The first blog reveals more information about the back story of the budding colony on Mol'Rihan (New Romulus). Two more blogs detail the new reputation systems that will be released in Season Seven and finally, a fourth blog discloses more information about the new Embassy Outpost project that will be a part of the existing Fleet Starbase System.
One thing I have always appreciated about Star Trek Online is its ability to tell a really good Star Trek story. Admittedly, the story doesn't come often enough for my taste, but when something does come out, I have always been happy with the results.
STO's Lead Writer, Christine Thompson, has had two game-related short fiction tales released in Star Trek Magazine over the course of the last six months, however it appears that the playerbase might actually be getting some story advancement in the Season Seven release. Interestingly it appears that some of the story development may be a reward in the new reputation system, but more on that will follow later in this column.
This week Dev Blog #9 fictionalizes a news report as released by the Federation News Network. The blog reveals the overt diplomatic efforts being made by a group of Romulan colonists to the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and even to the Reman militia led by the popular STO character Obisek. All of this lays a decent foundation for the political situation brewing in the Tau Dewa Sector, the new 17-system sector that will be released with Season Seven.
For months many end-game players have been grinding STO's notorious Strategic Task Force (STF) missions in the hopes of obtaining a drop of the highest quality gear in game. In Dev Blog #8, Cryptic Studios admits that the extreme rarity of the high-end gear in STFs was completely intentional -- they simply wanted the loot to be extraordinarily difficult to get.
However, because technically the drops were random (although rare) Cryptic began to get an earful from long-time players, frustrated over having played hundreds of STFs and never receiving the reward, who were seeing a few lucky new players getting the good stuff on their first run. The forums filled with rage over the incessant grind and players vocalized a desire for a new and more equitable drop-rate.
Enter the new reputation system. After Season Seven goes live, STFs will no longer operate as they do now. Instead, players will be able to make every single run of an STF count for something and all rewards can be achieved by all players; all they have to do is earn the marks necessary to unlock the items they want. Luck will have nothing to do with it.
Currently, players obtain several different types of currency at end-game: encrypted data chips, Borg salvage, marks of requisition, and prototype tech among others. When the new Task Force Omega reputation system goes live, if a player has these types of currency in their inventory, it will all be converted to Omega Marks and Borg Neural Processors. However all of the newly converted materials will be placed into a locked storage device which will not be accessible by the player until he reaches the fifth tier in the Task Force Omega reputation system.
This means that current hard-core STF players will not be able to use their horde of currency and be able to spend it all on the new high-end gear when the system goes live; they'll be forced to start the reputation system at the bottom with everyone else. They will not lose any of the gear they've already earned, they just won't be able to spend the excess currency they've had sitting on the side.
There are quite a few angry players who feel like they've earned the right to spend their stores and access all of the tier five reputation items without having to work their way through the new reputation system. However it remains to be seen if their rage will have any effect on the decision made by Cryptic to have all players start the reputation anew.
Following up on the more specific discussion about Task Force Omega Fleet, Dev Blog #10 provides a general overview of how the systems will work for both the Omega Fleet and the New Romulus missions. These new systems will be unlocked when a character reaches level 50 or the rank of Vice Admiral for the Federation and Lt. General for the Klingon Defense Force.
When unlocked, the player will have access to a new user interface that sounds very similar to that of the current UI for the fleet starbase system, yet will only be accessible by the individual player. The player will then have the opportunity to select from a series of projects that he can complete by contributing the required materials and marks.
As with the Fleet Advancement system, marks can be earned by undertaking the missions affiliated with the reputation faction. For example, completing STFs will result in Omega Marks and completing missions on the New Romulus system will earn the corresponding Romulan Marks. Once the projects are completed, the player receives an increase of reputation. This continues until the tier is completed and the next tier is unlocked. Once a tier is completed the player will have unlocked new rewards and gear.
One thing I personally found very interesting was the fact that in the Romulan reputation system players will have the capability to unlock new cutscenes as well as new instances "that will progress the story of that zone and give you better insight into the history and current events of New Romulus." This is quite a new approach: story as reward. Personally I like the idea and I really hope it works out well.
Another new system being released in Season Seven is a fleet holding expansion. Fleets will now be able to begin construction of a new Fleet Embassy on New Romulus.
The new project will work exactly like the current fleet starbase system does except that instead of five tiers, it will only have three. The overall Embassy progression will be fed into by two other tracks: Diplomacy and Recruitment. As players donate marks and other materials (presumably received from the Romulan reputation missions) to the selected projects, the fleet's reputation with the Romulans increases and access to "blended" Romulan technology will unlock, and like the current Fleet starbase system, unlocking tiers will also update the way the Embassy looks.
Finally, this is just a quick reminder that some of the new missions affiliated with the New Romulus system as well as the new STF, Into the Hive, are already available to test on STO's Tribble test server, so if you're curious about them and don't want to wait for the formal release of Season Seven head over to Tribble to check them out! Until next week, live long and prosper!
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