This is what happens when you look forward to something for a long time and then it's over. It's that satiated-yet-melancholy knowledge that sits in your gut and you're able to smile and frown at the same time.
Star Trek Online released the finale to The 2800 featured series with Boldly They Rode on Saturday, March 10th. Deep Space Nine is once again firmly in the hands of the Federation, thanks to the Klingon Empire, a suspiciously eager to help Changeling and her Vorta subordinates as well as a critical appearance from a new ship with a familiar name. Come join me while I recap the events of the episode!
As the final episode of series begins, the player is summoned back toward Deep Space Nine to rendezvous with the Female Changeling and her ever-so-annoying-yet-ever-so-Vorta servant, Eraun. It becomes immediately clear that the player wishes he could get the opportunity to force the Changeling to clone another one of the insipid idiots, but he never really does get the chance to shoot Eraun in the face.
The player beams over to the Jem'Hadar vessel where the Changeling and Eraun are waiting to contact their high-strung (and 30 years too tardy) counterpart, whose forces have taken the station. The contact with Loriss appears to go smoothly at first. She acknowledges the presence of her god and immediately beams over and grovels at the Changeling's feet, but it's when Loriss attempt to get her Alpha male Jem'Hadar, Kar'ukan, to give up without a fight that everything seems to go right down the fecal waste receptacle.
Kar'ukan is still feeling stung from his god's rebuke back at Facility 4028, and he feels the need to redeem himself and his fleet. That, of course, means that the player can expect he's going to be the one who gets the short end of any stick on that spartan Jem'Hadar vessel.
Short on options, the player dons an extra vehicular activity suits (the first time this has ever been seen in the game) and goes for one hell of a space walk.
In his typical idiotic fashion, Eraun ensures that the player jumps out his airlock a good distance from the hatch he needs to actually get into the space station. Luckily, Captain Kurland is able to communicate with the player and keep him from jetting back to the Jem'Hadar vessel to commit Vortacide. He is also able to guide the player along the outer spines of DS9.
Personally, I loved how Kurland knew his station inside and out. Kurland understood his station like ship captains are supposed to know their ships. I grinned when Kurland directed my Admiral to the control panels and navigation markers as if he were right by his side.
The navigation markers also introduce a new form of mobility in the game: a short jet-burst of zero-gravity "flight" between targeted markers. The distance the player has to cover is rather significant, and as in any Trek tale, there are certain "Treknobabble" hurdles that must be jumped before any goal can be reached. A few of these are placed along the player's path.
I have played this mission twice now, and the answers, as well as the order in which they appear, have not been the same. This is why it's important to write the answers down. Unlike many of STO's previous in-game puzzles, this one will have different answers every single time it is played.
Once the sensors are all jammed up, it's time to head off toward Ops again. However, this time the player is interrupted by the incoming crash of a space vessel involved in a battle overhead.
Narrowly escaping death by jumping with the handy-dandy EVA suit, the player is now forced to go around the crash site to get to his objective. Luckily, it doesn't take that long. Back on his way and with one more simple (and a tad annoying) brainteaser akin to a child's slide puzzle, he's made it to the hatch that will allow him entrance into DS9.
The player finally reaches Ops and takes on the lead Ketracel White-sniffer himself, Kar'ukan. However Kar'ukan isn't as stupid as that silly Vorta, Eraun. Before the player is even close to killing him, he makes a retreat to his dreadnaught.
And all that EVA work went for nothing. Oh well -- back to the ship!
The battle that the player is thrust into is one of the more intense space battles the game has ever seen. The Jem'Hadar fleet definitely outnumbers the fleet that Starfleet had waiting in the wings. To that end, the player, especially if he's in an escort, can expect to blow up... a lot.
The Jem'Hadar's beam arrays simply bleed through the best shields by sheer mass. There's no way I have seen to escape that onslaught. If a player is an Engineer and has a cruiser built like a tank or maybe a Science vessel that can heal like Florence Nightingale, it might be possible to survive, but I'm not very optimistic about it. In any event, there comes a point in the battle when the numbers just seem too hopeless, and wonderfully, miraculously, and in the best tradition of Star Trek writing, the U.S.S. Enterprise warps in to lend a hand!
This is the very first time the Enterprise (of the current time period) has been seen in the game. Months of waiting to see who the new captain would be are put to rest when a cutscene shows Captain Shon, the Andorian male whom the player first met during the first episode and the one who lost his beloved escort the U.S.S. Belfast in last week's episode.
He's ready to fire up the new 1701-F and give Kar'ukan and his fleet the what-for, and while it still takes a bit of work (and maybe one or two more more respawns), the enemy's dreadnought is brought down. With the fleet defeated, DS9 is repatriated, and the player beams to the station to meet with Kurland one more time.
The 2800: The series in summary
Was The 2800 the best featured episode series? I'd have to be honest and say, in some ways, yes, and in others, absolutely not.
I'm a stickler for story, and this series had some major plot holes as well as some unbelievable character twists. (I for one find it difficult to believe that any Jem'Hadar would ever turn on a Founder.)
However, the look and feel of these missions, from the prison to the environment of Hathon on Bajor and the remarkable, jaw-dropping visuals of DS9 and EVA action, is the best I've yet seen in STO.
So when it comes to writing and consistency of plot, my heart still belongs with Cloaked Intentions, but The 2800 has stolen my heart when it comes to visuals.
Well done, Cryptic! In the words of Captain Kirk, "It was... fun," and that's something I haven't been able to say in 13 months. Thank you for giving me a good dose of popcorn Trek!
Next week I will be doing an update on the Foundry, and then you should prepare yourselves as I will be traveling to meet with members of the Cryptic staff! Please feel free to leave your questions for them in the comments section. As always, live long and prosper!
Incoming communique from Starfleet Headquarters: Captain's Log is now transmitting direct from Terilynn Shull every Monday, providing news, rumors, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Beam communications to firstname.lastname@example.org.