Star Trek Online (STO) is Cryptic Studios' MMORPG set in the Star Trek universe. Development of the game began six years before its final release, with original developer Perpetual Entertainment declaring bankruptcy in 2008. In Star Trek Online players can play as a member of the United Federation of Planets or the Klingon Empire. The two factions are close to open war after the collapse of the Khitomer Accords. The player can build his or her character from a range of familiar races such as Humans, Vulcans, Andorians, Ferengi, Bajorans, Klingons, Orions, Gorn or Nausicaans. Alternatively, the player can create their character from the ground up using the game's extensive species creator, customizing everything from eyebrow shape to finger length.
The player travels through space with their own customizable starship, which can be replaced as the player advances in rank with an array of more powerful ships, which branch off into different specialties depending on the player's chosen field of specialization: Engineering, Tactical, or Science. The ships can be upgraded and customized in several ways; both aesthetic and functional.
Missions, both on the ground and in space, reflect the traditional MMO archetypes like search & destroy, escort missions, and item collection that define the genre. STO also attempts to offer a style of "diplomatic" missions, which involve dialogue trees with NPCs and often fetch quests. In general, official Cryptic-produced missions are a blend of these archetypes for variety and length, while player-created Foundry missions may be more focused and shorter.
Cryptic Studios is one of the few MMO developers that encourages and integrates player-created missions into the "regular" game world using their proprietary Foundry toolset. Tens of thousands of player-built missions have been played and vetted by the community, since the toolset was made available in early 2011. While Foundry missions offer a reduced table of player rewards to prevent exploits, in 2012 a feature to "tip" the author of the mission with valuable Dilithium was added. Planned features include the ability to designate mission arcs – akin to the game's official Features Episodes – without having to number and name the missions identically.
- Ground Combat
When fighting on the ground, the game plays as a traditional 3rd person MMORPG. The player has access to a range of different abilities to aid the task. When not in a full party of other players, the player is accompanied by select members of their Away Team, a group of AI-controlled "Bridge Officers" (BOFFs), who serve as something of a combination between party members and customizable combat pets. Their abilities can be chosen to enhance or offset the specific powers a player's captain possesses.
- Space Combat
The space combat is arguably the most unique aspect of Star Trek Online. The player is able to steer his/her ship in 360 degrees, except for an acute limitation on Z-incline. The player manages the ship's power levels to weapons, shields, engines, and auxiliary, which can be buffed and debuffed using items and abilities. Bridge Officers are slotted into predetermined ship "stations" which allow specific configurations of their abilities to be used; e.g. a Science-class vessel will allow more Science officers to use their most powerful abilities.
Major updates to the game are referred to as Seasons and normally consist of a various systems-level changes and new content.
Season 1 - Common Ground
Season 1 introduced expansions to Star Trek Online's PVP with the Wargames mode, allowing Federation players to compete against each other; a new PVP map, "Shanty Town" was also launched.
Character customization was expanded with additional player stances and hait styles; also new "Off-Duty Uniforms", allowing players to wear more casual clothing.
Season 2 - Ancient Enemies
The focus of Season 2 was adding more PVE content. With the level cap raised to 51, a new fifth tier of ships was added to both factions. A new mission chain was added to the end of the game, pitting both factions against the Undine, who had been an occasional threat in the earlier parts of the game. The Klingon faction received a new mission chain featuring the Fek'ihri, Ancient Enemies of the Klingon Empire.
Season also saw the introduction of Feature Episodes and Mini-Games. The Feature Episodes were supposed to be new mission chains that would be added to each week, playable by both factions. Mini-Games were added during scanning for crafting materials, allowing players to get more materials if they succeeded; Dabo, a roulette-style Ferengi game was also added.
Season 3 - Genesis
Season 3 introduced player-generated content (PGC) with The Foundry, a Cryptic toolset that allows players to construct and script missions almost seamlessly within the game world. Cryptic is one of the few MMO developers offering this kind of PGC and it has been represented as one of STO's greatest strengths in player retention and mission variety. The foundry cannot create any new assets, but authors are able to assemble the component parts into unique variations beyond what is seen in many Cryptic-designed maps.
Season 4 - Crossfire
The main addition to Season 4 was a revamped "shooter" ground combat mode, effectively giving the player a choice of standard RPG toolbar controls, or a third-person reticule that can be controlled by the mouse. Far from requiring twitch gameplay, the system uses the reticule to determine the player's target and chance to hit based on the proximity of the crosshair to the character model. There is no limb-specific targeting.
Other improvements included a revamped Klingon home world map "First City" on Qo'nos, Vivox voice chat, and numerous changes to systems and UI.
