Lootcritter here: My ship reviews are in progress and yes, the much-delayed Hestia review is forthcoming. One of the drawbacks of the Hestia (it is a great ship) is that the pet mechanics are dreadful. Unless you’re very lucky, the console pets in Star Trek Online are underwhelming. So while I’m neck-deep in the new Skills system over on Tribble, we have another guest editorial on the status of console pets by sirboulevard.
A prolific foundry author, co-leader of the E.W.O.C. fleet, he’s a guy who thinks he can build a canon build and DPS at the same time. We might be concerned about his mental health, but luckily the voices in his head have some good ideas.
From Starbase UGC’s shipyards, we have sirboulevard with one of those good ideas.
Dawning of the Age of Aquarius: How to Make Console Pets Better
With the recent release of the T6 Flagships and the Tribble release of the skill revamp, its time we talk about something that no one wants to talk about. Mostly because they’re not using them: Console Pets.
For those of you out of the loop, console pets are the pets that are deployed with a console installed on the appropriate starship. Stay tuned for revelations of equal depth. These would be the Multi-Vector Assault Mode on the Prometheus (comes with the C-store Tier 5 Prometheus), the Galaxy-class Saucer Separation Module (comes with the T5 C-Store Galaxy-class), the Odyssey-class’ Chevron Separation and Aquarius Destroyer (comes with the T5 C-Store Engineering and Tactical Oddys respectively), the Intrepid-class Aeroshuttle (comes with the T6 Pathfinder C-Store unlock), the Bortasqu’ Ho’SuS Bird of Prey (Tactical Bortasqu’ T5 C-Store unlock), and the Dual Vector Separation on the Ha’apax Warbird (T5 C-Store unlock).
Ok, that was a long list. A shame most of its crap. Because there’s been one recurring problem with Console Pets: they suck. They suck really really bad. They’re not unusable, mind you. But they are bad enough (mostly) that they need an overall look at. And the thing is, look at the faction parity on these consoles. With the exception of two of them, they’re all Federation Consoles. And the two belonging to the KDF and Romulan Republic, respectively, are both copies of a Federation console.
So first, why did this happen? Well, console pets were the Federation’s answer to Carrier ships on the Klingon faction. Most of the console pets are pre-Legacy of Romulus. The Saucer and Chevron Seps, the MVAM, and the Aquarius/Ho’SuS are all from the first three years of STO. The Ho’SuS is the oddball out from the group as it meant to match the Federation ship, but honestly, I think if the Bortasqu’ had come out (for the first time) today, it would have been a half-carrier instead with a unique Bird of Prey. So let’s dive into what’s wrong with them.
I. The Part Where Whats Wrong With Them
1) They are not under the player’s control.
They key benefit that a carrier has over its pets vs. a ship with a console pet is that the Carrier Pets are directly controlled via the pet window. You can tell them to attack, to defend, to run away, to dock, and you can replenish them if they blow up almost instantaneously.
Console pets are completely AI run. They can only be ordered to leave the player ship or be recalled, and they have a cool-down on their usage after being recalled. This is actually a fair trade off, however, the Console Pets have other issues that make this intentional limitation a problem.
2) They’re suicidal.
If you’ve ever used one of these pets you’d realize their AI is dumber than me trying to fight the internet. And yet, both keep happening. While I don’t have the therapy sessions to fix the latter, I can try to fix the former. The AIs to these pets have upgraded numerous times already, and they are fighting better. But they’ve got this habit… this habit of running right into an exploding ship. This is an easy fix, but there’s another problem in the background.
3) Most of them are under-geared.
And I’m not talking about consoles. No, with the exception of the Aquarius and Ho’SuS, these guys are using at most, 2-3 weapon slots. EEP!!! That’s a big problem. Its pretty telling on the Saucers, who use see lazily using one beam array to attack a target. But the MVAM in particular should be like a full two ships bearing down on the target. And way back before we figured out how to use beam arrays effectively, it did. Now, not so much.
But that’s why they suck. How do we fix it?
II. The Part Where We Fix It
So ahead of time I’m going to lay down a few rules for this segment:
- NO NEW PROGRAMMING AI – The programmers at Cryptic are busy with many many many many many projects, on STO, on Neverwinter, and on whatever isn’t released yet. They don’t have time for this, so we have to leave the coding buddings off this as much as possible.
