My benchmark for follower gameplay
“I’ve played something like that before.” That was the common comment made by my guild mates regarding Garrisons after Blizzcon. Some latched onto the fact we were going be given a place to call our own in the world, and compared it to the home a player gets in games like Skyrim. Others looked at the ability of your followers to use professions to make items for their characters and were reminded of the companions a player picks up over the course of Star Wars: The Old Republic. For me what registered as most familiar was the follower game play elements, which I had seen added to a different MMORPG I play.
The Duty Officer system found in Star Trek: Online seems to me to be very similar in a number of ways to what Blizzard has suggested is coming with Garrisons in Warlords:
- Get Followers: When you unlock the feature in STO and as you level up your character, you pick up packs of duty officers of various qualities that you can send on assignments. Most of the ones you pick up early are of common quality. Uncommon, rare, and epic quality officers are available and can be acquired in a number of different ways. Many of the assignments you can send your officers on have the chance of rewarding you with a new one. A few can be earned by completing certain missions with your character. And there’s always the game’s auction house.
- Run missions: The way the mission system was described for Garrisons is what really made the connection between Warlords and STO for me. In the picture above, you’ll see a sample duty officer assignment. On the right, it lists what you’ll need to attempt and successfully complete the assignment. On the left, it provides a list of suggested officers with the correct abilities and traits to give you a better chance at a successful outcome for the mission. But you don’t need to take the game’s advice (although it is usually pretty good about giving you the best three options available). It is possible to look at every officer capable of filling a role on a mission in case you want to select one that has traits that give an increased chance of a critical success over one that will just improve your chance of an ordinary success.
- Offline progression: I’ve seen missions that can take as little as fifteen minutes. Above, you’ll see one of the longer missions I’ve seen, clocking in at three days before it will be completed.
- Rewards: To make it simple, I’ll try to explain the above picture in terms a WoW player may be more familiar with. In that list of rewards, my character has earned reputation increases with two different factions, some justice and valor points, and one new follower for my garrison. Over the course of the time I’ve played STO, I’ve seen just about everything a person can earn in the game rewarded from one assignment or another. Various different types of currency, pets, equipment, crafting materials and plans. About the only thing I haven’t seen rewarded are “mounts”, and I would say that’s mostly because STO does limit the amount of star ships one has access to.
- Benefits for your character: It works a little differently than what was described for garrisons in Warlords, but they are there in in the duty officer system. Each of your officers has a specific specialization that gives a benefit to your character and his ship. And instead of improving as things level up, it’s based on the quality of the officer. A better quality of officer may increase the chance of the buff being applied or the quality of the buff itself (or maybe even both if you can find the right one).
- What’s missing?: About the only thing that garrisons offers that doesn’t really happen in the duty officer system is follower improvement. It was mentioned a few times that your garrison followers could be leveled up and given equipment to improve their stats. Neither of those things happens in the duty officer system. The closest you can get are some officer exchange assignments. And that’s not so much improving the one you had as it’s sending off someone you don’t want any more in exchange for maybe getting someone of a better quality.
If you want to give it a try, I would say go for it. As far as I’ve been able to research, Star Trek: Online is currently free to play and the duty officer system is not restricted to paying customers only. For me, it’s definitely going to be holding me over until Warlords is released.