STO Dyson Sphere Spire
Before I dive into the next installment of my new player tips, I'd like to let everyone know that the Star Trek Online site has issued a few new dev blogs hinting at some of the cool news about the upcoming Season Eight: The Sphere. There are some great new blogs featuring the concept art of the new Dyson Sphere space adventure zone, too.

But back to the original topic. Last week's column that provided a basic outline to the Star Trek Online user interface proved to be surprisingly popular and generated far more emails from readers than I had anticipated. Many of the readers have asked that I continue on with the new user tips and I think it's a great idea. So if you've always wondered about the very basics of STO Bridge Officers, join me past the jump to learn more!


STO Avenger class
Start at the beginning

What is a Bridge Officer? In Star Trek Online, Bridge Officers (more commonly referred to as BOffs) serve a player in many ways. BOffs afford a captain with certain battle skills on board his ship and on the ground during battle.

A new player to STO is issued his very first BOffs during the game's tutorial. As the player levels up, additional bridge officers are assigned to the player and they can be held in reserve or added to the crew as the player sees fit. BOffs can also be obtained at the BOff assignment NPC at many of the game's major social hubs. Specialized bridge officers like Liberated Borg, Aenar, or Ferasan can also be purchased through the game's ZEN Store (C-Store). Most (but not all) BOffs can be traded or sold on the game's exchange.

STO Boff UI Station Tab
The BOff user interface

The BOff user interface can be accessed via the character panel in game by pressing the "U" key or the small icon at the upper right of the mini-map that looks like the bust of a person. To see the bridge crew, select the "Stations" tab at the top. The screen shown above reflects the personnel assigned to one of my own low-level characters.

The crew that has already been commissioned is shown to the left under the character and starship names. Non-commissioned crew (also referred to as "candidates") are held in reserve in the area to the right. There is currently a 15-officer limit in the reserve area. If a player reaches this limit, it's best to sell or trade the officer that will never be used. In the alternative, if the candidate has an unusual skill that a player would like to see on another officer already on the crew, it's possible for the candidate to train the officer in that skill before being decommissioned.

It is also possible to release an officer from those currently in-service simply by stripping the officer of all of its gear and weaponry and following the commands to decommission the officer. It should be noted that if an officer is released, it will be permanently deleted and cannot be retrieved.

This is also the same page where officers can be assigned to specific starship and away team roles.

Rarity

All BOffs are color coded much like weaponry and other rewards: white for common officers, green for uncommon, blue for rare, and purple for very rare. Rarity has little to do with species and everything to do with rarity of the officer's traits and/or skills. Some of the BOff skills and passive traits are highly coveted by players depending on their class needs. I will cover a bit more on this in the training section of this column.

STO BOff commissioning panel
Assignment, commissioning, and promotion

Once a player is either assigned or buys a BOff, a small window will pop up with the current visual of the candidate's face. The dialogue will ask the player if he would like the officer to join his crew, wait to be commissioned, or train a current crew member with a skill owned by the candidate.

To have the officer join the crew, simply click on "Join Up" and another window will appear. The new window will reflect the officer's name and a full-body view of the character. The new window allows the player an opportunity to rename the officer and to alter its appearance via a remote tailor. To change the appearance of the officer, simply press the "change uniform" tab and make the desired changes to the physical appearance as well as the clothing. The first rename and appearance change to any new BOff is free, however all future changes will cost the player EC at the tailors.

It's important to note that the gender and race of any given BOff cannot be altered. If a player wants to have an all-male Andorian crew, it's going to take a bit of searching and trading to find them.

STO BOff Skill Panel
Traits and Skills

Each bridge officer, depending on quality, comes with a set of pre-assigned passive traits and active skills for both space and ground battle.

There are four individual skills for space battle. These are the skills that will appear in the BOff area of the main hub while the player's starship is being utilized. Science officers come with four science space skills which typically provide offensive or defensive buffs or healing skills that can be used on the player or others in his team. Engineering space skills tend to revolve around ship hull healing and battery/ship power functionality to increase survivability. Finally, as one would expect, Tactical skills revolve around DPS and the ever-loving pew-pew.

Each BOff also comes equipped with four ground battle skills. Like their space skills, science officers can focus on healing and buffs; engineers are adept at turret, shield and supply fabrication, and tactical officers use both range and melee fighting skills as well as diversion and expose techniques.

Each one of the bridge officer's successive skills can be accessed as they increase in rank from Ensign to Commander.

STO BOff training at NPC
Skill points, training, and promotion

As mentioned above, each BOff has four skills that can be accessed as the officer increases in rank. As a player levels up he is granted a continuous flow of Bridge Officer Expertise points. These points can be spent to increase the BOff's effectiveness in each particular skill.

As a BOff progresses from Ensign to Lieutenant and the minimum number of skill points are spent on the officer, the player can promote the BOff in order to access the next tier skill.

It won't be uncommon to find a BOff that has most, but not all of the skills a player may desire. It's easy to retrain BOffs at most major social hubs via a Bridge Officer Training NPC. It's also possible to retrain any BOff in just one skill, even at higher levels without having to retrain all the lower skills as well. The player should have enough EC and training expertise to accomplish what they want.

STO Player BOff training window
Not all skills are available from the training NPCs. As the player levels in his own chosen field and spends skill points for his own character, he will earn the ability to train bridge officers with unique and quite advantageous skills of the same class. For instance, if enough points are spent by a tactical captain for a particular skill, he will earn the ability to train any tactical bridge officer in the skill "Cannon Rapid Fire III." That particular skill is not available at any NPC outlets and can only be trained by player-captains.

If a player would like to have his BOff trained in a skill that he does not personally have (i.e., the player is a tactical officer but would like to have his science BOff trained in a high-tier skill), it just requires a player who specializes in that field!

To accomplish it the training player must have an open spot on his active roster. Once that is verified, the bridge officer should be stripped of all weapons and gear. It can then be passed between the players via a face-to-face trade; simply drag and drop the BOff into the trade window.

The training player should commission the officer by opening his own character page and selecting the "Train Officer" button at the bottom of the panel. Simply select the name of skill to be trained, then click on the name of the BOff that requires the training. Once the training is complete, it's a simple matter of dropping the newly-trained officer back into the trade window and back to its original commander. Please be careful not to decommission the officer! That will delete it permanently! Again the officer can easily be moved with the mouse from the active roster and straight into the trade window.

BOffs team ground
I'd like to continue on with a more in-depth study of the BOff skills and how they interact with each other. However, there are a lot of changes that are forthcoming to science and tactical skills that have already been seen on the Tribble test server. Once I know more about what has been nerfed and/or buffed and whether those changes will actually remain, I'll undertake that column.

Thanks again for reading and don't hesitate to send me an email with tips on what you'd like to see me cover in future Captain's Logs!

STO Mark Valentine memorial
Finally, I wanted to just take a few more words to point out that the new Mark Valentine Memorial was recently placed at the Starfleet Academy in the game. It's dedicated to all whom we have lost during the game and it's a fitting tribute to a really great guy. 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.