FAQ – Star Trek Online Beginners Tips and Tricks

44th Fleet’s Star Trek Online beginners guide, 90% of all Frequently Asked Questions:

Note to 44th Fleet Members: Click here for a deeper and more advanced insight with our game mechanics guide

 >> Link to BreakingForce’s Q’s Winter Wonderland Event FAQ <<

Before I start, are there any game-settings I need to adjust first ?
Yes, we advise you to go to Esc / Options / Controls and set Camera type to Free Camera and (at the bottom of the list) Keep Moving During Contact Dialogs to On.

There is also an interface scale slider at the bottom under Esc / Options / Basic that allows you to reduce the UI (user interface) so it won’t block your view, this is usefull if you play at higher video resolutions.

As a beginner, what should I invest in early in the game ?
The Elite Services Starter Pack for 1,000 zen – you can find it in-game under c-store/services. It is a worthwhile investment as it bundles a number of extra bank and inventory spaces, two Boff slots and three retrain tokens in one discount pack for 1,000 instead of 2,250 zen. Especially if you plan to play STO for a while this will be a welcome quality of life boost. Btw, you can earn the 1,000 zen just playing the game – though it will take several weeks.

Additionally, the in-game day-to-day currency, or ec, bank cap for free2play players has a maximum of 15 million ec. If you cross that by selling items or receive more ec as a reward, you will lose it. This is important to remember when you buy and sell say, several lockbox keys, with real $ trying to get ec-rich quickly. You can lift this maximum cap by buying the ec cap increase from the zen store (link).

What should I *not* do as a beginning player ?
Don’t go overboard creating too many characters – three should be the max early on. There is A LOT to do in STO, and having to level and equip (“grind”) multiple alts will force time away from actually playing and enjoying the game. Two or three characters is just manageable enough for the average player to also earn you that extra ec/dilithium without turning STO into another working job.

Uh, I don’t know much about Star Trek…
Not a problem. Even if you know nothing about the various Star Trek tv-series, movies, books and games, you can still enjoy STO as an MMORPG/space and ground shooter. All major characters are properly introduced and often voiced by the original actors, and key events will unfold without leaving you wondering. Obviously if you are familiar with Star Trek’s rich history you will recognize and enjoy a lot more in the game, but it’s certainly not a requirement.

Is the US $299 Lifetime subscribtion worth it ?
Depends. If you’re an avid gamer and really plan to play Star Trek Online weekly if not daily for a year or more, then yes.
Lifetime unlocks a number of Veteran Rewards which include unique ships, uniforms and other game perks, plus a monthly 500-zen stipend. It’s this stipend that makes the Lifetime sub worth it for active players.
Obviously it’s best to buy it during a Lifetime Sub sale (twice a year at irregular intervals).

But STO is Play4free, right ?
Most definitely. In fact, STO is one of the most generous MMOs out there, as unlike other games, there are no surprise barriers or ‘pay walls’ you will encounter in game that will block you from progress or prevent you from playing the latest expansion.

Basically STO is a time vs money deal – you can have the latest and greatest ‘now’ by paying real $, or spend playtime in-game to get that certain ship or item you want for free. And in case you’re wondering, the grind is fairly painless. 😉

So I am here, where is everyone?
Star Trek Online is an MMO RPG and there is a lot you can do in a team like episodes, exploring and playing “TFOs” (Task Force Operations or Raids) together, but there is also plenty to do solo. Like the aforementioned episodes and exploration, there is also crafting/improving weapons, shields and kits, but also training/outfitting/clothing your own characters and your Bridge Officers. You can decide how social you are in-game and how you prefer to progress: STO is very flexible in that. Obviously joining a Fleet will give you an advantage in gear, ships and especially collective knowledge gained since launch.

