By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Star Trek Online is not a cash-grab. It’s not a generic MMO with the Star Trek name slapped on it for a profit. It’s an MMO that’s been going strong since its release in 2010. It was crafted by people who love and believe in the power of the Star Trek lore, and it really shows, from having authentic voice actors from the various series, to the attention to detail in the design of the races, story and ships. But very recently, Star Trek Online made a pretty damn bold move: it went to Xbox One and PS4! Yes, the MMO with like eighty five damn buttons found its way onto console! The episodic style gameplay will find itself a nice home on these consoles. I can feel the questions in the air though: “How is that even possible? It’s such a button-intensive game! Are they going to dumb it down to let console folks play?” To be 100% honest, I was a little worried when I heard the news. Pretty much every MMO I’ve played on console was easy to get into and play and while not every MMO belongs on a console, this one most certainly does. Kudos to Perfect World to putting the time and effort into this edition of the game.
I don’t really think that the console version is dumbed down as some people have suggested. Some of the game mechanics simply aren’t in yet, such as Research and Development. I feel like they are adding those things in slowly to avoid something that PWE games tend to get as a major complaint: Power Creep. Power Creep for those not in the know, is the notion that content becomes obsolete or useless, and if everything is dropped onto the new players all at once, it might frustrate or confuse. If every single DLC pack is out at one time, stuff is going to feel worthless, and I don’t think they want that. It’ll get there, don’t worry! Perfect World’s goal seems to be to get people who primarily play on consoles interested in their product, not the people who already own the game on PC and want to also play on console. This is a tremendously fun version of the game, and while I have a pretty decent ship on my PC account, I prefer to play it on the console. There are obviously glaring issues to look at, like the camera. It never seems to stay just the way I like it. I constantly have to fiddle with it. And the first day, it wouldn’t even zoom in. I zoomed out to get a good look at my surroundings, but couldn’t zoom back in to admire my pretty Romulan Science Officer.
I suppose the biggest concern is the game’s controls. I will admit, the PS4 version of Star Trek Online’s ground controls really made me confused until I sat down and you know, read the screen with all the buttons on it. Something I should have probably done at the outset, but you know. Things happen. Moving from dozens of buttons to just a handful is quite the undertaking, and I rather like how it all comes together. While the controls were fairly easy to get used to, they are certainly not perfect. If you tap the X button it does one thing, if you hold it, it does another thing! Ugh! For example: X: Tap to jump, Tap to Interact with things, and hold it for the Captain’s Menu. That leap in logic bugged me a bit. I mean, I got used to it, but it’s just another menu in an awkward place. But it’s admirable that they managed to make it all work together as well as they did! Targeting wasn’t always the best, but the rest of the control and movement felt really quite solid. There was another control feature that stood out as incredibly helpful. Do you have cool buffs or abilities you want to pop all at once but can’t? Activate the ability wheel and spin that stick! Get all your buffs going at once without having to stress.
And while I was grumpy that I had to do the tutorial again, what I know about the game from playing on PC did not help all that much as far as button placements went, so yeah! I was glad to do it in the end. I just hate tutorials in general. I want to get in there, damnit! But I will say this: Ship. Combat. Is. So. Much. Better. SO MUCH BETTER. Being able to fly with twin sticks made it a snap, and once I had unlocked Full Impulse in the tutorial I was happy. Because normally my ship is so damn slow even at maximum speed, but Full Impulse gave me the speed I needed to cruise and obliterate my enemies. Originally my favorite part of the game was running around and disintegrating people with my blaster, but on PS4? I’d rather be in space firing photon torpedoes, no question. Speaking of space combat, I feel like I have to come back to controls briefly. You can set some of your abilities to trigger automatically, like setting one of your abilities to activate when your shields are low out in space. That way you can focus on what matters: Creating phenomenal explosions out of your enemies, gathering supplies and saving your friends. See? It all comes together. I have a much easier time playing this game as far as actual game mechanics go with a PS4 controller than I do with keyboard and mouse. And being able to browse my menus and customize things while flying around space was kind of neat. It certainly helps!
Stardate: . . .Tuesday [4/5 Great]
I never did really get the whole Stardate thing. This version of Star Trek Online really captured my attention in ways that the PC version did not. What Perfect World did was make the game accessible to a whole new audience: the people who likely only play on console. This is the definitive version of Star Trek Online without having to think about it. I love the graphical overhaul to the UI, the game looked like it belong on this generation of console. Visually speaking, it’s not No Man’s Sky, but I can see they definitely turned up the looks and lighting. I do have to say though, communication on it is [like most MMOs] a right bastard. You can see the chat logs, and you can chat too, but without a keyboard that is going to be a true slog. However it is on the Xbox One and PS4 so voice chat is definitely thing. It will go a long way for me at least, to get a keyboard for my console because I am a pretty social person in MMOs and without a good headset for my console, it would make me able to talk to the folks who I’m saving the stars with. I’m also very glad the servers won’t be crossed [PS4/XB1/PC]. Nothing would ruin it more than the PC PvPers being able to just jump into matches versus people who are trying to get into the game. I don’t have as much time for MMOs these days, but when I do have the spare moments on my console? It’s likely going to be flying around space in STO. It’s free, and for people who haven’t tried it but love the series, and don’t play on PC? You’re in luck, you can give it a whirl now!
+ Controls: The radials help, and combat in space/ground are definitely superior on the console. You’ll get used to buttons and it’s easy to pull up the button map if you need them!
+ Combat: Being able to fly and fight using a controller felt more intuitive and fun to me. Activating lots of abilities at once was awesome to boot.
+ Episodic: One of the beautiful things about this game is that the episodes take about the same time to complete as it would to watch an actual episode. This is perfect for people who love Star Trek and don’t have hours to dump into something.
– Buttons: Buttons are a double-edged sword; while they masterfully put the buttons together, having so many buttons do so many things can be a little frustrating. Especially with your jump button also being the Commander Menu.
– Buggy: It’s still got a few pretty big bugs or issues to work through like the camera. I had to practically fistfight it to make it do what I wanted, and not being able to control the camera on the move was a little bit of a letdown.
– Targeting: I had some serious issues in space trying to target enemy spaceships. I’d have them locked on, and in range, and nothing would happen other than me getting blasted. It would clear up but it was frustrating nonetheless.
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