By all means play this game so long as you don't spend money on it.
For those that don't know, Star Trek Online (STO) is an MMORPG loosely based in the Star Trek universe. Canon is not followed that heavily however there are facilities to create your own story, involving roleplay communities and the foundry which is a tool to design your own missions. If you are a Trek fan I would personally leave your Trek canon feelings at the door as you might find they get challenged at regular intervals.
That said it is a personal thing, and so work through the story because that is one thing that STO has done reasonably well for. The art in STO has always been very good and so that combined with the story missions has always made good time spent.
Now pre-Delta Rising this game was pretty unique in that people who were casual, hardcore, in-between or even super-casual could play the game and be able to enjoy it. You could be competitve on less than an hour a day, and while some things required more commitment, it was something that would get you competitive with others without too much grief.
However those positives mentioned I would be negligent to not go over in detail the severe issues in the game, and therefore why I cannot in good faith recommend this game to anyone who wants an enjoyable, sensibly progressive experience or doesn't want a second job.
I am now talking post-Delta Rising for the most part, which is where most of the issues that now permeate the game originate from. I'll be talking about the bugs, which has been an ongoing issue anyway, the difficulty settings, the ongoing issue of the degraded state of testing and bad customer relations.
STO is riddled with so many bugs it makes an ant colony look small. Two of the top developers have openly admitted to not listening to player feedback any more, which is very apparent. The beta test server is now mockingly called the 'exclusive preview server' as what you see is what you get, broken mechanics, bugs and game-breaking exploits with it.
Part of the reason for this is that their QA team for STO is a measely 5 people strong (http://sto-forum.perfectworld.com/showthread.php?p=20853101#post20853101
). This has shown through the years as bugs have built up due to there never being enough bugs fixed before a lot more come in to replace them like a hydra's head.
Some proof of the developers lack of regard for the player opinion:
This link is to the Star Trek Online forums. It has a message from Tacofangs that tells us that by the time they are putting out content it is basically set in stone apart from the odd tweaks here and there, and usually they are just tweaks.
An interview which enraged players when Geko says that there is no actionable feedback on the Duty Officer UI. Suffice to say there was plenty of it and they did back track in a small manner after the uproar the interview caused and did give an option to minimise the UI.
Because a practical case in point is always good, this is the link to the Tribble Feedback post for the Upgrade System. This is by far and away the most recent poignant example of the effort Tribble Testers such as myself put in to be simply ignored. I challenge anyone to go through that thread and find a dev response that addresses the core concerns of that well tested feedback.
As far as Cryptic are concerned, money comes first and retaining players second. Feedback is ignored unless something crops up that damages their profits, which is why the game is so badly riddled with bugs.
A very recent example is the recent release (Delta Rising) had such a huge content gap that many of us had to run patrol missions to fill the levelling gap, Cryptic even recommend this as the way to do it. However a bug that was flagged up during testing was the patrols weren't all scaling. Of course because this wasn't fixed it made it the easiest patrol and so people used it to get past the absurd gaps.
So what do Cryptic do? They roll back a decent sized number of the players, cut experience gains by 70% and call everyone who took part exploiters. As you can imagine, although some would obviously exploit, the vast majority weren't and Delta Rising is becoming a PR nightmare.
The reason this turned into a PR nightmare is two fold, firstly and as I have said, they ignored tribble testers. Yet the big issue that started up was that many folks who got hit by the roll-back were innocent of any wrongdoing. Anyone who has had any serious experience with Cryptic's customer services knows their ability to read data is severely lacking. I have personally been quoted inaccurate purchase history, incorrect data on missing items and even had the representative show a critical lack of company knowledge about current events, even about new development blogs that I was asked to send a screenshot of to prove existed.
Next thing I want to talk about is the state of the game in terms of how one participates in the end game content and how easy that is to do. As it stands now Ground Combat allows for a lot more build flexibility than Space Combat does. The closer you get to end game Elite level (the top grade) the more you have to build a ship that is focused on damage dealing and little else.
So to clarify, Space Combat at end game has become a DPS Race (DPS = Damage Per Second), where having DPS more in the 20-30k range or higher is essentially required to complete the missions, simply because the devs decided ramping up the hitpoints, shields and resistances on enemies exponentially was the way to improve difficulty which has only led to a system where creativity is punished in favour of linear builds.
On the other hand we have Ground Combat that is still accessible to build variety so long as the build is sensible and is well fought out, and in fact each profession can run at least 4-5 different base builds and all of them can be effective. However that being said Cryptics idea of making this harder was to increases the numbers of tough enemies in missions and make them hit harder, something that doesn't make the experience reinvigorating or challenging on ground maps.
One thing that links both though are the awkward optionals. Advanced queues have timers or objectives that instantly fail the mission if they fail, which is bad from a player progression standpoint as a fresh 50 is going to struggle to get gear they need, as the gear materials come from those missions which has led to a sort of necessity of either having a very competant team or the chance to be carried through, both options of which are poor game design. However the sad part is anyone who has the gear already has a leg up and can finish the missions with relative ease still, however at this point in time Elite Borg queues are missing so using the old favourites as a comparison is not easy, however I will post videos of before and after in case anyone wants to look them over.
Old Elite Khitomer Ground: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWNFn7JdbXA
Only 4 Elite Tactical Drones when this was filmed.
New Advanced Khitomer Ground (Technically supposed to be old Elite): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhaqdIHtIEo
This has 17 Elite Tactical Drones in, slightly weaker but still time eaters for less geared or experienced teams.
I will post Elite Comparisons when they become available.
Want to play? Go right ahead, but when you start hitting the pay walls, don't ignore the fact you'll be paying literally hundreds of whatever currency you use to get competitive, it's not like before when newer folks had every chance to be as good as the older players.
So would I recommend this to anyone? Of course not, play for free but don't be surprised when Cryptic ruins it, again.