Having played mostly PvE queue content today I figured I would give a review on what it is about the various options that I enjoy, and the things that I would like to see improved. I encourage others to do the same, to give Cryptic an idea of what works well, what doesn't, and why we play the content that we do.
Overall Design(3/5): While there is nothing exceptional about the design of the various STFs they are still pretty solid. The mechanics and triggers are simple and predictable but serve to keep a steady number of enemies around for some to kill while others work on the objectives. The only bad part of the design is the importance of not doing the wrong thing(going to the wrong side), instead of doing the right thing, along with the boring hit point sponges that need burned down quickly to complete the optional.
Challenge(2/5): To be bluntly honest there is very little true challenge to the STFs beyond trying to complete the optional, but that is not a bad thing. The goal is to get it done as quickly as you can to get the rewards and do it again, that is a good thing. Ya do the job, ya get paid, if you do it really well you get paid more!
Frustration Factor(3/5): There is very little frustration from the STFs themselves, only from the people in the PuG at times. This is due to the 'dont do the wrong thing' design style that irritates players when they see someone doing something wrong. And the one shots, those are frustrating as well.
Rewards(4/5): First off there is the dilithium. Then you have the EDC that can be traded for some sweet doffs, set items, or general gear. Then there is the salvage/tech which gets you more gear or more dilithium. And of course the small chance at Mk 12 purple gear. But the best part is no matter how many STFs you have run you will still get good rewards, even if it is just dil. In addition the more of them you run the better equipped you are to do more, it is a very well designed mouse wheel. The only complaint is the drop rate of the purple tech and that is not a deal breaker for me.
Conclusion: The STFs are enjoyable and I will continue to play them even if only for the dilithium and to outfit my boffs all in maco/omega.
Mirror Universe Event
Overall Design(3/5): Once again nothing amazing but its good enough. It almost managed to be about doing the right thing instead of not doing the wrong thing with the optional, but due to how the enemies can mob depending on the group the right thing can be the wrong thing so to speak.
Challenge(3/5): The main reason this one scores higher on the challenge bar is that the enemy uses various abilities and powers beyond what the borg typically do, in addition to the increased challenge when you get too many of them together and they really start to cross heal each other. Once again the challenge is to get it done fast to maximize the reward for the time, and at times that can be a challenge.
Frustration Factor(1/5): There is very little to get frustrated about in this encounter, worse case scenario you die repeatedly until you burn down enough enemy ships.
Reward(2*/5): While the exp reward is amazing at early levels, at VA the dilithium reward is a little weak. There is also a chance of mk 12 drops but they are not very likely.
Conclusion: I could never replay this as much as the STFs, simply because the rewards are not there. But it is a fun little thing to do on the side to see the pretty explosions and earn a bit of dil. Good thing its time-gated I guess.
Space Fleet Actions
Overall Design(1/5): These were designed long ago, and it shows. Pretty much nothing but endless spawns that throw themselves upon your guns to die. Also, with the way the reward and getting first place works it can lead to strange behavior by the players as they ignore the current objective to go deal hull damage. Not much else to say really. While the Mirror Event is similar in nature, it doesn't last long enough to get boring.
Challenge(2/5): Very little difficulty, other than to try and get the #1 score.
Frustration Factor(1/5): Not much to get frustrated about, just bored.
Reward(2/5): While they are one of the few places to get Mk 12 drops, and you can get some dil from the rotating daily, and if you get first place you get a nice item, it is not worth the amount of time they take. Especially if you don't score first or second.
Conclusion: Really not worth the time for me unless I really want a change of pace.
Vault Shuttle Event
Overall Design(4/5): The big change here is that it becomes about doing the right thing, instead of not doing the wrong thing. This...is...huge! The pacing is also nice, the briefings to inform the players are very well done, the variety of enemies, etc. The only design flaw is the timers, and I'll get to that later.
Challenge(2/5): There is a little bit more challenge here, simply because of the limited resources of being in a shuttle. Beyond that it is still blow stuff up as fast as it spawns while others hit the objective(s).
Frustration Factor(5/5): The timers causing you to completely fail after waiting how long in queue and because you and your team are unfamiliar with the encounter, or someone drops, or for whatever reason and you walk away with nothing is extremely frustrating. Especially when you probably won't get to try again for another few days because it is time-gated! This is not an 'elite' event, this is not a 'fleet' event, the reward isn't an uber mcguffin.
Rewards(1/5): While the set does look nice, that is the only reward. This means it is only worth doing if you really want those three items, and after you get them to never do it again.
Conclusion: My time is valuable, if I partake in the content I want a reward. This is simply not worth my time.
Frustration Factor & Challenge
I'm going to be honest here, I play STO as a casual MMO. If I desire an intense challenge I'll go into pvp or i'll play another game pvp that I shall not name. Most MMOs are low on challenge by design and that is not a bad thing. I enjoy it much more when the challenge is to do it quickly and efficiently, not the learn by failing and getting nothing method. These are not epic crawls threw dungeons where I face down four minor bosses that give me loot and then fail on the final boss with the uber loot. The STFs and Mirror Event are good models of this, if I do the optional I get more rewards and/or it is easier. The new Vault event, however, if something that makes me want to flip tables! There is a reason Everquest style design was given up so long ago.
They began in the red alerts and I hated them there. In the STFs they are tolerable because they are only tied to the optional reward even if they do twist player's minds. But the ones in the vault are simply frustrating to no end. Make them optional, if you don't make the timer there are more spawns in the final room making it take longer and you get fewer runs done within said hour. Please, I want to play it, but not the way it is now.
If I am going to play the same content over and over there had best be a good carrot at the end of that stick! While I will occasionally replay things just for kicks that is not enough to keep me occupied. The STFs have a large amount of varied rewards that are worth it, some of the others do not. Would it hurt to have a random Mk12 piece drop for everyone at the end of a Fleet Action or the Mirror Event? Not necessarily a purple but a chance at it for everyone. And the vault needs a much larger variety of rewards if it is to have any lasting power.
Simply put, if timers and elite content that cannot be PuGed is the future of STO it will chase me away. I hated guilds when I played Utopia along time ago and still don't care for them. However, if you keep providing me with fun casual content and I will be around for a very long time.