GUEST BLOG: STO Special Task Forces

GUEST BLOG: STO Special Task Forces

Star Trek Online

All this is great, especially the bit about special gear, but just what are the STFs? There are currently three missions players can participate in against the Borg in the quest to thwart their schemes: Infected, Cure, and Khitomer Accord. These three were further broken down into space and ground portions following the Season 5 revamp of this content so that players could find groups easier for the shorter missions and participate in the style of gameplay which they most enjoyed.

The Story of the STFs

One of the greatest strengths of STO is the fantastic story content, and the STFs are no exception. These missions continue the storyline started in the Borg Collective arc of the Federation campaign, dealing with a new malicious nanovirus developed by the Collective which has the capability to infect entire planets, eventually bringing everything it contacts into a glorious unity with the Borg; or so the Collective claims at any rate. The first STF, "Infected," deals with just such, when Starbase 82 comes under attack by the Borg, who attempt to assimilate it as a prelude to invasion. The player must, during the space portion of the mission, destroy the Transwarp gate and prevent the Borg from bringing further reinforcements into the star system. The Borg have emplaced powerful defenses at the gate and your team must systematically eliminate them before taking care of the gate; once the coast is clear, the team beams down to investigate what is going on and eliminate the Borg presence there. The base's crew is still in the process of being assimilated, and quick teams will be able to save some of the crew members who are assimilated. For most of the Starfleet officers stationed here, however, it is already too late, and a clean death is the only mercy possible. The players progress through a starbase ever more resembling a Borg vessel, eventually culminating in a fight against Manus of Borg amidst a sea of plasma. Terminating her, the Borg advance has been halted for the moment.

Yet, Borg are nothing if not relentless, and when the nanovirus fails to achieve the destruction of the Federation, the Borg revisit their tactics from First Contact using transwarp gates and a temporal portal in the Quadra Sigma system to send waves of vessels back into the past in an attack on Vega Colony. The player themselves witnessed this attack during the tutorial; but for the actions of the player's future self, the Vega Colony would have been overwhelmed and destroyed by the massive horde of Borg drones lying dormant beneath the colony. It is the destruction of the transwarp gates, the damage done to Borg vessels, that had transited the time portal and the elimination of the underground facility that permitted your own career to begin, bringing events from the very beginning of the game full-circle.

All very well, one might say, that certainly sounds like a lot of great missions against the Borg, but what of that other menace from the early story missions, the Undine? Terradome, the fourth STF mission deals with a mysterious Undine Facility in Gamma Orionis, and we’ll not here spoil the story of the mission, save to say that it is engaging and worthwhile. Terradome is a blast to run with a group of friends or fleet mates and presents a story from start to finish; it is far closer to a traditional story mission than the other STFs are, and I encourage everyone to round up a five-strong team and head over to Gamma Orionis and give this unique experience a play-through!

The Nitty-Gritty: How do STFs work?

At this point I hope you're satisfied that the STFs represent an exciting set of new missions to enjoy in Star Trek Online, but that does no good if you don't know how to get started on them! When doing the Borg STFs, you have a few choices as to how you go about them; via the public queues or via a private one.  Both of these are accessed through the PvE queue system, located in the drop-down menu under your minimap (the PvE queue button will be returning with Season 6). If you're by yourself or on a small team, you can join a public queue match in the left-most tab. If you have a full team of five, say a fleet group, you can go to the right-most tab and hit "Create Private" to make your very own queue, which can be password protected. To get others to join your private queue, you can give them the room name and password, use the invite button, or simply right-click their name in chat and select "invite to challenge match." The only difference between a public and private queue (aside from control over who gets in) is that private queues don't have a one-hour leaver penalty, so if you're trying for a difficult accolade, such as completing the optional objective on “Infected Ground,” you may wish to use a private queue so that you can reset the STF without having to worry about a leaver penalty.

