STO: Shoot ‘Em Up

July 7, 2011


Star Trek Online Season 4 launched today, and brought changes to ground combat. A lot of changes. Like, I don’t even know where to start.

But I kept a clear enough head to know that in order to experiment with ground combat, I first had to find ground combat. Thus I went with good old “Diplomatic Orders” even though I’ve done that mission about a gazillion times, but you know what they say about tried and true.

Nevertheless, the level of cognitive dissonance between what I’m presented with and what I’m experiencing is alarming! At once I am thrilled with the changes but also at the same time painfully aware I’m going to have to relearn the fundamentals of ground combat all over again, ahem, as evidenced by the fact my Vulcan butt was handed to in a sling me by a horde of smug Klingons not ten seconds into the fighting.

The biggest thing is Shooter Mode, which you can swap in and out of by pressing B. It’s not Call of Duty or anything, but it’s everything the devs promised — faster, more responsive, and significantly more visceral. I felt like a big game hunter, stalking the jungles of P’Jem for a nice Klingon trophy for my wall.

The ground game has also been completely rebalanced or modified, including values for health, damage and most abilities. You really can’t approach ground combat the same way anymore, which was probably why I was clobbered so easily. Simple cover mechanics have also been added, which I suppose I should learn, STAT!

Quite honestly though, the changes are a huge improvement. Throughout STO’s lifetime, there have been months where I’ve canceled my sub and many more times that I’ve been tempted to let it run out, but there’s a reason why I always come back and these major updates are it. There are a ton of other things I need to try out, but the ground combat revamp was what I was most anticipating.


  1. Sounds like a lot of fun. Tell us more. Tell us more!

  2. I definitely love the combat upgrades they made. My engineering fabrications got souped up! Further, they found a way to increase the resolution on our characters and our ships by 4x without taking up more space which makes the game look fantastic! I celebrated the update by refitting my assault cruiser and taking a screenshot of it. Yay for new desktop pictures!

    • Ooh, yes I heard about that. Time to fiddle with my settings…the game already looks awesome on my computer, can’t imagine what increased resolution on my character and ship would do.

  3. Tell me, how well does the ranged combat in this game align with the ranged combat in MMOs our fellow gamers have been accustomed to for so many years? In that picture, it looks like the dynamics of it was taken into a totally different direction, becoming a first-person shooter!

    • Ground combat in STO is very different, even before the changes. The shooter perspective you see in the screenshot above is just an option, you can choose to stick with RPG mode if you like. That’s what I’ll do, I think, after playing around with shooter. I just don’t know if I can get used to it, as it looks like an FPS but doesn’t exactly play like one, which feels quite awkward to me!

      • Playing a “healer” while in Shooter is nigh impossible, when your boffs are running around shooting stuff. If you’re playing science, that may be the reason you’re having trouble.

        I have a mouse with two additional buttons on the side. I use those to cycle through the powers, I found it much easier than pressing a keybind. That leaves your left hand for movement and your right hand for mouse-looking and power activation.

        Give it some more time, you just need to build up some ‘muscle memory’ and then it’ll fell so smooth that you won’t be able to go back to RPG controls.

  4. Nice post about STO. I don’t play myself but have considered it more than once. Sounds like it’s getting better than the initial reviews of the game (from various sites)

    • Yeah, STO has improved a lot since it’s launch from February of last year. It’s actually become quite a decent game, though I’d say it’s not like other MMOs.

  5. It’s such an odd experience to log in and actively seek out ground combat missions now. While I never avoided them (well ok I did sometimes), I never sought them out. Science kits are actually useful now too!

  6. If and when I get back to STO, I won’t have a lot to relearn having barely made it to level 8 or 9 the last time I played. It sounds like a big improvement in any case!

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