I recently found out there had been a free expansion to Star Trek Online last year that added areas from the Delta Quadrant and raised the level cap from 50 to 60. I hadn't played the game for a good 18 months, so I thought it would be good to re-install and just go through the new missions. I'm kind of wishing I hadn't bothered.
I got a bad feeling when I went to install it as it seemed the game needed a new launcher from Perfect World called Arc. Now I absolutely fucking hate that there are all these pointless launchers like Steam, Origin and Uplay, and I've never used any of them. I was very glad to find in the forums that the old standalone installer still worked. I also really didn't want to use Arc after finding out it installs spyware into your browser. How can they get away with that shit?
Upon logging in I was met with a host of changes, most of which I did not appreciate. For a start, they have completely changed the crafting system in game, and everybody's crafting skill had been set back to 0. I don't disagree with the fact that the old crafting system was shit, but to reset everbody's skill levels is a dick move, especially when I was at max skill level before.
What makes it worse is that they have also removed the old daily exploration missions, which were the missions where most of the crafting materials were gathered. So if I wanted to get my crafting up again I would have to hope to find resources while doing episodes and other dailies. I quickly decided to ignore the new crafting system.
How much ZEN?
Back when I first started to play STO I don't remember there being any reputation grinds like there are in games such as World Of Warcraft. Maybe there were high level rep grinds that I didn't see, but I don't think so. Fast forward to 18 months ago during my last stint in the game, and a few rep grinds had started to appear, and I think I was first introduced to them in the New Romulus missions. Unsurprisingly, I did my best to ignore them. But now there's a whole list of factions that you have to grind rep with. And yes, I mean it when I say you have to, as due to the changes to the skills and traits system, many skills and traits are unlocked by increasing your standing with those factions.
In an even shadier move, some traits do not unlock unless you have the new tier 6 ships, or upgrade certain tier 5 ships, both of which can only be done by spending real money. Back in the past, the game did not really feel pay-to-win, as the ships you could buy with real money had only tiny advantages over the ships you could get for free. But now, with a whole new tier of vessel and extra unlockable traits, players who pay will surely have a clear advantage over those that do not. And payment in this game is a huge problem.
Look, I get it. The game is free to play, and they need to make money somehow. But just take a look at the prices for the tier 6 ships: they all cost 3000 ZEN. Now ZEN is the game currency you have to buy with real money, and it works out at $1 for 100 ZEN. In America therefore, it would cost $30 to buy a tier 6 ship. In the UK, at current exchange rates, this should work out at around £19.70 for a tier 6 ship. This is fucking expensive on its own, but because Perfect World are a bunch of dicks, we get even more screwed. Because we're in the EU, it only lets us buy ZEN using Euros, not pounds. Also the EU store only allows you to buy ZEN in set amounts, but get this: it does not show you how much ZEN you will receive for each amount of Euros. As it is highly unlikely that 20 Euros would get 3000 ZEN, for me to buy a tier 6 ship I would have to pay 45 Euros which is over £33, which itself is over $50, nearly twice as much as it should be.
I quickly decided I would not be giving this game any money.
In my few days back playing it the very typical STO bugs that used to plague me were still very much evident. Even after all this time they have not fixed the simple things. It just shows you how little the people that work on the game actually care. I had server disconnects, lag and rubber-banding, my ship and some NPCs turned invisible a couple of times, and I even had to re-do missions when they did not give me the option to complete even though I had done all the tasks.
But even all the problems above do not stack up to the enormous problem that has been introduced with the expansion: the clear and obvious lack of content.
I didn't realise the problem was so bad when I first started to play again, as there were a few missions I never did that were new to the game 18 months ago when I last played. So to start things off I went and did all those. Then I had a few missions in another new-ish area called the Solanae Dyson Sphere which I went through as well. So when I got round to starting the Delta Quadrant missions, I had already gone up a level or two.
Warning bells went off when I was near the end of level 53 and the game would not let me pick up the next mission as it required me to be level 54. I had to go and grind dailies and other annoying tasks to get me to the next level. Then it would only let me do the next two missions before telling me I needed to be level 55 to pick up the next one. Those two missions on their own were not even enough to get me half way through level 54, and I did not fancy the grind to the next level as it would have taken me hours if not days. Looking down the list of missions it looked like the grind to get to the next level and be able to pick up the next missions would have gotten worse and worse, so I decided to just forget it and leave the game once more.
What kind of shoddy expansion is it when the new missions themselves are not enough to help you level up? No other MMO would get away with such a dire lack of content. I know World Of Warcraft is huge and has a lot more resources, but in that game each new expansion gave you enough content that you could probably reach the top level twice over. There is just no excuse for STO to be so empty.
And so, for very probably the last time, here are some pictures from my adventures as a Starfleet captain:
Beware the giant alien jizz-bombs!
Earth Spacedock gets destroyed...
Spanking some Vaadwaur ass with Seven Of Nine
Seven fits in quite well with my away team
The Kaloris heads to the battle
The Arquina in a large battle
There is supposed to be a Ferengi here according to the dialogue
I see they still haven't fixed the vanishing arm problem with the mining event
And here are all the ships I unlocked throughout my journey:
U.S.S. Yasui, Light Cruiser
U.S.S. Turzo, Danube Class Runabout
U.S.S. Terrinak, Escort
U.S.S. Distor, Heavy Escort
U.S.S. Sydor, Support Cruiser
U.S.S. Codan, Long Range Science Vessel
U.S.S. Kreethen, Star Cruiser
U.S.S. Arquina, Reconnaissance Science Vessel
U.S.S. Kaloris, Odyssey Star Cruiser
And for the sake of completion, I've just written bios for my officers that were missing them.
Aenar, born in 2383. The quiet and caring Gaila was the clear and obvious candidate when Macan and his crew were looking to recruit a new chief medic. One of the few Aenar to join Starfleet, she was a very fast learner in the healing arts. The skills she has learned at Starfleet complement her telepathic abilities, which help her heal the psychological damage some soldiers can sustain. As a staunch pacifist, she was initially unsure whether she wished to travel on a starship because of the front line action they can see. But she found herself swayed by a personal appeal by Meiden. She has proven to be very easy to talk to and very trustworthy, fitting in well with the rest of the team.
She is the chief medical officer and ship's counselor.
Human, born in 2380. The gregarious and more than a little cocky Xenia is the latest addition to Macan's engineering team. A warp core specialist, she has quickly become the person Nine trusts the most to keep the ship moving and at maximum efficiency. She can be headstrong and stubborn sometimes, which would maybe rub people up the wrong way if she was not so friendly and polite. When not on duty, she can usually be found encouraging other crew members to join her on the holodeck for either lounging around on the beach, or partying hard in a very loud club.
She is an engineering officer.
Breen, unknown birth date. Very little is known about the very mysterious and private Jeff. Intently focused on stopping his fellow Breen from attacking and imprisoning the Deferi, the warrior asked to travel with Macan's crew as the Arquina travelled through the Orellius sector. At the end of that crisis, he accepted an offer to join the crew, and his abilities and combat prowess have been invaluable in many situations since then. Despite his help and vigilant nature, he never answers questions about his past, or his motivations, leading some among the crew to wonder what he wants or if he is really trustworthy. Most believe he truly wants to help keep the peace and is going about it the only way he is comfortable.
He is a tactical officer.