Hello all, and welcome to my first mechanic breakdown. I’m going to discuss Star Trek Online’s combat mechanic. I've also included the video I did on it, for those who like a more personal feel.
How I’ll break this down will be in separate categories. Challenge, curiosity, control, cooperation, competitiveness and recognition. Each category, I believe, breaks down a mechanic in their most raw parts, each of which I’d like to discuss how they work.
So let’s get down to business and start breaking down Star Trek Online’s combat mechanic.
Does the mechanic challenge your skills and knowledge, and for how long? Easy to learn, hard to master?
The combat mechanics are pretty simple to use. Press the button and they do the action they say they do. You have abilities that help your damage, heal you, increase defense, hinder your opponent, or a combination of those. The challenge isn’t gaining the abilities, as most of the skills in this game are very easy to get from a small in game credit amount. The challenge is mostly knowing what to do with them because there are a lot of abilities and little space to put them in. Some abilities are even redundant because you may not have room for it under science, but you may have room under your engineering. In the end I feel that the combat is challenging if you wish to get more in-depth with it, otherwise it’s pretty easy to pick up and use in most casual uses once you get the hang of it.
Does the mechanic make you want to learn it? How much is there to learn? Does it spark interest?
The level of depth and complexity of the mechanic does entice me to want to learn it. There’s a lot of unknown at the beginning. You’re given a small sample of what you can use when you start, between a single skill based off your class and some officers that has the ability to use their first skill slot. I feel this is a good setup to let you know what to work towards.
How much of the mechanic do you have control over? Does the system let you do what you want, or are you following what the game wants you to do?
Recent combat changes give you the ability to train multiple skills on a single bridge officer. You can change them out when you need to switch out your abilities. In space combat, your personal skills are based on your class, while the rest of your abilities are determined by your bridge officers. Your given the decisions what skills to train your officers, and which ship to use. Each ship has a unique setup of the number of slots for each bridge officer class and how many tiers worth of skills they can use. You’re given full control over what officers are set to use on your ship, but you’re limited to a number of officers to use.
On ground, you’re given the use of personal skills that you can change out, depending on your kit and what you put in the kit, the class skills given to you at certain levels, and you bridge officer skills. Like the ships, your kits have a limited number of slots to put skills in and they are designed for two categories of skills. Some of the later kits have universal slots, but still limited to a number of them. This limits your control.
The amount of control you have is pretty high, but there are places it limits you. I feel these limits aren’t arbitrary and smartly done to create the need to come up with strategies. You are limited to the number of skills you have access to, and they are split among different categories space combat and ground.
Can you and another player use the mechanic together? How easy/hard is it to, if possible?
When you group up with another player, the enemies won’t scale in difficulty. I think this is because you can scale certain instance difficulties manually, and most quests are already balanced out for your bridge officers to take the place of other players. The missions themselves are set to give you a certain amount of officers to use for each mission, however the limit doesn’t prevent you from having a full group of players instead. Since the game is balanced on you using bridge officers, the difficulty does go down when using real players instead.
Like most MMOs, when you group with other players, you are taking on inherit problems as well, like down time waiting on AFK players, or waiting for players to reach their destination to start. These are minor due to systems put in place for players to be able to port to the start using in game credits. And depending on the difficulty of the quest you’re on, and how ok the group is on this subject, you can continue on while leaving the AFK member behind.
Grouping is also limited by faction. Klingon faction can only group with Klingons, Federation faction can only group with Feds and the Romulan faction can group with whomever they side with after 10.
Can you use this mechanic on another player? How easy/hard is it to, if possible?
PvP combat is pretty much the same as it is in PvE. Some builds work better, but my overall sense is that the skills still work the same on a player as they do on the computer. In my small stint of playing some PvP, I found it to be more challenging than against the computer, go figure. The fights took longer to do because the opponent had better defense and could properly heal themselves and maneuver around my attacks.
Does the system reward you for using this mechanic? Can you show other players your use of the mechanic? Do you feel rewarded for using the mechanic?
You’re rewarded with experience and item drops and continuing on the quests. These are minor to me since the item drops are pretty few because there are no vendor trash rewards, the experience alone won’t get you leveled quickly, and combat during quests are almost expected in an MMO environment, although being a Star Trek IP, I would think you would be rewarded more for avoiding a fight. In the end, I think the biggest reward you get from the combat system is more intrinsic. I enjoy the feeling of besting the opponent, even a computer. To see your opponent blow up and you’re still sailing, in a way.
To recap, I believe the combat can be challenging, depending on how deep you want to delve into the mechanic. It does a good job getting you started and makes you want to learn the mechanic more. You have a lot of control over the mechanic with some limitations that are well done. You can group with others to fight within your faction, but it does loose some of the challenge in casual parts of the game. There’s PvP, it’s fun and challenging and it doesn’t get in the way of playing this game fully PvE. The physical reward is ok, but you won’t get much out of it.
In the end, I find the combat enjoyable. It’s fun and doesn’t get stale since you can easily change and try out new builds.
If you have any thoughts on this mechanic, please let me know. I look forward to any more discussion on this breakdown.