Nothing Endures but Change

Ground combat changes came out a couple of weeks ago, but… not to marginalize you groundpounders out there… I’m sure the majority of players are more interested in the space combat changes. And today we get an announcement, plus some highlights.

The Original Post:

Star Trek Online has been live for just over seven years at this point, during which time we have been adding and updating new content to play, new systems to interact with, and new mechanics to utilize. Recently, we announced balance changes coming to Star Trek Online. Now, we’re excited to tell you about some of the bigger changes coming to space combat in the game, and some of the reasoning behind them.

Given the opportunity to make such drastic changes to _Star Trek Online_’s experience, it was important to setup some guiding principles to ensure that the game, as much as possible, only gets better.

The goals boil down to these:

  • Increase the fun – Games are about having fun, and players should not be made to feel that their fun is “wrong.”
  • Player investment retains value – While things need to be adjusted, a setup that was optimized before should still be useful and effective afterwards.
  • Choices should be meaningful – Anywhere the game gives you a choice, there should be no choice that you always take nor one you never take.

One of the great strengths of _Star Trek Online_’s combat system is how expansive it is, and the freedom it gives players to choose the combinations of items and abilities that gives them the playstyle that they want. The vast number of choices already in-game means that as we re-visit the utility and strength of various options, players will have the opportunity to re-discover a lot of abilities and items they may have cast aside, and some things that you already use should become a lot more fun and enjoyable to use.

Carrier Pets are getting some significant changes that should make them feel much more useful in space combat. All Carrier Pets:

  • Have received updated AI to be more responsive.
  • Are immune to one torpedo every 30 seconds.
  • Are unaffected by Warp Core Breaches.
  • Receive a health and damage increase. Carrier Pets that already have Scratch the Paint have received a few other buffs to account for this.

Weapons are undergoing a lot of changes targeted at making the various types and firing modes more relevant. Beam Overload no longer always critically hits, but has had its damage increased, and additionally gives your basic attacks with beam weapons a significant amount of bonus damage and critical severity for a short duration after being activated.

Fire at Will now has a slight penalty to the weapon’s damage instead of an increase at ranks II and III, and has an accuracy debuff as well.

The Target Subsystem powers have been re-designed; they now enable all of your energy weapons to place a stacking power drain debuff on the target, and have a chance to take the target’s relevant subsystem offline.

Kinetic weaponry has received some changes as well. Targetable torpedoes now fly faster, and both targetable torpedoes and mines are no longer affected by “Hazard” abilities such as Gravity Well or Tyken’s Rift. This should make them feel less sluggish and eliminate situations where they would detonate instantly on launch, while still allowing time for them to be actually shot down.

The different careers have received several changes, mostly focused on increasing the effectiveness of Engineering and Science captains. Here are a few highlights:

  • Subnucleonic Beam is now a Lieutenant Commander or higher Science Bridge Officer Power. In its place, Science Captains now gain Deflector Overcharge, which significantly increases outgoing healing, exotic damage, control abilities, and drain abilities for a short duration.
  • The combat effectiveness of allies summoned by Photonic Fleet has been significantly increased.
  • Miracle Worker’s healing is significantly increased, and now also gives a significant amount of Secondary Shielding for a short duration.
  • EPS Power Transfer now also gives the target an increase to all Maximum Subsystem Power Levels for the duration. This can be stacked with other increases to Maximum Subsystem Power Levels.

There are a few other very significant changes coming with this patch:

  • All abilities that reflect damage now deal the damage type they are reflecting.
  • Reflected damage can no longer critically hit or be buffed by damage increases.
  • All “Hot Restart” powers that automatically remove a subsystem offline can no longer apply more than once per 60 seconds.
  • All holds now give their target hold resistance for a short duration when they end.
  • All disables now give their target disable resistance for a short duration when they end.
  • All player damage immunities now place a 15 second lockout on you, during which you cannot activate or otherwise be affected by any more damage immunities, and are all now “buffs” that can be removed.
  • The equation used to determine how weapons power influences your damage has been changed to a higher benefit at low power levels than before, and the same benefit as before at 100 weapons power, and slightly less while above.

The list of changes goes beyond what can be called out in this blog, and includes a large amount of changes to other abilities and items not mentioned here. The full list of initial changes will be in a Tribble patch in the near future, which we will be keeping a close eye on for feedback and issues.

Clearly, there are a lot of significant mechanics changes that have happened in this patch. To aid in answering questions about these and centralizing some of the answers, I will be holding a “Mechanics AMA” on the forums and on the Stobuilds Reddit in the near future to answer questions about how things now work.

