The latest Feature Episode Brushfire hit Star Trek Online last night. As part of Season 13.5, also added were the Endeavor system, the Ferengi Admiralty campaign and addition UI hotbars. Why on a Tuesday and not the usual Thursday patch day? You got me!
I played through the Episode with three different toons last night, twice with Fungi and once on my own, and here’s a quick review. Spoiler Alert! I will try not to discuss a lot of the details in the episode itself, but I may end up accidentally letting something slip. Let this be your warning!
Right off the bat, I’m going to say this is one of the better-written and better-structured episodes. The pacing is great; at no point does the mission feel like it’s dragging. The ground map is well-designed and quite unique, giving you the sense that you are indeed making progress in your Great Escape ™. This is quite a feat considering Brushfire is a long mission; a lot of long missions make me go “Arrrrgh, not this one! I don’t want to run this again!”, with Boldly They Rode/Slowly They Strode and Coliseum as prominent example.
Oh there was only one point in the mission that made me go “WTH?”… it’s when Martok signaled Rodek not to shoot – instead he just let the Bad Guy do his Bad Thing. It felt very disconnected and out-of-character for Martok, and yes, I went “What the Earl are you doing????”
The big selling point of this episode is the voicework: it features the excellent J.G. Hertzler, bringing Martok himself to STO for the first time. Tony Todd reprises his role as Kurn… uh, Rodek, and even Michael Dorn has a brief cameo as Worf (it just wouldn’t be right without even that brief appearance). So yeah, the voicework was a real treat — rather unusual for me, I actually listened to all the dialog on two of my playthroughs! It’s amazing how much difference it makes.
Interestingly, Todd/Kurn/Rodek talks kinda slow. I noticed that when he was doing the mission briefing… this is not a knock or anything, I just find it funny.
In terms of gameplay, I actually found some of the fights to be tough. This was especially true when I played the mission with Congilla, whose cannon-equipped, relatively fragile Kolasi destroyer had some trouble in the final space battle. In fact, having blown up twice and sustained actual ship injuries, I suspect I must have inadvertently set game difficulty to Advanced. Still, that last battle can get rough regardless, and even on the ground the Rhino-lizards can be a handful.
Also, I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but as we played through the mission, there were a few points that I just had to stop to quote movies. Yeah, you’ll know when you see them in the game.
Yes, I am easily amused.
Okay, let me also briefly discuss the episode rewards. This time it’s a 3-piece set called House Martok Skirmisher Configuration Set, which includes an Engineering Console (which oddly enough uses Science Upgrades – I smell a bug) this week, a torpedo in week 2 and an Omni-Disruptor Beam in week 3. Aw hell yes! I think this is the first Omni-Disruptor Beam ever! Two of my toons run Disruptor-beam builds, so this is great news for them. The Engineering Console isn’t anything exceptional, but it offers a bunch of passive bonuses that are useful for Tanking: +11% bonus hull, +3.5 Shield Power, +3.5 Engine Power, +18% Turn Rate (sorry, going by memory here; I’ll get the accurate numbers tonight); the 2-piece set power is an increase in Critical Chance and Accuracy, while the 3-piece boosts the Torpedo’s special abilities. I don’t intend to use the Torpedo, but for the two toons who can make use of the Omni-Disruptor Beam, I think it’s worthwhile to slot in the console as well.
Brushfire is a good episode. The pacing is great, writing is mostly good, the maps are fun, and the voicework is exceptional. I do have some continuity complaints about the mission though, namely (1) it’s still not clear why Martok is going to be instrumental in the fight against the Tzenkethi — surely there are many Klingons who have fought and are knowledgeable about them, and (2) Briar’s Patch is between Federation and Klingon space…. and pretty damn far away from Tzenkethi territory. Without cloak, I’m not sure how they can fly a fleet of warships across Federation space undetected… or even why they would want to take that risk. Still, I’m happy to switch my brain off just to enjoy the mission.