Speculations on the future direction of Star Trek Online

So, for all, what, three of you? who didn’t immediately lose interest on seeing the headline, I have some thoughts on where Star Trek Online is likely to go after its current plotline, which has been confirmed to be headed into its endgame.

On the off-chance someone who isn’t already an STO player is reading this, a brief summary of where the game’s story is right now: the Iconians, believed to have gone extinct 200,000 years ago, actually escaped to another galaxy, and now they’re coming back. A large number of events during and before the game (the supernova that destroyed Romulus in the “original timeline” in the 2009 movie, the Undine/Species 8472 resuming hostilities against our universe, the resulting Klingon-Federation war that embroiled most of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, and the sudden emergence of the Vaadwaur as a major and very aggressive military power in the Delta Quadrant) are all ultimately part of their plan to soften up the galaxy for reconquest. The actual Iconian invasion started with new content that dropped this year (real-world year, I mean), and it is NOT going well for the Milky Way. However, in the most recent two missions, a possibility of salvation has emerged: the Iconians are psychologically incapable of handling time travel, and the Krenim have now provided the Klingon-Federation-Romulan alliance with plans for “temporal annihilation” technology–a weapon that can cause the target to never have existed.

Endgame is, it seems, next month with the final Iconian War mission “Midnight,” but with the announcement last week of an upcoming Season 11 (presumably late this year or early next year, based on the roughly two-a-year pattern of past updates), the end of the Iconian War is clearly not the end of the game. Indeed, the announcement of the new season suggests that it will focus on “rebuilding and hope” and include a “brand new civilization.” (It also showed a small army of Tholians charging toward Starfleet troops, and it’s been announced that there will be new PvE queues involving fighting an invasion from the Mirror Universe led by Mirror Leeta, which is both glorious and gives me hope we’ll finally get an explanation for why the fuck random Tholian mobs sometimes include Mirror Universe ships.)

So they’re not ending any time soon. And plans for Season 11 aside, it’s unlikely that there won’t be another combat-heavy arc building up, simply because the developers have made pretty clear that they find it really hard to make non-combat-heavy content that is still fun to play. So what could that conflict be?

I have a speculation on what they seem to be building to, because even before the first hints of the Iconians showed up, there were references to the Temporal Cold War. And those references have never entirely gone away–the Xindi have made a few cameos, the Delta Recruit gimmick added as part of the run-up to the Iconian War heavily involves a Temporal Investigations agent, the same agent is involved in the project to build the temporal annihilator. And on top of that, the developers made a cryptic (haha) remark at their panel at STLV last weekend: that Season 11 would include the origin story of an enemy species from the TV shows. There aren’t many options for enemies whose origin stories could happen <I>after</I> their first appearance, and all of them involve time travel.

They also mentioned having to deal with the fallout of the way the Iconian War was won. And what caused the Cold War? Superpowers, once allied against a common enemy, now fought each other. But their weapons were so powerful that they didn’t dare use them, so they fought using proxies instead.

The Iconian War is the World War II-equivalent, the temporal annihilator the nuclear bomb-equivalent, and whatever it ends up erasing to defeat the Iconians the Hiroshima-equivalent, for the Temporal Cold War. (Bonus points if the Iconians are somehow on the verge of losing/ready to make peace anyway when the annihilator gets used.)

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