Updated: The new system has not been scheduled for release. My original assertion of a two week window for testing was based on misreading a forum post. My apologies.
The big Skill System reveal happened earlier this morning, and between the ESD chat misinformation, and the forum hysteria we got a chance to take a first hand look at the new Skill System. Every time a game launches something as comprehensive as a new base skill system, there are bound to be issues and this launch is no exception. What does stand out for me is the exceptional level of engagement from the chief designer Jeremy Randall (@BorticusCryptic) with the player base.
Part One focuses on structure and unlocks, meaning I won’t be touching on actual numbers and skill choices. As stated in the forums and on Twitter, the system is in a testing phase this week for new characters only meaning the order of ability’s and even the abilities themselves may change in the next week based on feedback. A fair amount of work is still needed in terms language and consoles, and Borticus has already commented on possible changes. For that reason we won’t get too deep in the skills themselves.
One point I should make is that the system as it stands is scheduled to be deployed as is to Holodeck in
two weeks (note: this was from a comment from Borticus in the forums. I will ask for a clarification. As another hint 11.5 is closer than we think, pre-patching has already started) Borticus clarified that this hasn’t been scheduled for release quite yet, and there’s time for review.. Any changes that might be made will likely be considered and locked in very shortly. For that reason the order in which the skills are displayed in the system and the bonuses may change before moving to Holodeck.
The Skill System UI
The base UI looks and functions similarly to the existing Specialization Point system. Skills are broken into four basic tracks: Engineering Space, Science Space, Tactical Space, and on a separate tab the Ground Track.
The main body of the screen shows the skill chains. Each skill costs 1 skill point, and the player can get a complete description of that skill in a pop-up window as you mouse over. I don’t know about your experience, but I was always a bit confused over the value of 6 points in one skill versus 9 points in another. The benefit of the change is immediate – one skill with one value – regardless of your career choice. If you’re a fan of the Specialization points system, this will all seem second nature.
Skills have been merged, updated or in some cases outright removed. Others have been converted into unlocks (see below) rewarded at rank increases for space skills, completing the professional tracks and with each point spent on ground.
New skills include Drain Expertise and Control Expertise giving science captains better control with exotic damage, drains, and subsystem abilities. For ground combat Kit Performance enhances kits, while Combat Specialist is open to all professions but is now limited to melee combat.
Attack Patterns and Threat Control (ground) have been removed. Attack Patterns have been built in as if you’re already fully invested. Threat Control (ground) was removed in its entirety.
Three entirely new skills have been added:
- This 3-point Skill allows players to increase the effectiveness of their Hangar Pets, by gaining passive bonuses to their hull capacity, shield capacity, damage output, damage resistance, defense and accuracy.
- Purchasing the first rank in this 3-point Skill allows you to automatically negate the damage from one incoming Critical Hit every 20 seconds. Additional investments can be made to also have this negation trigger a Shield Heal and/or Reflect the damage back at the attacker.
Long-Range Targeting Sensors
- Each rank purchased in this 3-point Skill will reduce the damage penalty experienced by being far away from the target of your energy weapons.
Every player will be able to reorganize their skills initially at no cost. But given the wide array of new unlocks and our lack of fully understanding the impact of these changes, I can see many of us going through RESPEC’s like french fries.
The number of points that you can use to build out your skill set is limited to 44
46 in space and 10 on the ground, but I’m already thinking that that total number may change at some point in the future. For the moment it will match – point for point value – with the existing system. Players can cross train between the three profession tracks, but the various unlocks and the new ‘Ultimate Unlocks’ are designed to provide the player with new build-types and options.
At the bottom of both the space and ground panels is a track that shows additional ‘Unlocks’ that are opened as your reach predetermined levels. The Unlocks are added abilities that you gain when you reach a certain point in development. They are similar in format to the unlocks you get in a reputation track with one clear difference – all have two options for what you can unlock as you complete each rank.
The space skill tracks have a single unlock at each rank improvement for a total of four. At each rank level you complete you will have 2 options to choose from. The ground track is different in that as you develop, each skill purchased has a corresponding unlock with two options.
Lastly Star Trek Online has added new ‘Ultimate Unlocks’ for each of the three professional space tracks. At the moment we do not know the value of these ultimate unlocks in terms of builds, or how preceding skill choices impact their use.
Tactical Track Unlocks
Science Track Unlocks
Engineering Track Unlocks
Ground Track Unlocks (1-10)
Borticus has hinted the purpose of these ultimate unlocks is to encourage people to experiment with new builds and skills. Given the number of skill points is limited, players will not be able to select more than one. As they will impact the builds in as yet untested ways – and their descriptions are not entirely clear – it was the cause of much discussion online and in the game. I’ll do my best to summarize those discussions as the changes are tested this week and next.
I’ve started a new character on Tribble to get a sense of how the system works. Next week we’ll port over actual Lvl 60 characters for comparisons. So far I’m liking the simplicity of the new system, and I am very curious how this will impact my existing builds.
My Two Bits – for now 😉