Captain's Log, Stardate 65244.9...
Hello, computer (and players)! Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear meeeeeee, happy birthday to me. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Yes, today is my birthday, and the best present I could receive is being able to share this week's Captain's Log with you all. As we get closer and closer to the F2P re-launch of Star Trek Online, I expect that there will be new captains tuning into this column each week, so to help support our new comrades in between the weeks that feature an influx of breaking news and developments, I am going to be taking some time to educate everyone on a few of the game's mechanics.
When I first started playing STO, I often found myself wondering about many of the choices available to my different characters. From armor to shields, deflectors to engines, and kits to weapons, there is an endless array of options that we can decide to play with and use. One of the most frequently asked questions I get from new players is, "What is the best energy type to use for my ship's weapons?" In the past, when I really did not know much, I would choose my type by the color it emitted. I now know that "pretty" does not equal "power." While each type has its own special bonuses, it's up to you to decide which to use and why. Here's to hoping I can aid in that decision.
Ensign, warp 10! Let's take a look at the spectrum of colors and their abilities...
Let me note as a precursor that we are only going to be taking a look at energy types as they relate to space weapons. While some of the ground weapon energy types provide similar bonuses to their space counterparts, most of them are actually different, so we will discuss these at a later time.
When you first fight against the Undine and Fek'Ihri Horde, you will find yourself rapidly losing hull strength due to their use of Antiproton energy weapons. With its red color in-game, Antiproton is often considered an expensive, endgame energy type because this type is on the highest tier and speccing into it is only available once you reach end-game.
Antiproton weapons are often sought out because of the special bonuses they provide; these include increasing the odds of critical chance and critical severity. I strongly recommend using this type on ships that are specced and geared to provide DPS support. I recently switched to Antiproton energy weapons (specifically, using Dual Heavy Cannons) for my Federation Tactical captain who flies an escort; since then, I am often the top damage-producer during PvP matches.
Disruptor energy weapons, which are green in color, are often found equipped on ships that belong to Klingon and Romulan Star Empires. A player who is used to running Phaser weapons on her starting Federation toons will quickly get comfortable with Disruptors when she levels a Klingon character. Also, Disruptor weapons are available only through the crafting consoles found on the Klingon faction's headquarters, Qo'noS, or by random loot drops.
While I do not see more players running Disruptors over Antoprotons, those who do will find themselves doing more damage per shot because of their innate bonus -- they have a 2.5% chance to proc a damage resistance debuff on an enemy ship. Players also find themselves saving on skill points as this energy type is much cheaper to spec into. The only character I have who's using Disruptor weapons is a low-level Klingon Engineer.
Most commonly seen throughout my travels around the galaxy, Phaser weapons are the staple of the Federation. While the Cardassians and Terrans use them as well, there is nothing like the golden-glow of a Phaser beam array coming from a Galaxy or Sovereign class starship.
Phasers have an interesting bonus because they provide a chance for a few different procs. Every time a Phaser weapon hits an enemy vessel, there is a 2.5% chance that one of its subsystems will become disabled. This can be very effective during PvP, especially when torpedoes are launched on an enemy whose shields were just taken out. Both my Federation Engineer and Science captains run Phaser beam arrays.
Although the Borg collective uses solely plasma weapons natively, players can choose to equip their ships with this energy type as well. Commonly confused with Disruptor weapons due to their having a similar color (though Plasma beams are a lighter-blue, almost green), they can pack a punch.
Plasma has a bonus of a 2.5% chance to proc a damage-over-time (DoT) effect on an enemy vessel for a period of time. I have found Plasma weapons to be effective, but I do not currently have any of my characters using them.
Polaron weapons are hard to mistake due to their bright purple hue. Used by Breen and Dominion vessels, these weapons are designed to cause a power drain on a targeted enemy's subsystem levels.
As with some of the energy types above, the proc chance for such energy drain is 2.5%. Sadly, it is very expensive to spec into this weapon type due to its being available only at endgame and in the most "expensive" part of the skill tree.
Since my favorite color is blue, Tetryon weapons have always been my energy type of choice. Not only do they look great against the darkness of space, but they also have an amazing and deadly bonus. If you find yourself up against the Hirogen, I hope you have some healing abilities for your shields.
Tetryon space weapons have a chance to cause enemy shields to decrease by a certain, fixed amount. I suspect this is the most common weapon type run by players due to its not-too-expensive speccing cost and its better-than-others bonus. Before I switched to Antiproton weapons on my Federation Tactical, I wouldn't be caught flying without my Tetryon cannons equipped.
Well, Captains, we have come to the end of this week's log entry. As you can see, you have a big decision in front of you when deciding between different energy weapon types. While some players love critical severity bonuses, others really enjoy being able to disable enemy shields more quickly -- there is truly something for everybody. For more information, I implore you to take a look at the STO Wiki and its page on the subject. Next week, I am going to be livestreaming STO on Tuesday, October 4th, at 10 p.m. EDT, so tune in to our livestream channel for this special evening edition as we take a look at the F2P test server.
Until next time, let me know what bonuses you prefer by commenting below or sending me an email to email@example.com.
Computer, terminate recording.
Boldly going where no one has gone before, Brandon Felczer transmits Captain's Log through Subspace right to your PADD every Thursday. Join him as he discusses the latest news, gossip, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Hailing frequencies are always open to his bridge through firstname.lastname@example.org.