Choose My Adventure: New ships, New Romulus, and a new gun in Star Trek Online

    
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Choose My Adventure: New ships, New Romulus, and a new gun in Star Trek Online

So the past poll was a 50/50 split, but I’m curious if that’s because regular Star Trek Online players knew what was coming.

Considering the poll kept myself and my husband at an impasse, we decided to just simply do both. But before we did any of that, we did take a quick moment to join MJ for some Defense of Pahvo fun. It was nice to take part in some larger group action and what was pretty close to higher level action. At least, higher level in our regard, as both my husband and I leaped in to our elder Starfleet characters.

The missions we took on ended up being both interesting and confusing in equal measure, which really wasn’t helped too much by the fact that I hadn’t played my Science vessel in a very long time, so I had to remember just what all of my abilities did. Mercifully, I had backup and, as you can see in the video embed below, we were victorious. Marginally victorious. Simply getting by is victory enough for me, frankly.

The rest of our time together (when we could thanks to work schedule nonsense) was spent trying to find New Romulus. Yes, we wanted to try to get our shiny new ships first. No, it turns out, we couldn’t, which caused us no end of confusion initially. Our Google-fu failed us as well, as we weren’t really able to find a straight answer on just what it was we were missing.

Confused and a little bit annoyed, we pressed on with the rest of the Romulan missions, cutting through the next several story missions to keep ourselves busy. The story itself was kind of tossed aside here, but only a little bit, as I started to pay more and more attention to just what was going on. A great deal of the finer details were lost on me — the Tal Shiar were being moustache-twirlingly evil, trying to blow us and at least one other planet up — but once we got to about the point where we were dealing with Klingons on top of everything else, things in the story got a little more interesting.

At least the story got more interesting, anyway. The space combat remained excellent as always, though I started to find myself a little underwhelmed with the Tactical officer role and what it seemed to mean for space combat. The Romulan War Bird I was flying has cloaking which is kind of neat, and it has this plasma pulse (what we call the Lime Jell-o Explosion) that seemed to do pretty well against ships, assuming I had lined my ship up in the right way for it to actually make an impact, but overall I was starting to get a little blurry-eyed at how space engagements went. It didn’t really help that I had played my Science vessel and got to do all the neat debuffing stuff that does a couple of days prior, which made the differences between the two playstyles even more stark to me.

Ground combat was once again becoming the same old boring thing that I was hoping to simply just be done with. Until a couple of things happened that suddenly spiced things up in just the right way.

For one thing, a pop-up help window mentioned a mouselook action camera mode. Hitting the B key suddenly threw the game into an over-the-shoulder shooter combat style, which not only brought some much-needed visual interest but at least the facsimile of more action-oriented combat. Hey, if the soft tab-target shooting system was enough to make Tabula Rasa interesting for me, then this would too.

Shortly after I was shown that fun little trick, the RNG Gods saw fit to bless me with a fresh new weapon. A minigun. I was almost immediately confused; there aren’t miniguns in Star Trek! But here it was, in my hands, and it is the single most fun weapon type I’ve ever used.

Don’t get me wrong, phasers are classic, and laser rifles have their place in situations, especially if one is averse to taking damage, but the minigun is just pure, unchecked, stupid fun. Plus, it has a secondary attack that lets me open up a spray of rapid fire laser madness to enemies in a cone in front of me.

I’m not ready to say that these two new events have made ground combat good, necessarily, but they most definitely have made things a lot more bearable and fun, and anything that zests up ground combat is a plus.

Finally, with a bit of mission work and a pretty interesting couple of twists, we manage to locate New Romulus. So, yes, we had to go through missions in order to get to a point where we could get our new ships. In my defense, though, I don’t recall this sort of thing needing to be done when I played a regular Starfleet character. But then again, Starfleet didn’t have to deal with a villainous splinter faction and a blown-up planet.

We’ve gotten ourselves our new ship (the only one we were allowed to get, sadly), we have allied ourselves with Starfleet (because Klingons seem boring in this game to me), and we’re awaiting our next orders. Which, of course, means it’s poll time!

Having had some time in my old Science vessel does make me miss firing up the old U.S.S. Kestrel again, but we also haven’t taken our new War Birds out for a spin, so perhaps that’s where our focus should lie? That’s poll one: Press on or go high-level?

Should we stick it out with the Romulans?

