A somewhat ‘spoiler-free’ review.
Despite the efforts of the past several weeks, this mission was loaded with Lag Spikes. Lots and lots of lag. It wasn’t game-ending frustration, but I get the impression that today’s launch delay may have had an impact on the game which is still being felt tonight. On my second run, I came to a screeching halt with a bug.
The latest featured episode certainly cranks up the war to a new level. To be honest there hasn’t been a sense of urgency, partly do to the limited effect the Iconians are having in the rest of the game. Unless you’re actually tuned into the featured episodes and a few STF’s, the Iconian War so far has felt like something happening to someone else. This mission changes that impression.
The mission begins with a briefing in the Kyana system near the Delta Gateway, and home to the Alliance/Krenim Research facility and a quickly gathering strike force. A quick count of the Armada in the background makes it the largest task force ever assembled in Star Trek Online.
Once you beam over to the station – stop – and don’t trigger the welcoming statement from the Klingon aide. Take the time to see the station, walk around and come back to trigger him to proceed to the next introduction. It’s worth a look. One thing you can say about this featured episode is that the environments are incredible. Kudos to the environmental team – this place feels like the Krenim Weapon Ship. (On an aside – I know why they held back on offering the Krenim Weapon Ship yet… we haven’t built it yet).
After meeting with old friends (I swear Seven’s gotten younger), you join the Alliance Commander in the briefing room. As you arrive you have a chance to talk with other mission members, and for a moment have a decent conversation about efficacy of researching a temporal weapon with a member of Temporal Investigations. Lets be honest – we are talking about violating the Temporal Prime Directive. The conversation is a nice nod to to classic Trek.
The music during the briefing will fill you with dread. It’s so not trek-like, and yet fits the scene setting the tone for the discussion. We’re in deep do-do, and we’re about to do something very Klingon.
After joining Captain Tom Paris with Alpha Wing, Phase One of the combat is entirely in space outside the Iconian Dyson Sphere. The battle does not go well. Subtle details of ships in need of help and the Klingon’s direct choice of how to continue the mission were pitch perfect. Another nice nod to Trek canon.
Phase Two takes us into the sphere to press the attack on the Iconian Command Ship, which is desperately trying to regain energy. Your job is to hold off reinforcements while carrier teams bring in boarding parties. Like The Herald Sphere, you’re inside the ring of gateways holding off emerging attacks from multiple directions.
Phase Three you join the boarding parties, who are facing tough resistance from Herald reinforcements. Luckily you have experience dealing with them by now, and after running Brotherhood of the Sword, you now know how to shut down the Iconian power junctions.
After the first junction goes offline, you meet your next major combat. M’Tara herself.
You have to admit this is what you’ve been waiting for since you saw the Kahless clone battle and wound one of the Iconians during House Pegh. The running battle has multiple stages, slowly revealing little details of what gives the Iconians thier strength.
Take the time to stop and look around. The environments inside the Herald ship are amazing. With each section you clear, and more power conduits you turn off, it’s becoming clear you might just win this.
The ongoing ground battle is glorious 😉 It takes everything you have to survive. And yes, something cool happens.
(Bug: during my second run of the night with another alt, the mission bugged during my second encounter with M’Tara. Thinking ahead, I had deployed engineering gear where she appears. The mission came to a screeching halt as M’Tara refused to appear. Even waiting for the gear to disappear did not help. I used task manager to stop the process, and returned to the game, only to be stymied again. Very frustrating.)
(Workaround 1: Simply push on to the Command area highlighted on the map, the mission will continue regardless if you’ve shut off the second power transfer station.)
Phase Four – escaping the sphere, you begin to search for survivors as you make a hasty retreat. The view screen is devoid of life as the entire Armada of Alliance ships has been eradicated, apparently taking a significant chunk of the Herald ship with them.
Like the Undine attack on ESD from ‘Surface Tension in season nine, this mission is expansive in it’s scope and and intensity. No part of the space combat felt contrived. If it were not for the lag and the episode ending bug, I think I would have run it a few times tonight on different toons.