Everything is fine then?
Overal yes, but Star Trek Online has been running since its Beta launch on October 22, 2009, and the truth is that the game-engine is a spaghetti-like coding mess – it’s a unique engine whose original coders have long moved on. The game visually and structurally is still very good, but every update will cause some minor bugs. Several minor bugs sometimes grow to a larger one, causing regular “Patch Thursdays” being the norm. Having said that, STO is the type of game you can take a break from for a year and then return, which many of us do.

I am just starting my first character, which career is best ?
Depends on what your preferred playstyle is. Basically a Tactical captain does damage, an Engineer captain can tank (absorb damage) and a Scientist captain does wizard stuff like drain, hold and heal. All three not only have their own strengths and weaknesses, but those can be buffed/compensated by various ground kit (armor, shield, weapons) and the ship they fly. The fun part is you can mix and match and either specialize in say an Engineer tanking in a massive cruiser, or combine a science captain healer in a fast zippy tactical heavy escort.

I am unsure which race to pick.
Pick an alien! You can visually model an alien as the standard Human, Vulcan, Andorian etc but also to non-standard Cardassians and many-many others. STO’s “space barbie” is quite flexible. Once you’re comfortable with STO you can select a specific race for an extra “alt” character as each playable race has its own unique traits.

What’s the main difference between a Federation Cruiser, escort and science ship ?
These are the main types in the game, with each having their strengths and weaknesses.

Escorts – do heavy damage with their dual heavy cannons, but weak hull and shields. Compact designs, very maneuverable. Preferred for a ‘fighter-like’ playstyle.
Cruisers – average damage through all beams but strong hulls and decent shields. Lowest turn rate. Preferred ‘tank’ class.
Science Vessels – specializes on healing, debuffing and damage through exotic powers like Gravity Well. Average hulls but strong shields. Are the ‘space wizards’ in STO.
Small Craft – Shuttles and Fighters. Weak damage, weak hull and shields, but the fastest and required for some unique missions.

There are also many additional sub-classes including Heavy Escorts, Dreadnoughts, Battlecruisers, Carriers with fighters, Reconnaissance and Intel Science Vessels.

The Klingon, Romulan and Dominion factions have comparable classes but with extra unique specialities, such as (battle) cloaks, Raider flanking damage or Singularity powers. Additional cross-faction ships have even more unique abilities.

I just started, how do I equip and outfit my ship ?

Go here for some simple starting builds you can copy – this is very basic but serve you well while leveling. They work for Federation, Klingon and Romulan comparable ships (eg Escorts – Bird of Preys – Warbirds).

I am an engineer, can I fly a science ship, carrier or tactical escort ?
Yes, most definately. The fun of STO is that it is not a rigid class-based game. An engineer does great in cruisers, but can do just as well in escorts and Science ships – it all depends on piloting skill and equipment.
Don’t believe the mantra still being heard in zone chat and elsewhere that a Tac/Eng/Sci “must” only fly an Escort/Cruiser/Science ship. That’s total nonsense. Mixing and matching careers, ships, skills and traits is part of the fun of STO’s game mechanic. For example a Science captain in an Escort is an absolutely deadly combination in PvP.

But which ship must I choose ?
Whichever you like. Leveling from Lieutenant to Captain you can, and should, try out the different types of free leveling ships – especially one outside of your comfort zone. This so you have a basic understanding of the strengths/weaknesses of escorts, cruisers, sci ships and carriers when you are level 50+, when it starts to matter more, as you’ll spend zen, dilithium or even real $ to get the really nice ships.

Help! I bought this expensive ship/item and I don’t do enough damage !
Again, STO is not Pay2Win, do not expect to buy an expensive ship/item with real $$$ and just hop in, turn the key and have a steamrolling murder-boat out of the box. This is a sure way for disappointment and serious buyer’s remorse.

Trust us; we’ve been there, done that. As in real life, knowledge is (fire) power – knowing how and especially why a certain mechanic works does more for your DPS than just slapping a specific weapon on your ship. There’s math involved, but just playing the game you’ll understand the basics pretty quickly.