2011 Holiday Event
The special Holiday Event prior to the Free-to-Play launch introduced a new "Q's Winter Wonderland" area with ice skating, snowball fights, and racing to earn holiday-themed currency to trade for special social items. This also ushered in the era of lockboxes to STO, which offer a mixture of rare and common rewards, the highest of which being a rare starship not otherwise available by any means except on the Energy Credit Exchange (auction house).
The ship available during the event was a Jem'Hadar tactical escort. The primary motivation for including this ship in the lockboxes is that CBS has ultimate control over the canon of Star Trek, and they do not wish the canon to be diminished by having an excess of Starfleet captains flying alien ships. By forcing rarity, Cryptic is able to introduce distinctive ships into the game within the boundaries set by CBS. By using the lockbox model recommended by Perfect World Entertainment, the extra sales generated by purchasing keys for C-Store points has proven lucrative.
Season 5 - Call to Arms
Timed with the launch of Free-to-Play (F2P), Season 5 also introduced the Duty Officer system (adding Commendation XP), expanded Borg content, an adjustment to increase the starting level of the KDF faction, a UI overhaul of how missions are accessed and replayed, a trivia metagame, and the introduction of Dilithium as a non-tradable currency which replaced the previous Marks of Valor and Exploration system. A new Cardassian lockbox was introduced, with the possibility of a non-faction Galor-class cruiser.
The F2P launch included a Features Matrix listing what benefits lifetime and "gold" level subscribers would retain over free "silver" accounts. In general the features favored the dedication lifetime subscribers have for creating foundry content and rerolling additional characters. While a "silver conversion" tool was discussed, in the end this was simplified so that lapsed subscriptions retained all existing gold-tier "perks" which had been unlocked, like expanded inventory and bank slots. This system made the lasting gold-tier benefits appear diminished, as they could all be obtained within a single month's subscription.
Feature Episode: The 2800
Five new missions were added to the DS9/Cardassian arc of the story progression, which naturally occurs between levels 30-40 for Federation characters. This Episode sought to explain canonically what had occurred to the Jem'Hadar attack fleet which did not reach DS9 during the TV series' finale; and justify the abandoned Jem'Hadar ships which had been awarded in lockboxes. The second mission of the arc added a new ground map for Bajor, along with a multitude of ground minigames and combat scenarios. The final mission introduced the long-awaited EV suit, allowing space walks on the new outer-DS9 map, and new dilithium mining asteroid map.
The Cardassian lockbox was retired and the Ferengi lockbox was introduced, with the possibility of a non-faction D'Kora-class cruiser or Ferengi shuttle. Changes to the lockbox rewards were made, creating a new currency: "Lobi Crystals" as a guaranteed reward per box to spend in the new Lobi Crystal Consortium store, selling unique items such as a Ferengi energy whip, and weapons and consoles specifically for the D'Kora. Because Gold Pressed Latinum was already a freely available and farmable currency, Cryptic elected to create a controlled economy.
Season 6 - Under Siege
Season 6 of Star Trek Online featured a number of updates centered around Fleets (Guilds) and with a focus on end-game level 50 content. The update was released on July 12, 2012, after a few weeks of open testing. New currencies were added – adapting the old Marks system – to create Fleet Marks and Fleet Credits. Two higher classes of rarity were added, Ultra-Rare (ultraviolet) for Mark XII Fleet gear, and Unique (gold) for bound items that are unique (1 per) character such as specialty tribbles.
Fleet Starbases were one of the major additions in Season 6. Fleets and their members are able to contribute assets to construction projects that unlock Starbase upgrades, allowing Fleet members to buy rare items and ships, along with having a central hub of activity with features similar to social zones. Also part of the update are 20-player Fleet Events, several 5 player Events including a "No-Win Scenario" horde mode, and new assets for the Foundry.
A new zone was added to the game, the ground map Nukara, seeing the return of a classic Star Trek enemy, the crystalline, never before seen Tholians. The zone takes place on a hostile "Demon Class" planet, requiring players to wear environmental suits or else be incinerated. The Ferengi lockbox was retired, and the Tholian lockbox was introduced, again with player feedback taken into consideration for the rewards. Generally all of the rewards were more desirable and more frequently given, with the grand prize possibility of a non-faction Tholian Orb Weaver ship. The Lobi store inventory was overhauled to add the non-faction Tholian Recluse Carrier, and Widow Fighter, along with Tholian themed gear and consumables.
Season 7 - New Romulus
Season 7 concentrated on continuing the main storyline content, hinting at the plot undercurrent of the Iconian's return. The fourth Borg STF was completed, with a final battle against the Borg Queen. Sector space was expanded with a Tholian and Romulan focus, paving the way for future sector expansions possibly including the Gamma Quadrant. The potential for a level cap increase from 50 to 60 has been brought up by the developers, given the right combination of factors to justify it.
