Since the dawn of 1966, geeks and nerds the world over have dreamt of the day that they too could sit in that hallowed chair; rocking from side to side helplessly as sirens blare and red lights flash.
Finally, after what feels like a 44 year wait, that dream has been realised. With Star Trek Online so close to release, pretty soon you too will be able to aspire to be the next Captain Kirk. And so I give to you, people not graced with the good fortune of beta access or capable PCs, Scathing Accuracy's guide to Star Trek Online (beta).
Rolling up your character in STO, like any beta before it, consists of the usual familiar territory:
- 1) Select (or create) your race.
- 2) Customise your character.
- 3) Choose your class. Or in STO's case shirt colour. Engineering is yellow, Tactical is red, science is blue.
In this instance we will be playing as a human, because aliens are for wusses (except for Klingons which aren't available from the word go), and besides that everyone knows that the key players in Star Trek are always humans. Kirk, Piccard, Janeway, that guy from Enterprise that no one cares about, the list goes on. As well as this, it should be obvious to all that we'll be donning the mutton chops once more, in an attempt to appear as manly as possible. If Kirk taught us anything it's that seduction is the true path to enlightenment.
The last part of the creation process is the difficult part. One which leads me to have an existential crisis. Does Engineering not require a sound knowledge of Science? Is it not possible to use your knowledge of both Science and Engineering to persue your goals in a Tactical manner? Why should we be tied down by arbitrary colours and designations? And with that I decided; our class shall be Tactical Scigineer. An amalgamation of the best of the best, with a colour to suit all aspects of Red, Blue and Yellow; but not brown because who wants to wear a brown uniform? STO also follows in the footsteps of Champions Online (unsurprising as they share an engine) and allows you to pick a default idle pose. Naturally we select "Swagger", as it is the Kirk thing to do.
I start my career in Starfleet as a fresh up and coming Ensign in a canteen on the U.S.S. Tutorial Level, and though alarms are ringing and a Borg Cube is floating around outside, most of the crew seems fairly calm about the whole situation - so I do what anyone does when faced with new and unfamiliar surroundings... I /dance.
Little time is to be spent dancing amongst my fellow crewmates however, as all of a sudden the voice of Sylar-Spock is informing me that I should try walking around. After a brief few minutes more of dancing, in protest of his attempts to tell me what to do, I meander over to the nearest turbolift.
During my brief trip from one side of the canteen to the other, the Captain of the U.S.S. Tutorial requests my presence to the bridge. Finally, I think to myself, this is my moment to shine, and upon arriving, I am told to hail another ship for assistance using the console in front of me. Questioning why the woman already sitting at said console can't open a hailing frequency, I make it so, only for aforementioned woman to exclaim to the Captain that I had successfully received a response from the nearby ship.
Before we get a chance to celebrate the strenuous efforts I went through to press the F key; the Captain tells me that I urgently need to make my way to the transporters and board the other ship to help out. On my way over, the Security Chief tells me to be careful, as there is still fighting going on over there. I ignore her words of advice and yell for Scotty to beam me up as I enter the transporters, a familiarly satisfying tingly noise ringing around as I disappear.
Things go from bad to worse once I beam aboard the U.S.S. Tutorial Part 2. As I stare in disbelief at the many wounded crew members in the sickbay, and their inconsistent uniform styles, an Emergency Medical Hologram starts yelling at me to find out what's wrong with some of them. After briefly trying to beat answers out of them, I suddenly realise where I am and start to wave around my all purpose Tricorder and undoubtedly save the day. The Holodoctor congratulates me on my potential for medicine and at this point it is clear to me that I am superior to him in every way - being both a Tactical Scigineer and having watched every single episode of House MD to date - I find that I have no more use for him. A single emotional hologramatical tear rolls down his cheek as he watches the student become the master and walk out of his sick bay forever.
As I leave the sick bay, it becomes evident to me how badly the ship is suffering under the relentless Borg attack. With flaming wreckage and localised shields locking down sections of the ship, I can do naught but stare helplessly as a handful of Star Fleet officers are butchered by a lone Borg behind an impenetrable shield. I suddenly start to feel alone in the infinite depths of space; with nothing but my thoughts, and the screams of my fellow Federationites as they are slaughtered en masse, for company. In dire need of cheering up, I do the only thing I truly know and dance some more.
With my morale boosted to adequate levels I soon find myself upon a panicked, little, blue man. Leiutenant Exposition tells me that the Borg are acting strange, almost as if it were a game play mechanic that required them to be beatable, and that he needs help dealing with several trapped behind a force field in the same room.
"Gad zooks!" I say to myself, phasing out any and all things coming from Leiutenant Exposition's mouth "What would Captain Picard do?".
