Welcome to Tier 6

phantom1Delta Rising is here and I must say, I am a little underwhelmed. This is  the first big expansion since the launch of “Legacy of Romulus” a year and half ago. Cryptic set the bar really high with ‘LOR’. There is much to discuss about this latest expansion so I’ll dive right in.

First of all, Cryptic did a little UI housekeeping which is welcome. Some of the fonts were increased so those of us running high-resolution can actually read the labels. This time around they gave us a lot more voice over work than  in other releases. We get Tuvok, Harry Kim, the ever sexy, 7 of Nine, the Doctor and Neelix. I must say that Ethan Phillips (Neelix) is by far the best voice actor in STO. His dialog flows and sounds like it is natural and integrated into the experience.

Speaking of the “experience”; I spent a king’s ransom buying the Delta Rising Package. I hope I don’t end up regretting that expense. The 12,500 Zen ($125.00 US) is steep but it does grant every new tier six ship for all three factions plus the new Dauntless. It gives special costumes, some great upgrade tokens, 3 ultra rare BOFFs and the usual assortment of extra goodies. I figured I would end up buying at least three of the new ships and so what the hell. If I am going to spend a minimum of 9,000 Zen just for 3 ships, why not drop the big bomb and get it all this time!

So now we have a new area to explore. The Delta Quadrant. They have added all new sectors to discover. It has been a very long time since STO added new “space” to play in. I have yet to venture beyond the first map of new sector blocks. As promised we get to interact with the species that we were introduced to during the Voyager series. The Kazon are prominently featured as a random baddie to fight. The weapons on the Kazon ships sound like the phasers from the TOS Enterprise! Cryptic didn’t break any new ground on the missions, still standard fare and sometimes a little grindy. but well done none-the-less.

They revamped the PVE queues a bit and to my dismay there are even less Romulan queues! WTF Cryptic? I like the Romulan PVEs because I like the Romulan store and reputation projects! They also seemed to have made the PVE advanced/elite missions MUCH harder. I will have to investigate this a little further but Elite was hard enough before. I like a challenge, but when you have to run these PVE missions over and over and over again to grind away for marks, the challenge quickly goes from exciting to painfully crappy.

OK so the title of this blog post is “Welcome to Tier 6″. So, welcome to Delta Rising. This is very interesting; we now get to push our captains all the way to the very top of the quasi-military food chain. Level 60, Fleet Admiral. Yeah 5 bars, OK admiral Quinn, bite me, I do what I want ;) We get to fly a whole new set of ships called Tier 6. As promised we can also upgrade existing Tier 5 ships. It seems like all of the ships earned in special events, like the Summer Festival and Q’s Winter Event are free to upgrade. The veteran reward ships are also a free upgrade. Other ships will cost 700 zen for an upgrade token or four tokens for 2000 zen is available as well.

The only new Tier 6 ship I have flown so far is the Starfleet “Phantom” which is an escort ship similar to the “Defiant”. I am really not that impressed with the Tier 6 ships, well not yet anyway. The fleet versions are not available at this time, so you are better off upgrading a fleet ship you already have. My Fleet Patrol Escort is upgraded to T5-U and would crush this T6 Phantom without breaking stride. I am not exaggerating here. Virtually every stat on the upgraded Fleet Patrol Escort is signficantly better with the sole exception of turn rate. Had I upgraded my Fleet Tactical Escort Retrofit the turn rate would have been equal as well. I expected Tier 6 to have a little more puffed up hull and an extra console and/or BOFF station, but they don’t. These ships are 3000 Zen a piece, so expectations run high.

