STO Mol'Rihan header
I've said it once and I'll say it over and over again: It can be hard to write about a game in the weeks leading up to a scheduled event or content release. This week is no different. Star Trek Online's team is nose down into the final touches of the new material being released next week for the game's third anniversary, and new information about any of it has slowed to a crawl.

However, in the interim, we have been given the information on the contents of Star Trek Online's newest lockbox as well as the specs on the new ships either contained in the boxes or available in the Lobi store. I also had the opportunity to take part in the most recent Q XP Weekend event and actually found myself having a lot of fun.


STO 3rfd anniversary cap
We all wait impatiently

As I covered last week, Crytpic Studios enlisted the talents of Star Trek: The Next Generation alum Denise Crosby to provide some voice work for an undisclosed character in the upcoming third anniversary mission.

I had the opportunity to interview STO lead writer Christine Thompson as a part of my independent podcast, and although she was tight-lipped about the nature of Crosby's role (or roles), you could hear in her voice how excited she was to have Crosby involved. Thompson was unabashedly excited about the upcoming mission and described it as one of her overall favorites in the game. I couldn't help but find myself just as excited to play the mission, which is apparently currently getting the finishing touches by the dev team before its release during the anniversary celebration.

STO Q
Q XP weekend

This past weekend I took the opportunity to use the recent Q XP Weekend to work on a few of my languishing alts in the game. Yes, I am an admitted altaholic. I have a total of 13 characters in STO, 11 of which are Federation. Of those 11 characters, nine of them are already at level cap. So I was actually quite happy to sit down and play in order to bring my last two toons up to the point where they will be able to undertake the reputation missions.

What I didn't expect was how much fun I had playing some of the missions I hadn't even seen in over a year. A gracious fleetmate of mine, Starmarine, joined me while I finished out a few levels by undertaking the simple cluster missions in Delta Volanis sector. Sure, there was the usual Aid the Planet missions and the Gather Data missions that aren't too fruitful when it comes to skill points, but they provided a nice break and a few hundred skill points in between the battles missions we encountered.

I have to admit, I liked the cluster missions. They were perfect-sized bites of game that I could do with others that still allowed for a break away when the persistent drone of real life yells at me to step away from the computer. In other words, I could play three or four short missions and then switch the loads of laundry without feeling like I was leaving a team high and dry.

Also, it was nice to spend time with a friend in game. We had a great time just cruising in the cluster, taking on any mission that came our way; fighting Klingons, Orions, Gorn and Scoodians as well as delivering Shield Generators and Provisions to planets in need. We were also very appreciative of the fact that Aid the Planet missions now grant 120 diplomatic XP as opposed to the 10 points that they used to. My character is now one level from Vice Admiral, and that will be knocked out by the time this column runs.

STO Jem'Hadar Escort Carrier
Dominion lockbox

For more than the past year, STO has used the controversial lockbox as a main source of revenue generation. They have gone through an evolution of sorts, but one thing has remained constant: a rare non-faction ship has been the ultimate "prize" to obtain when a lockbox is opened.

The most recent edition of the lockbox is no different. It contains an enemy variation of the Federation Armitage class -- the Jem'hadar heavy escort carrier. Like the Armitage, she is a beefy lass, bearing four forward and three aft weapon slots and the ability to equip cannons. She also comes equipped with a console called Dominion Coordination Protocol. This console enables captains to use a new attack pattern called Fleet Maneuver Gamma, which "increases the damage, flight speed and maneuverability of all nearby allies while also granting temporary immunity to a variety of perception and maneuverability debuffs."

STO Jem Hadar Dred carrier
Another ship that became available at the release of the Dominion lockboxes, the Jem'Hadar Dreadnought carrier can be purchased in the game's Lobi Store. This ship comes equipped with its own console called the Dominion Command Interface. This console can be removed and placed into the Jem'Hadar heavy escort carrier, and when both consoles are activated, they "will also provide a bonus to allies' defense and accuracy."

The ship's console can also analyze an enemy's "weakness and broadcast that information to all nearby allies. Enemies whose weaknesses have been targeted will have reduced damage resistance and defense, and a single subsystem will be marked as vulnerable. Enough damage to a vulnerable subsystem will knock it offline for several seconds."

STO Mirror U Vo'Quv
The lockboxes also contain a variety of other items including three more mirror universe variants of ships we've already seen in the game. Of particular note, the mirror universe variant of the Vo'Quv carrier is one of those ships. The Vo'Quv is pretty hard to miss when you see one in game, namely because it is so large and slow. However they have a pretty formidable ability to take a beating and send out wave after wave of pesky, annoying fighters. The other two new MU ships are variants of the Federation Advanced Escort and the Patrol Escort.

In addition to duty officer mini and reinforcement packs, players might be able to obtain one of two different kinds of Dilithium Mining Claims. These come in packs of six or ten mining "claims" that will award a player between 2500 and 5000 dilithium (depending on the player's skill) when he undertakes the dilithium mining minigame at the Ferengi-run asteroid mine.

STO Romulan anteater
Also, the Lobi store has had several new items added, including new space and ground non-combat pets: a Jem'Hadar fighter and a Driclae (Romulan anteater pictured above). The store also has a new item called an upgrade pack, which will allow a player to upgrade his current Mark XI Jem'Hadar sets (earned during runs of the series of missions called The 2800), to the Mark XII stats. If a player has not yet obtained the sets (both space and ground), he can do so by completing The 2800 series then purchasing the upgrade pack from the Lobi Store and upgrading them all to Mark XII.

I have already seen a few Jem'Hadar vessels in the game, proving that the boxes and the Lobi store appear to be quite popular. While that may be a fact that rubs players who loathe the boxes the wrong way, we're all curious to see how the boxes' apparent success shows itself when we see the new material next week during the anniversary event as well as in the upcoming releases of Seasons Eight and Nine over the coming year.

There are a few surprises planned over the next week, so keep your eyes on Massively! Until then, 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.