No introduction needed here, right? Star Trek: Bridge Crew has been teased and flaunted for over a year now, and the dividing line between people who can’t wait to work with friends to run the USS Aegis crew and people who would rather already exist. And with good reason, because this game is one thing — a Star Trek multiplayer simulation where you either communicate well and work together, or have your warp core turn your body into stardust when it explodes.
If this is not your idea of a good time, stop reading right now. Other? Get dressed, we have a lot to talk about.
About this review
For the past 72 hours, I’ve been playing the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive versions of Star Trek: Bridge Crew provided by Ubisoft. At the time of this writing, I have logged 30 hours of gameplay for single player, two player, three player, and a full four player in USS Aegis and USS Enterprise.
Yes, even lens flare is here
Star Trek: Bridge Crew Basics
Welcome aboard the USS Aegis, a Federation starship in the alternate Star Trek universe led by JJ Abrams, commonly referred to as NuTrek or the Kelvin timeline. Aegis is in many ways similar to Enterpriseand because this is NuTrek, everything is shiny and holographic and shiny. Just like that, so brilliant. Most of the panels you interact with are touchpads, but you interact with them by pressing triggers on controllers, so they get a little lost in translation. Just don’t accidentally activate Red Alert and you’ll be fine.
Your avatar in Bridge Crew is human by default, but if you like you can go into the little Creator Avatar in the game and customize it the way you want. This Avatar Creator is a little weird, it gives you basic toggle switches for gender, hair color, and race (you can only choose between human and Vulcan), but facial features are an intricate four-slider system where each slider affects three other sliders in which in some way. It will take a long time before you figure out exactly what happens when you customize each slider, but once you have a face that you like, you can choose the work that you like. This part is less confusing.
As captain, you receive information and mission briefings to pass on to the rest of the team. It is also very important that you make important information visible to the rest of the team on the view screen and guide your team when facing multiple objectives in a mission.
The helmet, as you might imagine, is driving the boat. You are responsible for keeping the bow of the ship pointed at the enemy during combat so that phasers can be fired, and you control navigation both within the system and during warp travel. In some situations, you may also be responsible for operating a transporter and for invading an enemy system in combat.
Tactical officers make all weapons work. You are responsible for choosing the right time to use your weapons and shields, as well as scanning your environment and making split-second aiming decisions to attack or save. In some situations, you may also be responsible for operating a transporter and for invading an enemy system in combat.
While solo gameplay in Star Trek: Bridge Crew is possible, it’s incredibly difficult and often very frustrating.
Engineering decides how effective a helmet and tactics are by controlling how much power is available to engines, weapons, and shields. You are also responsible for repairing systems and deciding which repair teams to send where. In some situations, you may also be responsible for operating a transporter and for invading an enemy system in combat.
Assuming you have three more people to play with, either by randomly finding friends in the game, or by inviting your three closest Ubisoft Club (or PlayStation Network) friends to a private room, you each choose a station and stay there on time mission. Everyone can hear each other, everyone can see the hand and head movements of other crew members, and everyone is vital to the success of every mission.
If you choose to play alone or with less than 3 other people, the remaining positions are replaced by AI players. These AI players can take orders from the captain through a set of basic commands unique to each station, or you can temporarily take control of that station if you want something more precise. The only person who can take over any station in this situation is the captain. If you choose one of the other three positions, you can take all but the captain’s chair. In each mission, someone must take the position of captain, otherwise the mission will not start.
While solo gameplay in Star Trek: Bridge Crew is possible, it’s incredibly difficult and often very frustrating. This game is about coordinated efforts across all four positions, and the AI teams you have access to are simply not enough for every situation. You can go through the first few missions on your own if you’re not interested in completing every goal, but you really want at least one other person to coordinate to really enjoy this game.
Not quite the same experience
Star Trek: Bridge Crew PSVR — Rift — Vive
Ubisoft has done an amazing job of releasing VR games on all three of these platforms that are actually well cross-platform, and Star Trek: Bridge Crew is no exception. Looking across the bridge, there’s no way to know you’re playing with people on other systems, and communication with every one of them from my testing has been excellent.
Where to buy Star Trek: Bridge Crew
- PlayStation VR
- HTC Vive
- Oculus Rift
However, there are a few important differences between all of these systems when playing. For starters, these games have very different install sizes. The PlayStation VR version of this game is half the size of the Rift and Vive, with noticeable visual differences in quality. Unlike other space games on PlayStation VR like Eve: Valkyrie, jagged lines on Bridge hardware and a generally less crisp viewing screen are always evident. Even with a PlayStation 4 Pro game, it’s clear which headset is in third place.
Tracking with the PlayStation Move controllers is also sometimes challenging. Star Trek: Bridge Crew requires precision when moving between controls in combat, and unless conditions for the PlayStation’s camera are ideal, you won’t get the experience. Motion controllers also have the least convenient trigger, so holding it down for long periods of time quickly becomes uncomfortable. After a few hours, I found myself preferring the regular Dual Shock 4 controller over motion controllers, especially when working at the helm.
When comparing the experience of Rift and Vive, even in a game where they sit next to each other like this, the room-scale experience provided by Vive shines. I found myself adjusting the position of the Rift Constellation’s cameras a few times before I was truly satisfied with the experience. The potential for loss tracking because I was out of the camera’s field of view due to the edge of a table or because I was leaning too far forward was an issue I don’t usually run into in Rift games because I usually stand in the middle of my room. Once I finally had everything properly calibrated, there were no issues, but compared to the relative ease with which I jumped into the Vive, it became unnecessary.
I want more and I’m not done yet
Star Trek: Bridge Crew Gameplay
I’m a big nerd with Star Trek Nerd, captial N and all, so I walked into this game ready to love it. And I do, although not really, because it’s a Star Trek game. In fact, in fact, it’s a little hard for me to love, because that this is a Star Trek game, now that I’ve played it after making myself up for so long.
What really makes this game special is the dynamics of communication and collaboration. Do you really need to work co by their team members. It’s not about fighting the enemy in separate ships or giving each one a different weapon to hold the position, you’re all managing complex parts of the same big thing and if everyone completes the task assigned to them and discusses how to approach the next call while it’s happening, this game is a blast. Absolutely unique, challenging, fun explosion.
as a captain, you must share information with your team and help coordinate strategy. Engineers must choose the right time to apply full power to the weapon, or choose the right way to redirect the energy to get that little advantage when the systems are damaged. Helm must act quickly and decisively to launch or evade or set a course for the next target. Tactics must give everyone as much information as possible quickly and make the best decisions for attack and defense. Each of these positions progresses rather slowly, with minimal satisfaction for your actions. It’s the combined effort, the balanced solution that you all achieve together, that makes the game worth playing.
This balance is wonderfully tested in every mission of the campaign. Some lean towards more aggressive actions, others towards the ability to keep your ship’s signature low and navigate anomalies in space. The campaign requires a lot of cooperation, and you just feel good when you complete the mission. This is not a hunt for a constant cycle of adrenaline, but a constant collective push towards the next collective goal.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew is also breathtakingly beautiful. I can’t count how many times the entire crew stopped to look out of a special view camera mounted on top of the ship, just to enjoy the vibrant colors around us. Even with a little less detail on the outside compared to Elite: Dangerous, just wandering around to take a look at the universe is a lot of fun.