Posts Tagged ‘Ground Missions’

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It’s A Perfect World

May 24, 2013

Cryptic/Perfect World seems bent on taking up all my gaming time lately. Though I can’t seem to convince my husband to come back to Star Trek Online with me, I myself have been sucked back into the game big time.

Romulan starting area

Um, yeah. This is definitely not the STO I knew and remembered. It’s bigger and better. I am still set-phasers-to-stunned by how much has changed. I know a lot of features have been added since I left, but it’s also the little things too. Stuff has been tidied up and streamlined, from the user interface to combat mechanics, the visuals and environment and effects have been updated or improved. This was something I played for almost two years before I stopped, but coming back again now feels like discovering a brand new game.

And yet, memories of gameplay inevitably flow back to me while I’m playing. Sometimes it’s a good thing, like during ground combat. Remembering the Expose/Exploit system helped me decide which weapons to give to myself and my bridge officers, and mobs went down without any trouble. But sometimes, half-remembering the game can also hinder. During space combat with my new Romulan character, I’m maneuvering my beached whale of a starting hunk of metal and wishing so badly I was still back in my main’s escort ship. A lot of the battle tactics I developed I mastered using that little Maelstrom, and that baby turned on a dime.

Space combat

Perhaps not surprisingly, my first foray back among the stars did not go so well. I even forgot the golden rule of STO space combat: DO NOT hang around exploding ships! I guess my MMO-player instinct to run up to enemies I’ve just killed in order to loot them was just too strong, and I was almost blown up for it, bleh.

It’s a shame I can only fit in about an hour or less of time in STO during the afternoons, because like I said, the mister doesn’t seem to have any interest in captain duties anymore. As for the game we’re both still playing, the obsession with Neverwinter is still holding strong and I’m glad to report we’re slowly climbing the levels every evening.

Ebon Downs

It’s a good balance, don’t you think? Sci-fi by day, fantasy by night.

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STO: Shoot ‘Em Up

July 7, 2011

Steady...

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.

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Star Trek Online: T’Androma Does Genesis

December 15, 2010

I got to check out Season 3: Genesis of Star Trek Online yesterday, following Blue Kae’s nice little guide to hit up all the new stuff.

A few highlights of my day:

1) After enduring months of jumping and twirling around on chairs looking like a complete spazzing lunatic, I finally got to sit down in my captain’s chair like an effing normal person.

Look, I've just sat down and my blood pressure's still normal.

2) I never had a problem with the original Sector Space. I think most people hated the look of it, but all it mattered was whether it served its function and I always thought Cryptic deserved praise in coming up with this system to traverse space. What they did in Season 3 was more like a re-skin of Sector Space rather than an overhaul, but the difference is there. When you turn off the astrometrics data, space now looks and feels big enough to get lost in.

Space actually looks like space!

3) I did the new Emancipation daily from Deferi in the Orellius Sector. It was fun but I’m not sure that I’ll be doing it again. There are a lot of better ones to do, in my opinion, and even after fiddling with my graphics settings, ground combat in new content still crashes my game for some reason.

Frozen again. Now I remember why I hate Breen.

4) Much of my time was spent in Episode Replays. I love this new feature for a couple reasons.

For one thing, I did many of these older missions earlier this year and a lot of the time I was in a group. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with other people, whether they be friends or strangers, but sometimes I just can’t keep up with them. I like to read everything, snap a lot screenshots, and in general take the time to absorb everything around me, but by the time I’m done the rest of my group is already two steps ahead. I didn’t want to be a burden, and rushed through a lot of these earlier episodes as a result. To be able to replay them now at my own pace is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

The second reason? I played all these old missions on my old laptop and have since gotten a new computer. Like a geek, I simply wanted to experience everything on higher graphics settings.

I'm a big fan of the sideways bunny hop.

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STO: Night Of The Comet

November 15, 2010

Note: Major spoilers!

Even the screenies!

Avert your eyes!

