Captain's Log: Star Trek Online launches Season Six

Captain's Log Star Trek Online launches Season Six!
Season Six has finally made its way to the Star Trek Online live servers! It was pushed to the Holodeck server last Thursday after a day-long maintenance period and a couple of patches that followed into the wee-hours of the morning on Friday.

By Friday afternoon, the majority of issues seemed to be resolved, and players, especially those who belonged to fleets, crowded into the game to begin construction on their new starbases.

Others jumped in to play against the new Tholian enemy in a hostile environment. Most now seem very happy with the new content and are eager to work with their fellow starship captains to create and defend their fleets' bases.

Join me after the jump as I go over more of the new stuff!

Captain's Log Star Trek Online launches Season Six! construction
Starbase construction

I've briefly covered the fleet advancement system that's been introduced to Star Trek Online, but now that the whole of the new system is live, let's go into even more detail than the release notes and my past articles have done.

Captain's Log Star Trek Online launches Season SixEach fleet, like most guilds, has a set of leaders, who here have access to a unique UI panel in the new system. Any player, fleet leader or not, can access her fleet's starbase construction information by clicking on the new icon shaped like three little Starfleet deltas at the bottom of the minimap (shown left). However, fleet leaders have the ability to select the next projects to which the fleet will concentrate their collective efforts.

Every project requires members to donate a combination of materials to the effort. The requirements are usually an amalgamation of fleet marks, data samples, commodities, and duty officers of a specific role such as Research Lab Scientists or Security Officers. The duty officers are permanently removed from the player's DOff roster when they are donated to the fleet effort.

Once the project requirements are met, the project goes into effect under what's essentially a cooldown period that lasts about 20 hours. There is also a special project with a shorter cooldown of about 30 minutes.

Captain's Log Star Trek Online launches Season Six! leaderboard
Fleet marks/credits

Every starbase construction project and special project requires fleet members to contribute a good deal of fleet marks. Along with the new starbase system, Season Six came with a new set of playable missions that will reward players with fleet marks. These missions are:
  • Starbase Fleet Defense (20-Captain)
  • Starbase Blockade (5-Captain)
  • Fleet Alerts: (5-Captain)
  • No Win Scenario: (5-Captain) and
  • Colony Rescue: (5-Captain)
All of these missions award fleet marks, and they are all available 24 hours a day via the PvE queue accessible by the icon at the base of the minimap. They also reward players with bonuses if they are played during the special times they appear on the event calendar. Players do not have to play the missions with members of their own fleet but can join an open group of other players; however, groups can also open private team and begin the missions at any time.

When a player donates her fleet marks (or any other required item), she is rewarded with fleet credits. Fleet credits can then be used to purchase upgraded weaponry, ships, and other items from the fleet stores.

Captain's Log Star Trek Online launches Season Six! Core
Tholian mission update

Last week, I covered Season Six's new enemy species, the Tholians. Since then, I've had the opportunity to take on most of the second set of missions that occur below-ground on what my fleetmates kindly (and in the most Trek-reverent terms) call "Planet Hell." Like the missions available above-ground, the cave missions are assigned by an EV-suit-wearing commander who offers players a choice of five missions: two easy, two medium, and one hard.

The easy missions are allegedly meant for solo players, and the medium missions are supposedly geared for two to three in the team. But I found that there is no way I could handle either of these missions without the three others I had on my team at the time. The spawn rate of the Tholian enemies was harrowing. I'm sure there are fantastic gamers out there who whizzed through the assignments without a scratch, but I was close to being overwhelmed. That's not to say I didn't have a ton of fun! I just personally recommend that people do these missions with a friend or two... or four.

I did not get an opportunity to try the "boss" mission (listed as "hard") in the cave section of the map yet, but I hear it's a doozy like the mission on the planet's surface. By the way, in case you didn't know: Tholians explode when they get too cold. Watch out -- they're very sharp!

Captain's Log Star Trek Online launches Season Six!
Finally, the Foundry

In all of the new season hype, it's a bit easy to overlook the user-generated content tool called the Foundry, but Cryptic Studios has not.

The Foundry will see a plethora a new ground and space maps added to the its library, and tweaks have been made to the overall UI of the toolset to make it easier for new authors to use. Many of the changes will require veteran authors to adjust to certain functions, but the majority of those I know seem happy with the overall changes and realize that in the long-run, the changes are more efficient and user-friendly.

However, at the time of this writing, the Foundry editor is still down, having been taken offline intentionally by Cryptic in an effort to avoid the major problems faced during what is fondly referred to as "The Season Four Fiasco" -- when the Foundry was all but lost after the push of the Season Four update (it took well over three months to fully fix it).

It's my understanding the editor will be re-opened after the automatic re-publishing of current Foundry projects has completed and they can be verified by the QA team. For more information on the new items and the specific UI and tool changes, please refer to the patch notes, especially if you have missions that might require changes before they can be re-published.

Captain's Log Star Trek Online launches Season Six! tac station
Has STO changed?

I briefly spoke with a few fellow players after Season Six launched, and there seems to be a combination of excitement and hesitation about the direction the game is headed. Season Six is definitely the largest release the game has seen since launch in February 2010, and recent interviews with the STO devs seem to indicate that more of the same is coming down the pike.

While we're not being led by the nose through a narrative story in any of the playable missions that have been released in Season Six, I will admit that the Tholian missions do carry an air of mystery about them as well as the foundation for a Mirror Universe plot that will likely unfold in the future. That's still storytelling in my book, and I'm glad to see it.

I understand that more story-based content will be coming in Season Seven and beyond, which makes me happier. My captain does like to have a reason to be doing what she's doing, but until then, she's got a starbase under construction on the edge of enemy territory. She's a busy girl and will be until Season Seven tells us more about what those conniving crystal spiders are up to.

Until next week, 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 terilynn@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.