But seriously, which ship is the best in the game ?
Sure there are a few, but the ‘best’ ship is still subjective (and yes I keep hammering on this). Safe to say the top of the line models are usually Fleet T6 or a specific Lobi/Lockbox or unique event/veteran ship.

But okay, twist my arm, these are all bonnie ships cap’n!

Compiled by our resident 44th Ship Master Sukobi, the following are considered the top tier ships in-game at this time (March 2021). New ships are always released so this list changes every year.

Inquiry Battlecruiser and the Fleet Shephard / Qugh Battlecruiser — These are all dynamite energy beam/cannon ships with the same ship layout: Qugh has battle cloak, and Inquiry adds Intel abilities to the Miracle Worker seat. Fearsome ships.

Vaadwaur MW Juggernaut — Unrivaled in the Dual Heavy Cannon space, this is a difficult ship to explain but it’ll do the job and has the hull of a tank.

Tzen-tar Dreadnought Carrier — mixed carrier/torpedo. 6 tactical consoles, 5 forward weapons, 2 hangars, and still 2 aft weapons. The same mobility as the Inquiry/Shephard/Qugh. Strong hull and massive shields.

Tholian Jorogumo Carrier — Best of the support carriers with two hangars, heavy shields and Gravity Well. This ship is about being able to squeeze maximum support out of every single gear slot.

Klingon D7, Federation Constitution MW Flight Deck Carriers would likely be the most ideal standard dps-based tanks. Plus classic lines to boot.

There is much more to cover and for a more in-depth overview of these ships see this detailed post (44th members only).

Just remember, buying these ships are no guarantee; you will still need to outfit them with top-end gear for their max potential.

Also, as a 44th Fleet member, you will now have access to superior and unique Fleet versions of many Federation, Romulan and Klingon ships (extra console slot, increased stats etc).

How do I get (much) better in space combat ?
Star Trek Online allows the use of keybinds. One of the classic ones is the Hilbert Guide keybind, which is very handy for especially beginning players. We highly recommend that you use this; bit of a read, but once installed it will improve your gameplay ten-fold – must have !

And again, see our mechanics guide for additional tips and tricks.

How do I set my space weapons to Autofire?
Right-click the weapon icons so they show a green outline.

What is this DPS ?
DPS (Damage Per Second) is the Space and Ground metric used to measure the amount of damage you can do. Keep in mind that it’s not a fixed metric – it is highly influenced by the map and the team you are playing with (eg having a healer and/or debuffer to support you or another player “stealing” your damage). You can find the semi-official Combat Log Reader here.

The go-to map to measure space DPS in a team is the Borg STF Infected the Conduit Advanced (aka the infamous ISA: Infected, Space, Advanced). There are also many patrols (like Kern, Argala or the Tau Dewa patrols) available for solo testing.

How much DPS is enough ? / How much should I do ?
Basically, at Level 50+, with decent Space kit (Very rare/Purple Mk XII) that you can pick up from mission rewards and the exchange, and some decent flying, you should be able to do a minimum of 20,000 DPS without too much trouble. At +20,000 you will be able to join Advanced level STFs, but you have to work hard to “pull your own”. +40,000 DPS is considered a ‘comfortable’ level. High number “DPS chasers” have been known to clock +200,000 DPS (!)

Which ship traits are ‘must haves’ ?
Tier 6 unique ship traits, once unlocked, will serve you extremely well in the long run. Once unlocked you can slot and combine them to make even mediocre ships hit like a hammer – even older ship can step back into the spotlight with surprising results. Keep in mind that the majority of traits are character bound, meaning you have to buy/unlock them for each of your toons seperately.
The ‘must haves’ are All Hands on Deck (AHOD, see above), Emergency Weapons Cycle, Reciprocity. Invincible isn’t too bad either.

There are always new traits coming out, so the list keeps growing.