I hope that’s adequate warning for this week’s coverage of the latest Star Trek Online feature episode, “Night of the Comet,” because I want to talk about some of the challenges it presented. In my opinion, this finale to the Devidian arc was probably the toughest of all the weeklies we’ve had so far.

Looking back, having my husband with me on this week’s mission helped a lot, but I’ll get to that later.

The episode began with a hail from Section 31 agent Franklin Drake, who revealed his plans to send us back to the past in order to destroy the pesky comet that’s been the cause of all this trouble with the Devidians. To travel back in time in our ships, we first had to disguise ourselves as Klingon cruisers using holo-emitters. Then we had to make our way to a secret system to utilize the series of gates there that would essentially catapult us back to the 23rd century.

I didn’t realize this at first, but based on what I saw in general chat, a lot of people had trouble with this first part of the mission. Getting through the rings can be a bit tricky, but it’s completely doable if you steer using a combination of the keyboard with the mouse, or just using the two mouse buttons by itself. I’m more of a mouse-maneuvering captain myself, so the rings posed little problem. Also, there is no need to follow the highlighted trajectory; I found that passing through the gates at any angle from the front side will suffice. Lag would probably be the biggest enemy here. The good news, however, is that when I passed through all the rings on my run, my husband got the prompt to travel to the next map as well. So if all else fails, my last advice is to grab a friend.

Now we engage in a little ground combat with the Devidians at Drozana station, 150 years in the past. There is a wicked Phantasm to deal with here, but we brought strong healers and killed his buddies first, so he fell to our ghostbusting guns like all the rest before him. Hey, we even got to break up a bar fight.

Afterward, another legend graces us with his presence!!! Pleased to meet you, Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott.

Here, we encountered another challenge. Well, more of an annoyance, really. To help Scotty with repairs to the station, we first had to get a part from Cassidy — his useless blubbering colleague who has literally been frightened out of her wits. Luckily, Scotty figured a nerve tonic should bring her out of it.

Kill me now. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so picky with their alcohol. I was so glad to have someone else with me on this part of the mission; we had my husband put together the drink at the bartender while I stood with Scotty and called out the preferences. Much easier with two people. Otherwise, be prepared to memorize details or take a lot of notes on how the little damsel likes her drinks.

And then we were on our way to destroy the comet. I didn’t think the episode would end so mundanely though, and sure enough, we had the Klingons to deal with once we beamed back into space. Silly Franklin Drake, he could have chosen a disguise that didn’t make everyone in the 23rd century hate us.

Not going to deny it — this final battle was hell for me. Between zapping the comet and having to fight the waves of Klingon ships coming to intercept us, I found it nigh impossible to stay alive. For some reason, those D7 Battle Cruisers seemed to find me no matter where I went, ignoring my husband completely even though in many cases he was closer. My little escort isn’t built to handle the kind of abuse that comes with being focus-fired on by multiple enemies, and I must have blown up after every single pass of the comet.

In the ugly mess that ensued, I accidentally destroyed the named Klingon enemy ship that we were supposed to keep alive, thus failing my orders to preserve the timeline. I thought I botched the mission then, since my tactical officer even told me that we had to go back to the beginning to attempt it again. I was all prepared to start over when…nothing happened. I was hailed by Franklin Drake when the last piece of comet was destroyed, but instead of a good tongue-lashing, all he gave me was a congratulations for a job well done, plus my mission rewards. I’m not sure that was how things were supposed to pan out, but I was thankful not to have to do the mission over again.

Despite the glitches, I thought “Night of the Comet” was a decent episode and a good ending to the Devidian arc. Story-wise, it was a winner, and I felt it gave players a bit of everything to do. Believe it or not, as pathetic as my performance was, I have to say that last battle was probably one of my favorite STO space combat encounters of all time.

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STO: Skirmish And Shivers

October 18, 2010

Note: Mild spoilers.

Star Trek Online weekly Feature Episodes are back with a new story arc featuring the Devidians! The first episode “Skirmish” debuted Saturday, and I’m just going to come right out and say it:

It scared the crap out of me.

