Star Trek Online — Preview, Part Two
By Cody ‘Neramaar’ Hargreaves
Last time we took a look at all that Star Trek Online had to offer should players choose the Federation faction; which as it turns out, wasn’t really all that much. In short, it appeared as though STO borrowed more than a couple of features from Cryptic other recent addition to the MMO world, Champions Online, and more or less, added a space-combat system taken right out of Pirates of the Burning Sea. It wasn’t overwhelming, to say the least; however rumours had begun to circulate suggesting that hidden beneath the freshly coated layer of development theft that was STO, there lay a feature that would change everything: the Klingon faction. We’re here today to find out whether or not that claim is true.
Klingon: the bullies of Sector Space
In a nutshell, the core innovation to the Klingon federation in STO is the ability to increase your level through player-versus-player (PvP) combat. While the Federation faction is focused mainly on completing quests to gain experience, Klingon players will not only be able to gain experience through killing other Federation and Klingon players, but too, they will be encouraged to do so, as there is limited player-versus-environment (PvE) on offer. From my understanding of the Star Trek universe (which, admittedly, is next to nothing) the Klingon are the baddies, and they enjoy killing. So it makes sense that they would want to fight the Federation, who are opposed to their views; and that exactly what the Klingon faction are designed to do — fly through space and pick fights with the Federation (and other Klingons should they feel the need to teach a smart-mouth who boss).
In terms of rank and advancement, the Klingon faction works in the same way as the Federation. That is, they can both achieve the rank of Admiral, and they can both choose between becoming a Science, Engineering or Tactical officer. They simply… y’know, kill other players instead of completing quests to advance. Awesome. Similarly, the Klingon faction has access to a vast amount of ship upgrades, including the Klingon exclusive ability to cloak their ship; however the ships themselves will be different, much like in the Star Trek movies and TV series, and are awarded to players for achieving a new rank. I can’t name the ships myself, as I’m really not that big on Star Trek (read STO Preview, Part One for my full thoughts on the show, and why Star Wars is cooler), but I’m sure the fans will be able to tell the difference in a heartbeat, and also, I’m sure it’ll be a much appreciated addition to the game.
In terms of PvP variety, the word on the street is that there quite a lot. Players can look forward to participating in a number of different PvP scenarios — the likes of team vs. team, Federation vs. Klingon and Klingon vs. Klingon. More specifically, there are Challenges that allow two teams to fight one another in a private instance created specifically for the battle; Arena maps that serve as random Challenge style team vs. team battles; Scenarios that feature objective-orientated gameplay such as Assault (move your forces from your area to you opponents while killing more enemies than you take casualties) and Area Control (capture points and hold them for the longest period of time); and War Zones that serve as the open-world PvP option, available at specific locations around the galaxy at all times allowing players to jump in at battle whenever they please.
It the little things
Sounds good, right? I agree. My largest complaint regarding STO last week was that the ground quests were, in a word, mundane, and as they were usually placed in the middle of some truly awesome space battles, they felt like a chore. The Klingon faction has removed them from the equation entirely, and left players with a new goal: kill everyone in sight. I like that goal better. But there always a catch, and this rule stands true in STO too. In order to access the Klingon faction, players must first reach a certain point as a Federation character (apparently around the 5-hours of play mark) — after which the Klingon faction will then be made available, and your character will match the rank and skill grade of your federation counterpart. Why? Well, I can’t answer that, though I guess it has something to do with the lack of a tutorial on the Klingon side, and a general desire from the developers to see you suffer before you actually enjoy playing their game.
It all sounds great to me; though one question plagues my mind: will there actually be anyone that has spent more than 5 hours in STO playing a Federation character? Chances are, yes, there will be. Though if I had to guess, I’d say the scales are going to be tipped in the Klingon favour, and I wonder, just how much fun is it going to be when there no one left to kill? Time will tell.