Shooting Games - Star Trek Online

Many would argue that Star Trek Online's second free expansion, "Season Two", is how the game should have launched in the first place, and frankly, they'd be right.

When Star Trek Online launched, executive producer Craig Zinkievich promised that we'd see free updates every three months that would add substantially to the gameplay experience, and would reflect oft-requested player features as well as the required bug squashes and stat tweaks.

Just about five months in, we've seen the release of Season One, which was met with much praise. Season One brought with it a bevy of great changes including:

A difficulty slider which worked in tandem with a new injury system, making gameplay more pulse pounding, much requested auto-fire and new weapons, an Accolade System (including special missions and achievement tracking), Squad Support (so you can partner with friends new to STO), UI and performance enhancements, bug fixes and various balancing tweaks.

And yet, the rabid player base of Star Trek Online was not entirely satisfied. Sure STO was a fun game at launch, and Season One made it even better, but gamers wanted more reasons to explore, they wanted more diverse and functional ship interiors to spend their hard earned sto credits on, where where these features?

Might doesn't always make right:

When STO launched in February, players took a shine to its mighty impressive ship combat. Folks spent untold sto gold on upgrading, tricking out and equipping their vessels with the most powerful disruptors, torpedoes and shields in the known galaxy.

Beyond that though, there wasn't much else. Social spaces were limited, and opportunities for genuinely fun and engaging diplomatic gameplay were far and few between, and when these opportunities did arise, they were generally fairly boring and uninspired in their implementation.

Folks who watch the TV shows and movies will know that Federation captains aren't all about going in all guns blazing to take down the enemy, the first line of defense is often diplomacy, and Star Trek has built a reputation of being the thinking man's sci fi.

Understandable therefore, that folks who played STO were eager to see this aspect of the franchise properly represented in-game, after all, why spend tens of thousands in sto gold on a new phaser array when you can just talk that Undine battleship down instead?

What Season Two Brings:

New missions and gear - It almost goes without saying, but we'll be getting new missions, a new tier of gear, items and abilities, episodic content, new Tier 5 ships, and new daily missions that reward players with new badges.

Minigames - You can imagine the crushing disappointment of any dyed in the wool trekkie when he or she docked at DS9 for the first time, sauntered across the promenade and into Quark's Bar... only to find that he couldn't play Dabo.

Finally though, the dream is here, Cryptic have been busy developing the first set of official rules for the fighting games, and we should be able to participate in Dabo matches and other minigames once Season two goes live. The question is, how much latinum (or sto gold) are you willing to lose on a bet!?

Ship interiors - Yes, they should have been at launch. Yes, there are technically ship interiors in STO already (players have access to the bridges of their vessels) but the truth is that there's pretty much nothing to do on those bridges at the moment.

Cryptic have been very careful about how they've handled ship interiors. Somewhere during the game's beta cycle, the player base began to express disappointment at the fact that they'd spent all this sto gold, time and resources on making the best ships they could, but weren't able to actually see them on the inside.

At that stage, Cryptic simply didn't have the manpower and resources to add ship interiors prior to launch, and they made the correct but hard decision of deciding that if they couldn't do them right, they wouldn't rush them.

Five months later and we're on the brink of getting one of the most oft-requested STO features. Details are still hazy, we don't know whether we'll be required to purchase ship interiors with sto gold, or whether we'll be able to customise these interiors the way we want, or even which interiors we're getting, but at least they're coming.

Best of all, Cryptic have promised that they'll actually server a purpose and be functional. There are rumors of mini-games in the engineering section, and the ability to view your trophies and achievements in your Captains Quarters or Ten Forward. Perhaps most exciting of all though, is the news that what we're going to see in Season Two is just the start for ship interiors. Zinkievich has hinted at the ongoing expansion of these interiors, adding decks, crew quarters, NPC's and even creating missions and episodes that center around Bridge Crew and ship interiors, just like on the TV shows.

Klingon exclusive episodes - When STO launched, even the most ardent supporter of the game had to admit it was, at best, half a game. Playing on the Federation side was great fun, but choosing a Klingon meant you suddenly became aware of the fact that there had been little to no emphasis placed on creating unique and compelling story based content for the non-federation species. Cryptic recognised this, and were open about the lack of content, promising this would be fixed along the way. Is looks like they were as good as their word.

The Federation Diplomatic Corps - Finally! Shotting Gorn in the face is all well and good, but it's not really what Star Trek is about, is it? You're out to find new life and new civilisations, and not blow it to smithereens, the Federation Diplomatic Corps offers players loads of new missions and episodes, and the ability to rise within its ranks and gain exclusive rewards.

So Season Two is looking great, the cynics among us might say that all this content should really have been in since launch. Lets not forget though, that Star Trek The Next Generation (and Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space 9 really) didn't truly get off the ground till their respective second seasons, so perhaps we can afford Cryptic a little leeway in this instance, it seems that more and more Star Trek Online is becoming the real deal shooting games .