The captain must brave the vacuum of space and Kar’ukan’s forces to save DS9!
Commander Mesi Achebe contacted Arwellyn aboard the Arkenstone with orders to report to Deep Space Nine to convince Loriss and Kar’ukan to relinquish control over control of the station and return to the Gamma Quadrant.
[Voice of the Gods]
Once arriving near DS9, Arwellyn transports over to Eraun’s ship and at the bidding of the Founder, contact’s Loriss who immediately defers to the wishes of the Founder. She beams aboard Eraun’s ship as well and orders Kar’ukan to stand down. Believing the Founders have abandoned them, Kar’ukan refuses and goes rogue; only through death in battle can they regain glory. Arwellyn contacts Captain Kurland who is commanding the Defiant and explains the situation. Even when the allied forces arrive, Kar’ukan simply has too many ships at his command and allied casualties will be heavy. Arwellyn believes that if Kar’ukan himself is removed from the equation, his men will fall in line with the Founder’s will. The classic “cut off the snake’s head” scenario. However, there is no way to dock or transport aboard the station without being intercepted. Arwellyn suggests spacewalking to an entry portal and entering the station using Kurland’s security codes. Everyone agrees on that plan, so Arwellyn gets fitted into an environmental suit and exits the airlock onto the surface of DS9.
This marks the introduction of the environmental suit and its mechanics to Star Trek Online. We first (I think?) saw EV suits used in Star Trek: First Contact when Picard, Worf and Lt. Hawk spacewalk on the Enterprise-E to disable its navigational deflector to prevent the Borg who are assimilating the Enterprise from calling for reinforcements. EV suits were also used in an episode of the Star Trek: Enterprise series. NASA refers to them as EVA (extravehicular activity) suits (though they have several varieties each with its own acronym) and I’ve been calling them that all along but according to the venerable Memory Alpha wiki, Star Trek calls them EV (environmental) suits, so I’m adjusting my phraseology for this post and hopefully beyond.
The item fits into the armor slot on your character sheet and once equipped, adds a new two-slot power bar to the top of your power bar interface. The first power is a toggle to activate or deactivate the suit. Once active, the environmental and lighting system turns on, and you’re ready to exit the airlock into the cold vacuum of space. The other power is reaction thrusters which are used to provide faster movement between navigation points, small pylons built onto the surface of the station. Lock onto any navigation point within 45 meters and activate the reaction thrusters to jump from point to point.
After putting on the EV suit, Eraun’s ship gets as close to the station as possible and Arwellyn drops out of the airlock onto the surface. Kurland sends a quick message calling for as much radio silence as possible to avoid detection. Probably would have been a good idea to say that beforehand, but whatever. First thing’s first: disable the local external sensors from the console nearby then activate the safety posts (navigation points) that maintenance workers use. Once that’s done, Arw jumps to a few navpoints when Kurland sends another message that she needs to reroute the external sensors as she moves using the nearby maintenance hatch, leading to the first “mini-game.” This one is easily accomplished with a notepad. There are a few sensor processor nodes nearby. Simply interact with them and note the filter positions of each sub-processor, then return to the maintenance hatch and manually set the filters to reroute them. The filter positions are different each time the mission is replayed, hence the notepad.
A cut-scene shows a Klingon ship being shot down and it crashes nearby on DS9’s surface, venting plasma and causing electrical discharges along the station surrounding the crash site. Arwellyn jumps to a navpoint, walks around a discharge area then jumps to a few more navpoints when the crashed ship’s engine explodes, sending Arwellyn flying through space and using the reaction thrusters to land a few levels lower on the station’s surface. A few more navpoint jumps, one across a large gap where electricity discharges periodically so some very basic timing is involved in that jump, then a Jem’Hadar fighter comes close to investigate the Klingon crash. Arwellyn could be seen visually or by the ship’s sensors so Kurland has her quickly move to an overhang where she can use a computer control junction to do something about the ship. Aligning three isolinear chips (another “mini-game”) allows her to override the station’s weapon targeting systems and fire a few volleys at the ship, causing it to back off so she can continue her journey toward ops.
Finally, Arwellyn uses her suit’s reactive thrusters to power-jump on top of the Promenade, where she overrides the security protocols with Kurland’s codes and enters the station through a hatch. There are several nearby Jem’Hadar soldiers so she stays out of sight while she removes the EV suit and prepares to fight her way to Ops.
