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Star Trek Online expands into the Age Of Discovery and overhauls progression

Hoping for a cameo by Captain Killy

I liked Star Trek: Discovery, and reckon that Mary Wiseman's performance as Sylvia Tilly stole the show so I'm rather chuffed to see that both have been beamed up into Cryptic's free-to-play Star Trek Online. Rolled out yesterday, the Age of Discovery expansion features that slightly gritty Nu-Trek look, a series of new quests to do at the behest of Cadet Tilly (voiced by Wiseman) and some interesting changes to progression. You can even create a Discovery-era captain with a ship to match if you're willing to start fresh. Engage with the launch trailer below and the patch notes here.

On top the new Discovery gubbins, they've overhauled progression, especially for new players. A reworked mission journal puts more focus on what Cryptic reckon are the best quests, several episodes have been made optional and more are being remastered. Also, a pretty big deal: Level gating (outside of a few level checks for "continuity purposes" according to the release notes) is gone in the main story, and stats should scale to whatever you're doing. Those wanting an easier or rougher time can use the difficulty slider, but Star Trek Online was always a pretty casual MMO.

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Vast chunks of Star Trek Online are effectively single-player, but partying up to do explicitly multiplayer missions - now known as Task Force Operations - should be a lot easier now. There's a new Random Task Force queue that should (theoretically) match up players quickly and drop them straight into co-op missions. While you can manually pick from Task Force missions if you like, there's rewards for going the random queue route, which should help encourage players to work together. Perhaps I'll finally get a chance to take on some of those bigger Borg missions now.

While Star Trek Online is showing its age a bit, I reckon the new Discovery content looks especially nice, taking advantage of the engine upgrades the game got when it was ported to consoles. With a new season of Discovery due to start soon, Cryptic have plans to roll out more Discovery-era content over the coming months, and are calling this expansion just part one of a series of Age Of Discovery updates. Between them cleaning up the wonkier older content and keeping up to current-day Trek, STO isn't doing too bad - impressive, considering how wonky it was in 2010.

Star Trek Online is free-to-play, and can be found on its official site, or on Steam here. The game also contains cyborg T-Rexes with lasers, which is nice.

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