Star Trek Online boldly goes back to Deep Space Nine

Featuring C-3PO and Maz Kanata

Well, there’s one way to remind me that I’m getting older: tell me that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is 25 years old. Despite also being 8 years old, Free-to-play MMO Star Trek Online is still looking pretty good, all things considered. The TV show’s anniversary today marks the launch of its first major expansion in some time, delivered as a free update. Victory Is Life brings us back to Deep Space Nine, and beyond the wormhole into the Gamma Quadrant in a new story arc featuring a bunch of the original DS9 cast.

I’m honestly happy to see the game still alive and kicking, especially after a wonky launch and an awkward transition to a free-to-play business model. While the pleasingly authentic-feeling space combat hasn’t changed much since launch, the on-foot combat engine got a major overhaul some time ago, replacing it with a Mass Effect Lite kinda deal. Still a little clunky, but a much better fit considering the setting.

While the Deep Space Nine station itself (given a fresh lick of paint in this expansion) has been in the game for yonks now, this marks the first time players have been able to travel beyond it into the Gamma Quadrant. The Dominion are under attack by the insectoid Hur’q, so players from all factions will be called to hotspots and planets under attack to squish some bugs as they explore the new region.

Victory is Life’s biggest feature is a whole new player faction, former expendable baddies; the Jem’Hadar. They start out at level 60, and while they do have their own faction story arc centred around the new Gamma Quadrant conflict, they eventually unlock access to most of the other stories in the universe. Playable Cardassians are also available for both Starfleet and Klingon factions, but are a paid, mostly cosmetic item.

For the first time in a while, the level cap has risen from 60, too. Over the course of playing missions in the Gamma Quadrant, you’ll get a token for a free Tier 5 starship, a new space combat ability based on your profession, and at the new cap of 65 you can just call up humble tailor Garak and his personal warship for help on Admiralty Assignments. There’s no new ship tiers, so just by levelling, you’ll get to fly with the big kids.

Star Trek Online is free to play and can be found on Arc Games and Steam. The Victory is Life expansion is out now, and you can see the full patch notes here.

 

14 Comments

  1. causticnl says:

    cant believe they missed Sheridan/Ivanova in this update.

  2. Evan_ says:

    Somehow it’s the only WoW clone I managed to play for more than a few hours (WoW included).

    Maybe for in a few afternoons I was having a Bird of Prey fully crewed by sexy Orion chicks in dire need of more clothes, and I was popping expensive Federation saucers as an F2P player.

  3. pookie191 says:

    I hate MMO’s but this one I’ve played for years and the only one I have invested money in.. great fun and it is amazing having almost the entire cast of DS9 back :D

  4. Jonfon says:

    Just finished playing through the new story arc and its really good. Bit fanservicey but when you have Garak back still being Garak and the brilliance of Quarks Lucky Seven its well worth it (especially since its mostly free despite the horrible but ignorable lockboxes).

    Its pretty much more DS9. Who can argue with that?

    • Vandelay says:

      “Bit fanservicey” could be Star Trek Online’s subtitle. It barely spends more than 5 seconds without making somekind of callback to an episode. Not that I can complain too much about that; it is part of the charm.

      My main takeaway from ST:O though is that we could really do with a proper single player Star Trek RPG. Although this is fun at times, it is still a MMO through and through, with gameplay that always returns to combat and not much else.

      Even a phasers-and-conversations game in the mould of Mass Effect would be pretty great and seems so obvious that it is bizarre no one has made it.

      • brucethemoose says:

        Isn’t Star Trek still a licensing minefield?

        Single player RPGs aren’t en vogue anymore either. I can’t even imagine trying to justify an enormous licensing fee for an old IP (Discovery and the movies aren’t super popular) for a single player RPG to a AAA dev.

        • Vandelay says:

          I’m not surprised no one is doing it now; Trek games have completely dried up in the past decade and, as you say, current big and small screen entries to the franchise have done okay, but not spectacular. Still, back when Trek games were practically an annual affair it seems like it would have been a logical genre to try.

          It does require effort to make a RPG though, so that likely put them off to the alternative of making something generic with a Star Trek skin over the top, particularly during the Activision era of games. It is a real shame that us Trekkies didn’t get games with the love put into them Star Wars got.

  5. Don Reba says:

    While the Deep Space Nine station itself (given a fresh lick of paint in this expansion) has been in the game for yonks now…

    How did I not know this existed??

  6. airmikee99 says:

    My only complaint about ‘Victory is Life’ is that’s way, way, way too easy to level up to 65, almost to the point of trivializing the process. Completing one day’s worth of Admiralty and Duty Officer missions got me to 65 on one character, and two days worth of said missions got the rest of my toons to max level. Even WoW didn’t make it this easy to level alts to max.

    • Sly-Lupin says:

      Really? I gave up on STO a long time ago because I only really cared about the story content, and found the combat grindy as hell. If it’s less tedious, that’s a major boon in my book. Especially w/ the F2P model, there’s no need to so blatantly waste players’ time w/ busywork.

      • airmikee99 says:

        I quit the game a few years ago, around the Delta Rising expansion, because there were just so many bugs that made the game unenjoyable. I returned a few months ago just on a whim and found a vastly improved game, both in terms of bugs fixed and overall gameplay improvements.

        Leveling is a breeze, rewards from story missions make it possible for new players to get decent gear without having to rush to grind reputation to survive. Ground combat used to be a cumbersome nightmare, and while it’s still not great, it’s much better than it used to be. And dilithium is as easy as candy to obtain, making the Zen grind seem less like an unpaid job.

        And they’ve been doing so much to provide more story to some of the great Star Trek mysteries, like the Iconians that used to dominate the galaxy, and the Hur’q that stole the Sword of Kahless from the Klingons.

        For most of STO’s existence I’ve said it should be called Starship Troopers Online because you end up fighting so many bugs. It’s only now that I’d recommend it to everyone, not just diehard Trek fans.

    • Jonfon says:

      Yep. I was surprised by this too. Apparently in the Delta Rising release the opposite was true, there wasnt enough content to support the level increase and people were forced to grind the same 3/4 terrible patrol missions. So they’ve swung the other way.

      Im still working on the Specialization trees for my character (additional trees which kick in at 50) so its not a massive deal for me.

      The only bad side to it for me was that the new skill the additional levels unlocked is utter pants. Like “why did you bother” levels of uselessness.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      That seems par for the course for modern MMOs, really. It turns out that the actual process of levelling up is something very few people enjoy, so the quicker and more painlessly it happens, the better.

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