Now that I have taken the plunge into the Delta Quadrant, I do have a better feel for the new expansion. In no particular order then, here are some additional thoughts:
- Story Content:
- The story behind Delta Rising is pretty decent. From what I know of Voyager (sorry, but I never really followed it; Janeway annoys me), the Delta Quadrant was a bit of a wild frontier without regional superpowers — with the notable exception of the Borg, who don’t really count as a political entity per se, they are more of a plague that everyone runs away from — so it would’ve been difficult to develop an ongoing story there. Creating a big central threat to the Delta Quadrant brings a nice focus to it all.
- People hate Neelix. I kinda see Talaxians as a whole as Trek Hobbits. They’re gregarious, they’re generous, bumbling, nice, fat, loves food and hairy. Sounds like Hobbits to me, no? I see people on message boards wanting to kill Neelix, but whatever their particular beef with him is, his voice work is outstanding; Ethan Phillips really delivered. The moment he said “Qapla!” to my KDF’s hail was golden; that was the first time any of the STO voice work actually caught my attention.
- Seven must have fallen into a temporal distortion, because she’s looking pretty fresh and spry for a lady who’s 60.
- The Vaudwaar/Kobali conflict is quite interesting, in that it raises some moral questions about who’s in the right. It feels a bit odd fighting on the side of zombies.
- It’s refreshing to see some of the enemy species finally changing their tunes to show story progression. From a gaming perspective, it might make sense that players get to fight all sorts of enemies, but from a universe-building standpoint, it seems a bit excessive that everyone in the universe is hostile towards you. Iconians, Elachi, Solanae, Devidians, Tal Shiar, True Way, rogue Jem’Hadar, extremist Klingons, Felkhiri, Undine, Voth, Breen, Tholians, and of course the Borg — that’s a lot of folks who hate us. Some groups (Tal Shiar, True Way, Klingons etc.) have been defeated in past seasons, while others were one-shot wonders (Felkhiri, Devidians). That still leaves a lot of angry bad guys out there, and it’s great to see two of the major ones showing changes: the Undine starting to come around and realizing they’ve been played; similarly, the Voth are less blindly hostile now — as they should be, they’re fighting almost just as many enemies as the playable factions!
- Ships: (of course I need to talk about ships!)
- Having flown two intel ships (Phantom for T’Leia, and Faeht for R’Jal) in the past week, I am still not convinced. In fact, I am regretting not getting the Scimiar for R’Jal during the 20% off sale, and upgrading it to T5U instead — that would’ve cost me 2700 zen, cheaper than the Faeht and probably a lot more powerful. The ship intel abilities are nice but not exceptional. The phaser lance on the Phantom and plasma lance on the Faeht deal good damage, but the long cooldowns significantly drop their DPS. As a gauge, when running Crystalline Entity on normal, I consistently place top 3 in Gortusk’s T5U Bortasqu, occasionally with Heidy’s T5U Luna, but almost never with the T6 escorts. Admittedly Heidy has the most endgame gear so far, but it is a Science vessel so her DPS is never going to be high; I would have expected the two T6 escorts to out-DPS the little science ship.
- I just started poking at the Intel Boffs last night, but so far found the Boff abilities somewhat lacking. They are functionally a different set of Sci abilities focused on debuffs — which is conceptually fine — but in order to use them you need to cut down on your other Boff abilities. If Heidy had a T6 Intel ship I could experiment and replace things like Gravity Well and Tyken’s Rift, but T’Leia and R’Jal both fly escorts and can’t afford to trim down tactical abilities. So the intel boff seats right now are useless to me.
- Story missions don’t give you enough XP to advance to the next mission, so there is a lot of “filler” activity you have to do just to get to that point. Admittedly this is a problem for a lot of people (same problem I had with Swordsman), but I am not sure what the solution is either — increasing mission rewards just means people can blow through the story missions very quickly, and I’m sure that’s what Cryptic wanted to prevent. Personally I don’t mind a longer leveling process, as long as the “filler” activities are enjoyable… which nicely segways into my next point.
- My biggest gripe remains with the STFs, where the advanced versions take far too long to finish, that they feel extremely grindy compared to the old content. Lots of players have complained about this: giving every NPC millions of hull points just drags things out and makes them boring. This same problem, albeit to a lesser extent, is also prevalent with mission content such as the patrol missions. So much so that I am reluctant to replay them. Currently I am doing mostly the Normal queues; despite the lower rewards at least I don’t frustrate myself spending an hour on one STF.
- The Kobali battlezone reminds me of Defera, but less chaotic and a lot prettier (that seaside view especially). It actually feels like a battle is raging around the city, unlike Defera where you have Borg randomly beaming down everywhere at a ridiculous rate. If you’re playing with a group of friends, or even random strangers who just happened to be in the area, you could actually clean out an enemy area and hold off their reinforcements (until you get bored of it, that is).
- Other Stuff:
- One change that wasn’t widely advertised — and I’m not sure why it wasn’t — is the tweaks added to character customization. There are now options to fine-tune facial features and as well as body proportions; with these options you can add subtle expressions to your toons, and generally improve their looks. For instance, R’Jal is more properly overweight now, rather than looking like he’s pregnant, and Heidy’s figure is a bit more natural and not as Barbie-like. Good news for anyone who enjoys messing around with character looks.
I am probably going about Delta Rising all wrong because I’m leveling all four of my main toons simultaneously, which means they are all in the 54-55 range right now yet at the same time I’m running the story missions four times…. and that does get repetitive. If I had focused on one or two of them they would be much closer to level 60 by now, and much further along the storyline. Oh well!