Star Trek Online Previews

A couple more previews of Cryptic Studios' Star Trek Online have surfaced, both of which are based on firsthand time with the sci-fi MMORPG's ongoing beta test.

Playing through the early stages on the beta, you're confronted with a game that's being assembled, almost before your eyes, out of multiple discrete parts - like a flat-pack MMO. Star Trek Online is essentially a series of short bursts of instanced action - either ship combat, or planet-side runabouts with the away team - hung on a framework of massively-multiplayer socialisation and novel, flexible RPG progression. It's a little rough, surprisingly simple, immediate and accessible - and it hangs together surprisingly well, despite having so many disjointed one-click jumps between starbases, sector space, space combat and beam-me-down rucks.

Character creation is more straightforward than Champions'. You can knock together an archetype for your Federation officer very simply and quickly, choosing from most of the famous (and some not-so-famous) Star Trek humanoid races. Inveterate slider-tweakers will enjoy creating their own race though, with Cryptic's peerless experience in character customisation allowing you to conjure up all kinds of unique, yet somehow inimitably Trek, blue-skinned and ridge-browed freaks. Otherwise, it's a simple matter of choosing your career specialisation: science, engineering and tactical.

And then GameZone gives us a two-parter here and here:
Skills can be upgraded and even the 'ňúpets' officers that are chosen as staff and are controllable by the player can have skills upgraded to form a better team fit.

In ship combat, there are torpedoes and the phaser array. To begin with, the items on the player character and the ship are standard, but as the journey begins through the game, there is the chance to find better gear through drops or through the exchange. Everything is stat rated, and it is relatively easy to compare stats to outfit both the character and ship for maximum performance. When it comes to the ground missions, players have weapons, can crouch to do bigger damage and have a knock-back attack capability. But whether ground or spaceship combat, there is a flow that is consistent. Ships have shields fore, aft, port and starboard. Characters have personal shields. In combat the shields are whittled away first and then the actual damage begins. Ships explode or characters drop down dead. The player character, of course, never actually dies; he or she is incapacitated.