The release notes for today’s patch have been posted, and the big news is the release of the first ‘Special Task Force’ (previously known as ‘raidisodes’) for maximum level players, Infected.
According to the notes, Infected will send you to Starbase 82, a Federation outpost that has been overrun by the resurgent Borg. The mission is designed for five players, and no bridge officers are allowed in the away team sections. The mission can be repeated daily, and as well as special Mark X loot drops, also rewards success with Marks of Valour, which will be used at a new store coming in the 45-day update.
It’ll be interesting to see just how tough Infected is, especially the ground sections, and how well all those players who have neglected their ground skills in favour of space combat builds will fare.
Gauging the difficulty of end-game ground content can’t have been an easy task for the dev team. To judge from most of the skill builds posted to the official boards, many players have decided to ignore their captain’s ground skills in favour of those that affect space combat – which is perfectly understandable, given that the ground combat in most normal PvE missions is, if anything, even less challenging than the space combat and you have your bridge officers to help you out in any case. Likewise, PvP is currently split between space and ground combat. There are no PvP maps or missions that involve both, which only further encourages builds that are specialised in one type or the other.
On the other hand, if they set the difficulty of high level ground combat low enough to suit those players who have neglected it in their builds, we might be forgiven for wondering why we have a ground combat skill group in the first place. Not to mention that those players who have made more balanced builds might find the supposedly ‘epic’ Special Task Force rather on the easy side.
In many ways, it’s a classic no-win situation for the devs (something that’s all too common in MMO design). If the ground sections are too tough, the space-specialised players will be unhappy. If they’re too easy, those that have taken the time and effort to spread their precious skill points around will be unhappy. And with respecs still somewhere in the future, whichever group ends up being upset won’t have any recourse other than to remain unhappy until the respec system arrives.
I’m going to be away for the next couple of days, but I’ll certainly be interested to see what the reactions are to Infected when I get back.