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Choose My Adventure: Star Trek Online VI - The Rediscovered Country

Eliot Lefebvre

Captain's Log, Stardate 86291.3. My hearing with Starfleet Command resulted in a promotion to Commander, command of a new ship, and full command of the USS Xiang Yu pending the new ship's completion. It also resulted in a trip to the infirmary after I passed out in shock.

After the Xiang Yu's several military deployments, my new mission aboard the ship is much simpler. Despite Starfleet's growing data about the Gamma and Delta quadrants, there remain large stretches of the Alpha Quadrant yet unexplored. My crew will be seeking out intelligent life within these areas of space, seeking to establish peaceful relationships and expand the Federation.

It's been only a short time since I was first placed in temporary command, but it seems to have stuck. Our ship's cannons are ready, our scanners have been upgraded, and our expanded crew roster is acclimating.

There's an entire galaxy to explore out there. I look forward to going where no one has gone before.

I feel a stirring at the sight of the new Enterprise.  That's a good thing, I hope.My time with Star Trek Online is over once again. After six weeks in the game, I've cancelled my subscription, leaving me with a couple more weeks until it runs out. Not that it stops me from playing the game once that runs out, but I usually subscribe if I'm going to be an active player.

This is not uncommon, really; my previous three rounds on Choose My Adventure ended with my leaving the game. But the circumstances are different with this game, not just because I'd played Star Trek Online before but because this isn't something I'm leaving with a sense of relief. This is a game I'm leaving because there are only so many hours in the day, and I can't devote enough of those to the game.

STO has flaws, but one of them is that it's a very greedy game. There's a lot of stuff you can do on a single captain, and the game kind of expects you to be building up rosters and doing dailies and advancing stories with that captain. Playing alts exacerbates that time investment. There's a lot to do and only so many hours in a day to do all of it. Either you skimp on something and you wind up falling behind, or you do everything and devote most of your free time to the game.

It also falls prey to the same ailment that Champions Online has in the form of too many systems for too few things. Your captain and your bridge officers add abilities to your ship, and on some ships your consoles also add new tricks. You have to worry about keeping up with new kits for abilities, new weapons for abilities, and new levels for abilities. And everything ties into the skill system, which has become much better as a result of changes, but it's still kind of messy. The whole thing is more complicated than it needs to be.

But none of that matters on some level because it lets you be the captain of a Federation starship.

For all of the flaws the game has, it does a really good job of delivering on the central premise of putting you on the bridge and letting you take command. You can debate the fine points of what the game does right and wrong for all eternity, but none of that changes the central fact that it gives you the keys to one of the ships that you have likely been pining after since you were old enough to conceive of being the head of your own crew.

I still remember the episodes based around the Entity as being big events for me when I first saw them.Most of its missteps, I'd argue, come when it tries to sync up too closely with the source material -- places where the game could comfortably head down its own path and trust players to fill in the more Star Trek-related blanks. Telling a story via MMOs is a difficult effort, but STO follows the worst possible iteration of that concept. There's a reason most roleplaying I've had within the game's context has outright ignored that aspect altogether.

And the game has improved significantly since launch. Crafting is still messy, but it's better than it was. Skills are still an added layer of complication, but they're into the realm of "well, this is a bit fiddly" rather than "I have no idea what any of these things do." Duty Officers give you a reason to futz around inside your ship a bit more. They're little touches, and they don't cure everything, but the game feels better now than it did when I first played. Heck, it no longer feels as if you're tied into forever playing one sort of ship from start to finish.

I'm not going to keep going mostly because as I mentioned, it's a greedy game. There just isn't enough time in a day for me to give it the attention it asks for, which sounds disturbingly close to saying that I can't take care of a puppy, but there you go. I can't commit to the game without sacrificing other games I like more, and long-time readers know how I feel about commitment.

Yet I'll still look at it with fondness. There's a genuine love in there, a sense of wonder that you can't get anywhere else. There's something uniquely right about it. If you've never played the game but you have a vested interest in boldly going where no one has gone before, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. For all its flaws, it remains a good game.

Next week, MJ once more takes control of the column. I hope you enjoy her adventures; I always do. Will you ever see me again? Odds are good.

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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