STAR TREK ONLINE Now Free-to-Play on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 Consoles

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by George Daley, Jr.

I haven’t played Star Trek Online in several years now, not because I’m not a fan of Trek, or certainly the idea of Trek as an MMO. Indeed, if there were any franchises out there that were ripe to make the leap into the MMO space, it’d be Star Trek.

With some five decades of lore to draw from it’s already a galactic sandbox of sorts that begs to be explored. The reason I quit playing was simply because I’ve been a console gamer for as long as I’ve been a gamer.

I find playing anything other than strategy games (ideally, turn-based) on a PC awkward and counter-intuitive, so I was excited at the prospect of picking it up again with the announcement that Star Trek Online was going to make the leap to the console space. I can say, after being privileged to take the closed beta for a spin these past few days, I’m looking forward to playing much more this fall.

sto1

There are, of course, some differences between the console version and the PC version. There are no “maximum settings” to be selected when it comes to a console, of course, so Cryptic has to find a balance that builds a universe that runs smoothly while not being such a step down from what’s possible on PC that it feels inferior, and I think they found that balance well. When in space and not, textures look a little extra smooth and lacking in fine detail, such as with asteroids and ship interiors, but that was somewhere I expected graphical sacrifices to be made.

Overall, everything looks like it should and the environments capture the feel of Star Trek. In fact, my first ship, a Miranda-class I chose to name the USS Franklin – in honor or the latest film – has a larger than life feel that the series have never matched. Where it seemed like, in the series, crew could barely walk two abreast sometimes, the game corridors have a sense that you could drive your car through them and the bridge of a starship has the size and grandeur that I, as a fan, always thought it should. Maybe it’s a little too big, all things considered, but it does help give the player the sense that they are but a small part of a big universe. So, in that sense, it very much works.

Pauses to load new environments happen when you’d expect it to and load times aren’t oppressive. Occasionally, textures can take a moment to load, but, for the most part, things run smoothly. That said, did encounter a time in one of my early tutorial missions that pits your ship against the Borg where I lost all control of the ship. I literally couldn’t move or fire weapons, which left me to be pummeled by the Borg ship until I quit and reloaded.

sto2

I didn’t get any error messages to point to and no other symptoms beyond the fact that nothing worked even though my controller didn’t lose contact with the console. Fortunately, the game tracks progress well and I didn’t lose any. If I had lost progress or it happened frequently, both would be marks against the game, but I didn’t lose my way and I try to be tolerant of beta runs.

The other problem Cryptic faced when adapting the game to console is how to manage the control schemes from a keyboard, where you have almost infinite options when it comes to slaving complex functions to keys, to a console controller with far more limited options. Their answer is wheels. Wheels everywhere; wheels to select both equipment and abilities, and they work effectively. I could cycle through all my options with a button press and a flick of the controller stick.

A keyboard is still faster, but this game isn’t so fast-paced that you’re ever in danger of your character or ship dying because of the difference. Inventory management and equipping the right tool for the right job is definitely as easy as it should be. Star Trek Online, unlike some other games, seems to make sure you have no shortage of space.

When playing, your ship – depending on its class – and the consoles (internal mods) installed, it carries with it special abilities like channeling emergency power to shields or a tachyon beam that eats at an enemy’s shields. These abilities are enhanced by officers at the helm when you have put skill points into those officer’s abilities. Press their corresponding button, skim the wheel to the desired effect and it happens. These abilities change-up the battle or mission considerably, so there’s always a reason to take a moment to think of who might offer the best advantages in any given situation.

sto4

A console feels more intuitive to me simply because that’s how I’ve gamed, so I took to the Star Trek Online experience pretty quickly, and Cryptic does a good job of hand-holding you through the first missions. I expect there will be a bit of an adjustment if you’ve played this on PC and are making the transition, but, by the time you’re more on your own, you’ll be an old hand at the new controls.

At the end of the day, I can say that this is still Star Trek Online. Features aren’t pared down and hasn’t been ‘dumbed down’ for console play. I quite enjoy space battles on my large living room as opposed to a smaller screen. As for the play itself, after a ‘graduation day’ tutorial, you’re assigned to your first ship. Rushing to a distress call leads to a Klingon ambush – and once you repel the boarders, a twist of fate leaves you ship’s captain.

No time to rest or celebrate though, as you are immediately thrust into a quest with the other Federation ships in the area to battle the Borg to save a nearby colony. You fight your way through to the planet, and then work to save the colonists. The paths are pretty linear and there’s no being left to wonder where to go or what to do, which I appreciate. Nothing kills a play experience faster for me than to be left aimless.

Saving what colonists you can puts you back on your ship, as you’re left on your own to fight off another wave of Borg vessels before the Federation ships you left behind return to lend a hand. From there, it’s back to Earth and your starbase hub that has everything from patrol and item recovery missions for additional rewards, to places to be social. I didn’t get into the social aspects so much, as I consider myself a solitary gamer, and, in this case, I simply wanted to focus om looking at the core mechanics.

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I was very likely to dive in when the console version was first announced, and, after some days with it, it’s now a must gaming experience for my fall and winter. The missions feel episodic, and I feel connected to my crew due to pretty good voice acting, though I have yet to encounter a Vulcan that doesn’t sound robotic.