Now, I’m no squeamish gamer, but there’s something to be said about letting down your guard and allowing yourself to get completely drawn into a scary story. Like, just for little while, forget to be brave and just shamelessly feed your fears; it makes things like horror movies and campfire ghost stories that much more enjoyable. And apparently, the same goes for STO weeklies as well.

Not that I had to try very hard to let myself get creeped out by the latest episode. Of course, playing it in the silence and darkness of a late night helped too. I knew as soon as I beamed into the burnt out hull of that Cardassian ship that something bad was going to happen. The loose steam jets and flickering lights of the dying ship threw all kinds of strange shadows on the wall, and for a second, scenes from the Alien movies flashed before my eyes, I kid you not.

And at this point, I want to clarify that STO is a family game and not supposed to be scary at all, which makes this episode even more impressive. The developers have set the mood perfectly, and the writing has been much improved. I felt jittery when I saw the dead Cardassians in their cells and read about the manner of their deaths. A blanket of dread descended upon me when all of a sudden, the pallid face of my tactical officer popped up on my screen with the question, “Did you see that?!” And when the first bluish wisp of a Devidian floated by in the doorway in front of me, I got shivers down my spine.

Excellent, Cryptic. Just excellent.

As for the Devidians, I can’t say I’m too familiar with them. Which made the episode even better, to be honest. But more importantly, I discovered that they’re quite fun to fight, especially the Phantasm “boss” at the end, which I was surprised to see. Strong heals will get you through that fight no problem, and I just plugged away at him until he died.

What’s neat is that the Devidians have this really nasty hold that incapacitates you and lifts you clear off the ground, so you hang there like some grisly victim of an exorcism film. The first time I saw that happen to my character, I didn’t know whether to be excited or frustrated.

Though I'm sure the novelty will wear off after the first few dozen times.

Clearly, I enjoyed this episode. The only complaint I have is that the game crashed several times during this mission, which I thought was just me but apparently other people have been having these issues as well. As for the gameplay though, everything was just fantastic. I hope the next few installments will be in this same vein (something tells me it would, to coincide with the Halloween season) because I enjoy the feeling of being creeped out. I was just pleasantly surprised to find it in a STO mission…but then again, STO has been very good at delivering many pleasant surprises lately.

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STO: Keeping Things Warm In Cold Storage

September 27, 2010

What do you do when you arrive to find the Breen and the True Way beating the crap out of each other? You join in, of course.

Once again we take this lovely Monday to look at the latest Star Trek Online featured weekly episode, which by the way I had the pleasure of experiencing on Advanced Difficulty with my fleet of brave Federation News Service correspondents — Longasc, Thomas, Thumupp and Tipa (who has written a very comprehensive account of the mission this week as well).

More on how that turned out later. First, I can’t believe it’s been five weeks already. What is it they say, that time flies when you’re having fun? Anyway, what a ride this last month has been — I’ve encounter new species, new planets, and new technology. I’ve defended newfound allies, held off hostile enemies, and negotiated myself out of sticky situations. I’ve been unceremoniously blown up, knocked on my ass, and zapped by ice beams. It all came to a head on Saturday with “Cold Storage”, the final episode of the Breen story arc.

A tribute to TOS's "The Paradise Syndrome"

I knew it was coming — showdown at the lost Preserver archives! — but I still nearly fell out of my chair when I saw the giant obelisk. While this arc’s conclusion was somewhat predictable, I still have to appreciate these little homages they throw in to honor the various Star Trek episodes. I don’t think you have to be familiar with the shows to enjoy STO, but being able to spot these little touches do add to the game. Sure makes me glad I spent all those months devouring everything from the original series to Enterprise, or else I wonder how much would have gone over my head.

If we stay together, we survive.

Combat on this mission proved to be a formidable challenge. In space, I was just a sliver of health (at one point, just 2%!) away from being completely obliterated and only survived thanks to the concerted efforts of my fleetmates healing me. Still, my starship is an Escort, a flying tin can not known for being terribly sturdy, so admittedly being blown to smithereens (or close to it) isn’t so much of an irregular occurrence.

