Captain's Log, Stardate 65037.1...

Hello, computer (and players)! As I mentioned in last week's Captain's Log entry, Season Four: Crossfire is now alive and kicking on Star Trek Online's Holodeck server. Based on past experiences with major content and code pushes, I feel that this was the smoothest to date with virtually no server issues or overload. While there have been a few snags along the way with some bugs making it past Cryptic's "white-glove" QA process, the update was a success and players are having more fun than ever before.

As discussed in one of my past log entries, Season Four was to bring many updates to the game, including the acclaimed ground combat 2.0 system, which would make it an even better Trek experience -- in all honestly, Cryptic delivered. STO is more active than ever and the fleet that I am in is having multiple newbies sign up each day; it is an exciting time to be a player and your weekly columnist. What I would like to do this week is revisit what I let you know was coming to the game and let you know some of my thoughts on them now that I have been experiencing them for myself.

Ensign, warp 12! Oh yeah, we are taking this to a whole new level...

During the past week, I have spent countless hours playing around with all of the new updates and reworking my current strategies -- some of these have included creating a toon spec to include ground combat skills (because I have been loving ground PvP) and a new strategy to defeat the Borg in the Special Task Forces (STF). With that said, and without further ado, here are some of my findings:

Ground combat 2.0

I have to admit that I was on the ground-is-subpar-to-space-combat train pre-Season Four. Now, I have to say that I am one of its biggest fans, as it is a blast to be a part of. When they said "everything has been fine-tuned," they really meant it -- HP of your own toons and enemies have been adjusted to create a faster pace, your weapons actually seem to have some power to them when fighting other players in PvP, and the new shooter mode is a blast to play. While the shooter mode may take a bit to get used to, once you get the hang of it, it is like you are playing a brand new game.

The Borg, version 1.5

"Resistance is futile." And you know what? It finally is in STO! Being the current end-game baddies, the updated Borg now provide the challenge to players that they always should have -- I mean, they are the Borg, so what else would you expect? While some find the energy adaptation debuff you now receive, after firing three to ten shots, to be annoying, it gives the Borg a more canon feel and the edge they have always deserved to have. Whether you are running missions in Gamma Orionis or attempting to complete your favorite STF, make sure that all of your bridge officers and teammates have their frequency remodulator equipped -- this is available from your ships replicator at no cost. Don't do what I did and lead a group into a STF and just expect that all my teammates knew about the changes... whoops!

PvE queue system

The PvE queue system has really been a blast for my fleetmates and me -- fleet actions are now what they were always intended to be, "fleet" actions. What we have enjoyed most is that we have been able to make a group of 20 people that are all on Ventrilo and listening to directions from the group leader -- this has proven especially handy for the mission against the Crystalline Entity. I will admit that we were still unable to take it down, but I attribute that to us only having four tactical captains. One thing that I was hoping to see figured out by now is the ability to have a larger team than five -- when you start the fleet action with 20 people, you are split into four smaller teams of five.

The new Klingon homeworld

The new Klingon "First City" on Qo'noS really captures the feel of what a Klingon capital should be like. It alone gave me enough stamina to attempt making my second KDF toon to level (a Gorn engineer). Although this is true, finding your way around has been confusing (and frustrating) for most because the signs pointing you to your destination are written in Klingon and only flash in English every so often. What I would like to see to really help with is to add waypoints to the mini-map that show where the different contacts and consoles are. If you hang out there often, you may even run into some devs who spend their time dancing with the players.

Character art updates

Due to the new graphics updates that displays textures at four-times their normal resolutions (without taking up more resources), characters and ships look even more stunning. As I mentioned, I made a new Gorn character and the new textures that were recreated for these species are nothing short of art. If you have not seen them yet, you are in for a real treat. With each enemy and critter getting polish as well, they too are looking like they have been redesigned from the ground up.

Behind-the-scenes updates

Now that the game has on-demand patching, I love that I am able to get into the game faster when updates are pushed -- this may be one of the biggest reasons that this launch went so smoothly for the servers. The one, huge showstopper outstanding right now is that The Foundry has been turned off due to problems with some dialogue in missions going missing. This was most likely caused when the servers had to re-publish everyone's UGC missions after the new coding was introduced. Cryptic is working diligently on this and getting back up as soon as they can, for they too know that it is an unacceptable mishap. The other behind-the-scenes update I mentioned in my past entry was the Vivox chat integration. This too seems a bit buggy compared to what I experienced on Tribble -- I am currently not even able to use it and am hoping it gets figured out soon.

Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. Before you go, I would like to let you know about an amazing opportunity to have everyone's favorite Cryptic developer, Dan "Gozer" Griffis, answer your burning questions! Gozer is now hosting his own radio show every Saturday night over at Risa Radio and has a call out for you to get in touch with him. Check out the link for more information on the show and how you can send him a development related question. You never know, he might just answer your question live! Also, please join me for the next STO livestream on Tuesday, July 19th, at 7 p.m. EDT.

Until next time, check out Season Four: Crossfire and let me know what you think by commenting below or sending me an email at brandon@massively.com.

Computer, terminate recording.

Boldly going where no one has gone before, Brandon Felczer transmits Captain's Log through Subspace right to your PADD every Thursday. Join him as he discusses the latest news, gossip, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Hailing frequencies are always open to his bridge through brandon@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.