We still await the official release date for Season Six; it hasn't been released to the Tribble test server, but Stahl's letter gives additional insight into what players can expect from the new season and gives a few hints at what can be anticipated in Season Seven, due out later this year.
So join me as I go over both the letter and the specs for the new ship!
For obvious aesthetic reasons, the Akira class has always been near the top of most Trekkies' lists when they're reciting their favorites, even though it make only brief appearances in the shows and films.
For years, Industrial Light and Magic's Alex Jaeger's sleek and aggressive design titillated fanboys and fangirls alike. That excitement was only heightened when Jaeger himself admitted the ship was originally meant to be a light carrier with the ability to launch small fighter-type vessels from a flight deck at the rear of the saucer section. It served as bitter dregs to the fandom when those capabilities were never shown on screen.
Enter Al Rivera, Lead Designer for STO, and his thoroughly capable team of ship designers to rectify the grievous error. If players ever doubted that the devs of STO lack the proper nerd-cred for ships, this past week likely assuaged that anxiety. This past Thursday, the next step in the evolution of the Akira, the Armitage class, was released into the game.
A few people may have heard me talk about this ship during a weekly podcast I participate in, while others may have seen the resultant exchange of humorous tweets between me and STO's Rivera due to the podcast. The joke arose when my co-hosts and I discussed the new tactical console mod that comes with the Armitage when it's purchased from the C-Store (currently 2000 C-Store points or about $25 US).
One of the podcasters stated that it was "loaded for bear." The statement was misheard as "loaded with bear." The conversation took a decidedly bizarre and unintentional turn, and we ended up talking about the ship launching bears like torpedoes. It is ultimately how my own ship, the U.S.S. Ursine shown above, earned her name.
The STO devs heard this conversation and tweeted the picture to the left, stating they were working on this for the next design.
For those who have not yet read Rivera's blog entry about this new addition, the specs are:
- Minimum Rank: Vice Admiral
- Hull Strength: 30,000
- Shield Modifier: 0.9
- Crew: 200
- Weapons: 4 Fore, 3 Aft
- Device Slots: 2
- Bridge Officer Stations: 1 Ensign Tactical, 1 Lieutenant Tactical, 1 Commander Tactical, 1 Lieutenant Commander Engineering, 1 Lieutenant Science
- Console Modifications: 4 Tactical, 3 Engineering, 2 Science
- Base Turn Rate: 15 degrees per second
- Impulse Modifier: 0.2
- +15 Power to Weapons
- Can Load Cannons
- Photon Torpedo Point Defense System
- 1 Hangar Bay with 1 wing of Peregrine Fighters
Recently, Stahl issued the first State of the Game letter we've seen in a very long time.
According to Community Manager Brandon Felczer, these letters will be released monthly in place of what had been expected to be the reappearance of the monthly Engineering Reports.
The new format obviously allows Stahl the ability to discuss anticipated changes to the game without being in the hazardous position of being perceived as making promises to the game's community, especially when it comes to anticipated release dates of content.
The re-emergence of the State of the Game letter comes right before the release of Season Six and the fleet advancement system we touched upon in last week's Captain's Log.
Stahl confirms that Season Six will see the introduction of the one of the more elusive species in Trek: the Tholians. The Tholians were first seen (well, they weren't really seen; they were blurry objects on the screen) in the classic Original Series episode titled The Tholian Web. The Tholians were able to generate a large energy web that ensnared Captain Kirk and the Enterprise as they searched for the ill-fated U.S.S. Defiant (the NCC-1764, not the little escort seen in Deep Space Nine).
Stahl's letter clearly indicates that players will see the use of the energy web in the game and that it will "have some players feverishly looking for their ship's abilities to find a solution." After all, "being trapped in a matrix of pure energy requires quick thinking before the web closes in."
Interestingly, Stahl also confirms that the Tholians will actually take "center stage" in Season Seven, which is due to be released later this year.
Season Six is also set to have some new features for Foundry users, including "new assets and maps," although it's not clear whether what Stahl is referring to isn't what's already on the test server.
Klingons became the first to see anything when it comes to the look of their new fleet starbase interiors. Shown above, the work-in-progress reflects the idea that Klingons prefer fireplaces on their space-stations as opposed to any of that fake-heat generated by other means.
To be honest, I like it. I think it's very Klingon. They're not stupid; they have great fire suppression systems in space, and fire brings them feel closer to the home-planet. At least that's the excuse I'm making for them.
Deep Space Nine fans will recognize the face of the alien who graces the header of today's column. That alien is Morn, the ever-present patron sitting in the first stool of Quark's bar. While the show's characters described Morn as an incessant chatter-box, he never uttered a word during the entire seven-year run of the series.
Stahl recently appeared in-game as Morn during a live Q&A session, and it set the fandom and players atwitter. Very few canon characters are seen in-game; Leeta from DS9 is now a hologram that supervises the dabo games; McCoy and Scotty are seen in time-travel episodes; and Spock is only heard not seen. So Morn's expected appearance in Season Six will be a treat.
Finally, in his letter, Stahl once again references things that we can expect from Season Seven later this year. Specifically, he states:
"Season Seven will be entirely focused on adding a new sector and content to the game. In addition to the Tholians, you'll be seeing the return to one of our key storylines as you begin the quest to resolve one of the key conflicts happening in the game. Does this mean a Tholian Feature Episode series is in the works? Not exactly. We are going to be trying something different that will be story focused, but also allow us to add more missions to the game than you've previously seen in a Feature Episode series."It's this news that intrigued me the most. It will be interesting to see what story-based content will be if it's not necessarily like the featured episodes we've seen in the past.
But we have months before we'll know, so until next week at least, live long and prosper!
Incoming communique from Starfleet Headquarters: Captain's Log is now transmitting direct from Terilynn Shull every Monday, providing news, rumors, and dev interviews about Star Trek Online. Beam communications to firstname.lastname@example.org.