Bird Hunting 101

While it may seem like PvP is lopsided in the Federation's favor, situational exceptions certainly exist, such as when you're stuck in a one-on-one fight. Birds of Prey (the ubiquitous Klingon warships) can cloak on you mid-combat, allowing them to escape... only to come back when you least expect them.

These harassment tactics are not only annoying, but they can be very effective. To avoid this, it's a good idea to snare them with a tractor beam, keep them within sensor range of a science vessel, or just blow them up with a well-timed torpedo just before they vanish. Their shields drop just before a cloak, so at that moment they're quite vulnerable. Sometimes it's smart to fire off your photon torpedo salvo before the enemy shields are down, since significant travel time is involved prior to impact.

Klingon ships also tend to feature more forward-firing weaponry, without the generous arcs of the Federation guns. The Klingons are far more of a hit-and-run-oriented faction than the Federation; in my experience, the latter excel when sticking together and focus-firing.

Warcraft in Space?

If you're still wondering whether Star Trek Online is just another take on World of Warcraft with a sci-fi license slapped on, the space combat will set you straight. STO is nothing like your typical fantasy MMO. The closest comparison is probably Pirates of the Burning Sea, with its vaguely similar naval combat. In a similar fashion, I feel like many players may be drawn to STO's distinctive space combat only to find that the other areas of the game aren't as captivating.

To succeed in PvP space combat, you need to watch your directional shields, turning to keep your weakened shields away from incoming fire. This is counterbalanced by your own directional weaponry, as you also need to keep the opponent within the firing arcs of your phaser banks, photon torpedoes, cannons, and other armaments. You can manage your ship's systems to funnel power toward the task at hand, opting out of a balanced setup to focus on shields for defense, speed for maneuverability, or attack for more firepower. It can be downright difficult to maneuver your ship smoothly while simultaneously slamming the spacebar to fire your phasers, diverting power to your weakened shields, and hitting the hotkeys to use your bridge officers' abilities.

I found it interesting that your choice of captain isn't a huge factor in these tense battles; instead, your choice of ship and bridge officers are the more critical decisions. Cruisers are the tanks, escorts are the damage-dealers, and science vessels can fill support roles, like healing, sniping subsystems, and so on.

As I wrote in the first part of our feature, Star Trek Online offers many different progression paths for players as they work toward the rank of Admiral. No matter what sort of content you enjoy, you'll always earn skills, gear, and ranks. Despite that, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach before deciding whether or not it's worth ranking up via PvP. And for what it's worth, it looks like the PvE gear that Federation players earn far outclasses what's available for the more PvP-focused Klingons.

Star Trek Online just hit open beta, so we'll soon be able to get a better idea of what the final game will be like. Check back soon for the third part of our feature, in which we'll detail what's in store for players who make it through to Star Trek Online's endgame.