I try facepalming in an attempt to channel Captain Jean Luc Picard, but to no avail. In a last fit of nerd rage I slam my fist into the nearest console, realising that I probably have too much hair and too little classical Shakespearian acting talent to solve a problem like this. As luck would have it, the Borg are teleported out of the room, and left in front of an open airlock which promptly sucks them into space. Leiutenant Exposition mistakenly thanks me for helping him out, and once again I'm on my merry way to find someone else's problems to solve. If I keep this up, I'll have my own ship in NO TIME.
No sooner had I entered the next room than I had once again found myself in the midst of a crisis. The hallway was infested with Borg technology, and worse yet actual Borg with no magical barrier between them and me. Having somehow found success once already by channelling previous Captains, I this time asked myself "What would James Tiberius Kirk do?".
"We come in peace!" I yelled at the top of my lungs, rolling forward into a crouched position and firing off phaser rounds at Borg and Borg-tech alike. My cunning plan obviously worked, as a message came through to my communicator informing me that communications were back on line, but that the Borg were making a last push towards the Warp Core. Seeing no other way immediately off the ship, and with the lives of everyone on board (most notably myself) at stake, I had no choice but to roll, shoot and engage in occasional fisticuffs all the way to engineering, to defend it from the Borg. Upon heroically reaching the Warp Core, I found the Borg apparently forgot to leave facebook messages for each other to gather there, as our defence only lasted 30 seconds before I was told that everything was fine, and to go on out the back way.
After fleeing to the apparent safety of another transporter room, the rest of the crew decided that I should take someone of my preferred class with me. A fellow crewman, with which to have many a heroic adventure with. The big question was who? It was undeniable to me that Science was indeed Scientific, or that Engineering was Engineerific, but what I needed for my crew was someone who would live and die for me. Someone who would throw away their very life if it would ensure I survived. With that in mind, my decision was an obvious one; I chose to take a Tactical Officer with me.
A plucky young Andorian Ensign (who I promptly referred to as Redshirt) introduced herself to me as Tallasa. She claimed to be competent at Leg Sweeping and High Yield Torpedo use; and while Captain Kirk taught us all many years ago that it is the Prime Directive to mate with anything outside of your own species - the Karate Kid would have to wait. We had a job to do after all, and so with that the two of us stepped into the transporter.
After a brief accident resulting in me floating unprotected in the vacuum of space, Ensign Redshirt and myself were both transported to our new home aboard the U.S.S Better Than Yours. As luck would have it, the Borg had strategically executed any and all Officers on board, and as a result I was instantly promoted to Captain by virtue of being the highest ranking member of the new 2-man crew. Things were finally looking up for Scathie McAcc and Ensign Redshirt. Taking pitty on some of the other damaged ships around, I found time to beam some of their survivors aboard. After all, it takes more than 2 to pilot a ship, and any leftovers will make fine wenches or fry cooks.
After making several stops between places to pick up and drop off people and supplies, it suddenly occured to me that this was feeling an awful lot like a fetch quest. Ensign Redshirt agreed, the only thing worse than fetch quests being ones that require us to kill pitifully weak opponents in combat, and so we set off for greener pastures into a live combat zone.
Our thirst for space blood was soon to be quenched as we entered the Vega System to find Borg Spheres lining the skies. Overcome with a sense of duty, and with absolutely nothing to do with the prospect of space loot, the U.S.S. Better Than Yours launched itself into the midst of battle. After several precious minutes were spent destroying the Borg in space, it became readily apparent that the only way Ensign Redshirt would live up to her potential would be if we were to beam to the surface and attack the Borg head on.
With battle being waged on the surface, several Starfleet officers were more than happy to throw a bigger weapon at me and send me on my way to get my Redshirt killed, so long as I promised to rescue people and destroy Borg structures on my way. Now equipped with a rifle, and a snazzy belt full of grenades, I set off to wage a one man war against the space zombies. From a rolling crouched position, naturally. Disappointment came, however, when Ensign Redshirt simply refused to die, valuing her own life too much to simply throw down her phaser and accept Death's sweet embrace.
With my bloodlust satiated, and Ensign Redshirt's reputation a disgrace, we decided it was time to bail on this Borg infested planet. After all, there was nothing but a small town of note, and they didn't even have a Starbucks, so there was little reason to stay. No sooner had we left for orbit than we were hailed by Starfleet once more. It seemed that for some reason we were their only hope in destroying a Borg Cube. While hesitant at the prospect of yet more work with little or no recognition, Starfleet had given me a free rifle earlier and I was technically stealing their ship, so I felt I owed them this last one. And so with that, we took to the skies at full impulse, barrelling headlong into glorious battle.
"Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded", the Borg hailed. With it barely being our first date, and having had nothing to drink, I responded in the most appropriate fashion: a love filled Proton Torpedo. With the Borg cube defeated, hailing frequencies were immediately opened to Starfleet Command, congratulating me on a job well done and requesting I return to the Sol system immediately. It was finally time to go home.