Ever since the introduction of Star Trek Discovery, players of Star Trek Online were eager to see the show’s content drop into the game so they could immerse themselves in the new vision of the 23rd century. Despite the general thought that such updates would be a while away, the STO team surprised their user base with an announcement that, despite a pretty hefty recent release of DS9 anniversary content, they were ready to take us to the Age of Discovery.
Up until this point offerings of Discovery content were limited. Welcome of course, but still limited. Celebrating the launch of the series, players were able to grab new uniforms late last year matching the Discovery style and soon after a lockbox set was released including the Crossfield class – complete with Spore tech – and for the Klingons, T’Kuvma’s ship of the dead; both complimented by the Tier 6 Walker Class released in the Lobi store.
Age of Discovery however would be something significantly more, adding a new option in the character creation screen to begin your path as a 23rd century Discovery era officer and, much like the previous Temporal Recruits, begin your training at a new era-specific Academy and engage in era-specific missions; this time focusing on the aftermath of the Battle of the Binary Stars.
Unlike the recent Victory is Life, or even the Agents of Yesterday update that brought us to the original series era, Age of Discovery isn’t a fully fledged expansion. Arguably, neither were they! Instead it’s something a little different. Similar to Agents of Yesterday, Age of Discovery allowed players to experience an era specific introduction to the game, but eventually you end up moving forward into the 25th century where all the main STO content is based.
Launching the additional content was a bit rushed and it came in the wake of a very nicely done expansion and inside sources have suggested CBS wanted to ensure the game had a gateway for incoming fans. However, it was also a unique opportunity for the games developers as, for the first time since it’s launch, it has the opportunity to release content alongside the production of Star Trek.
Being a new way into the game, and wrongly hyped by eager players as an expansion, the new content did seem a little light with only a handful of missions and limited new elements. However those new elements really add a lot to the process in three key areas; aesthetics, circumstance and charm.
Discovery’s first episode was all about the set up to the Battle of the Binary Stars. Following on from those events, Age of Discovery fills the six month gap between the first shots being fired and Michael Burnham arriving on Discovery.
New players (or characters) selecting the Discovery timeline will jump right into the action, quickly gliding your way through basic tutorials and straight into a high level role on a training cruise. As per tradition, that’s where all the trouble starts. Responding to a distress call your captain puts you and all the other cadets straight into action only to find themselves outgunned by the Klingons. Despite fending off boarding parties sent by J’Ula, sister of the infamous T’Kuvma, your captain is captured and killed. As executive officer in training, all eyes fall to you to take the big chair and lead your classmates into battle.
If that all sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The tutorial and base starter mission is pretty much the same as the regular 25th century starting point, switching out the original Klingon foes with one created for the IDW Discovery line. The original story reignited the war with the Klingons, cutting off the peace we’d seen throughout the Next Generation era (when the Founders weren’t meddling, anyway) whereas in Discovery’s era the threat seems more fitting. Especially with the war between the two powers just kicking off.
Adding to the story are the new characters; a quick collection of new cadets to train alongside you; the immortal Elisa Flores switched out with your new chief engineer in training Sylvia Tilly, voiced by Mary Wiseman as she carries over her Discovery role.
And just like the regular game play, when the first mission is over you return home to find that your heroic efforts in taking command may not be as temporary as you’d expect In desperate times, Starfleet needs bold leaders and your decisive acts lead the Admiralty to promote you to Lieutenant and take command of your ship to help take the fight to the Klingons.
From there you’re taken through the world of the 23rd century, straight into the mines of Corvan 2 for your first mission as captain of the ship and will spend your last big battle at Starbase One; which we’d seen destroyed on the show, but here we get to see how it was destroyed as the Klingons combat the Federations experimental spore drive with their own attempts at spore tech. Which naturally goes horribly wrong, ruins everything and forces you to fall into a timey wimey bubble that only Temporal Agent Daniels will get you out of.
Thematically, it works. Even if it is just a re-skin of the content and stripped down, is just the same motions you go through in the same setting 200 years later, it fits much better just by circumstance of it’s era and setting.
With Age of Discovery being a package released over time, it’s unfair to judge it all when most of it hasn’t yet been released. But as a bew beginning that lets you start your career in the current iteration of Star Trek, it’s actually a lot of fun.
Age of Discovery is a perfect introduction to Star Trek Online for new players who are fans of Discovery or to veterans who enjoy the style and aesthetics of the new show. Though there’s a long way to go and a lot to be added, leaving it all feeling a touch sparse at times. Though a lot of that emptiness can be forgiven as the team are delivering a slow burner to keep us entertained over a long period instead of watching us race through it all as fast as we can. Which in honesty, is a welcome change that makes sure we’re logging in regularly instead of burning out.
Age of Discovery is live now on both PC and console. Part 2 launches for PC in January while the next console update see’s the Battle of the Binary Stars being added due to the month delay between platform updates.
This article was originally published in it’s full form in SFCQ2 Comms Discover More Edition published January 2019. Members can read the full review by logging into Comms or by downloading their latest copy. If you’re not a member and want to read more or enjoy more of our membership benefits, you can enlist today for free!