Friday, June 14, 2013

Star Trek Online (Part Five)

Leveling Up Need to Knows
As far as I know, the level cap in Star Trek Online is currently at 50 just like in SWTOR. Whether there are plans to allow a player to go beyond it is unknown but highly doubtful because most of the in-game content seems to point towards this as the end-game.

Level01 - 910 - 1920 - 2930 - 3940 - 4445 - 4950
RankEnsignLieutenantLieutenant CommanderCommanderCaptainRear Admiral, Lower HalfRear Admiral, Upper HalfVice Admiral

Anyway, using the Federation ranks as an example, the above table roughly shows the level progression in STO starting with Ensign when you began with the tutorial and ending with Vice Admiral when you reach the level cap.
Star Trek Online - Level Up Rewards Unlocks
Basically, level is gained via earning skill points instead of gaining experience points. And once you've attained enough skill points, you will automatically rank up to the next level.

Although roughly every level or alternate level will net you some kind of reward or unlock (be it gaining extra bridge officers, more duty officers, some kind of usable space or ground skill or just some new PVE maps or functions), the more important milestones would typically be at the change of ranks.
Star Trek Online - Free New StarshipStar Trek Online - Promoting Bridge Officers
At every change in rank (roughly 10 levels or so), you will often be rewarded with a free brand new ship (of your choice) at the "Starship and Shuttle Requisitions" officer, after you've visited Admiral Quinn at the Earth Spacedock for your "promotion" (which is actually just a quest to show up and nothing fancy). However, do note that this offer is only limited to a select few kinds of starships (not the best but still usable) and not for them all so don't get your hopes too high up.

Next, it is also at these change of ranks where you get to promote your bridge officers and unlock their higher tiered skills for use in ground and space combats as well as upgrade to the next set of better space and ground equipments.

Character Skills
Star Trek Online - Character Skills
Despite being called skills, these aren't really usable at all but rather, they actually work kind of like passives to give you a boost (in the form of bonuses) to your equipped weapons, equipments, space and ground skills of your bridge officer and your career.

For the most part of this, the whole character skills thingy is first divided into two specific sets or areas of development, Space Skills and Ground Skills. Developing your space skills would allow you to perform better in space combats while developing on the ground skills would improve your overall ground combat experience. But from what I could tell, there appears to be no effect on the kind of space skills that you get by your chosen career. Only your ground skills seems to be affected and would be different.

Anyway, with regards to the space skills set, it is further subdivided into "Tactical Systems", "Engineering Systems" and "Science and Operation Systems". However, they aren't named as such to tell you to avoid touching them if your chosen career is tactical, engineering or science. Rather, they are purely meant for categorizing the skills associated under them and how ranking up those skills would improve your capabilities (in those areas) when piloting any starship.

For example, if you wish to boost your weapons or attack capabilities, then the skill you are looking for would most likely be found under tactical systems. If you wish to look for a skill or skills that improve your ability to utilize a starship's physical capabilities to its limits, those skills can be found under "Engineering Systems". For skills that improve your bridge officer's science buffs or debuffs, they are found under "Science and Operation Systems".
Next, all of these character skills are also sorted into columns, Lieutenant, Lt. Commander, Commander, Captain and Admiral respectively. What these mean is that the skills found in that specific column will only be unlocked for you to rank them up when you've reached the appropriate level ranks, i.e. Lieutenant rank skills are accessible right from the start while Lt. Commander skills are only accessible when your at least level 10, Commander skills at level 20, Captain at 30 and Admiral at 40.

Furthermore, to prevent players from stockpiling skill points and use them on higher ranked skills, there is a minimum skill point requirement whereby you will need to allocate sufficient skill points into the previous rank (or below) before the next rank of skills would be unlocked. For example, even if you've reached level 40, you will still need to allocate at least 263,000 skill points into Captain-ranked (and below) skills before you are allowed access to Admiral-ranked skills.

And to prevent unbalanced skill point allocations, there is a maximum skill point cap to both "Space" and "Ground" so that you can't just dump all your skill points earned into one and totally ignore the other.

Lastly, if you look at the skill details window (upon selecting a skill), the description found here ought to sufficiently tell you what leveling up that skill would do. But to make things easier to understand, let us use the skill "Starship Energy Weapons" as an example.
Star Trek Online - Skill Name RankThis here tells you the name as well as the rank of the skill.
Star Trek Online - Skill GistThis here summarizes what leveling the skill would do.
Star Trek Online - Skill DetailsThis here tells you the skill's details. Depending on the skill, some may give you the ability to retrain your bridge officers with grade 3 skills provided you are of the stated career profession and have sufficient levels invested in the skill.
Star Trek Online - Skill Level BonusThis here tells you how much bonus you would get per level invested in the skill. Typically, all the character skills would show you this same table, but the exact effect of the bonus upon your character's stats is unknown. What we do know is that each character skill can be leveled a maximum of 9 times and that the amount of bonus you get would decrease every 3 levels.
Star Trek Online - Skill CostThis here shows you the skill point cost per level. It represents how much skill points is needed to increase the skill by 1 level. As far as I know, this is a fixed cost and is dependent upon the rank of the skill, i.e. Lieutenant-ranked skills: 1,000 & Lt. Commander-ranked skills: 1,500
Anyway, the bottom-line not be afraid to put in your skill points into any of the skills (regardless of their categories) so long as the skill's bonuses appeal to you and your playstyle.

