Sorry for the very sporadic posts, but things haven’t settled down for me at all. In addition to my unexpectedly poor post-op recovery, I am also dealing with mom’s failing health. As she has been admitted to palliative care, I am trying to see her as much as I can before she passes.
Anyway, today I want to quickly touch upon the recent release of Season 14: Emergence for Star Trek Online. Why am I still playing STO then? To distract myself. Actually I’ve been told that keeping busy and continuing doing the things we normally do help cope with stressful times. And yeah, this is about as stressful a time as I’ve ever been.
The new Season is a bit curious, as it is released in the middle of the Lukari/Kentari reunion and Tzenkethi War story arc, which leaves Season 13/13.5 without a clear ending and Season 14 with an odd start. In fact, the new Featured Episode “Melting Pot” starts the season off by continuing both stories: You pay a visit to the new joint Lukari/Kentari colony on Dranuur, a “hidden” planet recently discovered with an ideal climate and environment. The Crypt environment team did a great job designing and rendering this new map, and I can’t help but feel the mission is a bit of an excuse to show off the purty pictures (much like the last one “Beyond the Nexus” was an excuse to show off the Galaxy interior). The colony complex itself looks more like a hotel resort than a habitat for colonists, but hey, why not? Dranuur itself is quite pretty, even though I personally find the excess of pastel colors slightly off-putting; it looks like a retirement home or baby nursery compared to the vivid colors of Risa.
As you would expect, the Tzenkethi quickly show up to wreck the party, but at least this time one of them proves to be quite reasonable and ends up chatting with you — and it is finally revealed why the Tzenkethi is running around
firebombing proto-mattering planets. Mind you, it still leaves some major questions unexplained, but finally we are starting to unravel the mystery and poses some intriguing possibilities of ending this silly conflict.
Speaking of the Colony map, it’s one of the main features of this new Season. As I already wrote, getting the full monty unlocked requires excessive time, effort and resources by a lot of Fleet members. As usual, Cryptic didn’t change anything from the Tribble release — kinda makes the whole practice of testing it on Tribble and getting player feedback a pointless endeavor… why do it if they’re going to just ignore said feedback? But whatever, it is what it is. Oh, and evidently you can wear your beachwear and surf on your powerboard in the Colony Fleet Holding too… if you’re brave enough to go into that water. I mean, normal water is never that green unless it’s filled with algae and slime.
One thing that IS different (not sure whether it was a result of player feedback) are the new Tzenkethi queues — running them rewards Colony Provisions, which YAY, means these are more exciting ways to grind for Provisions than those awful minigames. Dranuur Beach Assault is a ground map designed for 10 players, which again uses the Colony map (gosh Cryptic is really getting their money’s worth out of this map). It’s a bit long because there are three distinct phases to it: activate and defend some computer consoles in the compound, then head off to the beaches to activate shield generators, and finally defend the generators from Tzenkethi assault parties (and shuttles… those shuttles can be annoying) — I may write a post/guide about this queue when I log a few more runs. The other queue, Dranuur Gauntlet, is a 5-player space queue where you fight off an alien invasion fleet. I’ve only run the Gauntlet once and the enemy was the Elachi; why the Elachi? What have they got to do with the Lukari/Kentari? I have no idea, but I suspect the enemy may be randomly generated. This is also a pretty long engagement, and the enemy is numerous (at least on Advanced).
They also introduced a new Tzenkethi Red Alert. I think we are all going to get pretty sick of the fighting the Tzenkethi soon.
Last but not least, a new Captain Specialization is released: Miracle Worker. Obviously it is an Engineer specialization inspired by famous Trek Engineers like Scotty and LaForge, and is very focused on active healing and passive regeneration. At a glance this looks a bit lackluster because there isn’t much there to directly boost DPS, but I think it is perfect for tanking. It introduces the concept of Critical Heals, and includes passive abilities to increase Resistance, remove Drain and DOT effects, and the level III “No Risk, No Reward” passive gives a chance to boost both damage and healing…. when you’re being healed. If you’re flying a tank generating a lot of threat, you’ll be healing a lot and this can potentially be very effective. I have already designated three of my toons to spec in Miracle Worker: Gortusk, Zdrossk and Kala Kendris; they all need some time to fill out the tree, and once they do I’ll be sure to report on how effective it is in play.
Speaking of the new specialization, I have no doubt that it was introduced primarily because Cryptic is running out of ship variations. A new spec inevitably brings a new line of ships for Cryptic to sell, which is the key to Profits, Happiness, and a Fulfilling Life. The picture I attached is found by someone online, and thought to be the first of the Miracle Worker ships. Looks a bit funky with the thick neck, but it kinda makes sense to go with a sturdy chunky design for a tank rather than elegant curves. Personally I rarely use the specialty BOff seats (with some notable exceptions: OSS for Intel, Concentrate Fire and Rally Point for Command, and certain combos for Temporal), but depending on what Miracle Worker BOff abilities look like, that may change for me.
Overall, this isn’t a bad Season. The Colony is still a massive grind but time will tell whether it succeeds or fails, but the new specialization looks useful enough that it introduces a suite of new toys to play with, so ultimately I can’t complain too much.