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Hands-on with Star Trek Online's early levels

Kyle Horner

There's been a lot of Star Trek Online coverage lately here at Massively, which is only normal given the looming early February release date. This particular feature is a look at the game over the course of around seven or eight "levels" of play. Sadly, that means I haven't acquired my first non-starter ship, although that goal will soon be reached even if it costs me more sleep. Still, you should check out the brand new beta gallery, because I was still able to catch plenty of cool stuff -- plus a classic Enterprise.

Now, onto the preview!

Gallery: Star Trek Online beta | 22 Photos

Star Trek Online begins as every other MMO does, with character creation. This being a Cryptic game means a mountain of options awaits you, practically begging you to slide, tweak and adjust every possible scale or option. Champions Online's character creator's stances make a return here, albeit with new options like "Android" and "Gruff" for those looking to create a very Star Trek character.

I made a robot, because what Data fan couldn't?

Uniforms consist of a shirt, gloves, pants and boots from which to mix and match. And as you would expect, there's plenty of head bits for people to create wholly new alien species. I considered counting the very long list of ears, but decided it would take too long. Roleplayers are probably going to foam at the mouth when they see this stuff for the first time.

The tutorial starts off with a bang in the form of the monotone meanies known as the Borg. You'll begin aboard the bridge of your assigned ship as a simple ensign. The ship's captain will ask to speak with you and upon doing so, you'll be given orders to assist a nearby ship. There's some movie/tv show references here I won't spoil. After running around fighting off Borg and helping to stabilize various situations, you'll be asked to take the helm of the very ship you were sent to rescue. This is where you get your field promotion and to opportunity to prove that you can handle a starship.

Fighting the Borg has the proper epic feel, especially when you assist in a large fleet battle against several cubes. In fact, much of the opening areas of STO have a proper Star Trek feel. The addition of Zachary Quinto as an Emergency Medical Hologram that narrates tips and tricks is a nice addition. Knowing that somewhere in the game lies Leonard Nimoy voice work is one of the biggest, juiciest carrots Cryptic could have added -- at least, if you're a series fan.

Starship customization is equally as impressive as character customization. Looking for a "The Original Series" style Enterprise eggshell finish on your ship? You got it, that's doable. Although, personally I find the dark steel skin to be cooler. You can also pick and choose your nacelle, strut, saucer and pylon types. With your starting ship -- a Miranda class vessel -- there's three choices within each of those four sections. I've been pretty surprised with how much variety people can squeeze out, especially since you can apply colored patterns to your ship as well. The patterns have an organized, military feel to them. So don't fret, you won't see people flying around in ships that have flames or skulls on them. This is still Star Trek, after all.

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