I was able to ride out the network issues long enough to play the most recent mission, which highlights the voice talents of actor Tim Russ as he reprises his role of Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager. There are a lot of spoilers ahead; you've been warned! But I won't make any mention of the specific story choices that can be made during the mission. I want to leave some things a surprise.
Let's recap: The story in STO so far has the Federation at war with the Klingons. The burgeoning Romulan Republic appealed to both warring parties for alliances in an effort to protect their new planet from the oppressive Tal Shiar. The UFP and the Klingon Empire have tenuously set aside open war in order to assure that neither one can overtly control the New Romulan Territory. It is best described as a "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" type of situation. This relationship is strained but begins to gel when a new Dyson Sphere, the Solonae, is discovered. Another enemy, the Voth, threaten to wrest control of the sphere and the Omega particles it generates. The triumvirate continue to work together to control that new threat.
Enter Admiral Tuvok and his new ship, the U.S.S Dyson. The player is informed that Admiral Tuvok is in charge of a mission involving a new and terrifying discovery at the heart of the Solonae Dyson Sphere: The Voth have erected a station near the star that the sphere is encapsulating. It has been determined that the station would be able to use the dangerous Omega particles to provide enough power for the entire sphere to "jump" through subspace to another unknown place in the galaxy. If the Voth were able to complete their plan, the entire sphere, along with any hope of controlling the hazardous power source, would be lost. Unfortunately, Admiral Tuvok is stranded on the station and needs assistance.
Yes, I used a Firefly reference in a STO column, but if anything's a staple in sci-fi storytelling, it's that the geeky weakling in the group is really a bad guy in disguise. It's the same in Step Between the Stars. Once the player reaches the other side and Dr. Cooper prepares to shut down the station, he cunningly informs you and Tuvok that he is unable to shut down the station without also powering up one of the many Iconian gates within the sphere (naturally, the one closest to the station).
The player and Tuvok discuss the lack of real options. There's no way the player can risk losing the sphere and the Omega particles it contains. However, the player really doesn't want to risk opening yet another Iconian gate, which may allow in another enemy unhindered into the region. But most logically, it's decided that the main objective is the continued presence of the Solonae Dyson sphere exactly where it is, and another Iconian gate is grudgingly fired up. Almost immediately, a large Voth battleship makes for the gate and disappears into it.
An enormous space battle occurs, bringing out the Romulan and the Klingon flagships for honor and glory. At the end of the battle, all three factions are left trying to come to terms with the fact that war between each other is useless in the face of such a formidable, and shared, enemy. The words "to be continued..." appear at the very end.
Technical interruptions asides, I loved this mission. The voice talent (in most of the roles) was fantastic. The visuals of the ships, the solar prominences, the characters, and the spheres were fantastic. I loved the EV foray into superheated space, and I enjoyed the challenging space battle at the end. There's a lot more to cover about the anniversary event as well as some of the new features released with Season 8.5, so until next week, live long and prosper!
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