Cryptic has released the first part of a series looking at the tactical ship combat in Star Trek Online. It's definitely worth watching, especially if you've been following the progression of Star Trek Online's combat development; in this regards it's nice to finally see some in-game action as we'll experience it when STO releases in February.

There are a few points that STO Director of Production Craig Zinkievich, Game Designer Zeke Sparkes, and Producer Daniel Stahl make which are worth noting. We've already heard most of it, but the in-game footage demonstrates most of these concepts nicely.

You can watch the video above, or head over to our sister site Big Download to grab the hi res version. The hi res version of this video is worth it.

After the break we'll take a look at the major points, as well as talk about some of the high resolution screen grabs of the UI shown in the video.

The major points of this video are:
  • Basic strategy is to use energy weapons to focus fire down one section of the shields, and then fire photon torpedoes to take out the exposed hull.
  • Three basic types of ships
  • Cruiser - Tough ships. The tank.
  • Escort - Really fast and maneuverable. The DPS.
  • Science - Buffs teammates and debuffs enemies. The support.
  • You can customize both crew and components on the ship. Items / "components" of the ship make it unique and provide specific abilities and strength of abilities.
  • Different equipment which you can equip include: weapons, deflector dish, impulse engines, and consoles.
The UI screen grabs in the gallery above are from various points in the video. Be sure to select the "Hi Res" version when viewing each slide to get a close up and detailed look at the various interfaces shown. The video makes a point of saying that the UI is from either pre-beta or beta gameplay, and is work in progress. We want to echo that and make sure everyone realizes that the UI can still change substantially.

The UI in STO is of particular important in that it helps set the overall look and feel for the game. One of the big parts of the shows was the technology behind the acting; Star Trek employed scores of people dedicated to the artwork, and in particular the computer interfaces. The Next Generation's LCARS computer interface are a SciFi icon which are instantly recognizable for nerds everywhere. We can see through the screenshots below that STO at least understands this, however the real verdict on the UI will have to wait until the game's release.

In the first screengrab we can see what tactical combat in space will look like. All the standard MMO elements are there -- health bars for yourself and the enemy, location information, action bars, and mission/quest objectives (in this case the overall objective is to "Prevent Romulan-Girogen Meeting" with a series of sub-objectives requiring you to kill Hirogen and Romulan squadrons). Some of the unique unique STO features include the shield status (possibly control), along with the energy allocation control we've been hearing about (controlling how much of your ship's energy goes towards a given system, like defense). In the case of this particular screenshot, the ship appears to be in an "attack" mode, giving significant energy to the weapons. Cooldowns are also evident in the various weapon bays (torpedos and beams).

The second screengrab
is notable in that it shows us how the ships can be outfitted in different configurations. We even see a particular item being outfitted on the ship, a Phaser Beam Array Mk II. Given the placement of the mouse, the phaser looks to be going to a forward weapon slot.

In the fifth screengrab we see a Bridge Officer being requisitioned. In this case, an Engineering Officer with quite a few useful and critical abilities (ejecting the warp plasma is a common and necessary occurrence in the shows). It appears that Bridge Officers, at least according to this screenshot, can be bought. However Cryptic has said before in various interviews that they will be drops as well. Of course, it remains to be seen how this all works at launch.

Finally, in the seventh, eighth, and ninth screengrabs we can see the customization of the skills, inventory, and assignments of the bridge officers. This looks like where a significant amount of customization will take place in the game; it appears to be the place where the often touted Bridge Officer characteristics will change.

Of course, again, we want to repeat that this analysis is based off of beta screenshots which are work in progress. But nonetheless, it at least shows the way in which STO is headed. These kinds of detailed videos, along with the recent batch of Q&As, are good signs that hopefully the game will be ready for its February 2010 launch.

This article was originally published on Massively.