Bridge Officer Rarity and Skills
Bridge officers are pretty much part and parcel of STO's space combats as well as ground combats (if they're involved). Without them, your ability to fight is effectively halved (or more) if I do say so myself. So to start things off, let us talk about their rarity.

Bridge officers that you will find in the game typically comes in four distinct "flavors" (okok...rarity), Common, Uncommon, Rare and Very Rare. However, the differences between officers (of different rarity) is not so much as the skills that they come with (since that could be retrained) nor is it their stats (afaik, their hp appears to be the same and there is no other visible difference), but rather in their trait potency.
Star Trek Online - Common Bridge Officer TraitsStar Trek Online - Very Rare Bridge Officer Traits
Bridge officer traits come in three degrees of potency, Basic, Standard and Superior. And in order to give you an idea of their relative strength, if we take Standard as the basis, Basic would only be half as strong as Standard while Superior would be 1.5 times stronger than Standard.
Common2 Basic, 2 Standard
Uncommon1 Basic, 3 Standard
Rare1 Basic, 2 Standard, 1 Superior
Very Rare2 Standard, 2 Superior
Apart from that, the bridge officer's rarity would also affect the number of basic, standard and superior traits that they possess.
Star Trek Online - Bridge Officer Skills
Next, the above shows a typical bridge officer's skills. And as you can see, it sort of resembles your character skills but is more simplified.

Anyway, each bridge officer is assigned with 4 ground skills and 4 space skills. The sort of skills that they get is dependent upon their career profession though. A tactical bridge officer would get tactical space and ground skills while a science one would get science skills. But nonetheless, all the skills would inevitably have to be ranked according to Ensign, Lieutenant, Lt. Commander and Commander. The reason for this would be made known to you later, but for now just be satisfied to know that you would need to promote your bridge officer to the appropriate ranks before the respective skills will be unlocked.
Star Trek Online - Torpedo High Yield I
Using "Torpedo High Yield I" as an example, the things to note here are mainly:
  • Skill Level - Just like character skill levels, bridge officer skills have a maximum of 9 levels as well. However the difference here is that instead of gaining bonuses, what you get is a decrease in the recharge time (cooldown). At maximum skill level, the amount of time you need to wait before you can reuse the skill is at its least.
  • Expertise Points - Contrary to that shown in the screenshot, what is needed to raise the levels of a bridge officer's skills isn't Skill Points but rather Expertise Points. However, despite their deliberate distinction, they both work in somewhat the same manner. Anyway, just to digress a bit, both skill and expertise points can be gained by completing quests or just simply kill stuff (be it in space or ground combats). Once you've reached the level cap of 50, all skill points that are subsequently gained will be automatically converted into expertise points.
  • Expertise Point Cost - Basically this part is exactly the same as character skills. It just tells you how much expertise points are needed per increase in skill level.
  • Skill Grade - Bridge officer skills come in three grades, I, II and III. In order of their power, Grade I is the least powerful while Grade III is the most. Apart from this, you will also need to know that with each increase in grade, the rank of the skill also increases. For example, Torpedo High Yield I is an Ensign-ranked skill. Its Grade II version, Torpedo High Yield II will be a Lieutenant-ranked skill while Torpedo High Yield III is Lt. Commander.
Well...the last thing I reckon you would need to know regarding bridge officers is how to retrain their space and ground skills. Do note that when you do so, their existing skills (of the corresponding rank) will be permanently replaced by the new ones so be sure that you know what your doing here before proceeding. Anyway, as far as I know, there are 3 sources from which a bridge officer can acquire new skills.
Star Trek Online - Bridge Officer TrainerStar Trek Online - Bridge Officer Assistance
The first source is from a Bridge Officer Trainer. Though this source can train your bridge officers in a wide variety of skills, they are mostly only Grade I and II skills.

The second source is from acquired bridge officer candidates which you don't intend to take in as your permanent crew. The catch here is that these bridge officer candidates will just train one of your existing officers, of the same career profession, in one skill (space or ground) that they know (of any rank) and will then leave...vanish...disappear (you get the idea). And since Grade I and II skills can be learnt from the Bridge Officer Trainer, you will mostly only use this option to train your existing officers in Grade III skills which you cannot acquire from anywhere else.
Star Trek Online - Bridge Officer Training
The third and final source is from you yourself or other fellow players. Remember that I told you that certain character skills, when you've invested sufficient levels into it, will allow you to train your bridge officers with grade III skills? This is it.

The problem here though is that you are only able to train officers in Grade III skills of the same career profession as you yourself, regardless. So if you are of the Tactical profession and wish to teach your Engineering bridge officers in Grade III engineering skills, you will either have to approach some other player of the Engineering profession (to help you train) or find one bridge officer candidate with that skill in particular.
Star Trek Online - Bridge Officer SellerStar Trek Online - Assignment
And before I forget, bridge officers can be obtained either by buying them using refined dilithium off of NPC sellers such as Elsa Mora at Earth Spacedock, gotten from quests, assignments or simply bought via the "Exchange" (in-game auction or tradehouse). For your information, that was where I acquired all my "Very Rare" bridge officers...and for very cheap Energy Credits (one of the in-game currencies) too.

Previous: Star Trek Online (Part Four)Next: Star Trek Online (Part Six)