Star Trek Online turns you into the captain of your own starship. This MMORPG neatly captures the essence of years of Gene Roddenberry’s hopeful, futuristic space romp, rolling in plotlines from the TV shows and movies to create a bizarrely playable blob of nerdy entertainment. It pits you against the Borg. It lets you visit Deep Space Nine. You can even battle the powerful and scary Crystalline Entity that wiped out Data’s homeworld. As a Trek fan, I enjoy Star Trek Online far, far too much.
Star Trek Online is marinated in the culture that’s built up around the franchise over the past five decades, and you feel like you’re beamed into an episode when you start to play it. You can stick to regions of space familiar to Captains Kirk, Picard, and Archer, or put your hair in a Janeway bun and head out to the Delta Quadrant. The game wraps itself fully in the design language of Star Trek, from the style of designer Michael Okuda’s ‘okudagrams’ for elements of the menus to the familiar ships you can take to maximum warp.
While it’s not canon, for years STO has been the next best thing for future continuity. It’s filled the long gap between Nemesis and Discovery, not to mention the wait for Picard too. Part of this is thanks to Cryptic Studios who’ve roped in actors from the shows and films to reprise their roles, sometimes in very different ways. Currently, The Next Generation’s nerd supreme Wesley Crusher plays the cushy-yet-bloodthirsty job of Terran Emperor, complete with original actor Wil Wheaton. What’s the 25th century equivalent of a chef’s kiss?
You can download Star Trek Online for the Arc launcher or from Steam, and it’s free to play. For a game that’s been around for more than a decade, it’s stayed surprisingly fresh thanks to the regular updates.