The Phantom does have a built-in cloak so it is nice not to have to burn a console slot for a cloak, but it is still the lame, non-battle cloak. In fact the Phantom stats are shown right here next to a standard Tier 5 tactical escort retrofit. When you upgrade the standard tac escort retrofit the hull jumps to approximately 34k at level 50! I expected Tier 6 to have an across the board slight advantage over the Tier 5 upgrade ships after all they cost 3000 Zen and an upgrade is 500-700 zen.

phantomdefiant

Now in fairness, the Tier 6 ships do have some explicit advantages over their Tier 5-U counterparts. First; the Tier 6 ships have one or more “hybrid” BOFF stations. These BOFF stations allow for the new “Intel” BOFFs. Intel BOFFs still have a career; tactical, science, or engineer. But they have a whole different set of BOFF abilities. Some of these abilities are pretty cool. I haven’t explored them enough yet to really vet them. The Tier 6 ships also have the addition of a 5th starship mastery unlock. Speaking of that, the T5-U and Tier 6 Ships level up as you do. They get stronger as you get stronger. As you gain skill points in that ship, the ship gains hull points and mastery levels which offer additional passive bonuses. T5-U gets four mastery levels where as Tier 6 gets five. As I use the new Tier 6 ships I may come around, especially if the “Intel” BOFFS are a big advantage or the active sensor arrays that are on this Phantom ship turn out to be really cool. Fighting the way I do now, my T5-U Fleet Patrol Escort is light years better than this new Phantom. That said, I may just need to learn how to use the new “Intel” ships properly. That remains to be seen.

I can say that the people who were worried about Tier 6 ships being vastly superior and thus creating an “arms race” and a feeling of “I wasted all my money on end game ships that are not end game any more”; can relax. The advantage of Tier 6 over Tier 5-U is not going to be big and it may not be an advantage at all depending on your play style. So Cryptic deserves a favorable nod on this; I think they tried to balance this as well as they could. STO needs to grow and expand to keep users in the game and of course as a F2P game they also need to make money to pay for the expansion. I think the upgrade system for weapons and equipment is a little too expensive and they need to tweak it down a little. The cost to upgrade a ship seems to be a fair value since it really offers a significant boost and saves the player at least 2300 Zen over buying a new Tier 6 ship. Over all I am quite happy with the T5-U ships I have started flying with my eight level 50 plus toons.

Now I need to get online and get Admiral Sager up to level 60 :)

Stake Your ‘Reputation’ On It

tierSince Cryptic launched the Double XP bonus a few weeks ago many more people may finally be sitting pretty at the top of the food chain, level 50. Vice Admiral or Lt. General for the KDF. Feels good doesn’t it :) Of course you only have one more week at the top because 10 new rungs will be added to the ladder.

Once a player hits the big FIVE- Oh, they get to start participating in special PVE mission events that offer faction marks. Players can use these marks to help build “reputation” in one of five factions. Players complete projects that generate reputation in that faction and then level up in reputation earning the right to access a special reputation store and participate in special projects for top grade very rare gear. The reputation system also unlocks new character traits that make toons stronger. For players with multiple characters there is a system called sponsorship where by a higher level toon can sponsor a lower level toon and all the reputation projects are half cost. Check out details on the WIKI here.

Which is best? Where should a player start? That depends heavily on the play style of the character and the preference of the player. Admiral Sager has reached the maximum Tier V in all five reputation systems and 7 other toons have a variety of standings in the various factions.

In the early days of STO the only system that was available were the Omega STF missions that mostly remain in place as part of the Omega Reputation system. Omega is probably the best place to start working on reputation. There is a wide variety of equipment projects for both ground and space. The store is also quite robust but it does not offer any ship weapons.

Omega offers MACO and Adapted MACO gear for Fed. KDF has Honor Guard and Adapted Honor Guard gear. They have the Omega Space Set. There is also the Assimilated space set and the Adapted Borg technology set.

The Omega Task Force offers enough variety in the equipment to satisfy most player’s needs.

The next best choice really depends on the toon’s career path. Engineers will like the Romulan Reputation. Science will like the Dyson or Nukura. If the science captain is planning on using the Dyson ships, then Dyson is the best choice. Tactical captains can enjoy stealth bonuses through the Romulans or fast healing shields through Nukura.

repequip

The 8474 Counter Command has great weapons in the store, I like the bio-molecular weapons. The PVE missions against the Undine are pretty tricky, especially if you are playing on Elite. I wrote about them here.

