I cried playing Star Trek: Online, Rise of Discovery, and you will too.

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Star Trek: Online, Rise of Discovery is available now.

I didn’t weep playing Star Trek: Online, Rise of Discovery or anything, I promise.

Or, maybe, I did. While the new content was initially released for PC back in May, the console version of this MMORPG expansion based on the latest Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery, (currently airing on CBS All Access,) dropped at the end of June. I, a fully committed, but perhaps a little bored Star Trek: Online player (at endgame, character levels maxed out) found myself finding a spare few hours on a Sunday morning to log on and experiment with the new content. What I found was hardly what I expected.

 

THE MISSIONS FELT LIKE TREK EPISODES

When a MMORPG has been running as long as Star Trek: Online, endgame content can begin to feel stale. You played everything, you command the maxed out ships, you leveled up your phasers. This isn’t the case with Rise of Discovery, however. While the expansion yields only a meager two new missions, those added were structured in a way that felt like I was in immersion in an episode of the hit CBS show.

In one, you rush to the aid of the intrepid crew of the USS Buran (a doomed ship only referenced on the TV series) to help repel violent Klingon boarding parties. You pound deck by deck, with phaser combat across narrow bulkhead hallways to save the ship. The other, you’re marooned on an ice and snow planet with a handful of crew and an injured Captain, the challenge being to survive against both the enemies and the elements. In each, I found myself feeling like I was in an episode of the show, with the foreign scenery, the thoughtful backstory, and even the music was sweeping and orchestral, much like on TV.  I loved it.

THE VOICE WORK WAS UNBELIEVABLE…OR RATHER VERY BELIEVABLE

While prior installments of the Discovery era plot-line on ST:O featured voice-work of Mary Wiseman reprising her TV role as the effervescent Cadet Tilly, (and also the savage Captain Killy) Rise of Discovery struck a notably darker tone, by bringing back two of the more twisted and complex characters. Jason Isaacs returns as the manipulative and duplicitous Captain Gabriel Lorca, and Rekha Sharma as his brutal enforcer Commander Ellen Landry. Isaacs and Sharma do an incredible job of the voice work, they sound believable and real, as if I was watching the show. In one absolutely shattering moment, Sharma cries powerful wracking sobs, and I, watching her digital avatar weep and scream, would be lying if I said my eyes were dry. That’s some serious voice acting for a video game.

 

 

THE WRITING WAS HEARTBREAKING

On the show, we never learned what made Lorca and Landry so cruel and pragmatic. (Well, Lorca kind of,  but I’ll avoid spoilers.) As Rise of Discovery unfolds, we’re a part of that unseen backstory, one which explains everything about these flawed characters. You’re part of a group of hopeful and optimistic survivors who crash-land on a frozen almost Hoth-like (if you’ll pardon a mixed metaphor) planet. Your mission is to stay alive and protect the injured Captain Lorca, as each member of your away team, ripe with names and thoughtful backstories die, one by one.

One death in particular, the final one, positively wrecks Landry, rendered in gruesome color by Sharma’s powerful voice work. This aching sadness and swelling orchestral score was so compelling, I found myself whispering “oh God no,” under my breath. When a game is able to leave an emotional mark like that, it’s worthy of praise. Period.

As far as my tears? It’s just really, really cold on that ice-planet, okay?


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Nicholas Richard

Nicholas Richard

Writer, Amateur Stargazer, Fluent Klingon Speaker, Thoughts and opinions, only mine.

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar The Arkady says:

    I seriously hope CBS and Cryptic paid well for this, because those of us who signed on to STO as a MMO role-playing game mostly cried because we were running through a third-rate pseudo-Trek visual novel where our character was so irrelevant he wasn’t even allowed to side with Vosker in conversations despite being a KDF Intelligence operative that appreciates getting what they need out of a honorless petaQ and would absolutely approve of letting it plummet to a dishonorable death. But no, totally have to support that idiotic teary-eyed Starfleet girlie.

    • Honestly, STO players have a reputation for being garbage humans. Any sort of hard work on the side of the developers would be lost on them anyway.

      The TV show, with the exception of the “I got raped by Kevin Spacey side show” was certainly a step forward and I really really like what they’re doing with Michelle Yoeh and Section 31.

      So bringing that writing to the game seemed like an obvious next step, alas, what’s the point if the player base is toxic?

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