creation. 9/10
Star Trek Online is almost absolutely opposite to Eve Online in terms of cosmetic and depth. Player characters are given a slightly simple but adequate stat sheet and progression system to busy them with, but, the real emphasis on the player character is within customization.
Unsurprisingly, Star Trek features a character creation system with all of the joys of Cryptic’s other MMORPG, a game surprisingly similar, Champions Online. When rolling a new character, players can pick from a number of cannon races, all of which add certain attributes, and they have the ability to shape their avatars chin with awesome precision. Seemingly this is where most of Cryptic’s attention went: into character customization tools. Like their aforementioned super-hero game, ears can be pointed, eyes can droop, scars can be added, trousers can be any colour of the rainbow, and well you get the picture.
With all this said, the player character aspect of the game is one of the stronger elements. Rather than simply having to contend with the one avatar, players can create and customize their crew, away team, and even ship. And this aspect goes further in that the player can shape the abilities of their team. While it isn’t essentially very in-depth, it is fun and very accessible; however, if you are an MMORPG fan who wants a challenge, or indeed a Trekkie who wants more than the ability to elongate noses, this doesn’t quite hit the mark. 5/10
Solo and Group Experience
Beginning life in Eve Online is one the most daunting things you will ever do. After an informative tutorial, the player hurtles into the world, thrown like an unwanted child or Christmas puppy. Things are difficult, tough, strange, and can be quite boring. But do not despair! Things in Eve Online are so diverse, so intriguing, and challenging that the real joy in Eve Online is simply discovering the game.
The solo experience of the game is essentially the worst element of New Eden. Players can mine, craft, and engage in combat and this is fun to a degree. There are missions and agents who will help your adventures along but something is missing: companions. Eve Online excels and shines when in the company of others, to say that soloing within this game lacks is missing the bigger picture.
CCP’s game is one which craves for corporation play and social activity. Space can be a very lonely place but when tackled with a few good buddies and a cheap Logitec head set, it is bliss. Group missions are blast as the lowest ranking member of your organisation can be employed to battle smaller drone enemies while great hulking veterans hover above with more arsenal than the Death Star.
The solo experience in Eve Online is simply adequate, missions are given, mining and crafting is a treat to those so inclined and overall it is OK. However, the real gaming meat is within grouping, combat within corporations is spectacular, low sec space running is exhilarating, and hell, even mining is a blast with others. 9/10
Star Trek Online again, in solo and group aspects, is a mixed bag. The game must be credited for trying something a little different in that it gives two distinct playing styles, space ship combat and ground combat. The trouble here lies in the fact that both are woefully underdeveloped and as a result the solo and group experience of the game suffers.
It is safe to say that the game is ultimately better when played alone. Missions feature a storyline engaging enough to keep the player interested and indeed there are even nods to past and present Star Trek characters within certain missions. Space combat is fun in an arcade-esque way but lacks the depth or complexity that Eve Online offers. The real turkey so to speak here is the ground combat. While it is an interesting concept, it is put together very badly. Combat is not inspired, most missions are buggy and full of glitches and in short, they are pretty terrible.
The solo experience of Star Trek Online is simply OK and grouping is similar. When the dumb AI on away missions gets a little too much to bear, you can bring in buddies. While this does spice up the lacklustre ground missions a bit, but to quote Obama "you can put lipstick on a pig...". The same can be said of the space combat missions, while at core this element is fun in an arcade kind of way, choosing shield directions and firing blasters etc, you don't really need to form any kind of specialised or intelligent group. If the need really arises a band of rag tag captains will get the job done. 5/10
End Game and PvP
The greatest thing about Eve Online is that it doesn't suffer from your average end game/PvP dilemma. In CCP's game there is no need for updated raids or epic gear drops, New Eden is a place more akin to life than any MMORPG. The goal is the level cap or who has +5540 strength- it is about being the best at what you do, being strong, agile, rich, powerful, and/or a good leader. This is possibly the reason for Eve Online's enduring success, it captures that element that old school MMORPGs had, this isn't a race to the finish line, it's all about the journey.
Player versus Player is also fun within Eve. Corporations play a massive part and if you are not active in this area then you won't see much of the games brighter sights. Organisations war against one another, some form alliances, and others indulge in piracy. It is simply awe-inspiring to find such player run madness. 10/10
Star Trek Online suffers the fate of most newly released MMORPGs in that its end game just isn't worth the hassle. It is perfectly adequate, there are things to do such as crafting and PvP. One thing that is interesting is Cryptic's weekly released episodes which comprise a full season. They add certain missions with story driven elements and rewards for those who complete them. They are OK but it all gets a little similar. Judging end game content and PvP to the games space fairing next of kin and you can almost hear its metaphorical penis shrivel. 4/10
The population of Eve Online is essential to keep the game going. Community in the game is key, without it all of the player made delights of CCP's game would simply fall apart. This is one MMORPG where social activity drives almost every aspect of gameplay and as such, the community is friendly, mature, and possibly the greatest found in any MMO of late. While some are elitist assholes, most are willing to give a helping hand. 9/10
The community of Cryptic's game is again, simply OK. There are nice, friendly players and there are those who would seek to dismiss you as a newbie and tell you to "Alt F4" if you dare to ask for advice. The problem with the community of Star Trek Online is that the developer simply does not encourage socialising and depending on others. The reason why New Eden enjoys such a robust population is because it is a necessity, in this game it is all about the lone wolf. 6/10
And there we have it. I dare say that most of you guessed this result as you read the title but in the interest of keeping you guys entertained and my like of American Dollars...you get the picture. Eve Online 47- 24 Star Trek Online. In Fighting Talk terms, that my friends is a knock out. Join me next week as we get saucy with more games. Byeee!