Getting Infected

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.

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6 Responses to Getting Infected

  1. Samuel says:

    Everyone COULD win, if they made proper game designs choices from the beginning.

    There should be a separate skill tree and separate skill point pool for Ground and Space so that no player has to choose between them. Given the min/max nature of MMO play this was an obvious problem given the skill system implemented by the designers.

    Really it’s a huge flaw that has lasting repurcussions everywhere you look in the game. Their current skill tree was clearly designed with unlimited skill points in mind. In that context, everything about it makes sense – Ground abilities in the same tree as space, more “exotic” weapon types costing more skill points, etc. all become non-issues. When they changed their mind and implemented a cap without redesigning the skill tree, they added a plethora of problems.

    The only real solution for the current dilemma is to balance Ground raids for players with no ground skill points and space raids for players with the minimum Space points because otherwise they’re limiting their player base from actually completing the content.

    • BigBadB says:

      I think it might be more accurate to say that without a skill cap the issues you mention become a non-issue at some point after you hit the rank cap. The issues would still be exactly the same while you’re actually levelling and potentially, depending on your build decisions, for a considerable period of time afterwards.

      That aside, I have a suspicion that one of the reasons that the devs haven’t made any significant changes to the structure of the skill system could be that it keeps their options open. At the moment, it would be a fairly simple matter for Cryptic to remove the skill cap once the rank cap has been raised to Admiral-10, if they decide that’s the way they want to go. If they make any changes based on the system being capped, though, they’d then have to reverse them if they decide to get rid of the cap, which could cause all kinds of problems.

  2. Jacoben says:

    Ill have to try once I get home but I was one of the ones who spent on a “Balanced” approach.

    Playing a science captain, I maxed out the 1st 3 tiers of “Doctor” to be a healer, knowing that at some point this would come in handy.

    Did this cost me in space? Yup a lil, because I did not have any points to spread around in Damage type at all. But in my mind thats fine for my roll.

    Im a Buffer/Debuffer/Healer, so direct damage is secondary to me.

    I hope its hard. I hope its VERY hard. I hope when we do it tonight we wipe 2-3 times before finishing or even dont get to finish it.

    The CHALLANGE is whats needed right now in STO. And this STF hopefully fits the bill.

    • Jacoben says:

      Well I got my wish!

      We only had 3 RA5’s on so we went in with 3 people just to get a “feel” for the instance.

      We took down the space, dying a few times. With a full group I think we would of been fine.

      Ground mission was INSANE! I basically had to spam heal myself and my 2 fleet mates constantly. I was able to do a “little” damage but generally was was keeping people alive.

      We made it thru 1/3 of the ground part in the space station before logging.

      I cant WAIT to pick it back up again tonight! FINALLY a challenge and one where we had to think about what we were doing.

      Loved every minute of it. If they keep putting out STF’s like this the future of this game will not be in doubt.

  3. Galo says:

    I’m hoping like Doc above in his feelings and hoping as well it’s challenging or even hard. The game needs a challenge right now and a challenge for people to look forward to.

    If it’s too easy then days from mow we will start saying ground skills are useless. We will say the content is not challenging and others will say things like cryptic sucks. So can only hope it’s challenging to beat. Peope will cry if it’s hard but I rather have a challenge than have it easy, so easy you don’t even want to bother to do it. I wouldn’t want that.

  4. MM says:

    There’s tons of analysis on raid difficulty v. population accessibility via analysis tools for WoW. Hopefully, they take a hard look at that and guage progression difficulty somewhere between TBC and Wrath. Then maybe tweak it from there.

    Anyone know if the raids will make use of the difficulty slider? That should keep the hardcores appeased if they can get better drops from raids with higher difficulty sliders. Maybe also drop items that unlock new ship customizations – we all know how people love to show off rare drops from hard raids. That’s part of the fun.

    So far, I’m liking their raid approach. I’ll keep an open mind.

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