As I’m sure most STO players already know, the new feature episode “Broken Circle” came out a couple of days ago, as part of the Season 10.5 update. The episode is the next big step forward in the Iconian War plot, and yes, it’s a BIG DEAL.
Coming out right after the wrap-up of the Risian Summer Event, there’s a bit of “welcome back from vacation, now let’s get straight to work” going. 😉 I won’t get into too much detail on the episode itself to avoid spoilers. but if you haven’t played it and don’t want to know anything about beforehand, stop reading now! And if you’re wondering, the title “Broken Circle” itself is a foreshadow of what the episode is about…
I ran this episode for three of my toons already; the screen shot above is R’Jal’s Scimitar and Nayra’s Chell Grett enroute to join the Alliance armada. Yeeeeeaaah, that’s a LOT of ships. In the pre-mission briefing you’re updated about the progress on the Krenim timeship, and the fact that the war has been going poorly (unsurprisingly so, since most of the player toons have been vacationing on Risa). Then it’s off to take on the Herald fleet with one massive attack. Honestly, the attack plan seems a bit hasty and foolhardy; shouldn’t the Alliance be fighting a delaying action till the Krenim ship is completed?
The mission itself consists of two space battles and one extended ground one. The cutscenes are well-done so make sure you watch them at least once; Cryptic must’ve heard player complaints because you can now skip them if you want. The space missions can get a bit choppy in places, but in the three times I ran the episode they haven’t been noticeably worse than any other Iconian mission; that said turning down the graphics level would help. But both space battles are reasonable in difficulty and length (unlike the way-too-long ones in Surface Tension and Blood of the Ancients).
The ground mission is where you actually get to face an Iconian in battle. Facing a creature that can vaporize you with a wave of her hand is probably not advisable, but in the episode you figure out a way to avoid instant death. The running battle on the Herald flagship happens in stages, unfortunately there seems to be a major glitch that sometimes prevents the next wave of enemies from appearing. This happened to us once, and what we discovered is that the enemies in fact DID appear, but they erroneously spawned in a previous room instead of the current one. If you get stuck this way, head back and see if the enemies are in any of the previously-cleared rooms.
All in all, bugs aside this is a good episode. It nicely shows off the scale of the Iconian war and reminds players it’s not a minor skirmish. Personally I’d like to see sector space Borg and Tholian Red Alerts replaced by Iconian/Herald ones, so it helps sell the conflict that’s currently going on.