  • Yes. Try the new ship on for size and see if it's to your liking. (87%, 229 Votes)
  • No. Go ahead and get back to your preferred playstyle. (13%, 34 Votes)

Total Voters: 263

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The next poll is once more about focus. We once again have a bit of a bridging path here, and this question can pretty much apply to either the low-level Romulans or the high-level Federation ships. So help steer our course, won’t you?

What should be our primary mission focus?

  • Continue with your story missions. Might as well explore what's next. (76%, 191 Votes)
  • Event missions/PvE missions. Do something a little different. (10%, 26 Votes)
  • Task Force Operations. Let's see if you two can handle some more group content. (13%, 33 Votes)

Total Voters: 250

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Like always, polling wraps up this coming Friday, May 22nd, at 1:00 p.m. EDT. And this time we’re going to make our shared play time happen. I’ll make sure my husband gets some rest and is relaxed from his job enough to want to blow up spaceships.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.

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Greaterdivinity

The rest of our time together (when we could thanks to work schedule nonsense) was spent trying to find New Romulus. Yes, we wanted to try to get our shiny new ships first. No, it turns out, we couldn’t, which caused us no end of confusion initially. Our Google-fu failed us as well, as we weren’t really able to find a straight answer on just what it was we were missing.

I had this same problem! I eventually found out that you need to progress the Romulan specific missions until you unlock it. The “new player experience” in the game, once you get your ship, is beyond hot-garbage. They just throw mission after mission at you with seemingly no rhyme or reason, and there’s no way to easily keep track of the chains so I’d find myself jumping between totally different missions on opposite ends of the galaxy left and right. Plus the constant “HERE’S A GROUP DUNGEON MISSION THINGY” every time I log in. You’re right, I don’t think there’s any analog for any of the various SF flavors of characters nor for the Klingon. Not sure about Borg or Jem’Hadar though, never tried them.

They really, really, really need to take a pass at smoothing all of it out. I love that there’s a ton to do at low level (seems like all missions scale) and that’s rad, but it’s so completely overwhelming that even having played a ton before, I instantly felt lost and beyond annoyed.

On space combat: It’s great!…but often times I find myself in situations where I’m getting repeatedly destroyed. Sometimes it’s due to NPC allies derping around and failing to do their job of dealing some damage and helping soak hits from an enemy fleet, other times I’m just getting destroyed by ships and I have no idea what I’m doing wrong or how I can counter it. I’ve got a love/hate relationship with it, generally trending more towards love.

Ground combat: Yep, still not great, though some of the weapons help (I liked using the melee weapons, hoping to get one soon!) I found that leaving my primary attack on “auto” works wonders, though. Not necessarily in making the game more enjoyable itself, but in letting me often times tab over to my second monitor while my character and away team kill dudes.

I’ve fallen off a bit again, and will shelve this when PSO2 comes out, but it’s been an enjoyable return and I hope I don’t forget everything when I come back. Glad you’re checking this out for CMA, it was a nice excuse/reminder to dip my toes in some good ‘ol Star Trek fanservice.

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EmberStar

Unfortunately that’s a side effect of them going through and “soft” ripping out about half of the story missions. (They still exist, mostly, but the game basically hides them and you’ll only be able to complete them if you know where to find them.) Instead of rebuilding the mission trees or *gasp* fixing the “so old they’re broke” missions, they just suppressed the problem ones and then stripped out almost all the mission requirements for the rest.

The result is that you exit the tutorial and every single remaining story mission gets thrown in your face like the school bully just yanked the contents of your three ring fanfiction binder. What makes it even more frustrating is that the missions that got hidden are, largely, the ones with unique rewards. (The entire Dominion Returns ark for example. Which aside from being Dominion themed and kind of important story wise, also rewards Dominion-related ship and ground gear sets and a Jem’Hadar officer. Which would be, you know, kind of on theme for new Dominion captains.)

Unfortunately it seems unlikely that they’re going to fix any of it or restore the hidden missions. Cryptic has a nasty habit of apparently being complete garbage at commenting their code or keeping any kind of documentation. So when the person who built a mission or story arc quits or transfers, NO ONE else seems to be able to do even the most rudimentary maintenance. Let alone upgrade. In the few cases where they have “remastered” missions, it’s honestly felt more like they preserved the assets (sound files and models) while scrapping the entire actual mission and just rebuilding it from scratch.

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Darius Rangbar

Are you saying that dominion storyline is gone, or hard to find? It sounds awesome and I’d love to do it before doing the hur’q storyline. Is it possible to find?