On the subject of optional objectives, we’d like to take a second to dispel a common myth concerning the space STFs, which has caused many bad feelings amongst the community and heated arguments in team chat; namely that Escorts are the only ships worth bringing into elite space STFs because they have the best damage potential. This is quite far from the truth, and it has been our experience that a balanced team with Cruisers there to throw out Extend Shields, and Science ships for control abilities like Gravity well or Tractor Beam Repulsors has a far easier time of succeeding than simply bringing five escorts. Being able to keep the escorts alive (dead ships deal no DPS after all), or pull the enemy into a neat little pile for Cannon Scatter Volley or Torpedo Spread truly does more for the team than a simple extra set of guns. Balanced teams with a bit of coordination are absolutely capable of getting well over five minutes left on the optional timer.

The Loot

HERE

Sets and Accolades

The new STF sets give the player significant advantages when fighting the Borg and represent some of the best gear currently obtainable in Star Trek Online. The space sets grant extra resistance to the plasma weaponry used by the Borg, as well as having excellent statistics, and the ground sets offer something invaluable when fighting the Borg on foot; a remodulator which works instantly rather than taking four precious seconds to activate, and I highly recommend that everyone who wants to run the ground STFs pick up one of the special sets, even a Mk. X one, as soon as possible for this benefit.

The ground sets have similar themes, with Klingons gaining a bonus on melee damage and an Adrenal Stimulator, where Federation players gain advanced shield capacitor technologies. The Omega Force set is available to both factions and features a personal stealth field.

Many players in STO also enjoy hunting down accolades, and the STFs offer plenty. The "Team Specialist" accolade can be obtained by completing all STF optional objectives on Normal difficulty, the "Team Commander" by doing the same on Elite, and the "Elite Commander" by acquiring all three pieces of a Mk. XII ground set and earning the "Team Commander" title. If you see someone walking around with that title, or the special costume unlock associated with it, you know that you're dealing with a true STF veteran!

A Word on Difficulty

Gearing Up

Odyssey Tactical Cruiser

Weapons: 8x Beam Arrays

Science Consoles: 2x Field Generators, Assimilated Module

Engineering  Consoles: Electroceramic Plating, 2x SIF Generators, 1x Neutronium Armor

Other Gear: MACO Resilient Shield Array, Assimilated Subtranswarp Engines, Assimilated Graviton Deflector Array

Intrepid Retrofit

Weapons: 2x Dual Beam Banks, 1x Tricobalt Torpedo Launcher, 3x Turrets

Science Consoles: 1x Field Generator, 2x Particle Generator, 1x Emitter Array

Engineering Consoles: Electroceramic Plating, Ablative Generator, Assimilated Module

Other Gear: MACO Resilient Shield Array, Assimilated Subtranswarp Engines, Assimilated Graviton Deflector Array

Fleet Escort

Weapons: 4x Dual Heavy Cannons, 3x Turrets

Science Consoles: 2x Field Generator

Engineering Consoles: Electroceramic Plating, Neutronium Armor, Assimilated Module

Other Gear: MACO Resilient Shield Array, Assimilated Subtranswarp Engines, Assimilated Graviton Deflector Array

Conclusion and Further Reading

Star Trek OnlineSTO

For some additional information aimed at newcomers to STFs, including basic tips intended to get you through your first normal STF, I recommend that you check out Latinumbar's very helpful "NOOB Guide to STFs."

If you're looking for the sort of advanced strategies required to get the optional objectives completed on Elite STFs, I suggest looking up our own Elite Tactical Reports guide, which also includes a more in-depth analysis of equipment selection and step-by-step strategies to beat any of the Borg STFs.

Also, please reach out @StarfleetCommander in-game and he will be happy to let you know how you can get involved with the STFRaiders and other in-game STF chat channels.

We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors against the Borg and Undine in the Special Task Forces!

 

- @Naldoran and @StarfleetCommander, STFRaiders

 

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