My review after 3 days. Just one veteran MMO player's opinion. Setting aside the usual post-launch bugs, issues and downtime (which were not unexpected) -
Space Combat: A-
Ground Combat: C-
Progression Curve: B-
Overall Rating (after the first 3 days): B-
Although the space combat is, in some ways, retooled from the old Starfleet Command games, there is nothing wrong with that. It was (and is) a fun system. More importantly, it's unique versus every other MMO out there and fun to play. Space battles with dozens of ships run pretty smoothly and have that "epic" feel in my opinion.
The ground combat just isn't that great - pretty much button mashing and not all that interesting button mashing at that. Some of the environments look pretty cool, but I'm already at the point where I internally groan "Great, another bug hunt - let's get through this so I can blow up more stuff." I do like how in a mission story arc there is a linear plot that evolves between space and ground - the ground combat just has to be more interesting. The expose/exploit mechanic has some promise, but needs to be better developed and implemented.
I think they've done a pretty good job with the story and missions thus far. They have the right "feel" - like you're playing through a Star Trek episode. I'd like some missions that were a bit more mystery/puzzle oriented and require you to figure things out a more, rather than being spoon fed. Having said that, it's almost inexcusable that you can't wander around on your ship and do things, have missions, and trick out your stateroom with bling (Romulan Ale, Gold Pressed Latinum bars, wall plaques, cabinets with ship models, you get the idea).
The progression curve seems flat, with not enough tangible rewards/upgrades versus game time played in my opinion. I just made Lt. Cmdr. and there honestly doesn't seem to be a whole lot of difference between what I was doing when I started and what I'm doing now. This may pick up further down the line, but lack of a sense of progression is an MMO killer - it's the textbook example of what causes people to feel like they're grinding for no reason. I need more little stuff along the path.
PVP is buggy as hell and I keep getting booted, unrewarded, or confused whenever I attempt it. Maybe I'm not doing it right, but my sense from reading other posts is that there are a lot of problems. PVP definitely needs to be in this game, for all the obvious reasons, but they might have been better served keeping it limited to one on one and small scale stuff initially and ramping up to zone wide and system wide skirmishes with a more tangible reward system in place.
Sorry about the novel. There's lots of positives in this game and the space combat alone will keep me going for a couple weeks, I'm sure. I hope Cryptic gives some definite plans to address some of these things down the line. I'd really like this MMO to have some staying power and I think the right building blocks are there.
Space Combat: A (too easy in pve sometimes)
Ground Combat: B+(I enjoy it a lot, personally)
Storyline/Missions: A (the random missions have become much more star trek-ish, which is awesome).
Progression Curve: C+ (Skill leveling is somewhat confusing as to what things do and irreversible)
Space PVP: A (I enjoy it and have no great issues).
Ground PVP: C+ (some maps are buggy, and it takes one person spamming holds to make ground pvp very unfun. Also, I always enjoy getting into a map to find it's 5 vs. 2 or 5 vs. Me).
Space Combat: A
Ground Combat: B+
Progression Curve: B-
Overall Rating (after the first 3 days): B-
Space combat – The space combat is actually pretty smooth considering all the things going on behind the scene. Some of the battles have an epic feel to them, including some of the smaller mission related engagements. This was a major win for the game. Though it can be somewhat repetitive, it is engaging and though I cannot put my finger on it, somewhat satisfying. There are some issues with enemies being able to target and engage you through solid objects (like Asteroids and space stations) while the reverse is not true. I believe the collision system needs some work in that regard.
Ground combat – Ground combat is a great break from all the space missions and it is fun. I find it a bit laggy in most instances, though that may be due in great part to my graphics settings (maxed) and my ISP speed. The rewards are a bit humdrum but sometimes surprising. The enemies can be a bit brazen and tend to shake off damage a bit too easily. I am not sure if they are capable of it, but a more intelligent use of tactics on their part would make it more rewarding. Our away teams tend to be a bit "ignorant" and don’t always perform in the best traditions of StarFleet. There have been a couple times I truly wanted to airlock a BO or two. Still experiencing some pathing issues with them where they get stuck in walls, doorways, or other environmental objects.
Storyline/Missions: The storyline is rather nice if not a bit repetitive in many missions. Only the names and places are changed. Though this is the Achilles heel for many if not all MMO's, it is my hopes there will be more enriched storylines to come. The Genesis system is something that shows a lot of promise, however, it can be a bit confusing and frustrating on how groups can follow one another into an instanced mission. The popup button (the one that pops up on the lower right of the screen) doesn’t always show for everyone. This is group-breaking and tends to cause major slowdowns in the smooth progression within the group mechanic. Rewards are so-so and some of the stats could be a bit more clearly defined (thinking from a new store-bought version players perspective). Maybe something in the tutorial could go over stats a bit. One final note here is that we are supposed to be Starfleet representatives. In that respect, we should see some mandatory Starfleet mission orders that are required missions. They could be group or individual type missions. One or two per rank (Ensign, Lieutenant, LCDR, etc) would feel right. The missions portion of the review could go on for pages.
Progression curve: I have to agree somewhat with the OP. The feel of progression could be a bit more defined. Cant put my finger on one outstanding issue here as there seems to be a smooth flow between rank levels which does help give the feel of progression. I know, I know, it sounds as though I am contradicting myself. But like I said, I cant put my finger on it.
PvP: I am not a big fan of PvP but I do have to say the PvP in this game is some serious fun. The instances are bit short but that could be what keeps me coming back for more. I believe they have a win in this department. No one player feels over-powered and even a newer player can get in there and mix it up some. Maybe some missions can be created for each side that could be diverse mix of space and ground, where taking real estate could be involved (i.e. taking control of a space station and its surrounding space).
Mechanics: The mechanics of say logging in and having to wait forever will be disheartening to a new player. This something that will drive new blood away quickly (and some experienced ones). The ques are a good idea due to the issues experienced up to now. I hope the addition of hardware is in the works to resolve this one. No one wants to wait for 45 minutes to login just to get disconnected while loading into an instance only to start the process over again. The same holds true for missions that are abended due to disconnects. A players progression in a mission should be saved and be able to be continued where they left off, especially longer missions. This is the most important aspect of the game (getting into the game itself) that should flow smoothly. I rather feel they are waiting to see how many player accounts stay after launch before investing in more hardware, and that to me seems self-defeating. However, I could be wrong, as it is just a gut feeling. Having worked for years in the IT Industry, I know it is possible and moreover a standard practice of having infrastructure hardware delivered overnight, or at least within 72 hours. There are usually contractual agreements in place between vendors and customers.
Overall: I think this game is a winner. I do not regret the purchase of a lifetime subscription and look forward to all the enhancements that are more than likely on the horizon. I feel this game will make it big and be around for years to come.