Legacy of Romulus- First Look

Star Trek Online had an open beta for Legacy of Romulus expansion this weekend.  I have a mixed opinion on beta’s; I don’t like to have things spoiled (and need to play through content twice) but I am also quite curious. But since there was a bonus reward for spending an hour on the Tribble test server this weekend, I decided to give it a try. Also allowed me to go ahead and get the mega texture patch downloaded ahead of time.

With only about an hour of play time devoted to testing, I barely made it past the tutorial (minor spoilers ahead). I created a Romulan and loaded into the peaceful farming colony. After offering a helping hand to my fellow colonists we were attacked by an unknown alien race. I forget what they called themselves but I didn’t recognize the name. It’s been speculated that this is the race encountered by the NX-01  Enterprise  in “Silent Enemy” and/or “Fight or Flight”. There is bit of a design similarity.

After fighting my way past some Tal Shiar (I missed the part where they show up) I get to escape capture and fly up to an old derelict TOS style Warbird. Unlike starting the game as a Federation and flying around in an original TOS Constitution, this makes perfect sense. A few quick battles against the Tal Shiar and I get completely disabled by the alien ship. At which point it disappears and more Tal Shiar show up, and I fight them with the help of the Romulan Republic.

There are a few logical inconsistencies in the story but far less than I’ve seen in other Cryptic stories. Nothing outrageous and all within line of Star Trek episodes or general sci-fi stories. All in all it’s a story that sucks you in to caring about what’s going on.

That’s as far as I got with the tutorial story. But it was enough to let me see a lot of the new game features:

Bridge Officers with Personality

One of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of STO has been the bridge officers. The ability to customize their look and get a wide array of species allows you to create an interesting crew. In fact, I have 13 unique 4 person BOFF crews on my main Federation character. This allows me to have a unique crew for each ship and can play around with Star Trek era uniforms. It’s silly but fun.

The downside there is that all of the BOFF story takes place in your head. Star Trek is all about the crew but none of the stories really involve your crew or if they do, they’re forced to be generic due to the customization you have. It doesn’t matter if you play an episode with your Klingon tactical officer whose defying the Empire or your gluttonous Bolian science officer. They have no personality in missions.

But with LoR, you begin the game with your first BOFF as your best friend. He’s got a personality and is part of the tutorial. Instead of just being given a random BOFF like in the Fed tutorial, this one has a name and a story. And he’s purple quality so you can keep him around till the end of the game.

I don’t know if this will remain a thing as the game progresses. And doubt it can seeing as you can have up to 54 BOFF’s and take whomever you want.  Hard to write a story without knowing BOFF’s will be involved. That’s the downside to customization.

BUT it almost doesn’t matter. If BOFF’s are introduced as part of a story and given some personality, even if that never happens again, then they’ll still always have a personality. Whenever you use them in a mission you’ll see them differently then a generic BOFF.

Cryptic missed a perfect opportunity for this during the Featured Episodes. You can gain a Reman, Breen and Jem’Hadar during those missions. But they are just rewards. They could have been integrated into the story. The Breen almost was. But they didn’t have the Breen you meet be the one who joins your crew.

Interface

Wow. Lots of subtle changes here.  All positive as far as my short time showed.  The most noticeable, and most needed, was the change to the communication interface. Originally, all communication is done in a popup window. While that hasn’t changed, the window has.

Instead of everyone you communicating with appearing in a generic window with no background, it now changes based on the communication. For instance, when you talk to Toran(?) your first BOFF, he’s standing in the street. The window appears and he’s backset by the scene around you. So it’s a popup but looks like your talking to him. One subtle tidbit is the text looks like a chat bubble instead of just a text box.

When you talk to someone on the ground whose not right there, the popup changes to show the persons face on what looks like a PADD (or video chat on your smart phone).  Behind the screen is the scene around you.  And when you talk to someone on a ship, you see them standing/sitting on their bridge, like you were talking to them via viewscreen.

All of this helps to pull you into the game more. It feels more like Star Trek.

Questions

How much of these things will be reflected in the new Klingon tutorial? Or in the Federation experience? That’s hard to say. I can’t say at this point whether or not the communication interface is even different for Feds. I hope so but given Cryptic’s track record I doubt it.

They have a habit of making great changes half assed. While the Romulan experience will be great, the existing game might not get touched and will look even crappier as a result. And that’s even assuming the entire Romulan arc looks like this and isn’t just the tutorial. If the game had launched looking like this, it never would have done as poorly as it did at launch.

On one hand, if the old Fed missions don’t get updated, it doesn’t really matter to much. I’ve played that content and don’t plan to do so again (especially the tutorial). Unless they completely redo it from start to finish. I mean completely redoing, including scrapping the tutorial to make something more in line with the Romulan one.

If they just move forward with this philosophy it could be interesting.  I am not looking forward to the launch of the expansion. Unfortunately, it comes out just a few days before Comicpalooza so I’ll be busy for a bit.

 

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2 Responses to Legacy of Romulus- First Look

  1. Jedi_Rabbit says:

    I am excited to hear your take on Star Trek Into Darkness. I saw it on Friday and liked it quite a bit.