Yesterday’s launch of Season 11.5 brought with it a serious revamp to the skills system along with a new episode and new game features. And with any launch the half season also brought with it a few unexpected glitches that had more than a few of us scratching our heads. Nothing was game-ending or massively nerfed (at least to my eyes), and by the end of a very long day most players appeared to come away happy. As I’ve prepared this blog I’ve included the known issues where possible, and noted what solutions (unofficially) that are in the works based on feedback from the devs ingame.
Skill System Revamp
A HUGE thankyou needs to be said to Borticus and team, and to the many players who experimented with builds on Tribble.
After months of hard work and weeks of players doing hands-on testing, the new skill system was launched on Holodeck. Despite months of blog posts, Youtube Videos, forum commentary, twitter logs, press releases, twitch streams and numerous threads in Reddit – some players were caught completely by surprise. After the initial rage quits by a few on ESD, people quickly settled into the new system.
The launch was a bit disorienting – a lot to consider. For most of us skill trays needed to be reset (a side effect of technically not having chosen our skills). Using a RESPEC token also resets your traits, so that is something to consider when updating your character. What was also a bit of a shock for some was jumping into the game, diving into the new Red Alert only to find your skills gone, and your trays half empty.
Every player could reset their skills for free, in addition to a free respec token given out on top of any others you might have already earned from your subscriptions or previous promotions. Add to this a 40% discount on C-Store RESPEC tokens has made this as painless an update as possible.
The new system is much simpler to comprehend, and rather than a scalar value to each skill, players can purchase skills using points – 46 for space and 10 for ground. Each class – tactical, science and engineering – have their own tracks similar in layout to specializations. Major changes include the removal of underused skills and a merger or replacement of others.
There are no class restrictions on how many points you spend on each track. Captains still retain the unique skills for their classes (e.g. Subnuc for Science captains) so it’s not become a completely homogeneous skill system.. At intervals on each track players can choose which skill they can train boffs, and select special abilities or bonuses. The skill bonus are broken roughly into 3 levels – the first level gives you the largest with each subsequent bonus smaller. At the end of each track, after you’ve spent at least 24 points in a single track, there are three Ultimate Enhancers (at 25, 26 and 27 points) for each class.
It’s not possible to have Ultimate Enhancers in more than 1 track – there’s simply not enough points. Are they worth it? For the moment the ‘Ultimate Enhancers’ don’t seem to me to be that important. While I have built out 3 characters so far with the UE’s intact, the remainder I plan to build out as balanced. Given you have at least 1 free RESPEC, you’ll have plenty of options to test and try again.
One drawback is that each point you spend is locked – you can’t undo it without RESPEC’ing. This was talked about with the developers during testing and hopefully will be added at a later point. So for the moment each time you select a skill, you also have verify that purchase before moving on. Choose wisely…
Of course I’m kidding – each skill/ability/bonus has an excellent descriptor so that you’ll have a decent understanding of what it does ingame.
There are a number of online tools to help you make those choices. Experiment at STOAcademy.com before you reset you character completely.
Another Update: Please don’t post asking for a template on Reddit Builds – just look at the right hand side navigation where you’ll find templates already in place for you to copy and edit.
Note: Officially there are no plans for allowing players to have more than 46 points for space and 10 for ground. I suspect this may change at some point in the future as the design appears to be open-ended.
The testing of the system didn’t occur in a vacuum, and many players assisted @BorticusCrytpic to adjust , alter and reorganize when and where skills would appear on the tree. After weeks of collaborative efforts between the devs and players, the new system for the most part meets or exceeds your original builds. There are a few players still not happy with all of the changes to ground – however – this new system is still evolving as it has impacted virtually every piece of gear in the game.
A lot of players have been asking and emailing – where do I start? My simplest answer is it’s too early for completely optimized builds for [name]-type build. Check out the advice over on reddit/r/sto and reddit/r/stobuilds as a starting point.
My personal experience is that with Science builds, I’m increasing the number of abilities while nearly doubling my DPS. And I’m not alone in that impression. I can’t wait to see how it impacts my lone Engineer.
Holy Shit – My Overflow bag is full of duplicate items…
In addition to giving away 12 bank slots per character, many players discovered they suddenly had overflow bags full of unique items – in most cases duplicates of things they already had in their bank. Some people say duty officers, other saw unique 1-of-a-kind gear that mysteriously didn’t share a cool down and could be used.
Shame it didn’t duplicate my lobi….
What happened was that the devs made an attempt to restore previously un-claimable unique items and it got a little out of hand. They have figured out what might have caused it to go overboard, and will apply a fix shortly. For most players it was a minor inconvenience (OMG -I have 2 of every tribble), and for others it replaced items they had accidentally deleted.
Ship Visuals – Best. Space Barbie. Update. Ever.
We now have the ability to finally control which visual our ships use for things like Shields, Deflectors and Impulse Engines. Located on the main ship page as a new tab, you can drag the shield of your choice to override the visuals you currently are using. Suddenly Adapted MACO and AEGIS is all the rage again, while keeping your Iconian or Terran abilities.
Note that not all shields/deflectors/impulse engines come with a visual. Generally all reputation gear does, with a small number of in-game rewards also providing that ability. The easiest way to know if an item has a unique look – drop it in the appropriate slot on your ship and right click on the item. If it says ‘Enable Visuals’ – you have something you can play dress-up with.
Equip Screens are ‘dodgier’ than usual.
A few weeks back I had a large amount of gear disappear to a known, but seldom experienced glitch in the loadout system. Customer Service responded with replacement Zen to cover the costs as the bug itself couldn’t be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time. Don’t worry – it only seems to affect people who open up 6 new ships at once on a single character – #firstworldproblems. Yesterday the Equip screen (left click on any item in it’s slot to see other options from your bank or inventory) wasn’t working for many players and characters. This could have been an issue with the number of players trying out new ship-looks overwhelming the system, but by Wednesday afternoon most items were again visible in the selection screen.