Alongside the settlers of "New Romulus" plotline, new zones were added providing fleets with additional holdings in the form of an Embassy. Missions in these zones offer a new form of currency tokens - Romulan Marks - for the Reputation system, similar to the fleet holdings timed-projects / consuming-resources mechanics. Omega Marks are offered for endgame Borg missions, changing the way that Omega Task Force elite gear is earned and dropped after two years of player complaints that the drop frequency was unreasonably random.
Dominion lockboxes are added with additional Jem'Hadar ships, and Temporal lockboxes introduce 29th century "time ship" designs (including the Wells class seen on TV) for Fed, KDF, and Tholian. The Vesta class line of ships designed by Mark Rademaker was adapted from the Trek novels, and often described internally by the Cryptic team as the "god ship" due to its incredible abilities.
First Expansion - Legacy of Romulus
Launched 21 May 2013, the very first full expansion to STO introduces a third playable Romulan faction storyline, complete with Reman and Alien-gen racial variants, a full line of vessels, and a from-the-ground-up overhaul of the UI. The development time and budget was further used to fill out the long-missing KDF faction content, which had been without a Level 1 tutorial and dozens of early game missions.
Following Cryptic's F2P model, the expansion and all storyline content continues to be free for all players. A Starter Pack ($20) and Legacy Pack ($125) were offered for sale to players interested in collecting a full suite of extras and ships. The prices are set to increase on these packs at the end of May.
Star Trek Online had a rocky development period. Originally the property of Perpetual Entertainment, STO was intended to take place twenty years after the movie Star Trek: Nemesis. Having secured the rights to all of the Star Trek properties, Perpetual was free to do as they wished with Star Trek Online. However, having already placed their other development effort, Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising, on hold, Perpetual officially suspended development of Star Trek Online on January 14, 2008. Since then, Perpetual Entertainment as a whole has closed its doors.
On July 28, 2008 Cryptic Studios officially announced that it had obtained the rights to develop Star Trek Online and had already started development, starting over with their own assets rather than continuing work on the existing Perpetual material. Cryptic took a different approach at the game's mechanics, and chose a different art style than the Perpetual version of the game. The game was officially unveiled on August 10, 2008 with a trailer showcasing both ship and on-foot combat.
A console version was supposedly planned, but it was later canceled. The game's producer Craig Zinkievich stated in an interview that the port was readily doable in terms of technology and that they had it up and running on certain consoles, but stated vague business-related reasons for canceling the port.
On February 2, 2010, Star Trek Online was officially launched to mixed reviews. Since its release, Cryptic Studios has released an event calender detailing upcoming in game events and releases. Among these events are Special Task Force missions, aimed at high-ranked, end-game players, Borg Invasions, which are similar events but open even to lower level players, and Fleet events, intended for members of fleets. They are often Starbase defense missions, where a large number of players are divided into groups with several - often timed - mission objectives that all have to be completed in order to get the best rewards that can be used to upgrade the Fleet's own starbase.
Unlike most MMO development which relies on large studio teams to develop assets and create a systems framework for a new IP, STO's prelaunch team has been reported to be no more than 20 people. The systems were heavily adapted from Champions Online and underwent dramatic changes following launch. STO's launch day coincided with the legal expiry date of the CBS IP license held by Cryptic/Atari. Had the game not gone live, the license to release the game at all would have been terminated.
Since the beta of the game, Executive Producer Craig Zinkievich has released several "State of the Games" that have been fairly open in addressing the STO community's concerns and the advancements of the game. Cryptic also runs regular installments of "Ask Cryptic," a feature designed to give players direct access to the development team and answers to their questions.
In September 2011, the month after Perfect World Entertainment completed its acquisition of Cryptic from Atari, it was announced that Star Trek Online would make the switch to a free-to-play model. Free-to-play began for all users on January 17, 2012.
The game's soundtrack was composed by Kevin Manthei.