I’ll have years worth of content to explore with the console expansion for Star Trek Online, minor quibbles aside, with it now free-to-play and easy to pick up for hours at a time – I look forward to boldly going.

  • eatrains

    They got rid of Mac support, so certainly not going to bother with it on consoles. Who can trust this company?

    • prometheus59650

      Since it’s free…(shrug)

      • Fctiger

        This. The whining on the internet never cease to amaze me. Its a free game, if you want to add on you can but you dont have to and get a few hours of enjoyment out of it.

    • Tzadik

      I’m a (former) Mac player of STO, but comparing the two is unfair. Gaming support for a Mac is completely different than gaming support for consoles.

      Cryptic never bothered to invest in NATIVE Mac support, and that is why the Mac version failed. It used bad technology (Cider) from a third party, so any time Apple decided to update their systems, the Mac client would likely break. It speaks to the larger issue of gaming on a Mac, which goes way beyond STO or Cryptic.

      XBOne and PS4 will be around for a while, so the static nature of those systems will make the maintenance easier alone. If console shows anything, it’s that Cryptic should have never bothered with a Mac client to begin with, if they weren’t going native (like they did with console).

    • DamienL

      Yeah it’s really too bad there wasn’t enough resources to make a proper go of it on the Mac. I really can’t justify getting a dedicated gaming rig — although BootCamp is always an option for us Mac users, it worked really nicely on my last MacBook Pro for gaming.

      I’ve been thinking about picking up a new console anyways so I’m pretty pleased they released this for both PS4 and XBOX One. Gives me some options. Although I’m preordering an unlocked iPhone 7 tonight — so the console might have to wait :S

  • DavidDesjardins

    Also keep in mind, as a percentage of the audience, Mac users were not large enough to warrant ongoing support and investment. I like my Mac. But I use PC for gaming. Consoles represent a massive potential market of established gamers, and frankly offers a better opportunity for the long-term success of the game.

    • prometheus59650

      Mac gaming is almost an oxymoron.

      Not knocking Macs per se, but the truth is what the truth is.

  • scotchyscotchscotch

    Such a fun game, so glad I was able to pry myself away from it (because it’s incredibly addicting). Glad they are still going strong

  • MIKK89

    Got it downloaded today, love STO

  • Michael

    Game is a sad money grab.

    • Tony

      I downloaded it for the Xbox One and played until you make it back to spacedock. The base game is free and has an absolute ton of content. You can play it for months before feeling the need to get some add-ons, if you want.

      It’s hardly a cash grab and the cost of entry (zero) cannot be beat.

      • Michael

        I have played the PC game since day 1. The developers are known money grubbers who are milking Star Trek fans for all their worth.

        • prometheus59650

          They’re not milking you if you keep your wallet closed.

          If you feel like they’re robbing you, stop helping them do it.

        • Tony

          From ARC games’ website:

          “Star Trek Online is 100% free-to-play – that means free to download, no subscriptions, and all of our content updates are completely free. All you have to do to have an amazing adventure in the Star Trek universe is show up and have fun.”

          The game includes all of the add-on content that was released on PC over the past six years.

    • Chris Benoit

      It really is, once you hit level fifty, the drops become worthless and it becomes a everyday grindfest just to make enough dilithium in order to buy new ships, consoles weapons etc.

  • James Markham

    Anyone else constantly seeing “server not responding” messages during gameplay on PC that makes the game unplayable? Now that its on Xbox and Playstation, how can their already unreliable servers keep up?

  • Spin-El

    Plays well, just wish we were able to bring our achievements/ships over from pc. I put a lot of hours into the pc version and it would be nice to experience all the add ons that have happened since I last played using my galaxy class ship. But it’s free, so I guess I can’t complain

  • Brian M

    ok, I am having a difficult isue on the PS4 game. I purchased a new ship, removed all the weapons and such from my old ship, engines included, and put them on the new ship. I thought I chose the new ship to be the one that it picks when I get in it, but NOOOOO. something I did made me get on the old ship, in space, with no weapons, and no engines. I can barely move through space back to the main world to try to beam down to get back to the shipyard to try again. Any ideas people?

  • John Weir

    Hi I wanted to inform You about a major bug/broken part of Star Trek Online which is affecting both versions of the game.

    Recently after 6 years on the PC Star Trek Online was released to the consoles PlayStation 4 and XboxOne. to mark these releases they decided to release several ingame bundles to give people a better taste of starships and bonuses pc players have enjoyed over the past 6 years.

    Below are listed the console exclusive packs, the problem is the Starships listed in each of these packs are missing.

    Players are paying around 6000-8000 Zen for these packs which is something around £40+ and not being able to access any of the starships promised in the bundles.

    In fact the game ignores the ships when you claim them ingame and gives you the various costumes, vanity pets, and uniforms.

