Yup, another Star Trek Online blog. A bit dull. I was going to do a Referendum one, but it ended up drafted and redrafted so much it eventually didn’t seem worth it. Maybe I’ll work on a Doctor Who/Capaldi one instead.
Anyway, Star Trek Online has announced it’s second expansion with Delta Rising coming out in October. No new faction this time, but a raft of new gameplay for level 50 players, opening up the chance to level up to 60 and Fleet Admiral. However the controversy has come with the announcement of tier 6 ships.
Now I’ve got no issue with things moving forward and tier 6 being brought on. Tier 5 has been the top level for years now so progression is probably over due. However the ships and the mechanics have been mired in controversy. Thanks largely to the fact that players have invested real money (and a not inconsiderable amount) in their tier 5 ships. If you’re lucky you’ve managed to get one in a giveaway (for example the recent Ambassador class), however for the most part, end game Defiants, Regents, Excelsiors and Odysseys cost money. You can be looking at £25 for a ship. If you’ve gone for one of the 3 packs then it’s a good bit more. The idea that this is now obsolete stings a lot of players.
To address this the devs have said two things. Tier 5 ships are still going to be viable in Delta Rising. You’ll miss out on some of the new mechanics, elite endgame content will probably be too difficult and it’ll be outclassed by the newer ships but you’ll get to keep playing your favourite ship. However there’s also going to be an upgrade path available for a small, yet to be announced, charge. Again you’ll still be outclassed by the pure tier 6 ships and miss out on some new mechanics, but you get to be more competitive in your favourite ship. And if you’re really lucky you’re flying a ship that qualifies for free upgrade. Brilliant.
There is an ongoing controversy however regarding Tier 5 Upgrade ships and Tier 6 ships though, with many feeling that the Upgrade isn’t really sufficient and the tier 6 ships are still going to wildly outclass the upgrades. It can be argued that as a business though, this makes sense. Cryptic ultimately want you to invest in tier 6 ships as they’ll be better, but more importantly, more expensive. However if they can also get you to pay to upgrade your older ships so you can keep playing them, all the better.
The big controversy came with the first announced tier 6 ships. The Intelligence ships. Not so much the Klingon and Romulan ones though. The Federation Intelligence ships however represented quite a different design asthetic.
Ok, they’re not as bad as the Dyson ship. But as the first to be announced tier 6 ships, a lot of people (myself included) were left wondering what Cryptic were doing. When you think of Federation ships, there’s a very specific look comes to mind, and these ships didn’t really hit it. To be fair though, I think the big mistake was in announcing these ships first.
At the top of this article is a screenshot to the later-announced Guardian class tier 6 ship. A much more traditional, Federation ship. Also clearly taking design elements from the Odyssey class which I really like. I suspect a big worry in the fanbase was that tier 6 meant doing away with the traditional Federation look. I have to wonder if the Guardian class was seen first, and then the Intelligence line of ships announced, what the reaction would’ve been. The Intelligence ships aren’t meant to be Starfleet’s latest line of Cruisers, Escorts and Science ships. They’re the stealth bombers, the submarines. A completely different design philosophy and I get that. I just wish the way tier 6 had been introduced had made this clearer as a lot of people were left assuming they’d be sticking with upgrades and being less effective at end game.
With the dust having now had time to settle, I must admit I do like the look of the Guardian cruiser. I might also be intrigued to pick up the Eclipse class cruiser as well to check out the Intelligence game mechanics. I do find it interesting that a latest dev blog promised customisable parts for the Intelligence ships as well as a more traditional looking skin. I have to wonder if that was always the intention, or if initial reaction to the new ships forced them to try and change direction a bit.