We mentioned last week that
Star Trek Online will be free to play
before the year is out. Cryptic have just released more information about exactly what free players will and won't have access to.
All missions, levels and zones will be available to free players, including daily quests and missions created by paying members using the
Star Trek Online Foundry creation tools
. The Foundry will be off limits unless you upgrade to gold membership by paying a monthly subscription of $14.99, this will also give you access to more bridge officer slots, the ability to join a guild, unlimited use of in-game chat and email features, and a monthly wage of 400 Promotional Points to spend in the item store.
The full list of features that will be available to non-paying players and subscribers can be found on the new f
ree to play section of the Star Trek Online site
Star Trek Online has plenty to recommend it. You get to pilot your own starship, for a start, fight enormous space battles and then transport down to planets with your away team to phaser aliens in the face in the name of peace, diplomacy, and the will of the Federation.
My overriding memory, though, involves Tribbles. An icon on the taskbar will let you pet them at any time, even in the middle of a fire fight, whereupon they make an initially adorable noise that quickly becomes the most annoying sound in the universe after about five seconds. If you leave them in your inventory, they eat any food in there and multiply, so there are plenty spare to go around. After a while the entire away team would habitually stop in between fights to stroke their pets, giving rise to a chorus of wibbly "woooo!" noises that would alert every enemy in the vicinity.
Cryptic's Tribble-breeding sim is set to go free to play some time later this year, though there's no precise date yet.