A new user interface
If there's one word that can describe STO's
current UI, it's "monochrome." The Federation faction's UI has always been in-your-face-blue, and the Klingon Defense Force's has always had oppressive amounts of red. They were so
blue and so
red they were actually very easy to get tired of. Even worse, the members of the KDF found the UI especially hard on the eyes because so many of their missions take place in Klingon-inspired interiors which are, not surprisingly, red. So when I heard that there was going to be an overhaul to the UI, I was happy. A bit wary, yes, but still happy.
I jumped over to STO's
test server, Tribble, to take a look at the UI work in progress. I have to say, so far I really like what I see.
The new UI will first appear in the default color scheme. It has a sharper, more streamlined look to it. While some players do not approve of the "flatter" appearance of the selection buttons, I am finding them easier to read, especially in my chosen color scheme. What's a "chosen color scheme," you ask? Well, the options menu will now give a player the option to pick from one of several different color schemes, each named after the group or era that inspired the palette. A player will be able to select from Orion, Gorn, Klingon, Federation, TNG (The Next Generation), Voyager, Romulan, and Reman themes. The Orion theme is shown above.
The new UI also features a tweak to how NPCs appear. Most appropriately, the NPC issuing a new assignment will appear as if he is communicating over a bridge viewscreen. It's a small touch, to be sure, but one I noticed immediately. The new UI is also very evident in the character creation screen (which I intend to investigate more fully when the Klingon and Romulan functions are unlocked in the test server) as well as the game's tailor.
And although it's not really a change in the UI, if you copy your character to Tribble, check out the new Drozana Station! Not only does it look completely different from before, but it now appears to have a Romulan or two as customers.
Released last week, Cryptic's expansion dev blog #4
outlined the anticipated overhaul to the Tholian missions in the game and how they will be integrated into the new Nukara Strikeforce.
Like the two reputation systems that precede it, the Nukara Strikeforce reputation faction will encompass the existing missions currently playable in the Nukara ground adventure zone. Players from the Klingon and Federation will be able to access it (as well as their associated Romulan counterparts). Also, the dev blog states that other missions involving the Tholian threat will also be included as part of the Nukara Strikeforce system; however, a complete list of the affiliated missions has not yet been finalized.
As such, players undertaking the missions assigned by the strikeforce will no longer earn Tholian Equipment Requisition packs. Instead, the Tholian-themed missions will grant Nukara Marks. The remainder of the system seems identical to the others; players will earn Nukara Marks and use them in conjunction with other provisions and commodities to complete reputation projects. As projects are completed, the player levels up, thereby unlocking new rewards, gear, and weapons at each new level.
Also, it's important to reiterate here something that was outlined in the blog. Many players might be saving Lobi in order to purchase the currently existing Tholian ground set augmentation pack. You should take a close look at the blog that states that the pack will no longer be available when the expansion goes live; instead, it will be offered as a high-tier reward in the new reputation faction. Those who have already purchased the augmentation will have to "register" each piece for 50 Nukara Marks and will receive the item back when that is done. I admit I'm a bit confused by the language. I'm not sure why a player would be forced to spend even more in-game currency on an item for which he clearly already spent real money.
Happy traits to you
One of the things I did not expect when I signed on to the test server was the notice that I would have to assign traits to my character. This is not to be confused with "specing." A new "Traits" tab has been added to the character information page (it appears when the letter "U" is pressed on the keyboard). These traits are similar to the traits assigned to the character when it's first created. The current iteration of the trait tree allows for a total of four traits, and depending on the species chosen, as many as three of those traits are pre-assigned. (i.e., Pakled automatically have "dumb luck", etc.).
From what I can gather in the new system, species-specific traits are already inherent. The new system will grant a player the ability to add a new trait to her character as she levels until a maximum of eight have been selected. Each trait carries a space or ground buff that can add one of a number of different capabilities, from increased increase shield integrity to hull heal capabilities or an increase in critical hit percentage.
Since my character was already level 50 when I signed on, I was asked to select four additional traits for my character. The new system was very easy to see, to understand, and to use. I think most people will enjoy the opportunity to further fine-tune their characters. Since I do not PvP, I appreciate a bit of survivability on my tactical officer, so I decided to try out the shield integrity and hull-healing buffs to see if I like them. Fortunately, if my choices don't work out, the system makes it easy to re-trait as well.
I'm looking forward to all of the new stuff coming out. The revamped Crystalline Entity mission is back for a short stint in the game and I have yet to try it out. The only problem is I doubt nine other people will tolerate my insistent search for a diplomatic solution! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.