STO is a well-polished game, at least from my experience. I ran into only minor bugs and suspect that even some of those were less the fault of the game itself and more my own fault. The one nagging issue that I had was a lag between when items dropped from ships or monsters and when I could pick them up and their lack of “clickability”. Of course, there is the button for “take all” and that’s all well and quite handy as well.
Part and parcel of the above were on-again, off-again lag issues. Given the strength of my machine and the power of my internet connection, the lag spikes were pretty unforgiving and clearly not the fault of my equipment. Even saying that, however, most of the larger spikes came during flights through crowded space zones, though I did encounter a few on planet surfaces.
Still, all in all, Cryptic has done a good job keeping the bugs to a minimum and, at least from my experience in game, there were none that would be considered game stoppers.
Star Trek Online has just passed its fourth anniversary, clearly a sign that it is in the game for the long haul. Given the number of players that can be found online at any given time, it seems that it will not be going anywhere any time soon. Add in Cryptic's assertive update pattern and you have a game that plans to be around for a good long while.
Lastly, given the huge storehouse of lore behind the franchise as a whole, there is no reason whatsoever, barring technology advances and the need for updated graphics engines, etc. that STO can’t go on for a great many years.
The only thing that will keep STO from lasting well into the next half of this decade is the aging look and feel of it. Upgrades to the game engine and improvements to existing systems will go a long way to keeping the look and feel of the game fresh.
There are no shortage of player groups called “fleets” for captains to join forces with. Any cursory flight into galactic space yields a plethora of invites to join ranks. As with any MMO, safety and strength in numbers helps a lot. In addition, chat channels are robust and active. One of the nicer touches that Cryptic included is the announcement system when a player attains a new ship, for instance. While not crazy about them popping up in rather large letters in the middle of my screen, I still enjoyed seeing what others had accomplished.
The Foundry is another one of STO’s fantastic features. While not technically social in terms of player-to-player interaction, it is the simple fact that missions are created by and for other players that lends itself to this category. Some of The Foundry missions are simply fantastic and, as with Neverwinter, are worth culling through to find some of the best. The player ratings are essential in that regard, again, another social feature.
I took on Star Trek Online completely from a free player’s perspective. I wanted to judge its value based on the experiences of someone who chose not to pay a dime into the system, at least from the get-go. I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the fact that I played for quite a long time before feeling the desire to purchase something from the store. The items in the STO shop are largely cosmetic, though the amazing number of ships is nothing short of staggering…as are the prices of some of the bundles. Multi-ship bundles can run up to a whopping $100. Perfect World’s currency, Zen, can be purchased via the website or in game. Players can get 1000 Zen for $10. Most things in the shop cost 250+ up to the aforementioned 10,000.
While none of the shop items are technically required, players will be sorely tempted to buy something. For the price of a meal at McDonald’s a decent nest egg of Zen can be purchased to gain costumes or sale items.
I have to give props to Cryptic Studios and Perfect World, however, for the simple fact that the game can be played without spending a dime. Including free expansions like Legacy of Romulus, players can experience the game without running into any pay walls. Plenty of ships and cosmetic options are earned simply by playing the game. Purchasing unlocks and ships, while nice, are not necessary, though there will always be those who complain. Even publishers and developers need to make a buck. I can’t begrudge them that.
For those who prefer to have a monthly subscription, a mere $14.99 per month can yield a ton of features including an expanded inventory, the ability to create a Fleet, more playable species, access to Federation, Klingon and Romulan factions, unlimited PvP access and much, much more. It’s a lot of bang for a buck.
To be perfectly honest, and rather strangely given the game play score, I really like Star Trek Online. There is a lot to do. There is a lot to like. There is something in there for anyone who has even the slightest modicum of love for the intellectual property. It’s because of my love not obsession that I can be quite forgiving of the game. That said, however, those who are dedicated Trekkies or those who are looking for the next great MMO will have issues. STO is clearly a niche title, something that Cryptic is working hard to overcome. They just aren’t there yet.
Have you played Star Trek Online? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Suzie Ford is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom.