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Choose My Adventure: Star Trek Online 2 - The Wrath of Escorts

Eliot Lefebvre

Captain's log, Stardate 86215.3. During a mission of exploration in the Regulus Sector, the USS Zhuong Zhou once again encountered the Borg. While the ship was successful in preventing a large-scale Borg assault, we were forced to evacuate to avoid an imminent warp core breach. No hands were lost, which was sufficient for Starfleet to grant me a full command aboard the USS Xiang Yu.

For our first mission, the ship has been dispatched to the Regulus Sector in the hopes of facilitating long-term peace negotiations with factions of the Klingon Empire. The ship's array of powerful phaser cannon and high-yield plasma torpedoes serve as a testament to the fact that the Federation is aware of many different definitions of "negotiate." We are currently en route to the Arucanis Arm nebula to help defend colonists from raids by Orion pirates, and I have instructed my first officer to be prepared to use both tact and diplomacy in this situation.

My chief tactical officer has nicknamed the two cannon arrays "tact" and "diplomacy."

That moment when you realize that environmental suits are not standard equipment on UFP ships.Last week's Star Trek Online vote was neck-and-neck for quite a while, but Escorts finally edged out Cruisers as the choice for my new ship class. Far less contentious was the selection of having all of my officers based upon characters from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which meant buying a few new bridge officers to finish my creation of the Mane Six.

I'm especially fond of Twilight and Rainbow.

Leaving aside discussions about diminutive horses that are apparently of interest to many of you, let's talk about Escorts. On the Federation side, there are three basic ship classes. You've got your Science Vessels, which are all about healing and debuffing and turning endless reams of technobabble into a workable tactic. You've got Cruisers, which are enormous ships that make slow turns and generally outlast everything.

And then you've got Escorts, which slap on some heavy cannon and pound things into dust. The Defiant was an Escort, for example. These are not ships that outlast an opponent or manage to cripple the opponent with tachyon pulses; these are ships that cripple the opponent by virtue of blowing a hole in the opponent's hull. They turn on a dime, unleash high-powered cannon blasts, and generally cause mayhem.

My previous character was an Engineering captain in an Escort, which meant that she was captaining some tough little ships with a lot of firepower. River doesn't make the ship any tougher, but she makes it a good deal more dangerous. A hard turn to port brings me about almost instantly after I've slapped on a buff or two, allowing me to circle around to the aft of my target and then unleash my weaponry on its shields while it struggles to get me into any of its firing arcs. It's great fun.

BRINGING SEXY BACKLess fun has been ground combat, which is a fair bit wonkier than I remember even now. It's very prone to wild swings, mainly, and as a Tactical captain, River isn't particularly durable. Unlike most games that allow you to have NPC companions, STO offers no real way to set one of your officers up as a tank, which means that I have to adopt a sort of odd strategy to work my way through more difficult ground fights. It's definitely the letdown of the game so far.

Progressing through the game's missions thus far is... well, it's all right. It's not lighting me on fire, as the story elements mostly seem to be cobbling together the greatest hits of other Star Trek stories. Here are some Klingon episodes, here's Miral Paris, here are Romulans, here are Borg, here's an exploration mission, and so forth. The age of the quests shows here as they become a very routine back-and-forth -- clear out enemies in space, go down to the ground for a while, fight something more in space. They're fun because of the mechanics but not terribly innovative.

But there are other things to do in my spare time. Like mining dilithium!

I adore gathering minigames, and so when I found out this existed, I plotted a course to start mining as fast as my ship's engines would carry me. The minigame is fairly simple but lucrative; a quick hand turning the crosshairs can really rake in the ore. The only downside is the plodding speed with which you navigate the asteroid surface to the next deposit. I can understand some players hating it, but for me it's absolutely perfect.

The Duty Officer system is also mine to play with, and I can't help but find it just a wee bit obnoxious in parts, mostly because getting more duty officers is more problematic than it should be. The actual minigame is mildly amusing, although it quickly becomes an exercise in trying to find space for things that should be pitifully easy. That having been said, it gets you a little more invested in the game and gives you another aspect of play to consider.

I'd love it if there were more alternatives to buying Duty Officer packs in the store, though. That perturbs me.

Still, despite that, I'm having fun. A lot of fun, in fact; I'm reminded of all the things I liked about the game when I started playing it in the first place. Tipping over into the next tier of veteran rewards was a nice little perk, to boot; I had been sitting at 192 days subscribed when I finally stopped, and now I get a charming new outfit piece. Swanky!

If I'm doing my job, it should be obvious who's who.
This week's polls concern the player-generated content of the Foundry. Obviously I could keep going ahead with my existing work in the main story, but there's a whole lot of nifty player-generated content out there, and I'm curious as to whether I should deviate from the regular pace of things and start checking that out. Or perhaps you also want me to re-learn how to play someone at the higher levels. That's always an option.
Eliot Lefebvre has been choosing his own adventures for several months, but now it's time for him to head back to the front lines of Choose My Adventure, the Massively column where you make the choices about what our writer will be doing each week. Come back each Wednesday for a new installment and a new set of choices!

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