When most people think of Star Trek and virtual reality, they’re imagining the holodeck, a staging environment that lets users seamlessly travel to other realities as if they were real. Many companies are on quests to realize something like that with modern VR technology, but Ubisoft isn’t one of them. Instead, in partnership with Red Storm Entertainment, they’re setting their sights on the bridge experience instead.
But in terms of Star Trek as a whole, there is nothing more iconic than the shot of a crew sitting on the bridge of a powerful starship. With last year’s release of Star Trek: Bridge Crew, Ubisoft was successful in delivering one of VR’s most memorable and immersive multiplayer experiences to date. There’s nothing quite like barking orders at your friends, sitting side-by-side as things go spectacularly wrong, or valiantly triumphing over dastardly enemies in the final frontier of space.
When it debuted, you could take command of a crew aboard the new Aegis ship, which is themed as a futuristic vessel with lots of whites and grays and sleek designs similar to the modern era of Star Trek films, or the original Enterprise from the very first Star Trek TV show. But it was missing something extremely important: The Next Generation.
As perhaps the most popular era of Star Trek as a whole, The Next Generation’s bridge and crew are immediately recognizable. So in the form of a DLC pack which includes brand new Ongoing Voyages missions, new enemies, a new player race, a new role to play, and yes, TNG’s iconic bridge, Bridge Crew is getting a major overhaul.
The main draw of this DLC is going to just be the experience of sitting on TNG’s bridge, feeling like your part of the crew, and that general sense of presence that only VR can afford — but that’s only a brief slice of what this expansion offers.
Functionally, the TNG bridge is pretty much identical to the Aegis bridge with regard to the captain, tactical officer, and helm positions, but Engineering has been totally overhauled. Instead, you’ll take on the role of Operations, which is what Data did in TNG’s show. And along with that inclusion is the ability to create Android avatars as well (shown below).
In the Ops role, you’ll not only have to do all of Engineering’s job through re-routing power to different subsystems, charging warp coils, and transporting things onto the ship, but now you’ll also have to manage the NPC crew across the entire ship to send them out to different areas and start repairs. It’s a game of predictive micromanagement that adds a ton of chaos and helps liven up an otherwise boring role.
The romulans are a fun new enemy to deal with, as they can actually target parts of your ship to disable during fights. Since the player has always been able to do that, this feels like an evening of the scales a little bit. Combat certainly feels more lethal this time around. Romulans can also flee and cloak themselves now as well, making it tough to keep track of them if you’re not agile.
But the real highlight of the new enemies has got to be the borg. There is an entire new mission type that’s specifically focused on fighting an enormous borg cube, fleeing to upgrade your ship, fighting it some more, fleeing to upgrade your ship, and so on until it’s been defeated. And each time you flee the cube gets stronger from learning your tactics making it one of the more intense ways of challenging yourself.
All of the additions that this DLC makes feel great and welcome, but ultimately it’s not that large of an overhaul. The campaign is still untouched, Ops, even after its changes, is still probably the least fun role to play, and the new enemies mostly feel just like the Klingons with a few minor changes. This isn’t to say TNG is a bad piece of DLC — it improves the game and gives us more of what we loved — but it’s also not going to really draw in a new audience other than those holding out for TNG’s bridge to begin with.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew’s The Next Generation DLC is pretty special. The attention to detail afforded to the Enterprise-D is mind-blowing, the overhaul to Engineering (now Ops) is much-needed, and the expansion of Ongoing Voyages missions and new enemies add variety to an experience that can otherwise grow stale over time. However, it doesn’t do enough to really shake up or improve the core experience enough to elevate the game as a whole. It’s basically more of the same with slight alterations. Unless you’re a massive fan of The Next Generation and are desperate for more Star Trek: Bridge Crew, you’re not missing out on too much if you give this a pass.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew’s The Next Generation DLC releases today exclusively for PSVR and non-VR PS4 players for a limited time. The Next Generation DLC will also be available for Rift, Vive, Windows VR, and non-VR PC players starting July 21st.
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