by: Benjamin Sell
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Cryptic has hinted many times at their desire to add another Star Trek Online playable faction with future expansions to the game. Recently, a poll was posted on the website listing four choices for players to vote on: The Borg, Romulans, Cardassians, Dominion, and the Horta.
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Star Trek Online Playable Factions
Star Trek Online developer Cryptic recently posted a poll for players, asking them to vote on the game's next playable faction. This of course has stirred up a great deal of both debate and interest, as players argue over the merits of one particular faction over another and push people to vote for their personal choice.
Each of the five listed factions, the Borg, Romulans, Dominion, Cardassians, and Horta, has its own pros and cons, and each (with the possible exception of the Horta) would probably make an excellent addition to the STO universe.
Check out our take on each of the factions and their potential advantages and disadvantages.
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There a number of compelling reasons why the Borg would make an excellent choice for the next of Star Trek Online's playable factions. Due to their propensity for assimilating any and all species and civilizations they come across, there would be a large number of playable species for gamers to choose from. There is also the potential to introduce new, as yet unseen beings to the STO universe.
The Borg have taken over countless planets on their journey from the Delta Quadrant, and surely a few of these new species could be suitable for players.
The Borg also possess incredibly advanced technology, even for the Star Trek universe, and players would hopefully be able to tap into some of this potential to utilize new, awesome abilities and skills.
Player customization would be limited to implant placements and starting species, but I imagine there's enough room there to create some unique-looking drones. Ship customization, however, would be severely handicapped. One of the coolest things about STO is the ability to tweak the design of your vessel and make it as unique as you desire. With Borg ships you're pretty much limited to cubes and spheres. You could customize colors and surface patterns, probably, but that would be about it.
The Borg also aren't really a faction that's huge on individualism, making the setup of the game, with Captains controlling their own ships and completing missions on their own, pretty inappropriate for them. There would have to be some major tweaks to the mission system or canonical tomfoolery before individual players could really feel like part of the collective.
Check out page two for more on the other possible future Star Trek Online playable factions: The Romulans, Cardassians, Dominion, and the Horta.
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The Romulans are among the purest "bad guy" types ever to appear on screen. Their constant capacity for both deception and trickery were a constant foil for Jean-Luc Picard during his time as captain of the Enterprise-D.
A playable Romulan faction would actually be pretty awesome. They've got some of the coolest ships and equipment in the Star Trek universe, including Birds of Prey with cloaking devices and incredibly-powerful experimental weapons including the Scimitar-class cruiser, capable of wiping out an entire planet. The Romulans also have one of the richest and most detailed histories in Star Trek, though most of their civilization was wiped out by the supernova that sent Spock back in time during the latest Star Trek movie.
The best thing about the Romulans is the infinite capacity for storytelling that comes out of their current situation in the Star Trek Online universe. Their civilization is in shambles, their planet has been destroyed, and much of their territory has been claimed by the Klingon Empire.
Just imagine the possibilities for cool missions. Players could employ subterfuge and sabotage, using their cunning and stealth to subvert and conquer installations and even planets in both Klingon and Federation space as they rebuild their empire. The Romulans are truly a faction with a chip on their shoulder, and playing as one could be a lot of fun because of it.
As cool as the ships are, though, there really isn't that much to separate them from their Klingon counterparts other than aesthetics. Both factions use Birds of Prey and cloaking devices, so it'd be tough to differentiate between them in any meaningful way.
The Romulans are also scattered and the society as a whole has been knocked back on their heels since the fall of Romulus and the resumption of hostilities with the Klingons. Helping them work their way back would be awesome, certainly, but it's possible they are too scattered to present any viable threat to the Federation or the Klingons.
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The Dominion is a vast empire that exists within the Gamma Quadrant, still smarting from their defeat at the end of the Dominion War. Star Trek Online players have encountered them in game, and their reappearance in the Alpha Quadrant may be the signal of renewed hostilities to come.
The huge number of systems encompassed by the Dominion ensures that the faction would have a huge number of playable races to choose from, most notably the Changelings and the Jem'Hadar. Their technology is also far more advanced than that of the Federation, meaning players would have any number of cool new toys to play with.
The Dominion tends to employ strategy and espionage before deploying their military against an enemy. Missions for the faction could be both varied and interesting, from a secret trip to a outlying system to secure an alliance to an all-out attack against an outpost to encourage its support or surrender.
The Dominion exists entirely within the Gamma Quadrant, on the other side of the wormhole located near Deep Space 9. This means that developers would have to create practically an entire new game world for the faction to exist within. While this is good news for players, who would have a huge amount of new systems to explore, the resources of Cryptic would certainly be taxed in creating something so large.
Traveling to the Alpha Quadrant would also be problematic, since there is only method of doing so, the wormhole, it creates something of a bottleneck. A bottleneck that should be easily defended by Federation forces, having learned many lessons during the Dominion War.
Page three has the other two potential Star Trek Online playable factions, the Cardassians and the Horta.
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Among the most ruthless species in the Star Trek universe, the Cardassians in Star Trek Online are still recovering from the aftermath of the Dominion War. Their planet, Cardassia Prime, was nearly laid to waste during the conflict, and over 800 million Cardassian Citizens were slaughtered.
Some might argue that it's just the universe's way of repaying them for the atrocities committed during their occupation of Bajor, but no matter your feelings about them, the fact is that, like the Romulans, they are a severely-depleted people desperate to reestablish their place in the galaxy.
The Cardassian Union doesn't have the vast array of potential playable species that the Borg or Dominion can offer, but they do have the benefit of desperation. A species so close to extinction is certainly capable of tactics and missions that other factions might think impossible or completely insane.
Despite their depleted numbers, they still manage to cause trouble for other factions in the galaxy, as Star Trek Online players can attest. Battle with Cardassians is always interesting, as they are fond of using deceptive tactics including the use of holo projections and sensor ghosts.
Their ships are formidable and I'm sure many players would be happy to find themselves at the helm of one.
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The Horta are a tough faction to evaluate. They're comprised of a single species, and they lack many of the characteristics most would associate with a viable playable race. They're comprised almost entirely of a material similar to asbestos, and they secrete an acid so toxic when they encounter a human they usually leave behind nothing but teeth and bones.
Spock was the first to communicate with a Horta. While no canonical evidence exists to suggest that they ever left their home planet of Janus VI, they do make several appearances in extended universe novels as crewmembers aboard starships.
Customization options would be limited, considering the Horta have no appendages of any kind. I suppose players could customize the colors of their shapeless mass, and perhaps arrange the arrangement of their lava-like skin. Uniforms are out, because the Horta's acid would dissolve them almost immediately.
There's also the fact that, according to several non-canonical sources, the Horta end up joining the Federation. That makes them kind of useless as an additional playable faction, though a Horta uprising and revolt against the Federation might be kind of interesting.
Basically, Cryptic included them in the poll as an in-joke for Trekkies, who should immediately recognize the reference to Star Trek: The Original Series.