Which Reputation(s) should I focus on first ?
Since we keep encountering Borg in the STO universe, the anti-Borg heavy Task Force OMEGA Reputation is a must – it has a number of specific anti-Borg abilities including the Omega Graviton Pulse Module (trait), which also slows down how quickly Borg can adapt to your energy weapons in Ground Combat. Usefull.

However there’s nothing stopping you doing them all at once which is surprisingly easy. Also, it’s best to complete a Reputation on your Main toon first; it can then provide a Sponsorship Token for your alts which makes it much cheaper and faster to level them.

Which ship console is a ‘must have’ ?
The Dynamic Power Redistributor Console is very, very good. If you can, get it – Federation players need to buy the Prototype Dreadnought Cruiser, KDFs can buy it on the exchange/Undiscovered Lockbox.

No longer a true ‘must have’, but the Plasmonic Leech console, especially for power-starved Romulan ships, is a good investment. Another nice one is the Sustained Radiant Field console from the Iconian Reputation.

Like ground/ship traits, there are always new consoles and set bonuses changing the ‘meta’ of the game – adapt !

Which Boff (Bridge Officer) is the best ?
Oddly, for Bridge Officers it’s not their quality (white/green/purple) that matters, but their unique racial traits.

The Cardassian Boffs bring extra stacking accuracy, defense and +2% damage boosts, and are becoming the most popular among the high DPS players.
The Romulan Tactical Boffs with the Superior Operative Trait (for Feds and KDFs obtainable from our Fleet Embassy) are the hardest hitting Tactical Officers.
The unique Hierarchy Science Boff (aka Mr Potato Head) with the Pirate trait from the mission “Alliances“, is a wicked space science officer.
The Nausicaan Boffs also come with the Pirate trait, but are KDF (aligned) only.

In general the Romulan SROs are superior, Hierarchy Science Boff and finally the Nausicaans (Pirate Trait).

Which Doffs (Duty Officers) are the best ?
The Damage Control Engineers (Emergency Power variant) are required for “Drake” ship builds. There are so many different ones it really depends on your ship, build, career and playstyle.

Which ground shields is best ?
For Ground, the Nakuhl ground shield is very good – and as a mission reward is free ! – and can be obtained from the episode The Temporal Front.

In ground combat, How do I crouch and aim ?
When on a ground map, copy paste the following in your chat bar:

/Bind x ” crouch 1 $$ aim 2 “

When you press x you will now both crouch (you’re harder to hit) and use the aim/sniper mode (making you hit harder). It’s adviced to crouch/shoot as much as possible.

Which Ground weapons are best ?
The Lobi store Herald Antiproton Beam Projector (against mobs) and Boolean Heavy Assault Cannon (single target), are tied as best. Alternatively, the crafted TR-116 sniper rifle is considered a ‘must have’ for certain enemies (Borg, Elachi).
For ground combat, a good default combination is to have a Pulsewave (shotgun) for close-range and a Splitbeam rifle for longer ranges. Note that Borg adapt faster to automatic ground weapons – more shots, higher adapt rate.

Which space set is best ?
The 4-piece Iconian Resistance Starship Technologies from the Iconian Reputation is still a good all-round set.
The 4-piece Solanae Hybrid Technologies set obtained from the mission A Step Between Stars is still considered to be the best one for science ships.
In general, we’d like to encourage you to mix and match space sets, and don’t focus too much on full set-bonus abilities as they are usually of the “nice to have”, not “must have” variety.

Which Space combination is (currently) the absolute best ?
Currently, regardless of faction, it is a combination of Fleet gear and Competitive Wargames Reputation: the Elite Fleet Intervention Protomatter Deflector Array with Epic [Sh/HullCap] mod from our 44th Fleet Dranuur Colony, in combination with the 2 piece Prevailing Innervated Impulse Engine and Prevailing Innervated Resilient Shield Array.
For Warp/Singularity cores, there are too many options to list, but always go for the (AMP) modifier which increases damage.

