The developers behind Star Trek Online are set to launch the game’s second expansion, Delta Rising, next Tuesday on October 14, and we recently had a chance to sit down with STO lead designer Al Rivera and senior producer Stephen Ricossa for a tour of what fans can expect to find.
Delta Rising will expand Star Trek Online into the Delta Quadrant where the TV show Star Trek Voyager took place. It’s been 30 years since the events of Voyager and the Voyager crew made a ton of friends and enemies on its return home. In the intervening years, a new threat has emerged and no one knows who it is just yet.
The expansion features a wide variety of new episodes and heavy patrols with randomized objectives on most missions for replayability, along with randomized enemies on patrols. The expansion also includes new queued content with multiple difficulties, from normal to elite, for five player groups. We were told that the Elite difficulty versions of this content is some of the hardest stuff the team has ever released and will require players to have top ships, gear, and great coordination.
Along with the new content comes a level cap bump to 60 (from 50), new intelligence captain specialization and bridge officers, new enemy groups, allies, gear, and even a new tier of ships. Players will be able to upgrade gear from MK12 to MK14 and the STO team tells us that this is not a linear progression but represents a two to three times power increase per mark upgrade.
Existing tier 5 ships can be upgraded to T5U, which confers a bonus to hull points and adds an additional console slot. Starship mastery has also been added and this gives starships their own progression, leveling up using XP and unlocking new powers and abilities.
Nine new tier 6 ships are being added with Delta Rising and these new ships each come with a new starship trait that can be then used on any other ship you fly. Tier 6 ships also feature an extra starship mastery tier and they are the only ships that can seat the new intelligence bridge officers as commanders. Intelligence bridge officers can be seated on tier 5 and below ships in their base specialty (engineering, science, etc.), but if you want to use the brand new intelligence officer space abilities, you’ll need to seat them as commanders in a tier 6 ship. Intelligence bridge officers feature a suite of powerful abilities, such as the ability to teleport torpedoes into the bridge of an enemy ship and create an ‘oil slick in space’ using Subspace Turbulence.
The developers have focused the majority of the nine new tier 6 ships added in Delta Rising on the intelligence functionality and this gives them a unique look, resembling stealth fighters or bombers, with dark, hard edges. All intel ships can cloak and launch intelligence probes as well. If you’re not interested in intelligence ships, Delta Rising also adds new Klingon and Romulan battlecruisers, a new Klingon Raptor, the guardian cruiser, and the Dauntless, which appeared briefly on the Voyager TV show.
On the ground, captains can make use of intel bridge officers’ new suite of abilities or use them on their own as part of the intelligence captain specialization. These ground based abilities focus on stealth and gadgets. Expect the ability to feign disintegration, use tripwire drones, confusion abilities, and more.
Beyond this point we’ll be delving into major spoiler territory, so consider yourself warned!
As part of our tour, the team wanted to show off the new content players will explore in Delta Rising, and our adventures began on the Talaxian homeworld where we are introduced to Tuvok and Neelix, who are reuniting for the first time in 30 years. Neelix gives Tuvok a tour of the area, which includes a new Talaxian starbase created specifically for the expansion. We’re told the team put in a lot of effort to make this area feel like the Voyager show. You’ll notice a ton of attention to detail, such as oil drips, scuff marks, unique props with decals, and NPCs milling about and celebrating the return of the Federation to the Delta Quadrant.
Later, Neelix and Tuvok discuss a new threat in the Delta Quadrant, and we’re introduced to Seven of Nine on the Turei homeworld. The Turei were only shown on the Voyager TV show as minor characters, but they play a significant role in the Delta Rising story. Seven of Nine revives a fallen Turei and learns that the Vaadwaur are the mysterious threat in the Delta Quadrant. The Vaadwaur were introduced in the same episode as the Turei and are, obviously, equally if not more significant in Delta Rising.
Essentially, the Vaadwaur have been in stasis tubes for 1000 years and have woken up to find out they no longer control the Delta Quadrant. Not too happy with this news, the Vaadwaur seek to retake their former territory. We’re shown a Turei base, again hand built for the expansion. The player is here to help the Turei get their shield generator online, as a barrage of fiery debris from a previous space battle with the Vaadwaur is slamming down on the planet. The Vaadwaur are particularly pissed at the Turei due to their instrumental role in their destruction and hibernation 1000 years prior.
Next, we’re shown one of the new intel themed missions. We sneak our ship into the Vaadwaur main base in the hopes of learning their true motivations. The goal is to stealth around, sealing doors behind patrols by creating distractions or taking them out all at once without having to fire a shot by hacking terminals to release gas and that sort of thing. This particular mission also showed off the expansion’s new rope movement tech. We see the player pull himself across empty space using a rope, rappel down vertically, and even zipline across a gap.
Moving on, the team showed us the Kobali adventure zone included with Delta Rising. This adventure zone is a hybrid of previous types of adventure zones in that it features both open mission battle content as well as story missions. The zone can scale dynamically from 1-25 players, so it can be tackled solo or with others. Harry Kim, now a captain himself, serves as your main contact on the Kobali homeworld and you’re here to help push back the Vaadwaur attack. It’s here that you learn the Vaadwaur are oddly using modern particle beam weapons and technology, but also seem to be employing antiquated WWI trench warfare techniques.
We later learn that the Vaadwaur are attacking the Kobali homeworld to retrieve their brethren still sealed in stasis tubes. The Kabali reproduce by reanimating the dead and they have been allowing Vaadwaur stasis tubes to fail so that they can reproduce using their corpses. This introduces a classic Star Trek gray area conflict to the player. On the one hand, you’ve got your allies, the Kobali, doing a terrible thing to the Vaadwaur, but on the other hand, if you allow the Vaadwaur to retrieve their kin, they will use them to do great evil.
Towards the end of the expansion’s content, you’ll board the Voyager ship itself, which has been faithfully recreated to resemble the show. The ship features interiors from the engineering deck, to the mess hall, to the bridge. After beaming down into the Voyager’s teleport room, we made our way to the bridge and finally the conference room, where the entire Voyager cast can be seen discussing the conflict around a table. It’s here that the crew decides the only way to deal with the Vaadwaur threat is to form a coalition with both friends and foes alike and it’s up to you to help put together this alliance.
The conflict concludes in a massive multi-phase space battle where you serve as the battle commander. If you’ve successfully put together your coalition, you’ll have a number of allies to select from for each phase of the fight, and your choice here is important as each ally has different strengths and weaknesses that make them more or less suited for a particular phase. The developers also pointed out some of the neat visual touches they’ve made with this battle as you arrive just behind a moon with a planet barely visible in the distance. As you move through each phase of the fight, the moon gets smaller and smaller while the planet grows larger in your view, representing your progression towards it.
Star Trek Online: Delta Rising will be available free to all players on Tuesday, October 14. A Delta Rising “Operations Pack” is optionally available with additional goodies bundled in.
Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB