I've always liked these threads in other games so I'll start one for Star Trek Online. Please add your comments, especially if you are past Lt. Commander.
WHAT CHARACTER SHOULD YOU PLAY?
Thankfully all three roles; Tactics, Engineer and Science roles, work well and are fun to play. It's a mystery to me why Cryptic was so reasonable as to let all three roles fly any of the ships, but I'm glad they did. Ok, let's get to it:
Do you like the color Red? That's the base color for Tactics.
Are you combat inclined? Overall, Tactics is about Combat, but can do other things.
Tactical officers shine in Ground and Space combat roles. Their "powers" are combat related
Want to crush people's skulls with weapon blows? All three can do that but Tactics enjoys it more
Do you like the color orange? That's the base color for Engineers
Are you a "fixer" type? Like to make things better? Engineers get down and dirty
Engineer officers are great at making their ships... better. They can even fix damaged hulls. (wink)
Want to use ground turrents? Engineers can choose to specialize in these fun weapon systems
Do you like the color Blue? That's the base color for Science.
Are you a thinker? A schemer? Like to mess with people or heal them? Then a Science officer is for you
Science officers can turn the tide of battle, heal people around them, and basically ruin the bad guys day
Like the idea of telling enemy ships to not shoot at you while you shoot them? Science is amazing
HOW DO THEY PLAY?
My Tactical Officer likes to charge into battle at full throttle blowing the hell out of things. He likes to kill things.
I like to charge into battle using beam weapons then spinning to send torpedoes into the shieldless exposed sides. I like big explosions and I'm into damage control. I kill people and enjoy watching their ships explode while imaging the crew being expelled into space, screaming. Some people say that I'm not right in my head.
My Engineer Officer likes to hang around the edges of battle and draw fire. His ship enhancing abilities keep him alive.
I like to slow to a crawl at maximum range and send beams and torpedoes into my enemy. By the time they get close they are seriously hurt. When they decide to surround me I keep my tactics simple by strengthening my shields, repairing my ship and letting autofire beam weapons kill everyone. I pilot a cruiser and enjoy being the center of attention.
My Science Officer is a little of both. He "can" survive but take a beating. He "can" kill but he can also heal, which is very nice for everyone. He's a little harder to play than Tactical or Engineer officers but I enjoy a good joke, especially when I pull it on the bad guys.
When I enter a battlefield, whether ground or space, I observe my enemy and keep an eye on my friends. I reduce my enemies effectiveness and weaken them. It's gratifying to confuse them into stop attacking while I, or my friends, continue to damage them. When my friends are in need, they appreciate me indeed. I prop them up and keep them fighting.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE ROLES
Contrary to other games each role you play can fly the ships "designed" for the other roles. Want a Tactical Officer and a Science Ship? No problem. Want an Engineer or Science officer piloting an Escort ship? Do it.
I recommend that you try all three roles to see if you prefer one over another. Keep in mind that you get one free ship when you make Lt. Commander at level 11, but that doesn't stop you from buying the other ships. Just spend the money and walla, you have a new ship.
It's hard to do when you are first starting out but if you would like to not waste time let me give you a few tips:
Think ahead. Space and Ground are separate parts of the game and your skills, and the skills of your Bridge Officers, should include powers that make sense to your play style. Be sure to look at the skills and then decide if you need to pick another officer, buy training, or hire an officer with the skill you need to train one of your officers.
I like my Tactical officers to have torpedo skills for space. I like my Engineers to be able to fix my shields and bulkheads. I like my Science Officers to have Heal and the power to stop my opponent from attacking me
Buying skills for your Bridge Officers can be done two ways. One is to purchase the skill for 75 and train the officer. The other is to hire another officer for 100, then have that officer training your officer. This works well with free officer rewarded by a quest completion.
CHANGE SKILLS BEFORE YOU PUT POINTS INTO IT. Plan ahead. If you replace a skill any points you spent in that skill go POOF. Plan ahead and do not put points into a skill before you find what you are looking for.
Visit the skills trainer and read about the skills. You can find skill trainers in the SOL space station and probably in other space stations scattered around. Look for the signs pointing you to Personnel
DISCLAIMER: I invite anyone who has played past the Lt. Commander tier to add their thoughts. Everyone's opinions are welcome and there is no right or wrong, especially if it makes you happy to play your build.
Ok, this request comes up quite a bit so here are the basics that I use to help pick roles for people.
How much time do you have to play?
If you want to finish the game during your free month and do not care about stopping to smell the roses - choose a Tactical Officer piloting an Escort ship.
If you plan on playing at least one month to three months - choose an Engineer piloting either a Cruiser or a Science ship.
If you want to go a little slower and play for more than a month - choose a Science Officer piloting a Science Ship for you.