Which weapon type is best ?
It ebbs and flows; right now Disruptor, Phaser and Antiproton energy weapons are considered a solid choice. Both Disruptor and Phaser benefit from newer set bonuses which add extra damage, Antiproton has its innate higher criticals. Note however that this is relative and build specific, but when in doubt, either of the three (not together!) is a good choice. Polaron (power leech) has made a comeback too with the recent Victory is Life expansion.

Which starship weapon is best ?
The Terran Task Force Disruptor Beam Array is the single most powerful weapon due to its unique mechanic.

Besides the Terran Task Force Disruptor Beam, which other Space Weapons are good ?
The Fleet Elite weapons available from our Fleet starbases (both Fed/KDF) are still good weapons with [Dmg]x3 [CrtD] for Adv wpns and [Dmg]x2 [CrtD] mods for Elite versions and are a good way to start since they are not that terribly expensive. Our Fleet Dranuur Colony unlocked weapons which have extra self-healing powers if you’re feeling squishy.

What about Space Weapon Modifiers ?
Weapon Mods are what really counts: having a weapon with the right mods usually cost a bazillion ec on the exchange – and they’re worth it. The current Meta from best to worst modifier is Pen, CrtD / Dmg, Acc, CrtH. The ideal combo for most captains/builds is an Epic Mk XIV (CrtD)x3 (Pen) weapon.

How does the Critical Damage/Chance modifiers work ?
To get the most out of your Crit Chance and Severity, as a general rule, you want to buff CrtD on weapons and CrtH with consoles.
On weapons:
[CrtH] = 2% Chance
[CrtD] = 20% Severity
On the Fleet Spire Tac Consoles:
The [CrtH] versions, the Locators give: 1.6% Chance
The [CrtD] versions, the Exploiters give 8% Severity

So, with those CrtH:CrtD ratios, if you want to get the most possible out of your ship, you buff [CrtD] on weapons and [CrtH] on consoles.

Why are Tetryon energy weapons considered ‘bad’ ?
Tetryons are shield drain weapons, however the in-game NPCs bleed shields fast regardless of the energy weapons used, so you’ll end up fairly quickly with a useless Tetryon weapon speciality. Tetryons are better suited for specialist builds and for PvP against a live opponent – skip space Tetryon weapons if you’re new to STO.

Why are kinetic Torpedoes considered ‘bad’ ?
Shields strip away 50% of a Torpedo’s damage before any modifiers/buffs. So basically a target with just 1% shields will still eat up half your Torp damage. Unlike beams, Torpedoes also have a narrower firing arc so you need time to line up for a good shot. You won’t do damage during that time and remember DPS is Damage Per Second.

But I like Torpedoes !
Then by all means, use them ! Even sub-optimal, kinetic Torpedoes still do decent (but not great) damage. You will have to buff them properly with enough consoles, traits and Duty Officers – which otherwise could be used for your energy weapons. Splitting your damage potential this way is why Torps are frowned upon by the high DPS crowd. But they sure are fun 🙂

And these energy Torpedoes ?
A recent addition to the game, unlike most torpedo launchers, the energy torpedo’s damage is enhanced by abilities and items that improve energy damage, and not those that improve traditional (kinetic) torpedo weapons. They still suffer from the shield penalty but once through, they are like a massive energy blast. This makes them ideal for pure Antiproton, phaser or disruptor energy builds.

Why is the kinetic damage displayed appear seemingly with random values ?
Each Torpedo/Mine does an unique amount of damage, similar to energy weapons. See this table.

What is a Rainbow Build / Skittles Boat ?
These are ship which use a combination of differently (colored) weapon types, Rainbows use different beams, skittles different cannons/turrets. These builds are usually a bit frowned upon, hence the name.