The difference was more noticeable on the ground, however. Apparently the Breen wised up, as evidenced by a new ability which appeared capable of one-shotting unsuspecting Federation officers. I’m not sure how much of it actually had to do with our group doing it on the advanced difficulty setting, since another member of or fleet doing this quest individually also noticed this happening.

Er...what tones?

In the underground passageways beneath the obelisk, we came upon a mini-game of sorts. Three consoles which supposedly would emit a tone when activated, and doing them in the right order based on sound would unlock the Archives proper.

Well, I couldn’t hear anything when I activated the first one. Granted, it could be my sound settings or the possibly the ambient noises in the room, but I know my hearing’s fine and I still wasn’t able to pick anything up even when I leaned into my speakers. I left the task to someone else who might have better luck hearing the tones, but regardless, there are only a handful of possible combinations to try, so getting into the final room shouldn’t be problem.

Anyway, you can never go wrong with a boss fight.

Wow, aren't you a big boy!

So, great episode and nice ending and all, but in the end what I loved best were the rewards — finally, a chance to be on the giving end of an ice beam for once with the CRM 200 ground weapon, and also a new Breen tactical bridge officer to call my own, whom I named “Pran”. I had to fire one of my other Boffs to make room for him, but it was worth it. High time for me to get rid of the freeloaders anyway.

Ice to see you! /lame joke

An interesting thought came to me as I was setting Pran up aboard the U.S.S. Taiga — might “special Boff” collecting become a new trend for STO players?

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STO: Cold Case Investigation

September 20, 2010

Members of the Federation News Service fleet gather around to ponder this discovery.

I got intimately familiar with the latest Star Trek Online feature episode “Cold Case” on Saturday, partly because it was one of those missions that was heavier on the story, but mostly because I had to do it twice — a consequence of getting invited into a group after the first objectives have already been initiated, though the quest log will still track your progress like you’ve completed it. Still, that meant I got to do it with my fleetmates the first run through, an experience I had been waiting for since the first weekly mission debuted. And on take two, I got to absorb the sights and sounds and enjoy the story at my own pace. Things worked out for the best.

The mission starts off with a familiar sight — the mysterious ruins on Defera with the strange puzzle that we encountered back in Episode 1: Cold Call. Back then, solving it did nothing, but doing so now reveals a star map piece, kicking off a hunt across the entire sector for more of them. This one felt like a longer mission than the others, possibly due to the many places you have to visit, not to mention all that time you spend hauling your crew from one side of the map to the other. Such as it is.


The fleet ambushed by enemy ships.

These weekly episodes are starting to become a lot of fun. At the end of every week, I find myself looking forward to my Saturday afternoons when I can log into STO again and check out what’s new. And I enjoy the conversations with my fleetmates and other players afterward, when we talk about what we liked, what we didn’t, and speculate on what STO has in store for us next.

I get what Cryptic is going for, delivering them in a manner that makes you feel like you’re experiencing an actual Star Trek episode as you play it, but what they’ve done for me is even more than that. They’ve managed to get me to anticipate these episodes the same way I actually would for a favorite TV show — clearing my schedule, settling in with a drink and getting comfy for the next hour, the whole shebang. Sure, I play STO mostly on weekends now, and while a pragmatic part of me thinks I should be putting more hours into a game I pay an active subscription for, no other MMO right now stirs me to that state of enthusiasm. Every week.

I plan on riding on this feeling for as long as possible.

It's like...Terrokar Forest in winter.


Oops, wrong turn.

Cryptic has managed to offer a good mix so far, each episode with its own unique flavor. The last two have not been quite as explosive as the first two that kicked off this story arc, even though this week’s certainly had its moments with its brief bouts of combat. That is not to say I wouldn’t welcome more of these “fact-finding” and “problem-solving” missions in the future, but I wouldn’t complain either if next week’s episode happened to have a little more kick to it. If nothing else, they have me curious as to how all this will end.

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