TACTICAL OFFICER piloting an Escort Ship - I chose this combination for you because the Escort ships are fast, loot fast and kill things fast. Completing quests fast gives you fast rewards and you level fast. Escort ships shine with Tactical Officers who can increase the damage output of their weapon systems.
ENGINEER OFFICER piloting either a Cruiser or a Science Ship - This combination strengthens either ship, allowing you to take more damage and survive, keeping yourself, your crew and your ship alive longer. If you get a console or two that helps with damage output this combination should be enjoyable.
SCIENCE OFFICER piloting a Science Ship - As you know a Science Officer can pilot any of the ships, but their strengths focus on healing, debuffing and playing tricks on the bad guys. Since this is extremely fun I want you to take your time; make some friends and build some relationships. People will love you and don't you deserve that?
My Main officer, Lt. Commander Commander, is a harsh leader given to fits of jealousy and envy with the effect being that he is rather severe with his treatment of Bridge Officers. He's even been known to advance on an enemies position without realizing that one of his Bridge Officers is down for the count.
So, as his bibliographer, I will list some important pieces of information about Bridge Officers, who Lt. Commander Commander considers as tools that allow him to reach his goal of sector domination.
Bridge Officers are extensions of your character and allow you to create a crew of helpful subordinates who give you capabilities exceeding your own. When crafting a character your bridge officers allow you to expand your abilities into other areas
Your Bridge Officers have Ground and Space abilities. You have Ground and Space abilities. The combination of your abilities and their abilities gives you options and a higher chance of survival. For instance, if you are Tactical and like to mix it up in Ground Combat, take a Science Officer with tricorder powers for healing.
If you like the idea of tanking in Space combat, have some Engineer bridge officers who can fix your shields and hull.
Before hiring a bridge officer take a look at their ground and space skills. If you do not care about their race then focus solely on their skills. If you care about how they look via their race, then get the race that you like and improve their skills by either having another officer train them or buy them specific skills that you are seeking
The tutorial gives you one bridge officer. Two of your first few quests give you bridge officers. When you get a new quest, before accepting the quest, scroll down to the bottom of your quest rewards to see if it gives you a bridge officer. That will help you decide which quest to go after first.
When you have a bridge officer assigned to your ship, if you hire a new bridge officer you can find him by clicking U then picking the assignment tab. You now have the option of accepting him into your crew or to train one of your existing crew members. Similar roles can only train someone from their role. A tactical officer can only train a tactical officer. By choosing train you are given a list of bridge officers that are eligible for training. The NEW skill will REPLACE and old skill so choose wisely. If you have spent any points into the skill that is being replaced, you WILL LOOSE those points.
Buying a skill from a vendor works the same way. After picking a skill you want you are given a list of bridge officers that can use that skill. Pick the officer and then confirm that you will be replacing an old skill with a new skill. Keep in mind that the skills are based upon their rank. The higher ranked skills are cool, but some of the lower ranked skills are extremely useful.
If you receive a Bridge Officer as part of a quest, and you accept them into your crew using the Assignment tab, you can Immediately change their uniform and name. You do not need to return to starbase to change their uniforms unless you miss your chance and forget to change it immediately. There is no cost to change uniforms the first time whether you are on your ship or in the starbase.
Cruisers are designed to be the brutes in the game and soak up a lot of damage. They CAN be outfitted to fight, and they fight well while surviving well, but we are talking about their true innate roles so let's go with Brute.
What do you need to begin with?
Good shields, the best you can buy. I always choose moderate shield strength and high recharge. The reason I do that is I use my Bridge Officers to improve their strength during combat but I want them to recharge quickly between targets.
Stations are all about personal choices. I choose to improve my beam weapons strength (tactical), my crew recovery (engineer) and my sensors (science).
Bridge Officers that lend themselves to my survival. My Tactical officer ALWAYS has High Yield Torpedoes, my Engineers have Shield buffs and Hull recovery, my Science officers have some power that stops ships from targeting me for "x" seconds.
My weapon load outs consist of two powerful 90 degree arc weapons in the front; usually a torpedo and a beam weapon. My rear weapons are a 250 degree beam weapon and a mine layer (a 360 degree weapon).
This combination works with my Cruiser play style which is aggressively defensive. My tactic is simple - make them come to me, auto attack while in a timely manner pushing every button that will keep me alive. The beam weapons and mines do their business and between my Engineer and my Bridge Officers the ship stays whole.
Turning is not as important to my Cruiser's survival as it is with an Escort. I turn, sure, but slowly because my ship is a big fat rhino. I know that and play to that strength by allowing my rear beam and mines to contribute to the damage instead of being an afterthought.
