5 Ways to Improve Star Trek Online: A Trekkie's Wish List
Star Trek Online is a good game, but it isn't perfect. The inclusion of cool new features like a holodeck mission architect or repeatable patrol missions would go a long way toward increasing the game's playability and marketability.
While Cryptic has done much in the past few months to improve Star Trek Online, I think few would argue that the game is perfect. There are some features that players are clamoring for and others that were included that seemingly serve no real purpose as of yet.
While I'm sure every STO player has their own wish list for new features that would improve the game, I'm just arrogant enough to present a few of mine here, in the hopes that they'll someday find their way into the game.
A Trekkie can dream, can't he?
#5: The Z-Axis
The final confrontation in the Mutara Nebula at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is one of the most famous in all the Star Trek canon. A wounded Enterprise does battle with an equally-impaired Reliant, captained by Khan himself. The cat and mouse game continues until Spock points out that Khan's tactics seem to indicate "two-dimensional thinking."
Space, you see, has three dimensions. Kirk and company lower their position on the Z axis and wait for Khan to move overhead, winning them the confrontation and forcing Khan into a suicide ploy that leads to the completion of the Genesis planet.
I understand the necessity of not introducing all the complexities of spaceflight to Star Trek Online players, many of whom might become confused without a clear up and down, but more than one of the game's missions require you to move downward to reach objectives. Unfortunately, owing to the fact that starships inexplicably control like airplanes, the only way to move in a downward direction is to go forward and point the nose of your ship down, moving forward and downward simultaneously. This can cause players to have to cover an inordinate amount of distance at times.
I know Cryptic is capable of implementing a control scheme that allows players to move straight up and straight down because City of Heroes had one for its flight system.
Please Cryptic, can we add this small touch of realism to the space movement?
#4: Repeatable Patrol Missions
This is a simple change that could make the process of progressing through the ranks a whole lot easier. I understand that Cryptic is trying to encourage people to play through their excellent story missions, and they should definitely do so, but more than once during the leveling process I found myself without any level-appropriate missions and was forced to complete a bunch of lower-level exploration missions to progress.
The patrol missions seem like an obvious solution to this. We're already allowed to repeat exploration missions, so what would be the harm in adding this feature to patrols, as well? It would give players more choice over how they level up, and eliminate those points where you're stuck with no appropriate missions to take on. Sure patrol missions are boring, but they're at least a break from the monotony of repeating exploration missions over and over.
The space combat is the best part of Star Trek Online, so why not let us choose to play more missions that emphasize it?
#3: Ship Interiors
I know that full ship interiors are something that Cryptic is already working on, so this idea is hardly original, but I hope they find interesting ways to incorporate them into the flow of the game beyond the "for screenshots only" function that bridges currently fulfill.
Imagine how awesome it would be if your tactical officer popped up on your screen following a space battle to inform you that several Borg had transported to the ship, a la Star Trek: First Contact. You'd have to take the fight to the Borg aboard your own ship, clearing them out of section after section before facing a boss-type encounter somewhere in the bowels of your own ship. Enemies could include crewmembers assimilated by the Borg who could later be liberated and return to duty with augmented abilities.
Or, a damaged Klingon ship could be encountered orbiting an abandoned moon. Beaming aboard, you and your team make your way to the bridge only to be ambushed by Klingons who transport over from a hidden location on the moon.
Think of the intense PvP battles players could have when the prize they fight for is not some intangible reward of merits, but the very ship they worked so hard to acquire and upgrade.
#2: Holodeck Mission Architect
Another Cryptic precedent that could be easily and smoothly incorporated into Star Trek Online is the Mission Architect. Not only would it be an awesome addition to the experience, but a ready-made version already exists in Star Trek lore: the holodeck.
Players could design holodeck "simulations" for one another, incorporating space and land elements that already exist in the game. Think of the possibilities for flashback missions or original factions and scenarios to be created.
Access to the holodeck would also open up a myriad of mind-bending "is it or isn't it a simulation" type missions and storylines. One mission already exists within the game where players are asked to make a fatal choice only to discover that the entire thing was a simulation. Imagine the possibilities if players could create similar missions of their own.
#1: Playable Non-Federation Ships
The ability to utilize ships from factions other than the Federation is one feature I have been hoping for since Star Trek Online was first introduced. I enjoy the Federation ships, definitely, but how cool would it be to commandeer a Ferengi or even a Romulan Ship?
Ship acquisition like this is not without precedent in the Star Trek universe. Kirk and crew commandeer a Klingon Bird of Prey at the end of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and christen it the H.M.S. Bounty before using it to return to late 80's Earth in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. I'd like to be able to acquire ships on a permanent basis, but even a temporary take over like this might be a cool way to see how the other half lives.
The fact is, even with the extensive ship customization available in Star Trek Online, everyone's ships more or less look the same at a given rank. More customization options are sure to make everyone happy, and the new ships could have specific strengths and weaknesses that cater to specific play styles. These new ships could also be badges of achievement, similar to the way owners of difficult to acquire mounts in WoW receive additional prestige.
Call me a nerd, but I can't stop thinking about how awesome it would be to tow a wounded Borg sphere back to Earth Spacedock and rechristen it with a Federation designation before taking the fight back to the Borg using their own technology. These special ships could even be used for covert operations behind enemy lines, another situation explored more than one time in Star Trek lore.