There's certainly a lot of lesser known MMO concepts to learn in Star Trek Online, and there's also some familiar aspects as well. With open beta ongoing and launch looming, this guide is here to help brand new players ease into the swing of things. We'll cover the odd class system, progression and several other tips and suggestions for those of you just beginning your venture into a galaxy full of Gorn raiders, Orion slavers and uh, Tribbles.
"Class" is a slightly loose term
In character creation, you'll have to make a choice. Do you want to be really good at ground combat or space combat? Maybe you want to be a little good at both, and that's an option. However, many of the traits you can select from are geared towards emphasizing one way or another. Warp core theorist, for instance, will help with your ship's energy levels -- a useful thing to have when you're trying to reroute all power to shields or weapons.
Another thing you'll need to carefully consider is your captain's chosen profession. While you can pilot any ship regardless of your captain's specialty, your chosen profession will decide where you're at your best.
For space, Engineers specialize in Cruisers, which are meaty mammoths equipped with large crews and sizable weaponry. Escorts are smaller, faster and much more heavily armed ships that dish out far more raw firepower than they can take. Lastly -- but of course nearly as important -- are the Science ships, which support allies and weaken enemies. Science vessels also come equipped with cutting edge sensors, making them extra useful when dealing with, say, sneaky enemies like the Klingons and their cloak tech.
As for ground combat, your role is more set in stone. The big thing here is your "kit" which comes with a special ability you can use during combat. Engineers can equip a kit that lets them teleport small phaser turrets or shield regeneration stations. Tacical kits allow you to toss photon grenades or temporarily boost your ranged capability.
There's no XP!
Technically, there aren't any "levels" either. Although, there are ranks beginning from Ensign (a rank you only possess during the turtorial) and moving through Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander, Commander, Captain and finally Admiral. Each official rank has ten "sub-ranks" a player needs to level through before they attain the next rank -- that makes for 50 levels.
Getting back to the experience matter. Well, there really isn't any, as the requirement for leveling up is attaining a set amount of skill points instead. You earn skill points primarily via PvE and PvP missions and kills. There's a randomly generated exploration mission system as well, known as the Genesis system. Oh, and there's diplomacy missions sprinkled throughout PvE as well. Remembering to spend these skill points is key, as your skills improve both your ground and space combat performance for you and your bridge officers. Just keep an eye out for the "Skill up!" button that appears on your progress bar when enough skill points are available for you to spend on new skills or skill ranks.
Dynamic duo plus
Yes, this is an MMO, which is exactly why this is a tip. You don't have to play with a large group of people, just one other person -- trust me, it makes things easier. Not only will things move along faster, but you'll have a whole lot more fun shooting lasers in space with a good friend.
Use your replicator!
If you look closely at your inventory window, you'll find that there's a button labeled "Replicator" that does something quite awesome. What does it do? Why, it allows you to sell your junk loot anywhere you like! Well, so long as you're in a starship. If you're on an away mission, obviously you can't use the replicator systems present on the big space ship.
Managing your shields
Space combat can get pretty hectic and figuring out the best way to handle your shields is often going to determine the success of particularly challenging fights. There are two basic methods for handling the redistribution of power to your shields. Most people simply click on each individual segment of the shields user interface, which will pull power equally from each of the other three shields. That's well and fine in a simple fight, but when you're being bombarded from various angles -- which is usually the case -- you'll want a better method.
For those times when two or more sides of your shield are taking various levels of beatings, remember that clicking the center of your shield UI (the globe, essentially) will redistribute power equally among the entirety of a ship's shield.
Finding your way around
Navigating space can be a daunting task but thankfully Cryptic's supplied a system list feature. If you press the "M" key, a window with three tabs will open up. One tab holds a top-down map for the sector of space you're in, another has the galaxy map (IE the world map) and finally you'll find a third tab containing an alphabetical list of every destination within your current sector.
Every mission comes with a destination, and assuming you're in the right sector of space (check your galaxy map for that) your system list is going to be a big help. Just find the location, double click it on the list and your ship will auto-navigate to that location. You can also use the visual top-down map to do this as well, but finding your destination via the list is much easier. Of course, you may prefer to go for immersion and avoid the list, although the reality of being a starship captain is that you've got an underling to handle the boring stuff.
I recommend some coffee or tea while you wait for the warp engines to take you where you need to go. Some Earl Grey perhaps?
Tweaking your setup
This is pretty simple, but it's worth mentioning just in case some people disregard it. Both your action bar and your power management window can be adjusted to your preference. I suggest messing with the power window at the very least, as you may find that one of the other variants is more useful to you. The button you'll want to look for resembles three pages stacked upon one another. The three options give you varying levels of UI complexity, depending on how crazy you like your MMOs to get.
Another thing you can tweak is the way your ship looks. Cryptic is known for their customization madness, and things are no different here -- at least for Federation players. Once you've completed the tutorial, you'll find that the Earth Starbase has an NPC who -- upon being spoken to -- will allow the customization of your ship. It's pretty deep and will likely cost you a little bit, although in beta it's been a free service. Still, hopefully by launch the first "refit" will be free.