The team at Star Trek Online also released a third anniversary trailer, which contained a very big surprise at the very end. The teaser sent shockwaves through the loyal player community. There's a lot to go over, so join me past the jump as I touch on the anniversary celebration and ruminate on what the game will bring us in May 2013!
It's a whole new game
I just have to come right out and say it. STO feels like a brand-new game to me. Those who have known me for a while, especially those who might have read my blogs before I joined the Massively team, will recall that I purchased a hefty laptop a few months before STO was launched. Being a person with no previous MMO experience, I didn't realize that a computer that barely exceeded minimum specs would be that big a deal.
Of course, as time wore on, I realized that in order to get the best performance in the game, I had to play with the graphics set at basic stats, and worse, play at half resolution. When I needed to take screenshots for my columns here at Massively, I would hike up the graphics as high as I could and patiently wait for the lag to catch up while I moved my character around for a decent shot.
I am happy to say that those days are now officially over because I have a new computer! It's stunning, and what's even more wonderful is that I never really understood how beautiful STO looked. I admit it. I cried. I cried like the Trek fangirl that I am. So if you notice a slight improvement to my screenshots in this column, thank my husband for giving me the best Christmas gift a geek girl could want.
A jump back in time
Here's where I need to warn readers that I will be writing about the most recent story-based mission that was released in conjunction with STO's third anniversary. The name of the mission is Temporal Ambassador. If you have not yet played it, please understand that the following will contain spoilers!
Temporal Ambassador is the first story-based mission to be released into STO since The 2800 featured episode series was released early last year. That was a long period of time to have to wait patiently for what many of us consider to the most meaningful type of content in the game. Unfortunately for the developers, player expectations tend to rise in direct proportion to the length of time between mission releases. To say that the majority of the community had set the bar pretty high is an understatement. Fortunately for the team at STO, I am happy to say that the episode meets the players' expectations. Temporal Ambassador was a really fun mission to undertake; I'm looking forward to actually replaying it with my remaining alts.
Tasha Yar returns
So let's give credit where credit is due. STO's lead writer, Christine (Kestrel) Thompson, did an outstanding job dealing with a time-travel episode. It wasn't just reminiscent of beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Yesterday's Enterprise; it felt like a natural extension of the episode. She didn't attempt to make overly convoluted excuses for why Tasha Yar, Richard Castillo, and the famed Enterprise-C reappeared. The explanations were simple enough, and the player was allowed to move on without a second thought.
Personally I really loved the way that my character was altered in the same fashion that Captain Picard and crew were altered in the television episode. It was wild to see my character was forced into servitude as a freighter captain. The detail with which the artists created the costumes, ships, and environment made the transition feel complete.
However, I was wholly surprised by my actual palpable response when my character came across other members of her "real" time-line crew. Upon entering the commissary area, I walked my character around and had her speak with numerous NPCs in the area. I more or less expected to see characters like Tasha Yar, Obisek, Va'Kel Shon, B'Vat and even the Ferengi upstart Farek. But when my character tripped across her first officer, my jaw dropped. Seeing members of my character's crew was just delightful. It was a fantastic touch to the story, and I commend the team for making that happen. It was very well done.
Ambassador and Kamarag as rewards
As expected, eventually the mission ends when the timeline is restored. It's assumed that the Enterprise-C makes it back to the Battle of Narendra III, but we all know what they say about the word "assume," right?
In any event, during the third anniversary festivities, the mission rewards players with two Ambassador class (or Kamarag class for KDF players) ships as well as a small costume piece from Yesterday's Enterprise (a sash and belt). The first ship is a tier three ship that can be used by characters of at least the rank of Commander. The second ship is a tier five vessel that comes in a box that cannot be opened until the character reaches level 50. Again, the tier five ships will be available only until the end of the anniversary event, which is set to conclude at 1:00 pm EST on February 14th.
A shocker of a tease
Late last week there was a huge kerfuffle on social media sites frequented by STO players. As it's done every year for the anniversary event, the team at Cryptic Studios released a celebratory trailer (linked above). The video contained reflections on what had been added to the game during 2012 and teasers for the anniversary events, including the mission discussed earlier. However, several seconds after the end of the trailer, the image posted above appeared and then faded out.
The image is that of a modernized version of the crest of the Romulan Star Empire with the words "May 2013" and "March beneath the raptor's wings" visible underneath. To say that the image spread like wildfire throughout the STO community is an understatement. There are a lot of Romulan fans in the Star Trek community, many of whom I know refuse to play STO because the species is not a playable faction. Many others have played Federation characters in STO, but their hopes of a playable Romulan character had faded with the years.
If indeed the teaser is actually hinting at a Romulan faction to be released in May, Cryptic will make a lot of people very happy indeed. However, the image also made a lot of Klingon fans very nervous as to what this means for their half-fledged faction. Will they be getting what they've been asking for, the ability to create a KDF character from level 1? Or has the faction been pushed aside for the Romulans?
I've been informed that more information (in the form of teasers, most likely) will be coming out over the course of the next few weeks and months. Ultimately, it looks as if we'll have to wait to see what May will bring for all of us who love STO. Until next week, live long and prosper!