STO Romulan embassy
In my continuing efforts to mark time until we all find out what the blazes the most recent teasers for Star Trek Online's upcoming March Beneath the Raptor's Wings are hinting at, this column is going to delve into two huge new tech developments the game has seen since its free-to-play conversion.

Many players are just now coming back to Star Trek Online after a prolonged absence and have asked me to touch on some of the changes the game has seen in the past two years. Seasons Six and Seven saw the release of the fleet advancement and reputation systems. Both of the new systems work on the same basic principles, so let's go over the basics, then touch on each individual system's idiosyncrasies.


STO Fleet advancement UI home
The basics

The fleet advancement and reputation systems both use very similar user interfaces. Both systems require a player to donate myriad different items that are obtained in the game in order to increase his standing with the faction or increase his fleet's starbase size. Each system currently has five levels (three for fleet embassies) that a player can achieve, and certain skills, weapons, items, and consumables are unlocked upon reaching each successive tier.

Each system allows the player (or fleet admin) to select a project to which he will donate; once the requirements are met, the project is placed into a cool-down or "completion time," the length of which can vary from mere minutes to several days depending the project's complexity.

When a tier is completed, an additional project finishes off the tier, and once the completion time has passed, the rewards (or additional projects to obtain such rewards) can be accessed and/or purchased.

STO Fleet advancement donation UI
The fleet advancement system

If a player is not in an administrative role with a fleet, then he has very little to worry about with regard to the operation and selection of fleet projects. However, that doesn't mean he's off the hook when it comes to the success of any fleet starbase or embassy. As a matter of fact, it's the fleet membership that really makes advancement possible.

Much to the chagrin of many players, this also means that large fleets tend to advance much more quickly than their smaller counterparts and therefore have more high-tier items available to fleet members sooner. Many small fleets in STO have been essentially forced to merge with larger fleets as they can no longer compete for members who have flocked to loot the greener pastures of the tier four and five starbases.

STO Fleet starbase construction
If a player is just returning to STO and is seeking the fastest way to access the best possible ships and gear, then honestly, I must recommend that he look for a fleet that has a tier five starbase already (or one that is very close to achieving that goal) because the stores for the top-end gear have already been opened up to the fleet members. However, if a returning player doesn't mind the wait for his gear and can take the time to earn the credits required, then I would recommend reveling in the tight-knit smaller groups -- they could really use the help!

Don't forget, though, that along with a fleet starbase, there is also a fleet embassy that resides on New Romulus in the Tau Dewa Sector. It's easy to donate to the embassy projects as well, and those projects are accessed within the same interface by clicking on the fleet tab under the minimap and then selecting "holdings" from the tabs at the top. The "embassy" tab will be located on the left, just under the "starbase" tab. It's also another great way to earn credits!

STO fleet project selection page
How do you get the fleet gear?

So here's how it's done: Every player can earn fleet marks by undertaking a variety of missions in the game. The missions range from five-captain assignments to 20-captain raids. The missions are accessible via the PvE queue located just below the minimap on the game's HUD. It is also possible to earn fleet marks in the PvP arenas as well.

Each fleet starbase and embassy currently under construction will have at least two or more projects to which a player can donate his fleet marks and other items (like commodities and duty officers). In return for the donation to the fleet, the player receives fleet credits. The more a player donates, the more credits he obtains. The fleet credits stay with him regardless of which fleet be belongs to, so if his fleet disbands or merges or if he merely decides to move to another fleet, he does not lose out on any of his earned credits.

As the starbase grows in stature, various stores open; you'll need both fleet credits and dilithium to purchase the wares. And that's how it's done.

STO New Rommie rep
Reputation factions

There are currently two factions in STO with which a player can pursue and garner reputation: the Romulan colonists on Mol'Rihan (New Romulus) and the Task Force Omega. For those of you who have not been back to STO in some time, here's the skinny: Task Force Omega is simply a remold and refit of the strategic task force Borg missions that were implemented into STO a long time ago. However, one additional STF, titled Into the Hive, was implemented into the game at the same time the reputation systems were added.

As with the fleet advancement system, the reputation systems work by allowing a player to donate required materials to complete projects and advance in rank or tier. However, unlike the fleet advancement system, the reputation UI is designed for the individual, so a player chooses which projects to undertake and when.

STO Omega rep page
When a player advances his standing with the corresponding faction, he will also get to select one of two additional passive captain skills and unlock a new set of projects that can provide him with rare weaponry, ship sets, and consumables. In the case of the Task Force Omega, the prized MACO and Omega armor sets can now be obtained by advancement in the TFO reputation, so you needn't rely on luck to get a drop during the STF play.

A player can earn Romulan marks by undertaking the patrol mission dailies in the Tau Dewa Sector as well as the numerous ground tasks and epohh duty officer missions obtained on the surface of New Romulus. Players can earn Omega marks by queuing up for STF on the PvE queue tab under the minimap and fighting the Borg on the ground or in space.

STO Embassuy interior
If you have any questions about these two systems, you can always send me an email at the address listed below. Better yet, if you have recently returned to STO after a long hiatus, tell me this: What surprised you the most? What changes do you like? What do you loathe? I want to hear! 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.