Most of the equipment in the reputation projects are sets. These sets gain specific bonuses when two or more pieces in the set are equipped.

My favorite set is the Reman Set when used in conjunction with the Romulan  Singularity Harness set. Admiral Be’ina has this on her Falchion and it is pretty epic. The Romulan Hyper-Plasma torpedo launcher is also epic.

If you fly a fast and maneuverable ship the Assimilated set and the Adapted Borg tech set are great together. The Omega Plasma Torpedo launcher is the most powerful in the game by DPS.

Spend some time on the STO WIKI and read up on the items available in the reputation system. The projects and the dilithium store items. It takes 40 days to reach Tier V of a reputation system and 20 days if sponsored. A player can do all five at the same time if they want to spend the time grinding. It is only a once a day login to collect the completed project from the previous day and start a new project. That takes literally a few moments. Then every few days you will have to run a PVE mission to get more marks to complete more projects. The daily projects are the best but there are hourly projects. They are expensive however.

I like the reputation system and I have been fortunate enough to get all of the reputation project space sets and try them out. This is really good gear and for the most part it can be acquired without spending any Zen.

So what are you waiting for, finish reading this, vote in the poll and get work grinding on some reputation marks :)

upgrade-poll

BTW: Last week’s poll shows that most of you are not feeling very amorous towards the new upgrade system.

I have a new poll regarding the various reputation space sets, which is your favorite?

 

 

 

Double XP is Doublicious

drodda Cryptic started offering double XP / Skill Points last month leading up to the launch of the new Delta Rising expansion pack on October 14th. I had a Romulan Tactical officer, A Borg Romulan :D I took that toon through the tutorial but never went past level 7. In just 4 days playing 1-2 hours a day that Liberated Borg-Romulan was a Vice Admiral and ready to take on the Delta Quadrant! WOW, Academy to Vice Admiral in FOUR days; if only the real world worked that fast ;)

If you have been thinking about starting up a new toon and you want a chance to take it to the max at warp 10; now is the time! I was pulling down 20k on some of those missions! That’s two levels in ONE mission! Even if you are already maxed out, the extra XP is converted to skill points for your BOFFs so you can add some new bridge officers and skill them up.

Apparently Cryptic wants us all maxed out so we can tackle the big, bad and scary in the Delta Quadrant. Bring it on!

We have also been given a taste of the new upgrade system. Have you tried to upgrade anything yet? It is a bit expensive. They give each toon a “superior” upgrade set that is pretty nice. But the green crap they sell for 10k each at space dock is a joke. You want to take a Mark XII to XIII you’ll spend half a million EC and 20k in dilithium. But they played the sucker card and I took the bait and bit hard. I have a bunch of Mark XIII stuff :) Its pretty cool, I guess. They need to lower the price on the upgrade tokens people will not want to drop that kind of coin along with sizable amounts of dilithium.admiralmkxiii

I don’t want to sound to negative, I like the upgrade idea. This is supposed to carry over to ships in the new expansion. The process is easy enough but they require too many steps. I had one upgrade that took nearly 50 of the 10k upgrade tokens. That is excessive. Not only is it expensive, but why not make the tokens a little more expensive and a lot stronger. Why make us click 50 times? If this is the cost for upgrading a hand phaser, I shudder to think what a ship upgrade will cost. I may go something like… “Male player, please deposit your left testicle along with 12 million refined dilithium to upgrade your Tactical Escort Retrofit; ladies please deposit…” you get the drift.

I am looking forward to the new expansion. It looks like a cargo ship load of new content is coming and the ability to boost up to level 60 is pretty cool. In less than two weeks we will all be able to experience this new robust expansion. If it turns out as well as Legacy of Romulus, I will be delighted.

How about a little poll…