One of many issues I’ve all the time admired about Star Trek Online is the truth that its writers know methods to take a premise that appears blandly uninteresting and make it in any other case.
Let me be clear about one thing: Going into this new little bit of STO storytelling launching with House Divided today, I had low hopes and expectations for an additional Klingon arc. It’s not likely STO’s fault, on this case; the fact is that we’ve had a lot of Klingon tales, and the prospect of extra of them wasn’t notably stirring even with extra use of the Discovery-era Klingons and related politics. To not point out that it already regarded like it might be one other Klingon civil dispute, which is a specific factor that Trek writers have used repeatedly…
I convey all of that as much as level out that regardless of my first impressions of the concept being damaging, the precise execution was one thing else totally. Cryptic was sort sufficient to offer me a head begin on taking part in by each the brand new beginning expertise for Klingon captains and the 2 new featured episodes, and having finished each, I’ve to say that my preliminary “meh” response was totally eclipsed by the precise content material.
Divisions of worry
The onerous half in discussing the brand new arc is that there’s a fairly vital twist within the second of the featured episodes that actually recontextualizes the story, and I don’t need to give away the sport. So that you’re going to should bear with my vagueness main as much as giving myself a paragraph or two of spoilers hidden behind a tag.
The beginning of the story, in the meantime, is nothing you haven’t seen earlier than. J’Ula has opted to point out herself earlier than the Klingon Excessive Council, issuing problem to J’mpok and largely persevering with on her campaign as if the meantime between the 23rd and 25th century hadn’t occurred. (Which, to be truthful, they hadn’t for her.) It’s additionally clear that her beliefs of a way more aggressive Klingon empire have help amongst extra of the council than anybody would love, and whereas we’re not far off the launch of the Khitomer-class unified battlecruiser, it’s onerous for everybody to completely settle for the bonds between the Federation and the Empire have superior so far.
By now you’re in all probability nodding and considering that that is all kind of boilerplate expectation based mostly on the gamers concerned and that it’s going to accentuate earlier than gamers finally cease J’Ula from her tried coup. And the primary episode positively performs that facet up… earlier than throwing you a huge curveball that alters the whole stakes of what’s occurring.
Click on to disclose the spoiler part…
The result’s that the entire context modifications. You began this arc very a lot on the facet of the present Klingon energy construction, but it surely’s clear that despite the fact that J’Ula is within the improper, she is additionally not the one villain at play right here, and it’s a must to take care of each her and J’mpok with loyalties merely having to shift alongside the best way.
I’m not going to spoil the ending right here, however I’ll fortunately say that it results in a a lot darker place than I had anticipated. This isn’t a light-hearted “everyone laughs” ending; it’s a a lot harsher conclusion that leaves you no less than considerably adrift and ready for the place the story goes to go subsequent. For that matter, it appears like one thing of an open query about the place the story even can go; there are numerous prospects, however none of them is an apparent narrative endpoint for all this setup.
So, sure, which means the writing workforce has taken probably the most ceaselessly used tropes in Star Trek (Klingon civil battle) and really made it attention-grabbing and novel… and did so in such a means that it truly works nicely throughout the context of the assorted factions who would possibly participate and with components that wouldn’t work as nicely if this weren’t a online game. Good present, people. And there aren’t even any tedious fights within the center to pad out the run time! (Though there may be one set of house battles that goes a contact lengthy.)
Cast in blood
Lastly, the builders discovered a approach to plausibly make the Federation the dangerous guys right here.
That is type of the sticking level of early STO, I really feel. The Federation, as a complete, doesn’t fairly work as a villainous faction; there are components of the Federation you may push there, however the total philosophy doesn’t mesh nicely with villainy on a conceptual degree. That signifies that it all the time appears as if the Federation is being finished soiled by the Empire, and it’s why normally the villain in these items must be different Klingons or some exterior faction altogether.
However to ensure that the early story to make sense with “Klingons don’t just like the Federation,” you type of want the Federation to really be dangerous. And so that you get a brand new tutorial by which the Federation, from the angle of the KDF, is definitely a bunch of conniving backstabbers who’re prepared to do some fairly questionable issues as a result of Klingon lives matter lower than Federation lives.
As somebody who has a bit extra context (particularly across the identification of the principle Federation NPC concerned) it’s apparent that what the Empire is considering isn’t correct; it’s the equal of treating Q like a Federation officer as a result of he’s sporting the uniform. However character data isn’t participant data, and it appears like a setup whereby you’ll legitimately assume that the Federation was the dangerous faction even when as a participant you now know higher.
It additionally nonetheless works as an efficient tutorial, which in and of itself shouldn’t be shocking; Cryptic is aware of methods to make a tutorial work, in spite of everything. You get an concept of how Klingon politics and inter-ship disposition is supposed to play out, you get launched to the most important gamers despite the fact that you’re a low-ranking officer, and you continue to segue properly into combating to guard the Empire whereas exploring the nuances of tradition. And whilst you nonetheless do have inner strife to take care of, it now not feels just like the villains of each factional storylines are Klingons no matter your factional alternative.
In the end, I appreciated it. I wouldn’t say that it’s going to fully rewrite you expertise of the sport in the event you beforehand disliked it, however in the event you’ve had bother getting a Klingon captain going prior to now, perhaps it’s time to offer each other shot. The smoother expertise positively makes it rewarding.