After the server apocalypse that prevented us from being able to play all evening Wednesday, my better half and I managed to get a nice few hours’ worth of STO open beta fix last night, and I’m here to report our kudos and criticisms for the experience.
First: Cryptic has finally made a Lifetime Sub for STO available. I don’t trust my judgment on these issues, as I previously considered buying the lifetime sub for Hellgate: London (but didn’t, thank goodness), and I did go so far as to purchase the lifetime sub for LOTRO, which has in no way paid for itself given that I don’t really enjoy the game and my better half despises it. We wrestled for a moment with the thought of taking advantage of the deal for STO (financially viable or not – nearly $500 for two gamers is kind of absurd!) but decided against it. We are leaning more towards buying the year’s subscription instead. We hope to still be playing STO in a year’s time, but with the year sub being the equivalent of only 8 months at the $15/mo rate we are comfortable that we won’t be locked in for an absurdly long time should our interest wane in 6 months or something.
People are not happy with the limited character slots that STO is providing (two Federation slots and one Klingon slot, plus another two slots if you take advantage of the exclusive subscription offers), and I’m personally baffled that the slots are going to be so limited as well. On the other hand, speaking for myself, I have little interest in rolling alts right now because the content requires more dedication thus far than other MMOs I have played, and furthermore the customization options and bridge officers are really working hard to quell the need I have to roll up other characters just to see how they’d look. The only thing I feel locked into with STO is my class; I still haven’t decided which I’m going to go with at launch, and that seems like an awfully big decision to not be able to experiment with. It would have been nice if you started as a general-skilled Ensign for the tutorial and first few missions, with all class kits available to you, and then you could choose a specialty a little later.
Second: I would like to register my disappointment in what I understand to be the crafting portion of the game. I could easily be mistaken, but if the material crafting based on collecting anomalies merely consists of handing over materials to an NPC to create an item for you, that sounds almost exactly like Guild Wars. Unlike my view on most features of Guild Wars, I’ve come to quite like crafting in other games and I was hoping to have a little nook on a station somewhere where I could fit together items and invent things. To be fair, I’m not sure how well that kind of thing would fit into the Star Trek universe; sure, Geordi might have jury-rigged a few items in his day, but I wouldn’t say it was a full side profession for him. So I simply note my disappointment and move on.
Third: We got to sample the Genesis System for the first time last night, to mixed results. I’m really unhappy with the inability (bug?) to tackle an anomaly as a group, or to come to my group member’s aid in his own existing mission. Several of the anomalies we investigated spawned bugged missions, usually in the form of directives to locate items that did not seem to exist, or that did not spawn in enough numbers to complete the mission. I would give an arm for the ability to scan a system and have it mark spawn locations on the map for me once I was within a certain range (say 20km) rather than flying up and down the map hoping to glimpse something I might need.
I had one combat mission, one bugged exploration mission, and two successful exploration missions, so it would seem the Genesis system is the way to go if you want to get away from the patrol and combat missions. My better half had less luck, with one successful and one bugged exploration mission, three trading missions that he could not complete for lack of resources, and one combat mission. There were some lovely scenes in those systems, though, and plenty of opportunities for me to just pause and take screenshots of every square inch of my surroundings. (Pro-tip: you can only pause for 45 seconds at any given time while in a ground map, but the pause timer regenerates when not in use.)
Now I have to choose my next course of action for our upcoming weekend gaming marathon. The gamer in me wants to avoid the Genesis system now, because I didn’t sign up with my partner only to play this game together alone, and because the bugs made the overall experience pretty frustrating. The beta tester in me wants to spend more time with Genesis in order to provide bug reports and feedback so that we can get to the point that we do want to play around with it more. I regret that I was not as rigorous in bug-reporting as I could have been last night, since at first I wasn’t even sure what to expect or how things were supposed to work. I hope to have some good feedback for the Cryptic team this weekend.
All bugs and issues aside, we still ended up gaming longer than we’d planned last night, under the guise of “I just want to finish this one thing/I just want to try this other thing….” so I feel the game must be doing something right.