A Rainbow boat is equipped with say, a blue Tetryon, green Plasma, orange Phaser and red Antiproton beam. Combining all kinds of different weapon types does not activate all their different “proc’s” often enough to be usefull, so such a combination is sub-optimal. Conversely, an 8x phaser beam build buffed by 4x Phaser Tactical consoles does tremendous damage. Always try to stick with one weapon type, regardless if you use cannons or beams.

I’m not sure what kind of damage this thing does.
Check the details, it will say “weapon does x phaser/whatever damage to the target”, that’s the weapon type you should buff with the appropriate Tactical consoles.

I don’t want to join fleet runs because I’m not good enough x(
Nonsense ! This is what your fleet is for ! Do not be afraid to ask for advice if unsure. We allow you to frack up during fleet runs – we will not shout/curse/troll you, we want you to learn and get better. We were all beginners once and gladly walk you through various mission maps – there is an enormous amount of knowledge in the fleet which we’re willing to share. And most importantly, this is a game for fun and we treat it as such.

How do I make a screenshots ?
The default key is PrintScreen, or you can type in chat /screenshot or /screenshot_ui which includes your HUD.
You can find the pictures in your \Cryptic Studios\Star Trek Online\Live\screenshots folder.

How do I link items in chat ?
With Ctrl + left-mouse you can click items in your inventory, character or ship ‘card’ and link it in chat – this way others can mouse-over the item and also read their statistics and details. Usefull if you want specific information.

Ok so how do I make millions of ec in this game ?
The easiest way is basically selling stuff on the exchange, either loot drops, crafted items or basic trading (“buy low, sell high”). Playing the game you earn ec and especially dilithium ore. Refine that ore to zen and buy lockbox keys from the c-store and sell them on the exchange for ~4 million ec each – this is taking the solid route.

Another way is trading by buying/selling c-store, Lobi store or crafted items on the exchange which can earn you a small fortune – if you have the Ferengi Lobes for it.

Another good way is selling duty officers. Buy/collect cheap purple/blue ones and downgrade them to 9 white (common) ones which may sell for 14K-20K ec each on the exchange. And of course you can pick up a bunch of free ones at the Fed/KDF Academy’s, Romulan HQ or our Fleet Starbases.

What is the easiest and fastest way to earn Fleet Credits ?

Doing the 3 Colony “squiggly line” mini-games (each 825 fleet credits) – beam down to the fleet colony, contact the security officer to pick it up. After completion, donate the Battery/Ore/Luxury provisions to the (fleet colony tab) Coffer. Takes <10 mins to earn 2,475 fleet credits and has a cooldown of 1hr.

I don’t have an account bank, how do I move items between alts ?
Easy: mail them to yourself. You can only attach/collect items via a mail terminal which you can find on most social maps. The mail system is also where your unsold items from the exchange will end up, and it can be used as an alternative bank/inventory by mailing items to yourself. Note that this can only be done with unbound items.

What is the Admiralty system ?
The Admiralty System unlocks at level 52 and allows you to use your collected starships in assignments to earn various resources – including more admiralty ships – which makes it similar to the Duty Officer System. The Admiralty system is considered more lucrative than doffing, but you need a lot of (good) ships. Every ship you (once) collected creates a unique ‘card’ which can be used for assignments.

You can pick-up a very good admiralty science ship card for free – the USS Sally Ride permanently orbits Narendra (Beta Quadrant) and can be contacted by all factions.

Chat bar setup and annoying Log On/Off messaging

Regardless if you play solo or in a fleet, clear communications are key. See this linked post on how to properly set up your in-game chat-bar. There are some settings you need to disable to avoid your communications officer from going mental from information overload, and basically avoiding missing important information while avoiding system spam.

Any other questions you need answered ? Don’t hesitate and ask away in our forum !

44th Fleet Admiral

Note: continued WIP. Special thanks to Akula, Blackout, Damix, Gallifreycaptain, Paradoxical, Palcioz, RedshirtJohnson, Sukobi (and those I may have missed) for additional input.

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