So I played the first three months and kind of lost interest. First month I was playing a few hours every day and it trickled off after that. I just lost interest, the content wasn't compelling and I wasn't getting what I wanted. So I come back and it looks like what I wanted (a defiant and sovereign) are even further away.
What's the best way to level? I'm sitting at Lt Commander 5 right now and after playing for three hours I just feel like I'm not doing it right.
If you hate the game at LtCmdr, odds are you're not going to love it later on, either. That said, leveling is not an especially swift thing, in my experience. There are things you can do to help it along (+20% skill bonus from the C-Store, the current Q bonus, etc) but it takes time to move up the ladder.
Purely in terms of best skill point gain per hour invested, I have been told that sector defense missions are the way to go. They're probably right, as I've gained many levels that way. However, in terms of actual fun, the missions are where it's at for me. They're also how you get quite a lot of items along the way.
A Defiant is a Captain-level ship, which is truthfully not that terrible to get to. I'm a VA Tac, and I made it fairly swiftly. Just keep to the missions, enjoy the stories for what they are, and don't try to fit too much into one session. Do what you feel like and then stop for a while, and it won't feel like so much of a grind. The ships will come.
As it happens, the Defiant was my least favorite escort in terms of looks. I fly a multi vector now.
Yeah, definitely maximize your gameplay during the Q weekends. In addition, the featured episodes give a lot of points. Generally people find that they level up very quickly so that you're having a hard time doing it on your first character is unusual -- can you tell us more about what missions you're doing? Are they storyline, defend, patrol, etc? The biggest update since December will be hitting around July 7 and that will give you a totally revamped ground combat, better graphics, and more that may help keep up your interest.
Hop in an escort and start blasting your way to VA. You are a bit faster, have more forward weapons. I found flying an escort helps speed up the pace of combat. You might find the faster pace a bit more entertaining. Ive leveled all my toons in an escort, with sci, and a tac. Working on my engineer at the moment and he's an escort pilot. Im usually at VA in less then a month playing casually. Get some friends to do missions with you and you can get through them a hell of alot faster. I know some people that level cap in less then a week playing with others.