Captain's Log: New-user tips on Star Trek Online's duty officer system

STO Avenger class
Let me first wish all of our readers in Canada a very happy Thanksgiving Day! This week I will continue my informal series for new Star Trek Online players with a brief primer on the game's duty officer system. More commonly referred to as DOffs, Star Trek Online's duty officers provide a player with an additional means to obtain XP, dilithium, and other rewards without his having to shoot a single thing.

Many people have likened the DOff system to that of a trading card game, and to an extent they are right. The duty officers have also become a commodity that can be used in other ways outside of the assignment system itself. So join me past the jump as I delve into the very basics of the STO duty officer system.
The main interface

The main duty officer interface can be accessed by clicking on the small icon at the bottom of the minimap that resembles the profiles of three humanoid heads. The interface (shown above) is a general overview of the player's duty crew status.

To the left of the UI, the Assignments Summary box informs the player how many mission slots are available, how many are in progress, and how many have been completed and have rewards available for claiming. The Duty Officer Summary box lets the player know how many officers are on his total roster, and of those, how many are away on assignment, how many are serving on "active duty" (which I will go into a bit later), and how many were injured during a previous assignment and are currently being treated in sickbay.

STO KDF Colonial reward breakdown
The right side of the UI contains a breakdown of the player's current CXP (commendation experience) gained in one of 11 different fields: Diplomacy, Science, Engineering, Military, Exploration, Espionage, Medical, Colonial, Trade, (Staff) Development, and Recruitment. The KDF DOff system contains most of the same fields but trades out Diplomacy for Marauding.

There are four tiers that can be achieved in each of the 11 fields. Reaching each tier rewards the player with new abilities, titles, and additional duty officers. For instance, achieving successive tiers in Diplomacy will grant a player with abilities to transwarp to different locations in the STO universe, the last of which is the ability to transwarp to Deep Space Nine once she reaches the rank of Ambassador. The tiers shown above for the "Colonial" field on the KDF side reflect that the rewards are typically a title along with a duty officer of increasing rarity. Check out STO Gamepedia for a full breakdown of what each field will reward.

STO Romulan Dress Uni
Duty Officer overview

A player gains access the DOff system when his character reaches level 12. At that time, he is granted a small contingent of common duty officers, and his roster is limited to 100. Increases to the roster cap can be purchased via the game's ZEN Store in groups of 25 or 100 to a final cap of 400.

Like most commodities in MMOs, duty officers have varying rarity; common DOffs are white, uncommon are green, rare are blue, and very rare are purple, but what makes them all rather unique is their individual traits. It's the combination of rarity and traits that can make or break a DOff's success. Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me cover few more basics.

STO Fed DOff Assignment tab
Assignments

A duty officer's first (please forgive me) duty is to undertake and be successful at any mission to which he is assigned. A player has 20 mission slots at any given time (a couple more are unlocked if there are officers relegated to sickbay). Assignments can be found by opening the DOff UI in almost any public area or in sector space. It's important to know that available assignments differ depending on where the character is standing or where her ship is in space.

Special assignments that grant unique or more desirable rewards can also be found on the player's bridge interior, in certain specialized space vessels like the Tuffli Freighter or the Suliban Cell Freighter, and in select fleet holdings like a starbase or the dilithium mine.

Each mission will outline the task and the potential rewards. Potential rewards, you ask? Yes, potential. Each mission will also have a list that reflects the "chances of success" shown with percentage points and a small, corresponding pie chart. As duty officers are selected to undertake the mission, depending on their qualifications and traits, the chances of success will change. There's still more to come a bit later on this.

STO Active v Away Doff UI
Active Duty vs. On Assignment

Every individual DOff comes with an "ability." The duty officer shown above is a Shield Distribution Officer. He holds a space combat ability, and if he were to be placed on the active space roster, he would grant the player an additional chance to regenerate shields while taking damage after the player used his Brace for Impact skill.

There are five active ground slots and five active space slots; once an officer is assigned to an active slot, she remains on the roster but becomes bound to the character and cannot be used in any other assignments. It is for this reason that I tend to use common duty officers for active assignments as my rarer officers can be put to better use in other missions until I can beef up my roster overall.

Notice in the picture above that there are symbols in place of the duty officer's avatar in several of the spots. The Starfleet deltas (the KDF symbol appears for KDF players) reflect which officers on the roster have been placed on active duty on my ship or my ground team; the small picture of a shuttle shows that particular officer is out an away mission (is on a DOff "assignment").

STO KDF DOff traits
Traits

Each duty officer comes with between one and five different "traits." Traits are personality types or species-inherent abilities that can either be helpful or detrimental to the success of an individual assignment.

For instance, in the screencap above, the mission "Frame the House of Duras" has a requirement of several officers beginning with an Advisor, a Diplomat, or a Security Officer. For the mission to be a minimal success, the officer should meet those basic requirements, but to have a chance at being a critical success (which could trigger the reward bonus shown), the officer should also carry the "unscrupulous" trait. This is where rarity comes into play.

Rarity

As I said before, every duty officer is common, uncommon, rare or very rare. Common duty officers are not invaluable. They can be used to donate to fleet holdings, so don't just send them to the airlock -- get fleet credits for them if you can. But common officers are the only officers who can be killed during a mission, and they will be permanently removed from the roster should they not survive the ordeal. Uncommon, rare, and very rare officers can be injured but will not be removed from the roster. If they are injured, they will be sent automatically to the sickbay and another mission will be triggered. They will stay in sickbay for the prescribed term and the player will be rewarded with Medical CXP.

The idea is actually pretty simple: try to find the best quality officer with the most matching traits to the assignment. A green officer with two matching traits typically increases the chances of success better than a blue officer with no matching traits. As shown in the "Frame the House of Duras" screencap above, the rare (blue) officer, in spite his lack of matching traits, will likely perform better than the common officer with just one matching trait. This is especially true for such a dangerous mission: The chances the common officer will be killed are exponentially higher.

As officers are assigned to a mission, the "chances of success" numbers will change, so I recommend players swap officers around and pay attention to those numbers and find out what combination works best. As a player becomes more familiar with how certain officers will affect the probable outcomes, the better she will be at directing her crew and achieving better rewards.

I'll cover more of the DOff system in the future, and barring any revelations about the new content we're expecting from Cryptic, that might be next week. Again, if you have any questions about the DOff system or tips on what you'd like to see me cover next for new players, email me or leave a comment below! 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.