Good news to our forum veterans: For this upcoming Ask Cryptic, we’re not talking about combat! Instead, we’ll be focusing on player progression. We’ll be focusing on how your character becomes more powerful and the systems behind that, rather than content or story progression, at least this time around. If you have a question you’d like to ask, just ask it in this post’s comment thread.
You can also read on to learn more about player progression.
When you think of progressing in Star Trek Online, it’s best to picture an inverted triangle. You begin the game with broad skills available to you – the wide part of the triangle – and as you progress in rank, the skills you select become more specialized as the triangle narrows to a point.
There will be five ranks through which to progress at launch:
Star Trek Online is a skill-based game, meaning the experience you receive for completing missions and finishing episodes awards you skill points, which you use to directly improve the skills available to you. There’s a set number of skills available to you, depending on your rank. For instance, there’s a group of broad skills available at the Lieutenant rank; when you reach Lieutenant Commander, more refined skills become available to you.
The skills available in the early game affect the skills you take later on, and provide blanket bonuses to the more refined skills you select. Again, think of that inverted triangle.
For example, an Engineering officer has the option at lower ranks to decide between focusing on Maintenance or Modification. (He could also generalize in both, if he were to choose to do so.) Let’s say he decided to work exclusively on Modification, and maxes his Lieutenant Modification skill. When he becomes a Lieutenant Commander, new, more refined skills will become available. By the time the officer reaches the rank of Commander, he can choose to spend his skill points by specializing in one of three branches in his Engineering career.
All of a character’s skills influence their potency with their career abilities, as well as their equipped Kit (which grants additional abilities suited to a particular specialty of their chosen career). A character will collect several Kits as they advance in rank, allowing their role or ‘spec’ to change by equipping the Kit that contains the abilities they currently need for the mission.
In order to advance in rank, you’ll need to spend a specific number of skill points in your currently available skills. To advance from Lieutenant to Lieutenant Commander, you’ll need to have invested a certain number of skill points before you’re offered a promotion. Were a player to invest the minimum-required skill points to reach Admiral, he’d be about half-developed in terms of a maxed character, though in terms of time it’d take significantly longer to completely max out each available skill.