The development team at Cryptic
was able to get Dorn to undertake the role once more for the episode, and his voice lends the mission an amazing amount of authenticity and even gravitas. Without giving away too many spoilers (heck, the screenshots will do that, and all of the screenshots used here were taken from the mission), I think it artfully incorporates at least three Star Trek episodes into the game's lore. It also has me trying to get over the heebie-jeebies I got from hearing the creepy clicking noises originally heard in The Next Generation episode Schisms.
It's truly one of the best and most Trek-like missions in the game. It was hard not to feel like an integral part of a bona fide Star Trek television episode, and Dorn's characterization of Worf is a big reason for that perception. Worf comes across as knowledgeable, strong, and commanding without being disruptive to the player's experience as the main character.
I also need to mention that it's also one of the most visually stunning missions I've ever seen in the game. There is a point during the mission when the player must traverse an expansive region of the alien's station. The pathways lead from platform to platform, each assumed to be a transport gate to the planets featured at each one.
I highly recommend stopping and smelling the roses as this mission is played. The visuals are too amazing to just run through without appreciating them. Sphere of Influence is simply some of the best story-telling the game has to offer. The story also seamlessly leads directly to the new content we're expecting in Season Eight.
Speaking of Season Eight
This week many of us were actually a bit surprised by the press release
that was issued by Perfect World
announcing Season Eight: The Sphere's release date of November 12th, 2013. I have received word from Lead Designer Al Rivera
that there will not be a formal Tribble test weekend, but Cryptic will still award players with a new Tribble. Rivera informed me that the award will be a Solanogen Tribble (inspired by the solanogen-based beings from the most recent featured episode) but he did not have any information on the potential buffs the tribbles will provide. To that end, it's always wise to monitor the game's website and Massively
for any late-breaking news.
Some other great news came out with the Season Eight release date. During a recent livestream of gameplay then subsequently posted in the game's forum
Community Manager, Brandon Felczer
mentioned that a new beta for Mac users will also be released on November 12th. This will make a lot of people very happy as I know many that have postponed playing the game or have made use of alternative shells in order to play the game on their Macs. Additional information about the new Mac beta is forthcoming!
Featured Episode Reruns
For those who might not be aware, the term "featured episodes" came about during the early life of STO
when Cryptic used to release sets of connected missions on a weekly basis a couple of times a year. Upon completion of the series, the player would receive a unique item that was only available for a limited time.
The practice of releasing featured episodes in this manner quickly fell by the wayside when Atari decided to sell Cryptic Studios, and as businesses are apt to do when they need to look "lean and mean," put the kibosh on spending. Star Trek Online
languished in a content drought for a year until the developer was purchased by Perfect World.
While most of us would still like to see the episodic (or even epic) nature of the game be more persistent, after the purchase the developers were forced to focus on easily re-playable content for level-cap players to chew on while they put in an all-out effort into the game's first expansion, the Legacy of Romulus
Each of the previous featured episode sets was melded into the game's leveling lore. Every so often Cryptic reruns the episodes
with their original unique rewards. That time has come, and the featured episodes are loaded up with their special items.
Specters, the Devedian series, will once again offer the Ophidian Cane, which works on its own or in tandem with the Triolic Pattern Enhancer. The Romulan-skewed Cloaked Intentions series awards a very rare Reman science bridge officer. A DS9-inspired series called The 2800 will offers players The Shard of Possibilities. Finally, the Cold War series featuring the Breen will reward players with a Breen tactical bridge officer.
The series rerun will also allow players to pick up a maximum of 15 Lobi crystals per account on a daily basis. The rerun ends when the server maintenance begins on Thursday, December 5th, 2013.
Last Chance Lockboxes, Lobi and the new challenge of completing console sets
As has become tradition when a new lockbox is being phased out (like the Elachi boxes will be), all previous incarnations of the lockboxes will begin to appear as drops again and offer their own unique potential rewards. The last chance promotion ends when Season Eight begins on November 12th.
The lockboxes are the only way a player can obtain lobi crystals, which can be traded for unique items at the Lobi Crystal Consortium. The Consortium has become the newest (and most controversial) way for PWE and Cryptic to sell the final pieces of unique ship console sets. Console sets like the Tal Shiar Adapted set and most recently the Obelisk Carrier console set can be completed only if their sister ship is purchased in the Lobi Store. Currently those ships (and their desired consoles) are seemingly cost-prohibitive at 800 lobi crystal each, meaning many people will probably just go without finishing the console set until they go on sale or become available by another, less restrictive means.
That's about all for this week. I expect that next week the Captain's Log will contain a lot more information about the pending release of Season Eight, so 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 email@example.com.