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And Now For Something Completely Different II: Star Trek: Online Beta.

Well, I’ve been playing the Star Trek: Online beta for about a week. Yes, the mental image of a death knight, crouched over her gnomish steampunk computing device, beta-testing the Star Trek MMO is a difficult one, but bear with me.

First – well, zeroth I guess is the fact that I really didn’t think a STO beta key was a big deal. I was emailed one some time ago and put off starting it because I thought it was a scam. One wonders if my recent experiences with the Champions MMO have anything to do with it.

Anyway, I finally took the plunge and started up a Vulcan, T’Ponne. I accepted the defaults, or randomized. I hit the randomize for my avatar – and discovered that while she’s reasonably cute, again I’m saddled with unbelievably huge breasts. Also “tactical officer” apparently means “red shirt”. I have a bad feeling about this.

Taking my new enormous breasts, I started the tutorial quest chain, which had me assuming command of a light cruiser – the USS Magellan. Interestingly enough, this is my favorite class of ship in the Star Trek universe. Although in prior Star Trek-based games, it wasn’t quite so fragile.

Nevertheless, by the time the tutorial was done, I’m bouncing around Spacedock One at Sol as a newly-minted Starfleed command officer and ship captain. Yes, they start you out as a ship captain.

The skills system, which I do not yet understand, will eventually determine if you go towards science and medical vessels or combat cruisers. Either way, there’s a mix of exploration, diplomacy, and combat missions available.

I both like and dislike the customization. Like, because I can get my ship with the look and weapons and equipment mix that I want. Dislike because the standard issue equipment is so weak, components are so expensive, and obtaining and equipping them is so non-intuitive. I have eventually managed – after accidentally selling off what turned out to be a huge weapon upgrade! – to reconfigure my ship with a forward phaser bank, torpedo launcher, and an aft mine dropper for my new strategy which I call “running away like I stole something”.

I’m less of a fan of the away missions. So far, although I have my bridge crew and security with me, I tend to get shellacked on a despairingly regular basis. Part is trying to keep my abilities and those of my away team straight while setting up flanking shots, trying to take cover, trying to avoid flanking…ehh, give me a nice, understandable Ulduar raid any day. I wonder if this is what the raid leader feels like All. The. Time.

In short, although I think some of the programmers at Cryptic have bottle-feeding issues, I rather like ST:O. I’m not quitting WoW for it any time soon but if I had the time and money for a second MMO, it would be this one. Particularly if I figure out away team command and leveling builds. But, just for the space combat alone, which is like a streamlined, comprehensible, and fun version of Starfleet Command, it’s worth it.

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