PC Gamer

Are you ready to lead? Star Trek Online's executive producer Dan Stahl announced that the rank earned at the next level cap (61), Fleet Admiral, is more than just a name--players will finally be given the ability to control and manage a fleet of their own!

The details are light in the Q&A that announces the new rank, but having a small armada of ships under the player's direct control would be a huge change for STO's space combat system, which currently only allows players to control their own individual ship. The space combat is one of the things that Cryptic got right in STO--it's paced just right, with direction taken from the shows and movies to choreograph the ships as they battle in the depths of space. Adding whole fleets that could take orders from players wouldn't have to be overwhelming (the pacing is fairly slow in its current form), but it could be if Cryptic doesn't make these changes very carefully.

It's easy to picture this becoming a fantastic addition to Star Trek Online. The extra planning and tactics make sense in the Star Trek universe, and could create the perfect style of combat for high-level players--who should've learned how to control their ships by now, and can handle the added thought processes required to control a whole fleet. Players already control their A.I. away team members on the ground, and Cryptic could take a similar approach to a controlling your armada of ships as the Fleet Admiral.

I can't help but wonder why Cryptic is prioritizing this development over improvements to ground combat, though. Ground combat has never been the most lauded feature in STO, but lately I've begun to appreciate it more and more. Not that Cryptic's really changed much with it, but I've finally gotten the hang of using my away team's abilities and learned to put more thought into what I'm doing. There's some real potential here, and I hope they're working on fleshing out the ground combat more, in addition to these excited space combat changes. It'd be a shame to leave ground combat in it's current state, no matter how great the space combat gets!

Read the full Q&A for more information.
PC Gamer

The latest free update to Star Trek Online has arrived, letting players loot high tech Borg components that can be slotted into Starships to make them Borg-awesome. The update also revamps sector space to give it a new look, and introduces the open beta of the Foundry, which will let players create their own Star Trek missions.

Season three will also let you hop into the Holodeck to replay previous missions for experience gains and greater rewards. Nearly every mission in the game is now replayable.

The new Borg items can be earned through Special Task Force missions, and can be attached to your ship for performance bonuses. Installing these upgrades makes optional changes to the look of your ship as well, ideal if you dig that 'just-assimilated' look.

Sector Space has been overhauled as well. It used to be a big glowing blue forest of icons, with oversized ships inching their way between pea sized planets. Now it looks a lot more like space. Players now navigate a vast star map with only a minimalist HUD to distract from the interstellar vista.

The new Foundry system is also going live, letting anyone create their own missions. The Foundry lets players create their own sectors of space and form missions using the huge selection of characters and planet locations in Cryptic's database.

These changes go live with the latest update, which has just been released, but there are plenty more changes planned for the near future, including the following:

Gorn Customization: Additional ways to customize your Gorn characters.
Exchange Updates: Improvements to the Exchange to make the experience more holistic.
New Loading Screens: More eye candy while you wait.
C-Store Additions: Including the Star Trek Motion Picture uniform, Open Jacket Uniform Variants, new ships and more.
Klingon-Specific Updates: Access to Pi Canis, a 200-day Veteran Reward, crafting and more!
New Item Sets: New STF and crafting rewards.

The full list of changes can be found listed on the Star Trek Online site.
PC Gamer

Cryptic announced recently that Champions Online will be going free-to-play early next year, and many immediately wondered if their other MMO title, Star Trek Online would follow suit. Cryptic's boss, Jack Emmert, has been speaking out in a recent interview about Star Trek Online's chances of ditching the subscription fee, and about plans to introduce a City of Heroes style mission editor to Champions Online.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Emmert said “I’m sure people are wondering whether we’ll do it with Star Trek and the question is really how well it does for Champions. Does it work or doesn’t it? We’re not sold one way or the other with Star Trek yet. If people want Star Trek to go free-to-play then get in and play Champions and help make it a great success, because that would send a strong message.“

Emmert cited Turbine's success as one of the motivations for considering the free-to-play option. Turbine recently moved adopted a free-to-play model with Lord of the Rings Online, with impressive results. Emmert says that while Cryptic are hoping for a similar jump in players, he "wouldn't say we're betting on it".

“I’m not going to say we’ll do or die if we don’t get five times our revenue or whatever the stats were that Turbine did. We’re just hoping to open it up and increase the fanbase, and we’ll just wait and see – I’d love it if we got their results, but hey, if that doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen."

Cryptic also recently announced that they were releasing a set of mission editor tools for Star Trek Online called the Foundry. When asked about whether we could expect to see these features making their way over to the superhero MMO Champions Online, Emmert said "Ultimately, yeah. Eventually we would like to do it. User-generated content has always been part of our strategic plan for years and years and years. Ultimately I'd like to have it in every game we do in one version or another."

I had a great time blasting Klingons in the Star Trek Online's beta a while back, and would be mighty tempted to get involved again if it went free-to-play. Have you been playing Star Trek Online? Would you be tempted to check it out if it was free?
PC Gamer

Cryptic Studios, creators of City of Heroes and Champions Online, are gearing up to release the Foundry toolset to players of space borne MMO Star Trek Online. The toolset will allow players to create their own missions, and then submit them to a database for the community to rate.

Players will be able to create entire star systems and planets from scratch, or edit pre-made versions created by Cryptic. Objectives, objects and characters can then be placed to create missions that span entire sectors of space. Cryptic are also putting aside some open world areas to allow for community made quests. In these areas, characters and objects associated with the community made mission will only be visible to those who are playing the episode.

Players won't be able to add extra models or artwork to the game, simply create missions using pre-existing content. Once an episode is created, others will be able to rate it using a five star system, and Cryptic are going to let members of the community sign up to be reviewers.

Superhero MMO City of Heroes received a similar editor called the Mission Architect. On the day it was released, users created more quests in one day than the development team had in five years. This could be a great way to give a flagging MMO a new lease of life. The toolset is currently in open beta for Star Trek Online players. For more information, check out the Foundry Q&A.

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