I missed a good chunk of the Star Trek Online open beta.
Part of that was because we spent a week on Maui, which is a pretty fair trade in the middle of winter. Even for a California winter.
But even when I have been around there have been problems getting into the game. The server was essentially full for most of the time before I was on vacation. That is when it wasn’t down. And it has been down rather regularly since I have been back.
Not that Cryptic hasn’t been working on things. I’ve downloaded about a gigabyte and a half of updates since I got back home. But I get the feeling that the Star Trek IP is a bit more popular than they calculated.
Somehow, between the outages, I have managed to get in enough time to, you know, blow things up.
And I like what I have seen.
I have to deal my internal love of Star Trek which makes it difficult at times to evaluate whether I like something that is Star Trek related, or whether I merely like that it is Star Trek related. I’m a fan boy. Not as much as some people, but I am to the degree that I can be and still be me. And Star Trek fan boys can get uptight about some of the silliest of things.
So play I must. And having played a little, here is what I think.
Ship combat looks good. It is close enough to the Starfleet Command (my favorite series of Star Trek games ever, which culminated with Starfleet Command III) style of ship combat for my taste. Things go a bit quicker and I miss the ability to transport over marines to capture ships when the shields are down, but otherwise it feels about right.
I am undecided on ground combat. That isn’t what a Star Trek game is really about for me, but it seems better than, say, Pirates of the Burning Sea’s version of the same thing. And planet side seems to offer places to relax.
And the game as a whole? I am surprised by some of the complexities. But it feels okay, and you can tweak enough things to make the future feel a bit less sterile and mass produced.
Like Darren, I agree that being on a mission and finding myself in an ad hoc fleet working towards the same objectives works. Though it can stink when you draw a tougher mission and find yourself alone. I had to call on Skronk to help me out on one.
So, if nothing else, I am not going to try and get out of my GameStop pre-order. I will be playing this game. And I will be playing it soon since, as Cryptic pointed out, the last open beta weekend was upon us.
Next Friday, January 29th, those with pre-orders can get into the game for real. Things are live.
But there is a decision to be made between now and the official launch day of February 2nd.
Do I get the lifetime subscription?
It is available up until February 1st for $239. After that it will still be available, but it will be priced at $299.
The Trek fan boy in me says, “Get it!” In fact, the Trek fan boy in me wants to know why I am still typing this since the order page is up in another tab and I could be ordering it RIGHT THIS SECOND!
And then there is skeptical me. (Alternately known as thoughtful me, sarcastic me, or obstinate ass-hat me, depending on how far off I am from other people’s own opinions.)
Skeptical me still likes the idea of the lifetime subscription, since it takes the whole subscribe, unsubscribe, am I playing enough to justify a monthly subscription detail off the table.
But then skeptical me goes on and points out Lord of the Rings Online, which I don’t play all that much.
Sure, I patch and log in about once a month and play a little. But I spend a lot more time in WoW and even in EVE Online. And while that is partly because I have regular groups and friends in those games, it is also, to a certain extent, because I am paying a monthly fee for them, so I feel I had better be playing if I am paying.
And so LOTRO falls into third place because the pressure is off in that regard. I can play whenever.
Then skeptical me brings up Pirates of the Burning Sea. The parallels between that and Star Trek Online are clear, if not absolute. In PotBS I loved the ship combat, but the rest of the game really did little for me. Could STO be a repeat of that?
And while skeptical me has me on the ropes, he brings up Starfleet Command. Sure, I love that game. I bring it out every few months to play it. But how much play time does it really get, skeptical me asks like a lawyer in a courtroom drama bringing up the critical point in his case, exactly how much time did you spend playing that game in 2009?
Maybe six hours.
“SIX HOURS?” shouts skeptical me, waking up the jury, “You spent 6 hours out of the year playing that game, and now you want to get a lifetime subscription to a game because it plays like SFC? Is this what you’re suggesting? Does this make sense?
Damn skeptical me, he has a point.
And then skeptical me starts to play good cop. Look, he points out, they also have a discount year long subscription. That is $119, which saves you $60 over the course of a year and you lock in that price ongoing. So in two years you will have spent the same as the lifetime subscription, and you might be over the game by then.
Finally, skeptical me wraps up his case. Look at Turbine, he says. They offered a discounted lifetime subscription before launch, but they have brought back that discounted price a number of times. If you truly get into the game, you might have the opportunity again later.
But then the fan boy retorts that not having to worry about a subscription is more likely to get me through the rough launch ahead. And it is going to be a rough launch if my current experience, where I have spent more time trying to play than playing, what with patches, the server being full, or the server simply being down, over the open beta cycle.
But the year long subscription plan also works for that.
I still have a week to decide. Lifetime or not?
What would you do?
And more importantly, what would Kirk do?