NOTE: The above changes are all subject to change.

John “CrypticSpartan” Leavens

Associate Systems Designer

Star Trek Online

So first of all, I don’t know why the blockquote function in WordPress makes the text humongous, and I don’t know how to change that, so bear with me.

As for the details, I see that they’re trying to address a few specific things that have been whined about forever. Namely:

  • Science and Engineer Captain space abilities are going to be buffed.
    • Deflector Overcharge looks yummy, but I don’t like that it’s replacing Subnuc Beam. The latter is a very useful power in boss fights, and I don’t want to choose between it and another Science Boff ability that’s currently slotted. If anything, I would rather see Deflector Overcharge replace Scattering Field, which right now is a questionably useful Sci captain ability.
    • Right now, EPS Power Transfer is only slightly useful (usually when I want to get into combat quickly after travelling at full impulse), so giving it an extra power level buff is also a good thing.
    • “Significantly” increasing effectiveness of Photonic Fleet and Miracle Worker are both good… but it depends on how “significant” the changes are. Ultimately though, these are all good changes, and should make the other careers more attractive to play. The game shouldn’t favor one class (Tactical) so heavily.
  • Improving Carrier Pets — This is a biggie! And if done right, might make carriers viable to play. Making pets smarter and more durable will be a big improvement, but we’ll have to see if they are smart enough to actually follow orders (simple things like docking with the mothership). The AI improvement is the crux of the issue — hopefully they address it properly this time.
  • Subsystem Targeting — A Science vessel ability that has become increasingly irrelevant as power creeps up. Will the drain debuff make it relevant again? Hard to say. Will have to see it in action to be sure.
  • BFAW getting some level of nerf is expected, but it’s not clear how much. It may very well mean the current meta will change as a result, which is not necessarily a bad thing because it should not be the end-all-and-be-all build. Hopefully this will at least make cannons relevant again.
  • The change on Hot Restarts is interesting to me because many of my main rides use the Iconian Space set, for the express benefit of the Hot Restarts. The 60 seconds timegate might make them suboptimal now, so I may have to look at different gear for a lot of my toons.
  • The addition of a timegated Damage Immunity is also interesting — I’m sure we’ve all heard about how some players can achieve a 45 second immunity per minute, or more, which pretty much puts the final nail in the PvP coffin (and no, I’m really not trying to start a discussion about why PvP is so unpopular on STO)…

I’m sure there will be more changes and details in future announcements. But overall it’s a welcome change — the current game meta has become quite monotonous and boring, which really favors one class, one build, and one fairly standard set of gear. Time to shake things up!

 

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7 thoughts on “Nothing Endures but Change

    1. Sounds like the only torpedoes affected are targetable ones (which is especially great if you’re using those pesky Romulan Hyper-Plasmas), and who uses mines anyway? I’m not yet convinced these changes will drastically change torpedo play, but maybe more will be revealed.

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      1. Odenknight just reviewed the destructible torp speed boost and so far it’s looking rather marginal. From what I’ve been hearing carrier pets are much better

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  1. I don’t like this. They say they don’t want to make anyone feel as if their preferred playing style is “wrong,” and yet they go ahead and ruin much of my preferred playing style by taking a lot of the abilities I enjoyed using and nerfing them into oblivion. Not cool at all. This is why I barely even log into STO anymore these days.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The grind is definitely a contributing factor too. But all these nerfs are discouraging me even more now.

        Maybe I’ll finally go into Guild Wars 2 and join you in there, even tho it’s not really my kind of game. :/

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    1. There’s a great STO comic making fun of the changes and people’s reactions to them here: http://www.aptcomic.com/comic/sto006/

      If you haven’t copied your favorite ship over to tribble and tried out how the changes impact you, I recommend giving it a shot. A good chunk of my builds were so off-meta that they are just fine. And some of my lesser-played alts got improvements. Only two of mine were noticeably nerfed and they were fire-at-will maxed out embassy consoles with kemocyte, improved feedback pulse, etc. Total cookie cutter.

      Do check out the Ask Me Anything that Spartan ran on Reddit and the Forums. Reddit has better info, and that is here:

      If you’re at all interested, then it can’t hurt giving Guild Wars a try if you have a friend to play it with (and you do). It’s not likely to be a game you’ll stay with forever (especially as you say it’s not your usual sort of game), but there is a really good chance you’ll enjoy it for several months and leave feeling that it was time well spent.

      Liked by 1 person

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