The United Federation of Planets
|Human||Earth||Leadership & Teamwork||Full Access|
|Vulcan||Vulcan||Logical & Physical Strength||Full Access|
|Bajoran||Bajor||Creative & Spiritual||Full Access|
|Bolian||Bolarus IX||Corrosive Blood||Full Access|
|Benzite||Benzar||Natural Armor & Natural Immunities||Full Access|
|Betazoid||Betazed||Empathic & Telepathic||Full Access|
|Andorian||Andoria||Acute Senses||Full Access|
|Saurian||Sauria||Circulatory Redundancies & Acute Senses||Full Access|
|Trill (unjoined)||Trill||Hyper Metabolism||Full Access|
|Joined Trill||Trill||Hyper Metabolism & Symbiote||C-store / Steam Bonus|
|Ferengi||Ferenginar||Acute Senses & Natural Immunities||Full Access|
|Tellarite||Tellar Prime||Pig-Headed & Sturdy||Full Access|
|Klingon||Qo'noS||Honorable & Warrior||C-store|
|Caitian||Cait||Feline Instincts & Pounce (optional)||C-store|
|Pakled||Nomadic Species||Dumb Luck||Full Access|
|Rigelian||Rigel V||Spirit Walk||Full Access|
|Liberated Borg||Earth||Borg Nanites & Efficient||Lifetime Subscribers Only|
The Klingon Empire
|Race||Home Planet||Innate Traits||Availability|
|Klingon||Qo'noS||Honorable & Warrior||Full Access|
|Gorn||Cold-Blooded, Reptilian Strength & Resilient||Full Access|
|Orion||Ter'jas Mor||Physical Strength (Male) & Seductive (Female)||Full Access|
|Nausicaan||Nausicaa||Physical Strength & Pirate||Full Access|
|Lethean||Rapture & Telepathic||Full Access|
|Joined Trill||Trill||Hyper Metabolism & Symbiote||C-store|
|Liberated Borg||Qo'noS||Borg Nanites & Efficient||Lifetime Subscribers Only|
|Ferasan||Ferasa||Predatory Instincts, Perception||C-store|
Ship classes in STO are broken down into three primary profession categories and five tiers of power, these correspond to the three character classes and five tiers of level rank. However, the build correspondance is a broad relation, as there is no restriction whatsoever on the roles or types of ships that any captain may command. The use of specific Bridge Officers allows a multitude of ship builds and role specing, without the need to retailor the abilities of the player character.
- Tactical Escort - DPS role (includes the U.S.S. Defiant, Birds of Prey, Raptors, and Nausicaan ships)
- Engineer Cruiser - Tank role (includes the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701 series, KDF Battle Cruisers, and Orion ships)
- Science Exploration - Healing role (includes the U.S.S. Voyager, and Gorn ships)
- Carrier Support - Hybrid support vessels with hanger bays of support craft (includes KDF, Caitian, Orion, and one Federation design)
- Non-faction ships - Special one-off variants flyable by both the FED and KDF factions, which are not plentifully obtainable in game (includes Jem'Hadar, Cardassian, Ferengi, and Freighter-class ships)
The Season 6 update of Fleet Advancement will add 45 new variants of endgame ships, between the Federation and Klingon factions. The system enables Tier 2-4 ships to become "Refits" and "Retrofits" (also known as Tier 5+1) suitable for endgame content at level 50 and beyond.
Cryptic occasionally negotiates with other license holders for alternative ship designs, which are established in Trek novelizations or otherwise outside of the TV/Movie materials. In the case of the Odyssey class Enterprise-F, a community contest was held to establish what would become the CBS recognized canon version of the next Enterprise.
Lockbox and Lobi Store Ships
Notably, CBS - as the owner of the Star Trek IP which STO is based on - has placed particular rules and restrictions on what ships may be made available in-game. They do not wish the original series Constitution-class Enterprise 1701 to be an endgame level ship. They do not wish for historical or non-faction ships to overwhelm the "feeling" of Trek and the 25th century setting of the game. Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment thus drew from the successful model of "lottery boxes" used in Free to Play MMOs in Asia, and has been experimenting with ways to award non-faction ships rarely through chance. By and large these ships are not Bind on Pickup, and have limited availability on the in-game item exchange for a very high premium.
ESRB Rating Summary
Set in the year 2409, this game (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) allows players to assume the role of either a Federation Starship captain or a warrior for the Klingon Empire. Players can select a spaceship, navigate around asteroids and debris, and defend against enemy raids—this space combat represents approximately 50% of the game. The more intense combat takes place on the ground (roughly 35% of gameplay), as players use phaser guns to attack enemies in frenetic firefights: the sound of laser gunfire is prominent; characters stagger back when hit, then lie face down when defeated (though some characters get right back up and others disappear after a short period). The game's "Character Creation" section allows players to customize the appearance of their character; players are able to adjust the bust size of certain female characters to exaggerated proportions. Dialogue/text may also contain mildly suggestive phrases such as "I'll be your guide to . . . pleasures of the body" and "the pleasure goddess of Rixx."
- OS: Windows XP SP2 / Windows Vista / Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit)
- CPU: Intel E8400 Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 5600
- Memory: 2GB RAM
- Video: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 / ATI Radeon HD 3850
- Sound: DirectX 9.0c Compatible Soundcard
- DirectX: Version 9.0c or Higher
- HDD: 8GB Free Disk Space
- Network: Internet Broadband Connection Required
- Disc: 6X DVD-ROM