    Star Trek Online PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Console Exclusive Bundle

    Federation Pack

    Tactical Escort (T6) – Valiant-class (Missing From Bundle)
    Tactical Escort (T6) – Sao Paulo-class (Missing From Bundle)
    Advanced Heavy Cruiser – Excelsior-class (Missing From Bundle)
    Rhode Island-class (Missing From Bundle)
    Science Vessel (Missing From Bundle)

    Level 1 and should be accesable from claiming packs are listed:
    NX-class Starship Replica (Missing From Bundle)
    Delta Class Shuttle + Delta Flyer Shuttle Pet (Missing From Bundle)

    You do Receive these Items.
    Liberated Borg Human Bridge Officer
    Jupiter Uniform
    7 of 9 Uniform
    Sehlet Cub Pet
    Title: Voyager
    Title: Pathfinder
    Title: Seeker

    Klingon Empire Pack

    Negh’Tev Heavy Battlecruiser (Missing From Bundle)
    Puyjaq Class Raptor (Missing From Bundle)
    Koro’t’inga Battle Cruiser (Missing From Bundle)
    Qaw’Dun Bird-of-Prey (Missing From Bundle)

    Level 1 and should be accesable from claiming packs are listed:
    B’rotlh Bird-of-Prey (Missing From Bundle)
    To’Duj Fighter + To’Duj Fighter Pet (Missing From Bundle)

    You do Receive these Items.
    Liberated Borg Klingon Bridge Officer
    Academy Uniform
    Mercenary Uniform
    Sehlet Cub Pet
    Title: Vanguard
    Title: Scout
    Title: Searcher

    Romulan Legacy Pack

    Malem Light Warbird (Missing From Bundle)
    D’ridthau Warbird Battle Cruiser (Missing From Bundle)
    Valdore Heavy Warbird (Missing From Bundle)
    Dhael Warbird (Missing From Bundle)

    Level 1 and should be accesable from claiming packs are listed:
    T’Varo Light Warbird (Missing From Bundle)
    Scorpion Fighter + Scorpion Fighter Pet (Missing From Bundle)

    You do Receive these Items.
    Liberated Borg Reman Bridge Officer
    Reman “Nemesis” Uniform
    TOS Romulan Uniform
    1 Sehlet Cub Pet
    Title: Survivor of Romulus
    Title: Survivor of Remus
    Title: Rihannsu

    Upon finding out this bug I contacted an ingame Game Master, who then said he looked at my characters and said they were not a high enough rank to get the ships in pack, however if he had been playing star trek online for 6 years he would have noticed the following

    Do not let people say your not the correct rank for content as You are credited with the ships below from start.
    Federation Pack
    NX-class Starship Replica
    Delta Class Shuttle + Delta Flyer Shuttle Pet

    Klingon Pack
    B’rotlh Bird-of-Prey
    To’Duj Fighter + To’Duj Fighter Pet

    Romulan Pack
    T’Varo Light Warbird
    Scorpion Fighter + Scorpion Fighter Pet

    Included in this post are screenshots from the Ingame C-store as well as a pic showing my character’s level being the correct level to receive the ingame level 1 ships.

    The game will ask you yo buy the ships even after claiming the pack.

    Upon being given the feedback to the game master he ignored it and sent me a page about ranks in star trek for ships. if he had actually played the game he would realise these are stuff u can have from the start

    The Star Trek Online developers need to patch the game and fix this problem, and people need to be warned not to buy the console exclusive packs until the game is repaired.

    • Liam

      Many thanks for this, I was looking to see if buying the packs would only unlock the content and and was wondering if buying them also meant I had to pay more money (Zen) for the ships also after buying the packs. I’ll avoid this. Don’t feel like paying for something twice.

  • Jordan m

    I have a full jem hadar set for my jem hadar drwadnaught carrier on xbox one but i cant seem to find the abilities it gives me

  • Kaine Morrison

    If one was to get the LifeTime Subscription, will it include all DLC packs, or no? I can’t find an answer anywhere…

  • John Weir

    Star Trek Online Xbox One & PS4 All Faction Mega Bundle is fixed and now well worth the money.

  • maverickbc38

    Ok, i was promoted to LT. Commander, was told to go to spacedock and get promotion and get new ship, i selected the ship like instructed, but now i can’t access the ship or even find it, help please??

    • Steve Gourley

      Same here, i have no idea where it is

      • HelloitsDean

        I had trouble finding it myself by then figured it out. You speak to one of the guys in the space dock, opposite the commander. Its one of the ones on the left hand side of the desk. Can’t remember which one exactly from the top of my head.

        • Steve Gourley

          I have found it, it was hiding in one of the inventories. I had to delete some things and then move it to to the main inventory. I think i just need to go to earth space dock to allow me to choose it

  • Terry A Hayes

    I am glad I didn’t waste money on this game every time
    I try to play it I get an error at the http://gateway.startrekonline.com/#/characterselect screen….smh

  • Ryan Casey

    I can’t get back to earth dock. As soon as I teleport in, it just teleports me back out.

  • Cdorian Porter

    Any news on when they will add duty officers, diplomatic missions, special task force missions, or any of the other content?

  • DirtyHarryCallaghan

    Hi I’ve paid for a T5 upgrade but can’t seem to upgrade my ship can’t find any option to let ,me upgrade. Can any one help please.