Guide to Space Combat in Star Trek Online: Basic Tactics
Space combat in Star Trek Online is a more methodical, some would argue plodding, version of traditional MMO combat mechanics. Maneuvering capital ships in space requires tactics, strategy, and planning. Find out more in our introduction to STO Space Combat.
As you might expect, space combat is a huge part of Star Trek Online. While STO is an MMORPG, this aspect of its combat system is unlike any other MMO out there. Players are required to manage shield and weapon energy levels while constantly jockeying for position with their enemy, trying to line up the perfect shot while keeping their strongest shield forward.
If this sounds confusing, don't sweat it. Our guide to basic space combat in Star Trek Online has everything you need to know. You'll be taking out Klingon ships two and three at a time before you know it.
Star Trek Online Space Combat: Offense
Probably the simplest and most important thing to remember when it comes to STO's space battles is this: keep your weapons pointed at the enemy. I realize this sounds like common sense, but when you have two, three, even up to five or six different weapons firing at once, all of which have different firing arcs, it can be easy to forget to line them all up perfectly.
What you want to do is choose complimentary weapons for the front and back slots on your ship. Phaser arrays don't do as much damage as cannons or dual phaser banks, but their overlapping arcs allow you to bring all your ship's weapons to bear at once.
If you're using cannons or some other weapon with a limited firing arc on the front of your Star Trek Online ship, consider adding a turret or two to the back. They can fire in a full 360 degree arc, allowing you to do even more damage when attacking head on. Plus, the turrets will be able to target any enemies to your rear, giving you some measure of protection when you can't bring your main cannons to bear. Be aware of the firing arcs of your weapons and be constantly maneuvering during battle to ensure maximum damage.
Doing a lot of damage is much less effective when you're spreading it all over the enemy ship. Do your best to concentrate all your firepower on the same shield or two shields. This way, the shields will drop much faster, allowing you to get to the hull and destroy the ship as quickly as possible. This may take some skillful maneuvering on your part but, as you may have already guessed, space combat in Star Trek Online is pretty much all about positioning.
So, now that you've reduced the enemy's shields to nothing thanks to your combination of skillful maneuvering and strategic weapon placement, it's time to deliver that final killing blow. No weapon in the massive STO arsenal does this quite as well as the torpedo, especially when combined with a skill like High Yield, which greatly increases your torpedo damage. Wait until your enemy's shields are down, and you can almost always finish him off with a well-placed torpedo strike. Don't be afraid to hold your fire for a perfect opportunity, a torpedo detonation against bare hull is far more effective than one that fizzles uselessly against shields.
Offensive Space Combat in Three Steps
Just keep these three basic principles in mind and you'll be fine:
- Keep all your weapons pointed at the enemy
- Concentrate fire on specific sections of your enemy's shields.
- When shields drop, finish them off with a torpedo strike. Don't forget to use abilities like "High Yield" before firing.
Star Trek Online Space Combat: Defense
Now, keeping in mind that your enemies are probably going to be using all the tactics described in the offensive combat section against you, it's important to think about how you will counter those tactics.
First, never allow all of your enemy's fire to fall upon one section of your shields. Don't charge in headfirst to a group of enemies if your front shields can't take the onslaught. Maneuver your ship so that you give your shields a chance to recover when they get low. If your right shield is getting pounded, for example, turn your ship so that the left side is taking most of the damage while you wait for it to recover.
I realize this contradicts some offensive strategy regarding keeping all weapons pointed at the enemy, but survival should always be your first priority. If you're using phaser banks, however, you can constantly flip between firing left and right without losing any weapon damage.
Don't be afraid to reallocate shield strength using the HUD if necessary. If you just can't shake that Orion ship that's behind you, rerouting some power to the rear shield may just save your life. Just don't forget to even your shields back out after the fight.
Likewise, managing your ship's power levels can give your shields a much-needed boost when a Star Trek Online mission has you facing multiple opponents. If you find your shields drain too quickly while you're in the thick of things, consider reallocating power to your shields before you enter the fight. Your weapons will be slightly less effective, but you will find that you can survive much longer when shield power is set to 100.
Use healing powers like "Shield Recharge" sooner rather than later. Once you hit about 50% or so on one shield, it's probably a good time to hit that button. Many of these powers also reduce the amount of incoming damage, so it makes sense to use them during a fight rather than after. They can be literal lifesavers when used effectively.
Defensive Space Combat in Three Steps
Keep these defensive basics in mind while fighting any encounter:
- Spread enemy damage out over multiple shields.
- Manage shield power and ship power levels to maximize survivability.
- Don't save your healing powers, use them as soon as necessary.
Star Trek Online space combat is honestly pretty simple. Do the most damage possible to your enemy while taking as little as possible. Spread damage out on your own shields while concentrating it on specific sections of the enemy's. Good captains are constantly maneuvering their ships, jockeying for the best possible attack position while protecting their own shields and ship. It may take a little while to get the hang of it, but doing both simultaneously will be second nature before you know it.