What a surprise it was to get my hands on a Romulan today! As soon as I finished digesting the email (and geeking out) I immediately charged up the launcher, got the server patched, and headed in to create my first Romulan. Overall the experience was fantastic and there were a lot of really special moments that I think will finally bring STO to the level of competing titles in the F2P MMO space.
In order to keep things clear and concise, I'm going to work through my feedback chronologically from character creation to your character's arrival at the fleet.
The devblog featuring the character creation overhaul really does a fantastic job of selling the changes. Everything about the reworked feature has been condensed to the most important parts while leaving the advanced settings perfectly in reach for those of us who like to fine tune our characters. It flows nicely (meeting that expectation perfectly) and definitely makes the whole process less painful.
The abundance of unique Romulan choices was great and while I imagine there's a bin somewhere full of future C-Store released, I didn't feel like I was being short changed. There's plenty there to get your character started, and from a roleplayer's perspective, it was nice to have options based on how I envisioned my character (not everyone has to look like the default colony farmer).
There were a few clipping issues, though I didn't play around with many of the outfits. Specifically, there was some chest clipping on the gunslinger outfit top for a male of default build. This may have only been in the tailor as it didn't appear to clip once in the game.
One area that I think could use some touching up is the cluttering of the preview options on either side of the doll. It would be incredibly useful if the columns for face and hair presets to be collapsible for those of use who decide to zoom in and fine tune features. As it is, those previews clutter the space up something awful and it gets a little claustrophobic.
As a final note, it was very nice to see the random name generator filled with Romulan names.
I'm not afraid or ashamed to admit I got a little choked up during the opening cinematic. It could have been from the excitement of finally getting to play a Romulan, but that video and the powerful meaning of the words, along with the brilliant new soundtrack really stuck with me. It's as if the hope of the Romulans as they begin their journey of self discovery and rebuilding is a shared sentiment for a player who has longed for the Romulan experience.
I realize it's been noted the subtitles will be slowed with the coming of VO, but for completeness' sake, I wanted to add that it was difficult to keep up.
Well done, Cryptic. I was thoroughly moved.
The starting colony world (the name escapes me) is beautiful. The level of detail is exquisite and appreciated in a game that has, until now, largely been full of bland and repetitive environments. It was nice to see so many NPCs who appeared to be going on about their lives, having meaningful conversations; the console discussing the events at Vega Colony and a few mentions about the war; and the general feeling that the place was lived in. It reminds me--in a very good way--of the mining colony from the Romulan FES.
The lore keeper was a nice touch--especially the part where you actually get to make a meaningful in-game decision about who your character is. Clearly I'm not far enough to know if that choice I made will have an impact, but it was nice to feel like I had some agency about who my character is. I'm referring, specifically, to the moment when the lore keeper asks about your history with the colony.
Directions were concise, specific, and helpful. The changes to the map made finding things easier (can I say how beautiful the new top-down map is?). What did bother me, however, was that I felt like I was being shuffled along. I realize that's part of the story going ("Hey we have lots of chores to do, get a move on!"), but it felt very on-the-nose. It could just be a pacing issue as it didn't take very long to get through the tutorial, but because this is where the story really begins for your character, I feel like more time should be taken to sell the importance of these events.
I cannot lie, the overall story fells a whole lot derivative of Mass Effect. In fact, the cyborg bugs "collecting" specimens felt like Mass Effect 2, while the post-celebration cinematic and sequences felt an awful lot like the opening of Mass Effect 3--right down to the giant walking robots of death and destruction. I mean if it ain't broken, don't fix it, right?
On the whole, I thought the sequence of events made sense, didn't leave me confused, and was intuitive.
I'm so impressed by the amount of work we can see here. It must have been so difficult to not leak details or give little hints about all of this you had going on in the background. This truly is an expansion--it feels big!--and it's a much needed influx of new content, new features, new story, and redesign in all the right places.
This IS a Romulan experience. It may not be exactly what we were all hoping for (I'll miss the RSE), but it's just as good.
I look forward to posting more feedback as I get further along, and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this testing.