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EmberStar

It’s possible to find, but I’m not quite certain of the unlock conditions. You need to finish the current Deep Space Nine story – the Dominion Returns was originaly set to happen after than. I think you might also need to finish the Borg storyline. The main thing is that you’ll never get a contact mission for it. When you unlock it, it will (probably) just quietly appear in the Available list in the mission journal.

The missions do still exist, and they are possible to find. I wish I could give the exact steps needed to unlock it, but I don’t actually know. I have a TOS era captain (actually a Temporal Recruit) who needs to finish it for her “complete all the story missions” reward. But I haven’t figured out how to access it yet. (Or the Deferi/Breen storyline, or a couple of others that I’m fairly sure still exist but which have been chopped off the mission tree.)

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Greaterdivinity

Man, I think I have some of that Dominion stuff on my older characters. I remember enjoying those missions…why on earth wouldn’t they make them front and center?!

I imagine a lot of this is partially the result of technical debt from what they were given pre-launch, but damn that’s depressing as hell. The game could be a much better experience with a smoother transition for new captains/players, and I hate thinking that some of the older and jankier, but still great, missions are either gone or hidden away.

It really makes it hard to take that “episodic” approach that the game seems like it used to have, where you could focus on one or a few story arcs at at time. Because hot damn did I almost rage quit by the time I’d accepted the 10th mission upon getting my ship, and that’s not even addressing the constant “DO THIS FLEET OPERATION THINGY GROUP MISSION!” spam every time I log in. I don’t want that mission. I don’t want to do it. Shut up and go away and let me enjoy Star Trek!

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EmberStar

I don’t think it’s techinical debt from what they were given at launch. That was years and years go, and the Dominion Returns arc specifically didn’t even exist until later. When they pruned the mission list and made everything slam in your face at level 10 (instead of following one story after another in any kind of order,) part of the excuse I *think* I remember hearing was that many of the ones that got cut had previously been event missions.

The fact that they finally “broke” enough to get nearly deleted from the game is more, as I said, that Cryptic really sucks at documenting their code. It’s probably why it’s been years and years since they did a Featured Episode Rerun event. To the point that they took all the exclusive rewards and just shoved them into Mudd’s House of Scams as an account unlock – the person who made the Featured Episode Reruns work must have quit at some point, and either no one else understood the code, or couldn’t be bothered to get it running again.

If it helps, I despise the “do a TFO mission! DO IT NOW!” objectives as well. You can run them once, on the lowest difficulty, and that prompt will go away. There’s usually enough people running Random TFO that you can suck a full team in with you. I *really* dislike that running them once is a mission objective you can’t hide, *and* that it’s required to get the Accolade for finishing a story arc. It is kind of hilarious to suck a team of random tryhards geared to min/max Elite Borg Conduit into a basic mission to beat up random Klingons for ten minutes though.

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Greaterdivinity

Ooph, that’s worse. What the hell even, how do you let your engineers get away without documenting/commenting so that folks can come in later and not be completely lost. I’d forgotten about those Rerun events, it’s a shame to hear that some of the older missions and those events are functionally dead : (

One day CBS will throw a massive bag of money at a talented studio to make a really good Star Trek game, even if it’s not a MMO. One day we’ll get a cool Star Trek game that’s not primarily about combat…one day. And every character should be played by Jeffrey Combs. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

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EmberStar

I don’t know *for certain* that it’s a commenting/documentation problem. But it seems consistent with the available evidence that I know about. Such as how recently Cryptic deleted cross game chat – the general assumption is that the person who kept the chat code running had quit, and Cryptic was just preemptively killing the feature before it inevitably broke down.

Back when City of Heroes was still a thing, at one point the City of Heroes team was talking about how they had big plans for Super Groups and renovating the base building system. Then they suddenly stopped mentioning it.

Later on, someone managed to get a reply, and supposedly one of the devs said that they actually looked at the Super Group code. And it was such code vodoo (and wound so deeply through the rest of the game) that they were afraid to even poke it because if something broke, it could take the whole game with it and no one there had the faintest idea how it could even be working at all, let alone working as well as it did.

Or another comment from not long before the game got shut down, that someone had been combing through the code and found two *different* and fatal bugs with the Escort missions. On their own, either bug would have been game breaking. Somehow, they interacted in a way where the mission still appeared to be working. I think the specific comment was “It was as if someone built a dam, which immediately exploded. Only no one noticed, because the rubble was smooth enough to drive on and still held the water back.” Granted, most of the Cryptic people had left by then. But if I’m remembering it correctly at all, those bugs had probably been there since Escort missions were added in the first place. O.O