So I played as much as my schedule (and the servers) would allow this weekend, and just wanted to share my perspective on the game so far; what I liked and didn't like. I only got to Lt Gade 6, so I haven't really stressed the game a whole lot. People are free to disagree, and I don't promote myself as some authority, I just want to get my perspective out there for people, and hopefully the dev team, to consider. These are just perspectives on the actual game itself, not bugs or glitches that I've noticed.
The visuals are amazing! I especially love the scenary on planets, and all of the effects in space are really...pardon the pun...stellar.
The starship customization is great. I like that we're not forced to have the same ship as everyone else.
I really like having a bridge crew to accompany me on my away missions. My personal play style involves a lot of soloing, so always having a full team is really nice. I also like that I get to fully customize them. It's like I'm playing 5 characters at once!
The instance-based areas for episodes are also really nice. It's convenient to enter a zone an automatically be teamed with other people working on the same "quest".
Pardon the WoW speak, but I really enjoyed being able to do a "raid" at level 6 (Area 24). It added some excitement to the usual play style that most MMOs offer at low levels.
I guess a few of the above remarks can be summed up with this: Cryptic did a good job of getting people to work together without it being burdensome or annoying.
You are actually encouraged to "explore" by the fact that you can collect things like Data Samples and Alien Artifacts that are treated as "currency" for special item. Star Trek is all about exploration, and it would have been sad if STO hasn't made exploration fun.
On that note, I'm glad that gear/items play such a big part in the game. In Cryptic's first major MMO, City of Heroes, the only "gear" you got was enhancements which modified specific powers a little, and even at that it took a major patch long after the game launched before there were any sort of "special" enhancements that were hard to get (except the Hamidon ones, if I remember correctly).
Very steep learning curve! I've been playing MMOs for about 10 years now, and I expect all of them to be different (I didn't log in to STO expecting a SciFi WoW), but everything is thrown at you in a very short period of time without a lot of explination, and even with my background I'm having a hard time figuring out what to do. I feel that the game should gradually introduce you to more aspects of gameplay. Purhaps for the first few levels, if you can only do away missions, that will help get you familiar with how to control your crew and handle ground combat, and then later you get a ship to command and can learn how to do space combat. I know I'll get some disagreements on this, but I really feel like the game just dumped everything on my in a very short period of time, and I spent the entire weekend running around trying to figure out what did what.
This is related to the learning curve, but there's not nearly enough explination for stuff like the effects you get from ship parts, kits, and other gear. For example, the skill Starship Engineering Training says "This skill improves starship system performance abilities." What on earth does that mean? As a new player, I don't know what my system performance abilities are or how to use them. Hopefully, this sort of information will become more readily available through player-based sites like the wiki, but it sure makes the game more confusing.
I like the promotion system, but even if you step outside of the Star Trek universe, it doesn't make a lot of sense that a Lt would be commanding his own ship with 100+ crewmen. That part seems a little silly, but doesn't deter me from playing the game.
I understand that as you level up, you'll get faster and more powerful ships, but the initial ship you start out with is painfully slow, especially when maneuvering. And the fact that your turn speed is somewhat dependant on your velocity means that you can't just slow down to make a tight turn.
I don't think you get nearly enough experience from killing ships/enemies. +1 skill point for a normal kill? Your ability to level up is almost entirely based on completing an episode, and what you do to complete that episodes makes very little difference (in terms of experience). I know there's more to a game than just grinding to max level, but I don't feel that you are adequately rewarded for the tasks you accomplish.
Character customization is pretty weak. Most of the facial changes you can make are negligibly noticable, and there are on average 2-5 options for chest, pants, boots, etc. One of the things that made City of Heroes so great and that I was looking forward to was the in depth character creation. You had about 30-50 options for every piece of gear. It was a game in and of itself, and I was disappointed that it was so limited in STO.
All that said, I really enjoy the game and look forward to how it's going to play out. Please don't anyone take this as a gripe fest. I tried to be honest and fair, and simply wanted to share what I've gotten out of the game.