- USING EXISTING SKILLS AND PASSIVES ONLY – This is to, again, speed up time. New powers mean more programmer time. We don’t have that.
- KEEPING IT REASONABLE – This is the most important part of these rules in my opinion. To quote, as Dr. House would call him, the great philosopher Jagger, “you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you’ll get what you need.” We’re here for what we need, not what we want.
Ok, that it, so let’s get to it. This will be divided up by each of the pets and what each of them need. In the case of the Ho’SuS and the Ha’apax MVAM, they will share their recommendations with the Aquarius and the Prometheus MVAM respectively. So let’s start with something they all need.
ALL CONSOLE PETS
Scratch the Paint – This would solve the biggest recurring issue with Console pets – their suicidal tendencies. Saucers, Aquariuses, MVAMs, every single one of them need this trait. Especially, since they are not under our control and therefore we cannot recall them from an exploding vessel. Even if I got nothing else on this list, this absolutely needs to be on every single console pet.
Multi-Vector Assault Mode/Dual Vector Separation
Increase the Number of Weapons on NPC Pets – The biggest issue here is that the separated units feel like they’re only a 1/3 of the ship you’re flying. And its true. I would say give each part of the separated ship 4 weapons (2 Fore/2 Aft with at least one slot fore/aft with an Omni Beam array) to allow for sufficient coverage and damage output.
Galaxy-Class Saucer Separation
Increase Weapon Slots on NPC Saucer Module – Ugh, the Galaxy Saucer is just… ugh… it really only ever uses 1 Beam array. Upgrade this to 4 Omni-Directional Phaser Beam Arrays to allow proper coverage, and decent power output.
New Power: Hazard Emitters I – I’m recommending this so the Saucer can either heal its own plasma burns and shield stripping or yours. It gives the Saucer more support roles to play.
No Recommendation – The Aeroshuttle is pretty strong as a pet as is. Give it the Scratch the Paint passive and I think it will do just fine.
Odyssey-class Pets (Both Chevron & Aquarius) & Bortasqu’ Ho’SuS
New Set Bonus – (2 PC) – Danger Zone + Turn the Other Cheek (Pets only) – These two passives would give the Aquarius and Chevron a real survival advantage as well as boosting their damage output. These bonuses would NOT grant Danger Zone or Turn the Other Cheek to the player. In addition, it would strengthen using the set bonus, especially with…
New Set Bonus – (3 PC) – Thick of it + Wing Man (Pets only) – getting the upgrades that these passives gain in the specialization as a 3 piece bonus. Wing Man would push their damage higher and Thick of It would ensure the pets live much longer. As far as set bonuses go, this would make using both the Aquarius and the Chevron much more appealing.
The Ho’SuS, would also benefit greatly from these bonuses.
Increase Weapon Slots on NPC Chevron Module – Ah, Saucers and Chevrons. Its like you forget your weapons loadout. The Odyssey, being newer than the Galaxy, should have a 2/2 layout on its ship.
Recommended Loadout: Fore: Phaser DDD, Phaser OmniBeam Bank; Aft: 2 Phaser Omni Beam Bank
Odyssey-class Aquarius Escort Console/Bortasqu’ Ho’SuS BOP Console
Pilot Maneuvers and/or Rock & Roll (NOT AVAILABLE FOR PLAYABLE VERSIONS) – Yes, I went there. These pocket Escorts have plenty of weapons, their targeting is pretty darn good, but they have the worst survivability. The entire reason the Aquarius is considered the junkiest of these consoles is its inability to stay alive long enough during a fight.
Giving it the Pilot Maneuvers and Rock and Roll would give the Aquarius a very lethal and tanky support position. If I had to choose one of these it would be the Pilot Maneuvers as it gives the Aquarius more to work with, as well as Defensive/Offensive options the AI can exploit.
And I think my Klingon Brothers agree this would be a wonderful advantage for their Ho’SuS as well. With the Ho’SuS’ cloak, and the Aquarius’ new found tankiness, you’d see them becoming a regular sight in battle.
And honestly, with all the Aquarius’ drawbacks, I can honestly say that I can’t think of another ship more deserving of these powers. Especially when compared to the Scimitar’s Elite Drone Pets. Let’s finally make it a tough little ship for the Odyssey and Bortasqu’ Captains to be proud of!
Of course, these are my opinions. What do you think? Leave comments below and try to refine the list further!