The first ever expansion to Star Trek Online will be released this week, and I’ve been fortunate to play through some of it during the beta stages. Introducing the Romulans as a third playable faction, the expansion gives us the backstory to the new Romulan Republic introduced during the New Romulus launch, as well as filling in some of the content gaps for the Klingons.
I admit, I was being strict with myself. Not wanting to spoil the experience for the live release, I only played through the first 10 levels of the new Romulan campaign, which roughly equates to the first story arc. The Klingon content wasn’t available when I played, although I believe later beta weekends let players play the new tutorial and missions through the first 20 levels.
What I can say about what I played, is this is something really special. The standard of the Romulan missions is up there with the best of the featured series, possibly even better. The opening tutorial levels set things up well, as the peace of the colony your character is enjoying is shattered, leading you to join up with D’Tan’s Romulan Republic against Sela’s Romulan Empire and Tal’Shiar and their new allies.
Once new mechanic I particularly liked was the way your first bridge officers are woven into the storyline to give them characters. Previously you would get a couple of free bridge officers, but it was on the player to define their backstory and characters, if any, as they were basically random red shirts you grabbed as an away team. This idea, that they’re introduced as part of the story is something I really liked, adding a bit more depth to your crew.
There has been some complaints about the implementation of the faction, relying as it does on an alliance to either the Federation or Klingon Empire you choose at the conclusion of the first story arc. Currently there are no plans for Romulan fleets or fleet starbases, but for now I’m ok with this, as it adds to the idea that these are survivors trying to build up their faction, and focusing on the new colony, rather than something fully formed. It is something I would like to see added at somepoint, but for now, I’m more interested in the new story content being added to the game. Something that’s been in short supply over the last year or so, although I have enjoyed all the repeatable content added to end game.
Of course, I also love the fact your first ship is the classic Trek Romulan bird of prey. I’m not sure about a lot of the other new warbird designs, but I’m intrigued to see how they look in game. I’ve also picked up the starter pack. I really can’t afford the full Legacy pack, and will probably pick and choose a ship or two from the C-Store, by the $20 starter pack appealed to me with its ships, which very much look like an update of the classic design.
I’m very excited about this upcoming release. As a player, who more often than not, ends up playing the game solo, new storyline content for me is king over most other types of content. So this release seems perfect for me. The fact that time and effort seems to have been put in to make the experience even more immersive than the other campaigns is something I really appreciate, and its nice to see the various technologies that’ve been developed over the last three years (such as cutscenes and voice overs), have been included to make the Romulan missions some of the best in the game.
Really, the only problem I could see is that its going to make the Federation feel like second-best for a change…