Impressed by Star Trek Online improvements, but new bug annoys

I played a bit of Star Trek Online yesterday and an mostly impressed with the improvements since I last played more than a year ago. Since STO is now free to play, there is no reason not to try it if you are a Star Trek fan. It looks like the strategy may be working, because space seemed more crowded than I remember it.

The interface has been cleaned up a bit and made more shiny. The mission log is nicer than I’ve seen in other games, MMO or otherwise, so that’s an improvement. There are a few things that I’m sure used to work and don’t seem to now: dragging items into your bridge officers’ inventory doesn’t seem to work well, but I will keep experimenting. It certainly isn’t completely intuitive and obvious.

For those not familiar with STO, bridge officers (BOFFs) are your helpers that you can train and upgrade. They provide abilities both on your starship and in ground combat and are generally a good thing. You earn BOFFs through some missions and as you level, so in the end, you can have a significant cadre of helpers. Most ships only have a few BOFF slots, so you can use skills from 3 or 4 of them on the ship. You can also take 4 BOFFs with you on away missions, so pick ones that can heal you or provide buffs or combat abilities. Because you can eventually have lots of BOFFs, it is possible to have a completely different group in the ship’s stations from the ones you bring along for away missions. This lets you allocate skill points among more of them so you can promote them as you rise in rank.

Then you get a BOFF, you can customize the appearance. Well, at least you could a year ago. Now that mechanic is broken, so when I got a new BOFF, it showed the appearance of the last BOFF I got (or in some cases, my first one). That is a nasty bug that is unfortunate, since changes in MMOs are permanent – you can’t just reload a save file if the game has a problem. I hope they fix that bug soon, or else many teenage players will not be able to give their BOFFs huge boobs and skimpy outfits.

Because the game is free to play, the money grubbing is more apparent than ever. There are now several forms of currency: Energy credits, which you earn in game; Dilithium, which you apparently also earn in game and is new since I last played, so I don’t know what it is for yet; and Cryptic Points, which you buy with real money and is the way to get cool ships and such.

I have managed to recover most of the XBox 360 controller settings for the space missions, but am still working on the ground ones, so I’m a bit hampered there.

Overall, the game has continued to get better since the beta version and is now a pretty polished thing. I’m disappointed by the BOFF customization bug and not sure how the developers haven’t caught it, but I’m sure it will be fixed sometime. So try STO – you’ll probably like it!

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