Star Trek Online, the free-to-play space RPG with both ground- and space-based combat, saw a massive shift of gears in 2013 and this continues apace into 2014 with more groundbreaking content continuing to stream out to players. Legacy of Romulus was already a massive boost to content with the addition of Romulans to the racial gamut players could partake of—on its heels came Season 8: The Sphere that added the Dyson sphere with shifting space-adventure zones and an interesting ground-combat mechanic. Not losing any steam, Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment have released what is being dubbed a mid-season content update with Season 8.5.
Much of the releases this week also have to do with the 4th Anniversary of Star Trek Online, which has been bringing joy and merriment to Star Trek fans for four years now and has seen a greatly expanded audience since going free-to-play in 2012.
“A Step Between Stars” featured episode and Tim Russ as Tuvok!
Star Trek actors will never die; they will be reborn again and again each time our cultures learn a new medium of entertainment and literature. It’s with great joy that I can announce that Tim Russ will be joining the crew of Star Trek Online as the voice of now Admiral Tuvok—reprising his role as Commander Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager.
His excellent voice acting adds nostalgia that can be cut with a knife in the recently featured episode of Season 8.5 “A Step Between Stars.” During this episode, players discover a gateway above the within the Dyson sphere that catapults the Federation-Klingon-Romulan alliance across the galaxy to the Delta quadrant to face even more terrifying enemies.
Tuvok isn’t the only element of Voyager to join—but an old enemy and nemesis of the borg, the undine, also make an appearance. The undine have become the next threat to Alpha quadrant peace after the voth from Season 8.
Playing through “A Step Between Stars” also gives players a chance to test out some Dyson environmental armor, Dyson hybrid-technology consoles, and gain reputation towards earning the Dyson hybrid-technology science destroyer that is featured as reward for participating in Star Trek Online’s 4th Anniversary.
Dyson hybrid-technology science destroyer
The Dyson science destroyer comes in three variants, one for each faction in STO: the Federation Solanae-class variant; the Klingon Nov-class variant; and the Romulan Aves-class variant. All of the vessels have new models, special skins that look similar to the Solonae Dyson sphere, a secondary deflector, and the capability to switch between a science-mode and a tactical-mode. Each of the variants also maintain the faction-specific warp-core effects (Fed get higher energy levels, Klingon heavier crew and armor, and Romulan singularity-effects.)
The addition of a secondary deflector dish to these ships hooks in with an earlier rumor that science ships (in general) would be getting upgrades with secondary deflectors of their own to make the more viable in STO ship-to-ship combat.
The most strikingly interesting element of the Dyson science destroyers is the tactical-science mode transform capability. When in science-mode the science destroyer can take advantage of the secondary deflector to get boons to science abilities; but when in tactical-mode the ship gets an extra set of weapons (proton dual-heavy-cannons) and the bridge officer consoles shift from heavier science to heavier tactical—but the ship also loses access to the secondary deflector.
This means that a Dyson science destroyer can swap roles during combat between being primarily second-line support to front-line-assault.
Players have a chance to earn a Dyson science destroyer via an event-based reputation system and an item called a Qmendation—given out by the superpowered entity known as Q. Playing “A Step Between Stars” the first time gives 400 Qmendations and after that 40 can be earned per day by playing a simple 15 minute minigame at Starfleet Academy on Earth or Klingon Academy on Qo’nos.
A C-store version of the Dyson science destroyer will become available at the end of the anniversary event that will be slightly better built than the anniversary-version. Players should think about getting the free-version, however, as consoles from this ship will synergize with consoles available on the C-store versions.
Dyson hybrid-technology consoles
The Dyson science destroyers will synergize with a 4-piece console and equipment set. Three components of which can be earned by playing through “A Step Between Stars” including a deflector dish, engine, and shield built from Dyson hybrid-technology.
Solanae Secondary Deflector (Rare) will be attached to the secondary deflector slot and will also allow Dyson science destroyers to drain enemy shields to reinforce their own when using certain science powers including: Tachyon Beam, Charged Particle Burst, Energy Siphon, Tyken’s Rift, and Viral Matrix.
Solanae Overcharged Warp Core Mk XII (Very Rare) will be the specialized warp-core for these vessels and provides an odd sector-space capability using “subspace folds” jumping the ship 2 light years ahead.
Set bonuses expand starting at 2—passively adding +shield; building at 3—passively granting a 1% chance to repair 100% hull damage based on damage every 5 seconds; and capping out at 4—adding a toggleable ability “Advanced Metaphasic Shields” which greatly increases damage resistance, shields, turns 50% of incoming damage into shield heal, but slows down the ship while active.
What’s a Star Trek Online update without lockboxes? With Season 8.5 also arrives a brand new lockbox filled with new ships and new additions to the lobi store that feature the Hirogen—a race and culture of hunters from the Delta quadrant who hectored Voyager as its crew attempted to return home.
Players who crack open the Hirogen Lockbox have a chance to win a Hirogen Hunter Heavy Escort. A a spacecraft it has all the aesthetic elegance of a rusted-out VW bug and is made up of bulbous-but-angular segments and triangles. Its rusted-appearance belies the ferocity of this vessel, however, as it also comes equipped with a Enhanced Inertial Damper Field universal console allowing it to literally turn on a dime (flipping around 180 degrees at the press of a button.) As a result, it’s capable of making a strafing run and instantly re-engaging with frontal weaponry for another pass—truly a brutal tool for keeping prey in sight.
Next on the line is the lobi-ship, the Hirogen Apex Heavy Battlecruiser—another rusty, but extremely large battlecruiser with power and armor to spare. The Apex Heavy Battlecruiser comes with a specialized console designed to confuse and disorient prey, the Photonic Decoy Swarm universal console which calls in holographic reinforcements to hide the actual Apex Heavy Battlecruiser from sight and allow it to ambush prey from within an apparent swarm of attackers.