We all have heard the term – meta, usually with “you should follow the meta when you make your ship build.” But, honestly, what does it mean?
First, I have played MMO games for my entire adult life, and in each and everyone of them, the term meta has meant both the same thing and something entirely different. Essentially, the meta build is the absolute best build you can have for one particular character, of one particular class doing one particular job. For example, a particular race playing a tank in a certain MMO will need to wear X type of gear with Y types of enchantments and have Z skills on his action bar, otherwise, he isn’t as good as players who have all of those things, because all of those things in particular are the meta – basically what the general consensus among your gaming peers as to what is the best stuff to use. Take a game like Destiny – if you where in year one and didn’t have Gjallarhorn and Ice Breaker, the “elite” players wouldn’t want to raid with you. Although I do not prescribe to this sort of game play myself, I can perfectly understand why “elite” players only want to play with those who are also “elite” – thought trust me, I saw plenty of people in Destiny and true MMO’s who had the gear who couldn’t play worth a lick. But, I digress…
Star Trek Online is a MMO, and it has a meta – in fact, unlike most MMO’s the meta is pretty broad. It isn’t really based on class, or even job, but it centers around how you want to play. The MMO “holy trinity” exists, but not in the same way a lot of people think about it. DPS is king – whether it is straight up beam or cannon damage, or a science build, damage output, sustain of that output, and time on target rules this game in advanced and elite PvE circles. Support is not necessary if you are destroying everything immediately – there are videos from PC, for example, of Hive Onslaught Elite being defeated in 65 seconds – which is pretty insane. Here in the Stargaryen Federation on PS4, we have beat it in just over 7 minutes – and we did need support:
Our support consisted of one heal/shield build (with good DPS) and all of us running some sort of extra shield as well. No true tank – too much aggro here for this amount of time means dying over and over. However, some Elite queues, such as Viscous Cycle, can benefit from a tanky character, or at least one who can take the aggro during the land troops phases, but again, if massive DPs is there, it’s not really needed. So, for meta talks, I’m going to through away the support idea, and talk about meta simply in terms of DPS.
We essentially have 4 types of DPS builds – Beams, Cannons, Science and Torpedoes – The first three being the most common, while torpedoes being less common, and a little more specialized.
Beams and Cannons – very similar in build types
- Damage Types: Doesn’t really matter, but must all be the same for full effectiveness. Antiproton and Disruptor builds are most common on PC builds you find online.
- Beam/Cannon Types: Beam arrays on cruisers, dreads, etc. Dual Beams / Cannons on escorts. Essentially, if you turn rate and inertia fit the bill, you can run DBBs or cannons. Typically turn rate needs to be 15 or higher.
- Consoles: Critical Chance, Critical Severity and Damage type bonus are the holy trinity of these builds. Spire Locators being the eventual essential piece of the puzzle to get you where you want to be. Next comes power management. The KDF side can already run Plasmonic Leech, while on the Fed side, running a Conductive RCS with EPS is our best option. For science, Plasma Embassy consoles, with DrainX for when we get Leech. Tactical, damage specific boosters until Locators are available.
- Bioneural Infusion Circuits and the Assimilated Module (with Kinetic Cutting Beam to help with weapon power) are nearly essential to any beam or cannon high DPS build
- Damage specific universal consoles, such as the Polymorphic Probe Array (AP) are good place holders until other universal consoles, and Leech on the Fed side, get released.
- Once Locator consoles are available from Spire, these with the damage specific boosts are most desired consoles in game.
- Shields, Engines and Such: Iconian is the best DPS set in game, minimum 3 piece, but 4 piece is most effective, especially when more people in the team have it.
- Sol Defense is the other top set, giving you great survivability (i know, not a word). It also gives you good team support with the Nanite ability, plus can be easily farmed from the mission “Midnight,” the last one in the Iconian War story arc
- Other sets provide boosts to certain damage types and are acceptable, Jem’Hadar for example boosting polaron damage. Many of these sets can be easily got by simple replaying missions as well.
- Weapons and Mods:
- Strictly speaking, CrtD, Dmg and Pen are your top three mods, and in the end, the only ones you need to worry bout keeping – any combination of those three, and more specifically, either CrtD or Dmg with Pen, is very good. Depending on your actual crit numbers, Dmg with Pen may be better then CrtD with Pen, but you will have to do your own research and testing there.
- Pretty simple, Intel (main) and strategist (secondary) are considered, on console, the two meta specializations. Pilot and Command can be made to work, but the general consensus on the interwebs is that they are both ultimately a DPS loss. I’m not going to write it all out with numbers and abilities – that would take more all morning :), but luckily, Google is our friend and can help show you the way. Once Temporal comes out, the meta changes to Temporal (main) and Strategist (secondary)
- Bridge Officers and Skills:
- This is where it changes a bit depending on whether or not you are running beams or cannons. Fire at Will is supreme for beams. There is a debate that rages between Scatter Volley and Rapid Fire – and I’m not a cannon guy, but most builds I have seen prefer Scatter Volley over Rapid Fire. If possible, Attack Pattern Omega as well, but FAW3 is usually considered better in the end if you have to choose between them.
- Intel Seating – until we get Temporal Boffs, Intel seating, if available, is highly desired, if for nothing else, Override Subsystem Safeties, which goes straight to power management.
- Engineering – all depends on whether you are running Drake or Aux2Bat – which is determined by your seating and active Space Duty Officers. Here is a link to an article explaining them both.
- Science – Again, depends on seating, but Hazard Emitters is key here for a self heal and getting DoTs off during queues – especially queues such as Hive Disconnected.
Science – The Future of Meta
Until we get Temporal for specializations, science falls slightly behind a fully decked out beam or cannon DPS machine, but with the coming of Temporal in AoY – whenever we get it, its boosts to exotic damage are still changing the meta of damage output on PC. I’m not going to do bullet points, but rather point out some basics.
- Okay… i lied – most science vessels have decent turn rate – so, dual beam banks are typically fine and desired, unless…
- Sets – Chronometric Calculations and Quantum Phase Catalysts are two easily obtainable and really good sets for science builds. If you are going strictly for science damage, especially once we get Temporal, use them both. If not, and you want beam damage, I’d go with Chronometric and use polaron as your damage type. You can also totally skip these and use something like Romulan Plasma with Plasma Embassy consoles with EPG or CtrlX and essentially make a hybrid sceince build – I have done all three, and without them fully upgraded or “perfected,” completed lanes in undine Assault Advanced with not much of a problem.
- Mods – I don’t know much about drain (DrainX) builds, so I’ll leave that to someone else, or again, Google. However, Control (CtrlX) / Exotic Particle Generator (EPG) builds rock. As many EPG mods with CtrlX mods attached is nice. Fleet Research Lab contains some nice science consoles, and secondary deflectors that contain these mods together.
- Abilities – Again, basing it off a EPG/CtrlX build, Gravity Well 3 is a must
For everything else, you can refer to the Beams/Cannons section to give you a good overview. Everything on console now for science builds is truly experimental until we get the Temporal Specialization.
Torpedo – The Bastard Stepchild of DPS
Seriously, no bullets here, just some links. I’m not a torp guy, at all…. though I am theory crafting a torpedo build at the moment, I am honestly dreading putting it into practice. Oden Knight on PC is the torpedo DPS king.
End Notes –
Meta in Star Trek Online can mean many things, but in truth, simple basics are involved to making a good and viable build no matter how you want to play – whether is be antiproton beams, or polaron cannons, the basics remain the same. I didn’t talk about actual numbers you want to reach in this post – that will be later, in a much shorter one, I just wanted to lay out the basis of what meta truly means in STO, especially on console.