In “Second Wave” we also fought our way through DS9’s Promenade, but we had help from S’taass, and possibly one other NPC ally if the profession optionals are completed. This time, however, we’re all alone so the ground combat can potentially be a little more touch and go. I only had difficulty on the very first fight, and was incapacitated a couple times in that room before being able to move on. Once in the Promenade proper, I had no difficulties with the groups (usually three at a time) of Jem’Hadar. There are a few optional objectives in this phase of the mission. One is simply to locate some supplies, which are located in one of the vendor stalls. Another is to hack a computer panel to rig one of the environmental control systems to explode, taking out one of the groups of Jem’Hadar. Finally, once you take the elevator up to the Ops level, you can use a nearby panel to momentarily remove the emergency force field sealing off the damaged Promenade roof and defenestrate – yes, it actually uses the word “defenestrate” so congratulations to the writers at Cryptic for increasing our vocabulary – another group of Jem’Hadar, sucking them out into space then quickly re-engaging the force field. That one was fun to watch! Completing all three optionals gives the “Alert Intruder” accolade. Finally we enter Ops itself where Kar’ukan resides. Arwellyn confronts him but after a brief melee, he knocks her to the floor and beams off the station to his ship where he will lead his fleet against the few allied ships that remain.
[Fight of the Angels]
Arwellyn quickly beams back to the Arkenstone where a chaotic space battle is already taking place. The Arkenstone quickly moves into position and begins firing at smaller Jem’Hadar ships first then moving up to gradually larger ships. This isn’t necessarily an “easy mode” fight, as the Jem’Hadar ships are numerous and quite well-armed. On my first play-through, the Arkenstone was destroyed roughly six seconds after loading into space simply through bad luck of the draw – one of their ship’s torpedo volleys had refreshed and the Arkenstone appeared right in front of it and it fired before I even had time to engage the impulse engines, much less activate a defensive power. There are a lot of Jem’Hadar ships and I tend to fly all over the place rather than pick a “camping” spot so there were several times when the Arkenstone was the second-most popular target for the Jem’Hadar. Their number one target quickly became:
The brand-new shiny U.S.S. Enterprise-F which warps in a few minutes into the battle! The Enterprise is the new flagship for Starfleet and is the new Odyssey-class cruiser. This is important for two reasons: it marks the first time Star Trek Online has its own Enterprise in-game. If I recall (and not saying I do) the Enterprise-E and Captain Data are lost and presumed dead. I believe this was due to licensing with CBS, who did not want to commit the likeness of Data or the Enterprise-E to the game in case they could use it further with their own properties. Despite Brent Spiner saying he’s just too old for the Data makeup to work anymore, but whatever, we’ve gone two years in STO with no Enterprise. The Enterprise-F is also the first time a non-human has commanded the Starfleet flagship – this time it’s Captain Va’Kel Shon, an Andorian. We first met Captain Shon in Episode 1 “Second Wave” then he made an appearance in Episode 4 “Facility 4028” where his ship, the U.S.S. Belfast, was destroyed. I had thought he and his crew were killed in the battle but at the end of the mission, Shon thanks you for helping to save his crew even though the Belfast was lost, and several of its crew are now on the Enterprise.
The Enterprise and Defiant (flown by Captain Kurland) have an interesting mechanic in battle. Obviously, they are canon ships and cannot be destroyed willy-nilly like the other ships. Instead, when they are damaged below 10% (I don’t have an exact number but that seemed to be the trigger point, or close to it) the ships were disabled for awhile while the crew frantically went about repairs. A “Repairing…” progress bar would display over the ships, along with all the “oh shit!” defense power animations being used. Once they were above whatever threshold is set, they were back in the fight. Some players are asking for a similar mechanic for our own ships rather than being fully destroyed and forced to respawn. I’ll take the middle ground and just say I’d be curious to see how it would work out if implemented for players. It would certainly give me more time to decide if I wanted to self-destruct or other tactical decisions which I don’t even have the option of making currently due to my preferred power bar layout. On the other hand, so much of STO is already “easy mode” and that could make it even easier.
“Boldly They Rode” does a fantastic job of bringing “The 2800” to a climatic conclusion. The series started off with a lot of diplomacy and “boring” Star Trek stuff with little combat, but in addition to the new EV suits and a couple quick mini-games, once inside DS9 it’s almost constant solo combat plus triggering the two optional traps then frenetic space combat to finish it off.
The voice acting is about the same as it’s been all along. Again, staff members and podcasters providing the voice talent rather than actual paid actors so… you get what you pay for, I guess. It’s sufficient enough since there’s less of it, at least it seemed that way.
Sounds like the STO team is already hard at work focusing on Season 6, so I’m eagerly looking forward to whatever new content and surprises they unleash on us then, and in the interim.
Oh, and here is the Arkenstone decked out in the full three-piece Jem’Hadar set rewarded from “The 2800” series: