Star Trek Online Previews

Three more previews of Cryptic's Star Trek Online are now available, all of which are based on the game's showing at last weekend's Penny Arcade Expo.

We'll start things off at Big Download:
Our character had four AI driven away team members as we beamed down to the Klingon base to capture it. The Klingons, naturally, were not happy to see us. We could target individual Klingons and then fire our phaser rifle in several different modes (beam, sniper, and more). After two waves of Klingons, we managed to take over their base only to discover that the Klingons had other plans.

They were heading to the planet that contains The Guardian of Forever, the time travel being-thingie at the center of the classic Trek episode The City on the Edge of Forever. Our final mission had us travel to that planet, take out even more Klingons and then speak to the Guardian itself (no we don't know where Harlan Ellison or Joan Collins were at the time).

Then move to Ten Ton Hammer:
Rather than having a single, massive hotbar stuffed full of skills, the available options in combat were neatly fit into a number of separate UI elements that when taken as a whole, give players a more interesting set of options on how they want to approach combat. For example, I could manually manage how much energy went to my shields on a given side by tapping the corresponding arrow key on my keyboard, while at the same time wearing down my opponents shields with a series of quick shots that would then allow me to unleash some more damaging torpedo attacks. Meanwhile, each of my bridge officers also had certain abilities that could contribute to combat in a specific way, such as being able to fire off a volley of attacks or boosting the overall maneuverability of my ship for short bursts which would allow me to get into a more tactical position. Some standardized energy layouts were also just a click away, so for example while approaching my targets I could shift power over to my engines, but then once I closed into firing range it was another quick click to divert power over to my shields.

Before concluding at G4:
The demo shown on the floor today demonstrated the new Episode style quest structure. In an episode there will be multiple acts followed by a finale which Cryptic stated would take approximately 45 minutes to complete. Comparative to a long quest chain in other MMOs, this one started in space where I dropped my ship in the mix of three Klingons looking to char my tail. Users will have quite a bit of strategies to enter into a battle tweaking shields to maximize beam weapons, or alternating which officers are seated on deck, which will differentiate buffs or weapons at your disposal. Since these space vessels are rather large combat wasn't as fast paced as something like X-Wing or Wing Commander but it was still exciting to blast apart some pesky Klingons. Plus when you take out a ship and their warp cores breach, the effect acts like an AOE attack and can affect other enemies nearby.