STO Tier 6

Star Trek Online recently released some information about their upcoming “Delta Rising” expansion that details the new Tier 6 ships. While we don’t yet know which of these new features will be offered to existing Tier 5 ships with the promised “upgrade” feature, let’s look at what we know:

Stat Improvements

The new Tier 6 ships will be available at level 50 so you can start flying them immediately. This is some what of a surprise but a smart move. Cryptic will make money on this expansion by selling people the new ships (since the content is free). Make them wait to level 60 and you won’t make money for awhile. Give them the new ships right away and you get your big cash infusion immediately.

Naturally, these new ships will have beefier stats. More hull, a new console slot and an additional bridge officer slot. For most ship types, I expect this will translate into upgrading the ensign slot into a lieutenant slot, yielding the average a Cmdr, Lt Cmdr, and 3 LT. The hull is interesting in that it doesn’t come all at once. It will be tied to level so a level 50 captain will have less hull than a level 60 captain.

I feel fairly confident that these stat increases will definitely be part of whatever upgrade system exists for Tier 5 ships. They are supposed to be competitive so that seems a no brainer. If you don’t increase the stats, then they aren’t competitive.

What remains to be seen is how this works with Tier 5 vs C-store vs Fleet ships. Many Tier 5 ships have 9 console slots. Will Tier 6 have 10, ie 1 more than average Tier 5, or 11, one more than Fleet ships? If 11, can you upgrade a Tier 5 to 11 consoles or just Fleet ships?

I can see them limiting just to ships with 10 consoles already. That keeps the number they need to retrofit down. And it forces players to pay twice; once for the Fleet module and once for the Tier 6 upgrade. If it’s relatively cheap per ship that might be okay. They do need to generate revenue.

 

Specialist Bridge Officers

Now we get to the new feature I feel confident won’t be part of the Tier 5 upgrade (and they’ve already confirmed this I think), the new type of bridge officer. These new BOFF’s (rumored to be Intelligence officers from a leak) will have access to both existing powers (science, tactical, or engineering) AND a new set. They will go into specialty seats (which suggests no universal slots) and can freely use any of those two sets of powers.

From what I’ve seen in the leak files, which includes names of powers, I think these powers will be ones that enhance other BOFF powers. Several powers are called “Override X Safeties” where X is one of the subsystems. My speculation, based on nothing but the name? This raises the max level of a subsystem above 125 (or above 130 with certain warp reactors). Then, combined with another power, like Emergency Power to X, you can have your subsystems at like 140 or something.  This will be killer for weapons and Auxiliary.

 

Starship Mastery/Starship Traits

This new system is the big unknown as far as Tier 5 upgrades go. All of the new ships will be able to “level up”. They will have five levels and each level will provide a passive boost and at level 5, unlock a new Starship trait. These traits will work similarly to Rep and Captain traits. You’ll have a slot of 4 and the bonus will be applied no matter the ship you fly.

On the one hand, this seems cool. Fly your preferred ship more often, it gets better, like you and your crew getting to know her better. There won’t be infinite trait unlocks, as it sounds like there is only one per ship type (ie cruiser or battlecruiser). But each ship will have its own passives.

On the other hand, I’ve really liked the changes lately that make it easier to ship hop. The ship switching system is awesome. The skill changes a few years ago that decoupled skills from particular starships were really helpful. You can fly whatever you want and not be handicapped.

Now…hard to say. You will only be the best in ships that you fly a lot. That doesn’t stop you from switching but it does discourage it, especially once you get to the new endgame. Why run an elite STF in your level 1 ship when you’ll do much better in your level 5 ship? Therefore, your level 1 ship will remain level 1.

A lot will depend on how quickly you can level up. Can you get 2-3 ships up to level 5 just during your grind to captain level 60? Or will it take 10 captain levels to get a ship to level 5?

It’s also unknown if this feature will be part of the Tier 5 upgrade. I am going to guess yes, as if its not then Tier 5 won’t be competitive. Even with a stat upgrade, if the only ships you can level are true Tier 6, then they will always be better (especially with the new BOFFs).

Also, since there are Ship Trait unlocks for each type of ship, there aren’t going to be that many true Tier 6’s, meaning you won’t be able to get traits for all types. There will be 7-10 Tier 6 ships, across three factions, so 2-3 each. The current types of ships are; cruiser, escort, science, battlecruiser, dreadnaught, carrier, raider, warbird, destroyer. That’s 10 types of ships and each faction is only getting 3 so….

 

New Mechanic

Following up on that is the mention of new mechanics for ship. This is described as something new beyond the cruiser, escort, etc types. Which means probably even more Ship Traits. It’s unclear what these new mechanics will be but they will most definitely be for true Tier 6 only.

There was talk about tactical science ships, maybe similar to the Dyson destroyer so some kind of science ship with more guns might be one option.

There is another announcement coming on Thursday which is widely speculated to be information about the Tier 5 upgrade so many of these questions may be answered tomorrow. The success of this expansion will really rest on that system.

Will upgrading Tier 5 ships give you everything outside of the new BOFF and new mechanic/ship styles? Will you be able to upgrade MXII gear so everything we’ve bought in four years isn’t obsolete? Will it cost money to upgrade (probably)? Will it be a fair price (ie less than ~$5 for a ship and then ~$10 for a ship’s worth of gear)?  I don’t expect a price answer until close to launch but hopefully we’ll have a reasonable understanding of the mechanics of it on Thursday.

 

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