Multiple roles to learn
You get to feel what it's like to be a bridge crewmember
Missions are diverse and plentiful
Non-linear gameplay means missions can be completed in different ways
Multi-player adds depth and more fun to the game
VR experience is rather limited
Steep learning curve initially
Dropped connections during multi-player play
Star Trek fans have been waiting eagerly for this one, ever since it was announced back at 2016, but Star Trek Bridge Crew is finally here to give us a real dose of what it’s like to be on the bridge of a federation starship. Virtual reality has done wonders in redefining the gaming experience for many titles, so it’s undoubtedly going to do just the same here with the Star Trek universe. Fans are going to be absolutely enticed by this one, but can its reach extend to a broader audience?
In Star Trek Bridge Crew, players take the role of one of four positions on the bridge of the USS Aegis, taking place during the time of the original Star Trek series – the one with Captain Kirk and the crew. You’re taken through introductory missions that help get you acquainted with the controls and duties of each crew member, but after that, they’re taken into real missions consisting of rescue operations, combat missions, and even deep space exploration.
Even if you’re not a fan of the series, you’ll appreciate the kind of depth that the game delivers in really immersing you into the experience. And best of all, there’s so much variety with the missions that you never know what to expect and encounter with each one. Due to its non-linear style in accomplishing missions, we’re impressed that there are seriously a handful of ways to complete them – you don’t have to necessarily follow a step-by-step process.
Visually, we wouldn’t say we’re totally blow away by the game. While it manages to do nicely in replicating the bridge of a federation starship, there’s very little in the diversity department because we’re constantly seeing the same panels over and over again. Sure, you can quickly switch to a third person view of the ship at any time, which adds some varying perspective during combat, but the graphics can be summed up as being middle of the road.
We’ve seen better visuals in other VR titles, but for a Star Trek game, we really can’t complain a whole lot since it admirally delivers a convincing picture of what it looks like to be in the Star Trek universe.
What makes Bridge Crew so unique in comparison to the other Star Trek games before it, is that delivers an almost simulation/role playing style that can only be truly achieved with the aid of virtual reality. There are a total of four roles you can assume on the bridge, they include the captain, helm, tactical, and engineer – all of which are responsible for different duties. This, naturally, is what makes the game both complex and diverse all at the same time.
This is a great thing for die hard Trekkie fans, just because it gives them the feeling of actually being on the bridge. Teamwork is crucial to accomplishing missions, but when you’re playing through the single player campaign, we’re in control of the captain most of the time. You’d think that being captain is a fun job, but in actuality, it can become boring over time – mainly because you’re predisposed to just really issuing orders to crew members.
In a way, you could argue that Bridge Crew is a simulation of sorts, especially when there are procedures in place that you need to adhere by – just like in the real Star Trek universe. And this is what makes this game unique in the Star Trek franchise, since each role has its purpose, and you have to form a cohesive trust in carrying out missions. For example, you can’t just instantly warp with the push of a button, but rather, the helm has to first map a course, then the engineer needs to charge the warp coils, and when the helm finally has the starship positioned correctly, the ship can finally warp!
Like we said, the game follows very much to a simulator than anything else. Diehard fans will absolutely adore this kind of gameplay, but if you’re more an action-oriented player, you’ll find this game being more slow paced than to your liking. Speaking of action, we wish there was a bit more depth to the combat system in Bridge Crew. For the most part, taking down enemy vessels requires photo torpedos and phasers to charge – and then unleashed. But there’s really no kind of strategy besides continuing to fire away and manage the ship’s resources, seeing that aiming is on automatic.
The single player campaign will have you gaining experience with all the bridge roles, however, the dynamics really change when you jump into multi-player mode. You get to join three other friends to complete a mission. Now, the banter between players can be comedic at times, given when you’re thrown into a mission with totally random strangers you might never meet in real life. Then again, once you get down and dirty with the missions, it’s nice to see that teamwork is yet again crucial in carrying out these missions successfully.
So far in our experience, there have been some dropped connections during multi-player gameplay. We’ve had several drops during our time playing through the game, but we suppose that servers are working extra hard to keep up with the demand. What makes Bridge Crew especially unique amongst the VR space, is that you can multi-play with others using different systems. We’ve been checking out Bridge Crew with the Oculus Rift and Touch Controllers, but when it comes to multi-play, you can play with others using an HTC Vive or PlayStation VR.
Despite the high level of realism presented here with Star Trek Bridge Crew, the VR experience is what we regard to be more on the isolated side. Since the first person view has our player in a seated position in the game, it’s best to play it while seated as well. Interaction with the holographic panels in front of us is reserved to tapping on buttons, pulling levers, and much more. In our seated position, we can see other officers that are nearby to us, but the VR experience is isolating because we can only interact within arms length to what’s around us.
At no time did we find ourselves having to stand up to move around to another area, which is a real shame because it really limits the VR experience. And you know what? You can’t stand up or even explore other areas of the ship. Ultimately, this is the one area where Bridge Crew can benefit in by offering more freedom with moving around.
Regardless of the lack of VR depth in the game, we’re happy to report that the visuals, frame rates, and the overall responsiveness of the VR tracking makes for long term gameplay without any sickness. We’ve managed to play consecutively for over an hour without any issues.
Priced at $49.99, Star Trek Bridge Crew is an inventive experience that gives players a real dose of what it’s like to be a bridge crewmember. There’s a steep learning curve initially because you need to get acquainted with the duties of each role before being able to cohesively work as a team to complete missions. This isn’t a game we’d recommend for someone who prefers more of that arcade-action pacing, since this game requires strategy and proactive thinking to complete missions.
Considering its non-linear gameplay, it’s really fun knowing that missions don’t have just one single way of completing successfully. Adding to that, the missions have decent diversity in the way that you’re just not doing the same thing over and over again. And seeing that you can take the role of a different crew member, with each one having their own attributes and skills, it adds more depth to each mission if you want to replay them.
It boldly goes to where no other Star Trek game as gone before, but there’s still room for improvement before we can firmly say it’s the perfect Star Trek game. For $50, it’s a solid buy if you’re a longtime fan of the series.