In amongst all the threads of things that are broken/bad/not as good as they could be/etc, I thought there might be some value in pointing out the things that are actually pretty great already, and exceeded my expectations. I had pretty much given up on this game, and I'm still pessimistic. But New Romulus actually has me feeling like the game is getting better, not worse, for the first time since Season 5. I feel like I ought to show that in my posts, too, not just my pessimism.
So: here are some things that impressed me.
-Framerate locking on alt-tab. STO is already one of the best AAA games on the market for alt-tab support, and this should make it even easier to tab away from STO.
-Fun new ground weapons with new mechanics, animations, and models. Even as placeholders, these are really nice; and while their looks aren't perfect, they're already pretty good.
-Early, extensive beta testing with a strong dev response. Thank you for listening to our concerns about rushed-out content that turns out to be broken, and taking steps to find and fix problems before they reach the live server.
-Level design is fantastic. I've only seen a few of them - I don't want to spoil too much of the expansion for myself - but they're all extremely visually engaging, actually exceeding the best missions in the game to-date. The interior of D'tans mothership is way better looking than ESD and much easier to navigate than Kronos. The scripted events and animations in the tutorial blew my socks off. And whoever designed the Romulan bridge deserves a god damn medal: even with some placeholder elements (no backdrop out the windows, etc) it's one of the best interiors in the game.
-Bridge officers that are part of the storyline. STO has desperately needed this since it came out, but it's been so long without them that I was expecting never to see it. I would like to see this built upon for the other factions.
I sometimes feel like a giant douche for nitpicking balance and mechanics decisions relentlessly while all this great work is being done by the artist and writers and stuff to bring us this great new campaign.
But here's the thing... I'm going to end up playing the campaign once for myself, and maybe another one or two times if any fleet mates want company for some power grinding through it. The game mechanics on the other hand are going to be with us for years, i.e. "forever" in internet time. The campaign is very nice and all, well job, but reality is that if stuff is not fun and viable in the end-game where all the lasting rewards are then I won't play it.
So they've done really outstanding work on some things, things aimed at gaining and holding new players. I mentioned a while back that STO desperately needed a better tutorial, and it looks like somebody might have actually listened because I can see the Romulans are going to be the easiest for new players to get into thanks to the hand-holding. But I need to focus on the things that are important to me as an established player. In that area they're making some missteps.
The non-interact-y dialog popups are nice, too, although (correct me if I'm wrong and you actually can) it would be nice to be able to move where those show up on the rearange-UI screen. I hope these get implemented as an option in foundry missions, and maybe in some existing quests, too. So much less intrusive than a window you have to click through to get back to playing the game... and so much less tempting to clickclickclick through without reading, as a result.
So far, everything has been really cool. The story makes my character feel like a PERSON not a "Fed" or "KDF". The tutorial is great & I also love the Boffs being part of the story & having a personality (although I wish I could change their looks & names).
The Ship interiors are WAAYYY better than the other 2 factions & the uniform is badass.
So far, I love my character, the ships, the maps, the story, and the overall experience. I'd give the whole thing an A- at this point, the minus for how well the alliance part will be fleshed out to be Romulan specific. But other than that, I'm mostly saying wow when I do each episode or go to my ship or find a new social hub.
I feel we have to nitpick because we're testing and hope to give everyone the best experience when we go live as possible. I didn't really want a Romulan faction, but now that I've played it, I'm super excited and think that Cryptic is really demonstrating the best of what they are capable of. I can't wait for it to go live, and I'm glad I picked up the Legacy Pack to support them.