The real key is the survival of your ship. For instance, in a battle you will be bombarded by beam weapons which you can usually ignore if your shields have a great recharge, but the big problem is the torpedoes. When you see them coming click the shield bar facing the torpedo to strengthen it. That will mitigate the damage and drop a 150 damage strike down to 80 or so.
But it's the OTHER stuff you do that will save the day. Everything has a timer and you need to learn your Bridge Officer powers and your powers timers. If you are getting hammered Strengthen your shields, wait a couple of seconds for that to kick in then Spread their power effectively giving the weakened shields the benefit of the power from shields not being pounded on.
Wait a few seconds to see what happens then reinforce your shield and hit the science officer power that stops your target from shooting you, wait a few seconds then Spread the shields power across all shields. Now heal your shields again and press evasive maneuvers to improve ship functions and allow you to turn better.
I know, it's a button pressing mess but it's also exhilarating and don't forget that the whole time your weapons are chewing into your opponent. You WILL live.. .they WILL die.
HOW DO THE ROLES IN THEIR OWN TYPE SHIP PLAY?
Lt. Commander Science officer in a Science Ship
Science ships are a hybrid ship with a little better turning than a Cruiser, a little stronger shields than an Escort, and more Science stations than either Cruiser or Escort. Throughout history Science has brought us advances and advantages that help make our lives easier and better. In Star Trek Online the same can be said of Science Officers in a Science Ship.
They make your life easier and better.
What do you need to begin with?
Weapons - You have two in the front and two in the back. I recommend a similar load out to my Cruiser load out with a 90' beam weapon in the front next to a torpedo (Plasma for the win!), but with two 250' beams in the back. At the right angle this gives you three beams and a big ass torpedo shot by making a very small movement of your ship's facing.
Consoles - Again, my choices are similar to what I recommended for Cruiser. I like a tactical console that improves my beam weapons, and a Science station that improves the Deflector dish so my heals are better.
Bridge Officers - This is where I am going to state a very controversial opinion. With a Science Ship you get two Science officers, one a Lt. On my Science ship I gave the ensign Science I and my Lt. the "don't-shoot-me" power and Science II. Why two different Science Powers? As a Science ship it is not unusual for people to HOPE that I can heal. With two heals I can keep myself alive AND help a team mate. The powers DO overlap however the second Science skill, that I didn't use, recovers faster than the first one so after about 15 seconds my other Science power is available.
Many people might think that I wasted my Lt. power by getting Science II but I don't think so. Last night I was in a small group and having two science powers came in very handy. I was a higher level than them and had better stuff on my ship. The enemy was not damaging me much but they were chewing up my team mates. It was really simple, and gave me a lot of pleasure, to heal both of them during a battle. I even got a thank you from one of them that took the time to check her log to see what saved her bacon. hahah.
The great thing about a Science ship is that it can fill so many roles. I play my Science Ship as a combat ship most of the time. With heals, strong shields, great weapons and a plasma torpedo I enter battle with little fear, ripping things to pieces. If it becomes too hairy I simply point myself at empty space to gain distance while cutting enemies to pieces with my rear beam weapons.
If you have never looked at the Science powers you need to. There are some that make me scratch my head and ask myself, "What the hell does that mean?" However, if one of the powers doesn't work out simply replace it with another power. What are you going to do with those lower level class points anyway? Improve your ship? Bahh, humbug. You'll be making so much money you can buy the best from the Exchange. Use those points to test out the powers !
A typical battle for my Science Officer is to enter combat from a distance using beam and torpedoes to wreck a ship. As it turns I turn to be parallel to it allowing me to bring my other two beams into the picture. There is a sweet spot, or I should say a sweet angle, that allows your three beams to all fire on the target. With the Science ships maneuverability keeping close to that sweet angle is pretty easy to do.
When you start taking damage spread your shield power out and that will mitigate damage to a single shield. If you are fighting something powerful use your Science Ensign power to make the opponent stop targeting you and firing on you. This only lasts about 10 seconds but it's 10 seconds of you shooting them and them NOT shooting you.
If your shields start to get damaged hit Science I and heal them. You'll be buffing yourself at the same time as healing your shields and then Spread the shield strength around: with your great shields and their huge recharge rate you effectively give yourself a full heal. Around 15 seconds later if you need it again then hit Science II.
Ok, that's about it. Keep shooting your powered up beams, High Yield torpedoes (Plasma for the win!), healing yourself and keeping the bad guy from shooting you.. and guess what? You win the battle. They lose.
One thing I might add to the Cruiser is that it' also the "team support"/"healer" ship (and more so then the Science Vessel). You can tank relatively well while keeping team mates alive, very useful in fleet actions, STFs and most importantly PvP. If you're in a team and not healing others, ask yourself why not.