As a side note – I don’t trust the loadouts for returning gear to my inventory. I manually move gear now to ensure I don’t have to replace it.
Strategist Secondary Specialization
A combat-oriented, space-based specialization (similar to Pilot or Commando for ground), it offers a variety of bonuses to movement, offense and defense. I don’t have a break-down prepared for this blog of all of the options. What I will say is that I fully filled out the spec on 2 characters (courtesy of the generous Admiralty rewards) and switched from Pilot to Strategist as it offered a wider range of bonuses in combat.
What has stood out for me is how the Strategist specialization interacts with the revised Threat skill(s) and abilities. I would never have looked at using threat before for selfish reasons (please Mr. Borg, shoot at the OTHER guy) – now I’m finding my ability to control when Threat is used has made it viable for non-tanking builds.
I’ll look at doing a more formal breakdown at some point in the future once i’ve had a chance to play test this specialization. Maybe one day we can make our own specialization tree, cherry picking what we like from Pilot, Command and Strategist 😉
Romulan Admiralty Campaign
I can’t say enough good things about the Admiralty system, other than the KDF and Romulans needs more faction-science ships. No – free ships, lockboxes and lobi ships don’t count. In any case, the Admiralty system is a love-letter to ship collectors and players with ‘more than a few’ alts. It’s the only reason why I have enough specialization points to try the new Strategist Specialization
The new campaign focuses on the Romulan Republic with the rewards focus being on crafting materials. Completing the Tour of Duty will reward players 3 Romulan Universal Tech Upgrades. The big prize for completing level 10 is a new Epic-quality Admiralty ship, the R.R.W Zedenia.
Na’kuhl Red Alert – or – How to Annoy Players with Pop-ups 😉
Update: It’s been fixed in tomorrow’s patch 😉
OK, OK, I get it. You want me to play this new ‘Red Alert’ everytime I switch a map, get a drink, go to the bathroom, look at an email, check a tweet etc. etc.
Likely another bit of overkill, the pop-up screen for the Na’kuhl Red Alert appears everywhere. Rather than the traditional method for entering the Red Alert (Borg, Tholain) on your own with random other players showing up, this new system will queue you in the same way a STF is formed in the public queues. I’m under the impression that this methodology was used to 1.) prevent issues with the launch, and to 2.) guarantee enough players were inside to make the mission viable for new players.
Personally I get a kick out of soloing a Borg Red Alert, and I understand why Star Trek Online has set this up with requiring 5 players to start the queue. Just tone the damn pop-ups and you’ll make me happy.
The mission is relatively easy – 4 stages of defending convoys, with escalating difficulty on the final wave as Na’kuhl battleships arrive to finish the job. Some players have noted this was extremely difficult to complete – but after completing it 9 times yesterday I found it to be surprisingly fun and easy to complete once i realized you need to use your map.
- Use you map ‘M’ to find where the next attack is happening (don’t sit still)
- Always target the copy before attacking the main ship.
- Na’Kuhl use plasma weapons, and seem to be affected more by plasma than AP or disruptors. A few other players have noticed this behaviour – trying to get some formal data to support this.
- Na’Kuhl are affected by Gravity Wells – TS3 and HY3 work well against them.
New Mission: Temporal Front
My first impression was this mission felt very much like the story from ‘Undiscovered Country’. Occurring today in our timeline, you are sent to a massive alliance meeting on New Romulus where the Na’kuhl are plotting… something. I’ll post a spoiler filled review in a few weeks once everyone has had a chance to play it.
Now that [redacted] is dead, how will it impact the [redacted] leadership and our alliance?
Overall it’s not a bad mission (3/5), and it certainly has a Star Trek feel to it, tying the Enterprise Stormfront episode firmly into STO’s continuity.
The Na’kuhl are worthy opponents on the ground and in space utilizing a variety of new weapons (crawlers – mines that move) and deception tactics. I actually had difficulty on easy level the first few times through as the opponents seems to melt through my shields and hitpoints. But as with any new opponent, it takes a little time to adjust your tactics.
One interesting side note is the initial portion of the mission has faction-specific dialog – a nice touch we don’t always get to see. I like that the center of activity is New Romulus and the embassy is just the right kind of place to hold these meetings.
One standout from the episode is the battles on the Na’Kuhl bridge which is also the same bridge you’ll get if you’re lucky enough to buy or win a Na’kuhl ship. The RNG Gods were not nice this time round (250 keys and no ships , and a shit-ton of Na’kuhl duty officers), but I did have enough Lobi to purchase a science ship – review later this week. I’m calling it the ‘Bordello Bridge’ – clearly large enough to host a party or two.
Overall this mid-season update has been an excellent step forward for Star Trek Online. Mid Season seems to be the time for a major system update, and the skill revamp has proven to be quite good for many of us. In my case I’ve neglected my skills for the past 2 years, using a very old build model regardless of the faction or class – and my effectiveness has always been sub-optimal. The new system has allowed me to improve, while at the same time making it easier for me to understand the mechanics of why it works. While not everyone is completely happy, there is room for improvement and Star Trek Online is actively listening. We’re sure to hear more about what’s working and what isn’t over the coming days, and I’ll update you where necessary.
Season 11.5 – It’s a good day to be a Star Trek Online fan.
Lastly – if you haven’t stopped by the forums recently – now is the time to say thanks to Borticus/team/players for all their hard work.
Thanks for tuning in! We’ll have a review of the T6 Na’kuhl Daemosh Science Vessel and an overdue review of the T6 Hestia class later this week.
My Two Bits