I have played a great many RPG games and MMORPGs. I have built thousands of characters across nearly every game console and PC platform ever made. Yeah, I am kind of old, I guess ;) Star Trek Online has one of the most complex character building systems out there.
Now some of you may have played a game with even more complexities to the toon, but not many games offer the level of tweaking that Star Trek does. This allows a user to create a character that is truly unique in abilities despite the large sea of players in the game. This deep level of building can drive you to the brink of insanity as you try to maximize the character’s abilities.
Cryptic recently changed the character traits. Essentially it is a nerf, but it offers up the ability to change them on the fly once the character has unlocked them. I am not sure that traits should be interchangeable but it does offer a dynamic for mission specific tweaks to your character. You may have traits active for PVP that you don’t need for PVE or storyline missions. Now you can swap them at will. They are nerfed in the sense that you can’t have as many traits active simultaneously as you could prior to the launch of Season 9. The old system however required a trait respec to change (costing zen), that is no longer the case. One interesting fact is that various race specific traits still appear automatically in the first three slots but they can be swapped out. So now you can play any race you want and if you don’t like the race bonus you can swap out the traits.
This isn’t the first time I have touched on character building in STO. But I have really come to appreciate the complex nature of character building. Look at the classic RPG, the one that started it all, Dungeons and Dragons. That game starts a character with six basic abilities and allows the player to allocate points (or in the classic versions you “roll” the character which randomizes the results). Then as the character grows he gains feats that are essentially perks or bonus abilities. Some feats have prerequisites that make it important to plan your character in advance. But the total number of variables in a D&D character is not as vast as it is in STO.
Your character has two sets of skill points. Space and Ground. There are 35 space skills and 10 ground skills that can receive up to 9 points each with diminshing returns in thirds. That is the first three points give +18 each (54), the second three give +10 each (30) and the final three only +5 each (15) for each category. There is a total of +99 possible per skill set, but you are already at 84 with only six of the nine points taken. Then there are the traits which are like feats in D&D. STO has fewer traits than D&D has feats but the skills in STO with 45 sets are off the chart!
What really sets STO apart is the space side of the character. 35 skill sets with 9 ranks in each, 27 possible traits of which as many as 16 can be active at once if the character has earned them. Then there are dozens of ships each configured differently with console slot arrangements and bridge office arrangements. Up to 5 duty officers can be on space duty and they offer tweaks to the abilities of the captain. (you can also have five DOFFs on ground duty) Of course all the weapons and device slots, shields, etc add to the mix as well but that is true of most RPGs where a character can equip items.
I admire those people who really know how to maximize the system and create amazing characters. That said I think many people play STO and don’t realize all of the things they can do to improve their Captain’s abilities with Bridge officers, Duty officers and traits. If you haven’t played around with all of these you could be missing out on that extra edge. You might not get killed as often either!
I have not yet mastered the character building in STO but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. First, don’t overlook duty officers. Peruse your roster of duty officers and see the traits they have. You will see things like, “Damage Control Engineer”, with a chance to reduce recharge time on any emergency power abilities. Depending on the “color” or rarity of the DOFF that could be as much as a 35% chance of reducing that cooldown by 30%. That may not seem like a big deal but you get to put up to five DOFFs on active duty. I can’t tell you how many times my ship was blasted to bits when my shields were down and there was just six seconds left on the recharge clock for “emergency power to the shields”.
Many Bridge Officers also have passive bonuses when they are actively on a console. Romulan BOFFs offer a 5% boost to stealth. An all Romulan crew could make your ship nearly undetectable. Read the details about each bridge officer. Seek out BOFFs that will complement your play style with their passive abilities.
There are some prerequisites to some of the skills as well. You may not be able to take a higher level skill unless you have 6 ranks of a related lower skill. Pay attention to that. You can look at the skills by hovering over them or clicking them. I find that most of the skills need only be taken to six ranks. +84 is pretty good and taking a +5 on the seventh rank of one skill when that point could be a +18 elsewhere is rarely sound judgement. Once your toon reaches level 50 it might be a good idea to respec his skills. You will likely earn this opportunity during the game and you can purchase it as well from the C-store. Respecing will allow you to correct the mistakes you may have made earlier in the game or just completely change the dynamic of the character.
Running DOFF missions will build up ranks in the DOFF system and many of these offer additional perks that strengthen your character. Admiral Sager is my first character and he is by far my most “skilled” toon. As a result I rarely die with him in command. Other characters that I have that are less advanced in skills, traits, etc. have a much tougher go of it. Especially when running elite missions.
Spend a little time building your character and don’t leave anything on the table. A few tweaks here and there could turn your toon into a badass!
I am still trying to find a winner so follow me on twitter @rodsager and wait for the tweet announcing that Akir is playing Dabo. Approach Akir and win a prize. Akir is the Ferengi at the Dabo table in the picture to the right.