Trek or Die – Mister Worf, Activate Hard Mode

Author’s Note: The views expressed hereafter are solely mine and not necessarily those of Priority One Productions, LLC.

I was originally going to write a column about Star Trek Timelines, which seems like a fun little game. It’s been making its rounds on a lot of Trek news sites and podcasts recently. I’m not though. A thought struck me today, one that might not be popular with some of the Star Trek Online community, so I’ve decided to do another editorial instead. You’ll learn this about me. Sometimes I just talk, and I may even be deviating from the original point of this blog that I pitched to Kate, the Static Content Manager for Priority One Productions. This isn’t even going to start out discussing Star Trek, but I promise it will, just stay with me for a while.

I started packing this past week because I’m moving in a few weeks. I didn’t have a chance to log into the game at all on Sunday because I was sleeping during the day after getting home from night shift, and then I started prepatching the game overnight which took hours. On Monday I was busy shopping and packing, and on Tuesday I spent the day away from home to go to a company meeting and anniversary celebration. Something occurred on Monday that made me cheat on the game come Wednesday. At the request of two very dear friends who were encouraging me to play a game with them I cheated on Star Trek Online, which I’ve been playing almost exclusively for about the past two or three years. I bought The Elder Scrolls Online. It took me about two days to patch on this craptacular DSL connection I have, in fact I eventually gave up and bought a 6 Gb hotspot plan for my iPhone and finished off the last 3 gigs or so with that. That’s right. My phone’s 3G connection, from Sprint, is faster than my DSL service. If I didn’t have a cap with it I would just use it exclusively.

Anyway, on Wednesday I pretty much played ESO all day. It was the most I had played an MMO since Legacy of Romulus released. Generally I would log in long enough to do my rep projects, talk to fleetmates, and then I’d go do something else when I got bored. Not this time. I played from about 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, took a break for dinner and laundry, and then since I had to work night shift the next day and needed to transition to sleeping during the day I played from about 8:30 pm to 4:00 am. I used to consider myself an MMO connoisseur. I played Everquest briefly, I played Vanilla WoW all the way through Cataclysm, I played FFXI, Rift, Warhammer Online, Star Wars Galaxies (very briefly), SWTOR, EVE (also very briefly), and FFXIV so I thought I was prepared for ESO.

Haha. No.

It had a steep learning curve. In fact ESO kicked my ass and it did so without giving me any sort of a reprieve. I felt like I was a seven year old again picking up a video game for the first time. I had to ask my friends a ton of questions. I died, a lot, and when I started to feel like I was getting the hang of it the game punched me in the face for getting complacent. This afternoon after I got up and began getting ready for work I realized that the game wasn’t unforgiving, it was hard, yeah, but the real problem was that I had grown soft. FFXIV:ARR not withstanding the last challenge I had in an MMO was the original “Defense of New Romulus” mission which was promptly beaten to death with a nerf bat because, presumably, people whined about how hard it was.

It wasn’t Zenimax’s fault for making a hard game. It was my fault because I had allowed myself to get that way. In my early days of playing WoW I knew better than to take on an elite mob without backup, but in Star Trek Online elite really doesn’t mean anything. When I stepped up to an elite mob in ESO it promptly *****slapped me back to my early gaming days. I was stunned. I tried again. Same result. I tried again. Same result. I was eventually left to sit there until others came along to help me.

I had to work with my fellow players. I forgot what that was like.

Captains, we need that in Star Trek Online. With the level of power creep we have, and maybe the changes coming in Season 9 will help with that, everything is way too easy. The vast majority of elite content doesn’t feel elite unless you’re running with all new people who have never done it before or someone who just doesn’t care and decides to troll the whole group. (I’m looking at the person who ruined an easy ISE run by blowing up a generator while we were clearing up probes on the opposite side.) There’s really no incentive to work together, to talk to one another, and you don’t have to try very hard. Everything is behind a grind that takes persistence rather than skill.

Do we need a “hard mode” beyond elite? No, I think elites just need to have their hard mode reactivated. “But RJ, what about the casual players?”, you say. What about them? That’s what the regular versions of the events are for, and there’s no reason that Cryptic can’t add a knock off version of the rep sets for the regular missions that don’t cost the special item that drops in the elite missions; e.g. Borg Neural Processors. Before someone calls me elitist it really isn’t. It wouldn’t be the first time an MMO provided greater rewards for those people who want to devote the time and energy to beating harder versions of content and gave the casual masses their goodies too.

I’m not quitting the game, and no you can’t have my stuff. I’m socially and financially invested in this game. I have friends here, I have a fleet that I love (shout out to the Priority One members), but I’ll definitely be visiting Tamriel too, and I hope that given time my experiences in Romulan space will be just as challenging.

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Twitter: @RogueJawa
Blog: Been There, Geek’d That
Ad Astra Fanfic: RogueJawa

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