Finally, and somewhat surprisingly to many of us, Star Trek Online announced the beta of the STO Gateway, a new web-based application with some pretty awesome potential! So jump past the break as I go into more detail about the continuing wave of new information.
The most recent dev blog outlines the background for the story regarding the Romulans and how both the Federation and the Klingon Empire will be working to assist a large group of them in the game. How is it that a once-formidable domain now seeks help from its two greatest enemies?
For those readers who may not quite know how Romulus got here, let me sum up the canon story to date: In the most recent Star Trek film directed by J.J. Abrams, the entire Romulan star system was annihilated by a supernova event. That event destroyed the planets Romulus and Remus and killed billions of inhabitants across a huge stretch of the galaxy.
Ambassador Spock attempted to save the Romulan system but failed. Spock went on to save Vulcan from the same path of destruction by creating an artificial black hole, and while doing so, he was hunted down by Nero, a very angry Romulan miner. The two were sucked into the event horizon of the black hole and ended up in completely different universe and stayed there. Crazy? Yeah, a bit, but it's what Trekkies were handed so that Abrams could play with his own version of James T. Kirk and gang without flushing 45 years of the Prime Universe Trek down the proverbial toilet.
Back in the Prime Universe, jump forward 30 years and you've got the time period in which Star Trek Online is set. Romulus and Remus are gone and the members of those governments that survived the obliteration of their respective homeworlds are still trying to find ways to hold on to the last vestiges of power they held. In the story that unfolded during the gameplay of STO, the Romulan Star Empire suffers another enormous blow when its Empress, Sela, goes missing after her ship is towed away (whether forcibly or voluntarily is still unclear) by a ship that all players assume is Iconian.
The dev blog reveals that after Sela's disappearance, there is a virtual three-way tug-of-war for control. Many survivors, tired of the political scheming of their leaders, have moved to a new planet in the hopes they can just start over. It's this group that players will assist in the new "adventure zone."
STO dev blog #3 reveals that while many Romulans still side with the militaristic force known as the Tal Shiar, many others have shunned their former police state and have opted to start anew. They have located a suitable planet and have begun colonization efforts. They have named their new home Mol'Rihan -- Rihannsu for New Romulus.
Due to the nature of the alliance between Romulans and Remans on this new colony, there is also a new spirit of cooperation with both the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Both factions have good reason to try to build an alliance with the Romulans: They are both involved in a multi-front war, and having one less enemy is a good thing. However, having an ally that still controls a formidable section of the galaxy and all of the resources in it is even more tactically important. Essentially, the Klingons don't want the Romulans to permanently side with the Federation; the reverse is also true. The Romulans still hold sway in the balance of power.
The new ground zone on Mol'Rihan will allow a player to beam down with one Bridge Officer and undertake various daily missions issued by a Romulan or Reman officer stationed at each location. The player will have the choice of undertaking a battle mission or a collection mission depending on how he wants to assist. When missions are completed, the player will be rewarded with increased reputation with the Romulan colony as well as Romulan Marks that can be collected and turned in for special gear and other items. Furthermore, as a player advances in reputation, "special instances will unlock that can be done with more of [his] bridge officers or other players. There are also additional daily missions that will help teach [players] the map and learn additional planetary and cultural lore."
Continuing with the new information out this week, dev blog #5 reveals some of the details behind yet another new playable mission in the Tau Dewa sector. Numerous Romulan ships have gone missing near the Azure Nebula, and intelligence reports indicate that the Tholians may be building up an invasion force in the same area.
Once players are inside, they discover that numerous Romulan ships are being held by the Tholians with four-way tractor beams that sound suspiciously like Tholian Webs (from the Original Series episode of the same name). The team's mission is to rescue as many Romulan ships from the tractor beams as possible before the timer runs out. Smaller ships will not net the team as many points as rescuing larger vessels, but the larger vessels are more difficult to extract from the snares.
The Azure Nebula Rescue mission will be available to all players at all times via the PvE queue. Of note, it is also a cross-faction mission targeted at five-man groups, meaning that Klingons and Federation players can team together. Additional rewards will be granted if the mission is undertaken during the special event times that will be listed in the game's calendar after Season Seven goes live.
Last but certainly not least, last week Cryptic Studios announced the beta-testing of a new web (browser-based) application they hope will be the foundation of a much more useable platform that will work in tandem with the game.
The STO Gateway is currently available for players to test and will allow players to access basic game and character information from any web-capable device, from computers to smartphones to tablets. Players are being asked to help test the new system via the website listed in announcement linked above.
The Gateway currently contains only basic information on the player character, his bridge crew, weapons, and some stats, as well as ship information and accolades. It also appears that the test information is being pulled from the Tribble test servers, so it's unclear whether it works for players who have not yet accessed Tribble.
However, Cryptic Studios representatives have made it clear that this is only the beginning for the new application and that they are moving forward with plans to increase the application's functionality with many aspects of the game... yes, including interaction with the Duty Officer system! This is a feature that the playerbase has been crying for since the DOff system was implemented into STO. Realizing that it still might be quite a bit of time before we actually see mobile accessibility with the DOff system, I think that the fact that the Gateway system even exists now gives many players renewed hope that they will be able to assign their DOffs from their smartphones in the future.
See? There was a lot to go over this week! Some of the game's new missions in Season Seven have already been pushed to the game's Tribble test server, so it's possible to go try some of the new stuff out. Just remember: It's called beta for a reason! If you're interested in testing new content on Tribble, just head over to the Tribble FAQ to learn more! This is the best opportunity players have to get a good look at upcoming content as well as assist the developers with finding and squashing bugs before the new content is pushed to the live server. As always, until next week, live long and prosper!
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