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

13 Comments ON " Trek or Die – Mister Worf, Activate Hard Mod... "
  • alt_example

    Vivienne Anthony April 19, 2014 at 8:08 am - Reply

    This is what many players have been saying. Cryptic (Star Trek Online) stated they will not make elite mode hard adding a bit of difficulty. They said they want to cater to new players but not it regular players.

    In any business model, you should also cater to long time players among throwing gimmicks at new players.

    STO frankly in it current state is similiar to Baby R Us. Although it could be Toys R Us.

    • alt_example

      RogueJawa April 24, 2014 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      The current practices make me very sad. I essentially have to choose between playing an easy game in a community I’ve come to love and feel a part of, with members of the Priority One community that I’ve become friends with, or play a game with more challenge where I don’t know as many people. It makes me sad.

  • alt_example

    Berthulf April 21, 2014 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Complete agreement here, on all of the above, from browsing the internet and playing STO via my mobile phone’s hot-spot (why does playing STO use less data than facebook and the UK Gov Job-search site?) to the (not very) difficulty settings.

    I still think the death penalties at Advanced and Elite settings are far too forgiving, but you’re right, the mobs and monsters in STO really are not hard to beat at Elite level. I recently replayed a few of the story missions with a friend and we were shocked at how easy the Elite level difficulty is to us now, I wasn’t even using my main.

    On the last point though, I have a toon that has never played an Elite STF yet is currently sitting on a few dozen BNP’s, there for when I can be bothered to finish tier 5. There’s no real need to add additional versions of the rewards for lower difficulty players, it just takes longer to get them, and so it should.

    • alt_example

      RogueJawa April 24, 2014 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      I’ve often wondered that myself. STO has been very mobile hotspot friendly because their patches, even when they say it’s patching 700 Mb, seem to be fairly small and go quickly.

  • alt_example

    seannewboy April 21, 2014 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Very interesting take on things.

    • alt_example

      RogueJawa April 24, 2014 at 3:52 pm - Reply


  • alt_example

    QuePan April 21, 2014 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    I agree with you ,while i consider myself a casual gamer , but i have no problem with a elite level difficulty in MMOS. you have to have a group you have to have patience , rather than making the game pretty Cryptic should be fixing it, finding a balance between endgame difficulty and new casual players , fixing the bugs that permeate the game and stop looking at just making the game appealing to the masses just to add to new player numbers . both should go hand in hand .Cryptic really seems not to care for the long time players to the game it seems .

    • alt_example

      RogueJawa April 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm - Reply

      Sadly it almost seems like a mindset of “Old players don’t spend money, only new ones do.”

      Perhaps that’s not a fair assumption, but at times it does feel that way. I’m not looking for something to be so hard that I want to put my head through a wall in frustration, but I want something to offer me a challenge and make me feel like a Starship Captain making choices.. not “pew pew everything goes boom in seconds.”

  • alt_example

    Marcase April 22, 2014 at 3:36 am - Reply

    Agree with the article. Elite really should be Elite, and needing friends/fleetmates and especially communicating with your fleetmates during Elite runs is what the real fun is all about. I hardly get on Teamspeak anymore because you can run Elite games as long as you have a rough idea what you’re doing. I did a Hive space Elite just now with a pug and we got optional with zero deaths on our side – none at all.

    Winning an Elite game no longer brings elation, jubilation or embarassing Happy Dance moments.

    Remember that Lifers and Veteran players bring in money too, Cryptic…

    • alt_example

      RogueJawa April 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      The last embarassing happy dance I did was completeing Defense of New Romulus when it first released and the enemy would wipe out the entire defense fleet except for you and you had to keep plugging at it between deaths.

  • alt_example

    LotsOfLore April 24, 2014 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Completely agree!
    I love the game as a whole, obviously, but this topic has been a thorn in my side since I started playing 2 and a half years ago.
    > Death related penalties are too lenient–>not enough reasons to play smart and avoid dying.
    > Advanced and elite difficulties are not challenging enough (also elite versions of PvE content)
    I think that new and casual players are well catered for as of now, also due to the revisited tutorials (thanks for that!!). I’m not an expert but it seems to me that upping the scale of the elite content, the advanced/elite diff bars, and/or increasing the drawbacks of dying in the field would only renew the interest in current players (and thus maybe catch returning players), as they discover the need for carefully using skills but, most of all, applying TEAMWORK!!!

    • alt_example

      RogueJawa April 24, 2014 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      I agree. The tutorial revamp has done a lot for creating smarter players out of the gate. Like many of you I remember when starting a character was like stumbling through the dark and there was a huge learning curve, but now things have been appropriately simplified for new players. It’s time to bring on smarter playstyls at end game.

    • alt_example

      RogueJawa April 24, 2014 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      I agree. The tutorial revamp has done a lot for creating smarter players out of the gate. Like many of you I remember when starting a character was like stumbling through the dark and there was a huge learning curve, but now things have been appropriately simplified for new players. It’s time to bring on smarter playstyles at end game.

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