As you can see from my Raptr widget on the sidebar, I have barely touched Star Trek Online this month (I think my tracker shorted out on the 8th, I swear I’ve played more recently than the 28th of last month). It makes me feel bad, but I have made the decision to cancel my subscription. I have come to the conclusion that it is mainly because of a lack of a variety of options.
Like I mentioned in my previous post on the subject, there seems to be little to do in STO that doesn’t involve shooting Klingons. The game is beautiful, but from a long-term perspective, everything looks the same.
If my current mission is a space battle, well, sometimes there will be a planet there, sometimes there won’t. Sometimes there will be an asteroid belt, sometimes there won’t. Sometimes the nebula surrounding the place will be green, sometimes it will be purple. But for the most part, the scenery doesn’t change that much. It’s SPACE. It’s pretty space, and it’s often different colored space, but there’s only so long you can look at stars without it all starting to blend together as the same exact setting.
The ships I’m fighting are different from each other, but I fight each one in pretty much the same way. It’s a white circle with orange or green lines coming out from it (and occasionally orange blips) and I’m also a white circle with orange AND green lines (and occasionally orange blips) and my job is to fly straight at the enemy circle and fire some orange blips at it, and then circle it and shoot my two colors of lines at it, and occasionally dip my orientation to shoot more blips. Occasionally I’ll fire off a blue line or a Really Awesome Vortex, or I’ll pop a cooldown that makes parts of my ship glow orange for a few seconds. But for the most part, I face every battle in exactly the same way. They might be Klingons, they might be Gorn, they might be something else, but there isn’t really much difference other than the names and models of the enemy ships.
If my current mission is a ground mission, it consists of either “hey, there are some things here you need to scan with your tricorder, but there are groups of Klingons in the way, so shoot them,” or “hey, there are groups of Klingons here, they look suspicious, so shoot them.” And every time, I deal with it the same way (since even when there aren’t story objects to scan with my tricorder, there are always anomalies). Send out away team to surround the enemy group. There are usually two or three dudes in each group who have shields, so I take them down first. Tell group to focus on that guy in the back who’s summoning those annoying targs/saurian gorn things. (Were they so uncreative that they made the same exact enemy type for the Klingons and the Gorn and just reskinned the pigs as lizards? Because they act exactly the same.)
Very VERY rarely there is a mission that consists of “hey, there are some things here you need to scan with your tricorder (but you’re perfectly safe since there aren’t any Klingons here that you need to shoot)” but I think one of the main issues here is that if I don’t FEEL like doing combat missions, I can’t even choose to do the non-combat ones instead. All of them are random. I don’t know what kind of mission I’m going to be asked to do until I’ve started it. I might zone into the next randomized mission in the star cluster, it says “Klingon patrols defeated 0/4″ and I groan to myself and think “aw man, not again!”
Over the years, I gradually come to understand further reasons why I like WoW so much. This is a good example. Constant change of scenery. If I get bored with the swampy Wetlands, I can go do quests in the rocky Redridge Mountains. A wide variety of different graphics. Each enemy I fight has different animations, different sound effects. Some are casters that I can interrupt. Some are ranged mobs that I can’t easily pull as a group. Some of them tend to travel in packs, but run away when they get low on health, so I have to slow them down before they can pull more.
Even within the same zone, there’s a wide variety of settings. Take Redridge for example, since I was finishing up old quests there last night. There are quests that send me off to the south to fight gnolls and dragon whelps, in a pretty heavily forested area. There are quests that send me off to the north, to fight orcs near the steep rocky cliffs, and there are even quests that send me into caves, and to old abandoned castles. There are quests to send me to the bottom of the lake, fighting murlocs who run away from me faster than I can swim while also trying to navigate slowly in three dimensions without drowning. And this is all in a single zone, within a few levels of each other.
The quests are specifically designed to bring me to a certain area and then take me away from it again just before I get bored of it, giving me a constant change of scenery. And most importantly (I think) is that I can choose which of these places I want to go to. If I don’t feel like swimming, I can look at my quest log and think “no, I don’t really feel like swimming, I think I’d rather go to a cave right now” and go there. I don’t hit a button that says “I want to do a quest” and it says “okay, swimming time!” and I go “aw man, not again!” Even with the random dungeon finder, I have a pretty good idea of what dungeons it’ll send me to, and if it’s been sending me to the same one a lot lately, I can just check that one off of the list and it’ll send me somewhere else.
And in addition to this, there are plenty of activities in WoW that don’t involve killing things.
Did I mention the fishing? I think I did, last time.
I can browse the auction house and try to find some good deals, maybe make some money with my tradeskills. Oh well, I can’t do that in STO, because there isn’t any crafting (and what excuse for crafting there is requires me to travel to the far side of a zone I’m still not actually high enough level to quest in yet). The auction house is limited to 20 items, and because everyone who plays is on the same server, supply of every item is up so high that prices are driven so low that I won’t earn enough above vendor cost to be worth the price. The auction interface really isn’t helping here — attempting to undercut the other people doesn’t work when the ones who are looking to buy things at the cheapest rate can’t even find which listings are cheaper.
And I’ve come to the conclusion that having all of the players on the same server is GREAT for playing with your friends, but TERRIBLE for the in-game economy. Maybe someday, someone will find an answer to this problem.
We watched an episode of Next Generation tonight, and in part of it, Riker was trapped in an underground Romulan base, trying to escape, but it turns out the whole thing was an incredibly realistic hologram and there were never any Romulans there at all, the kid controlling the holographic projector was just lonely and wanted to create a convincing reality so that Riker wouldn’t leave. Why can’t we have twists like that in STO? Why must every mission be “we’re at war with the Klingons, and hey, there are Klingons here, so shoot them”?