Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
There is a lot of ground combat/away mission bashing going on, both here in the forums and in offical reviews of the game.
But actually, there are some of us, that like ground combat, even prefer it over space combat due to the more "star trekky feeling" and roleplay reasons.
So I will try to write my view on away missions to somehow represent that silent minority.

First of all, being 41 I am one of the older players here. Having played RPGs for good 25 years I maybe have a different approach on games than others. And I play MMOs since over ten years.
I played during open beta and headstart and now in release I levelled both a Klingon and a Federation character to max level. During exploration missions I always tried to get ground missions, so I had my share of them and consider myself quite experienced with the different planets, bases and mines.


The Good

Your team
Roleplayers to some degree spend a lot of time customizing their officers, thinking of names and maybe even a background story. On ground you actually can see the result of your work. You can run around with your team, visit some very well designed planets, make screenshots and do some relaxed exploring or mildly challenging combat.
http://img41.imageshack.us/i/teamjww.jpg/

Scanning
While scanning missions are not as dangerous as soloing a borg cube, it gives you the opportunity to go afk getting coffee riskfree. And some of the artifacts are really nice.
These kind of missions are unique to STO and are - in my opinion - a nice option to waste time.
http://img689.imageshack.us/i/alienartifact.jpg/

Environment
Have you ever visited a planet assimilated by the Borg? I can tell you, it looks great. I have seen forests of crystalline monoliths, I walked among foggy ruins and explored seemingly endless deserts. The number of different planets is huge. And some of them are really worth seeing.
http://img163.imageshack.us/i/aloneinthedesert.jpg/


The Bad

Loot
Sometimes loot is good, sometimes it's only junk. Having finished and instance with five enemy groups including boss and beaming out with three minor health stimulants and a white mark 9 amor at RA5 is not sooo super.
An improvement could be to give the boss a guaranteed green drop, especially considering the upcoming death penalty.

Difficulty
Now that is the point, that seems to bother most.
While ground combat is easy in most cases, there are some encounters, that are overly difficult. Running into a Reman boss at level 18 is such an example. Very hard to beat, and even experienced players will consider them a challenge.
Also the elite borg can be more than a nuisance, trying to assimilate you, what results in a major dot and slow, so without a well skilled healer you are doomed to fail.
Well, and we don't have to discuss the Romulan groups consisting of scientists and healers, with mighty shields and tons of hitpoints, that are constantly regenerated and healed. Such fights can take really, really long.
But all in all, ground combat difficulty is low. What is no challenge for some, but others welcome this feature. Give it a slight increase, combined with higher NPC AI, death penalty and better loot. That should do.

NPC Behaviour
It's not that bad, but could be better. If the engineer does not drop a turret at the right time, you can always execute that skill yourself. Same with heals. Would be nice though, if the scripts were better and you were not forced to micromanagement sometimes.
Enemy NPCs seem to suffer from the same problem, that we encounter in PvP, always attacking turrets and generators first, even if you don't want to. That can help making difficult encounters more easy, but it's somehow odd.

No wildlife
While the planets look great in most cases, they are all bare of wildlife. No buzzing insects in the forest, no little aliens lurking behind rocks, no bizarre birdlike creatures flying overhead. That's a shame, as it would add a lot to the atmosphere. Hopefully that will be added in some form in the future.


The Awful

NPC Pathing
It's not good. The worst example are the Fire Caves on Bajor, closely followed by the metal underground base setting. Having to move the team with babysteps via the rally command is no fun and seriously needs to be worked over. I mean, really.


Fazit

There are issues, nothing to argue about that, and exploration missions need some developer love. But they are not as bad as some describe it.
It's okay for the casual gamer as it is more relaxed than space combat.
It's great for roleplayers, since you can see your officers and work together with them. You visit beautiful or bizarre planets.
Seeing a group of borg slowly moving towards your team, trying to assimilate you, is quite a sight and makes you finally feel like being part of the Star Trek universe. And isn't that the point, why we pay to play this game?


(Please excuse grammar and spelling errors, English is not my native tongue.)
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
03-02-2010, 05:39 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf68 View Post
The Awful

NPC Pathing
It's not good. The worst example are the Fire Caves on Bajor, closely followed by the metal underground base setting. Having to move the team with babysteps via the rally command is no fun and seriously needs to be worked over. I mean, really.

[/i]

Amen to that, I did Fire Caves solo just leaving my away team behind, Used Stealth and Security Escorts, didn't get to enjoy the mission at all.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
03-02-2010, 06:21 AM
I also enjoy ground missions. I agree the toughness could be tweaked up but only if loot is improved. As you mention, fighting a nasty fight and getting Synthale and Small Hypos for it is just bad.

I haven't had any problems with pathing in general. Certainly better than many MMOs out there. But yeah, the metal base one and the Fire Caves are a pain in the back side. I just deleted the Fire Cave one out of frustration.

One hint for fighting hard NPCs like the Remens and such is carry melee weapons only. That bypasses the shields and goes straight to their health. Combine that with a lot of butting action to interrupt them and it can be done without too much hassle. What I have also done at RA5 is make a team of 3 engineers all with mines and phasers and drones and 1 science with only healing. That just tears up even the toughest borg group
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
03-02-2010, 11:45 AM
Pathing IS terrible, no doubt. But what really makes me ragequit is when my away team fall outside of the world leaving me to fend for myself. Worse yet, sometimes enemy combatants will do this too, leaving me unable to attack them while they tear me apart at range.

As far as the RP aspect of the exploration missions...how do you justify taking orders from your subordinates? It's bad enough that walking from blue glowing object to blue glowing object mashing "use" offers no challenge or interest whatsoever, but then your BOs do all analysis, make all decsions and TELL THE CAPTAIN WHAT TO DO. You have no choice but to do what your underlings tell you to or petulantly quit the mission entirey. Ridiculous. This isn't confined to exploration/detective type missions, it's just even more aggravating there because there is little to no combat to distract you from the fact that you're your Ensigns whipping boy.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
03-02-2010, 11:53 AM
I agree with this thread for the most part. I tend to enjoy ground missions, and take time to take in all the visuals. It would be nice if there was actual life. Although there is one missions that has floating jellyfish things... that was awesome.

My biggest issue is the one echoed by most, which was the decision to remove auto-fire. I would love to focus on commanding my squad and buffs rather than slamming 1 & 2 constantly. I know you can pause, but I don't really like doing that. Breaks up the action too much.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
03-03-2010, 01:19 PM
Thanks for reading through my long post and the replies.
I am aware, that there are few of us, that like ground combat. Hopefully it will be improved, so that our number raises.

There is another point, I forgot to mention:
It is not good, that officers can't use melee weapons. While it is fun to see them doing some martial arts, it would be great to have the option to give your klingons a bath'let (hmm, spelling?).
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
03-03-2010, 01:45 PM
Wolf68, really good thread. I can just say that i agree with your first post. The developers needs to hear that we do enjoy the game. And the developers needs to hear what we whant to see more of and how to improve some parts. Once again, thank you for a really good post!
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