Star Trek Online: Hirogen Hunter Heavy Escort Review

Posted by | February 15, 2014

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A few new ships came with the much-vaunted Season 8.5 of Star Trek Online and with it some interesting new aesthetics by introducing Hirogen-related ships. The Hirogen Hunter Heavy Escort is a new lockbox ship (STO: Season 8 Dev Blog #43) and the Hirogen Apex Battleship has been added to the lobi store. This review will focus on the smaller heavily-armed-and-armored Hunter.

Any player of STO looking for a nimble, but extremely tough, escort-class ship with a unique look the Hunter is a definite choice. For a Tactical player looking for sheer firepower it’s got a lot pulling for it and becomes a brilliant addition for any captain looking for that edge with an interesting new ship.

Acquisition

Star Trek Online is showing an excellent run with virtual property (in this case starships) they cost money, time, and sometimes digital blood-sweat-and-tears of the players. This new item has shown some flying colors in an interesting piece of graphics coupled with a massive fun-factor.

The Hunter is a lockbox ship which means that when someone is opening a Hirogen lockbox it can rarely unpack. For most who aren’t interested in burning master keys (bought for USD in the C-Store) can buy it from the exchange for what is currently 70 million energy credits.

Assuming a 1.5 million EC per Master Key (as sold on the AH as a historical average) and the price of a Master Key in the C-Store is around $1.25 that comes out to around $58 if someone were to boil down Perfect World Entertainment ZEN into energy credits to buy it at the current market price. It is possible to push this price down a little during ZEN sales, Master Key sales, or buying Master Keys in packs of 10, as well as when Master Keys sell for higher than average on the in-game auction house which can bring the price tag down nearer to $40 or lower with good timing and wise investment.

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Aesthetics

The Hunter doesn’t look like any other ship in the game. It’s a working man’s vessel; it looks like some kind of industrial transport with armor bolted on. The rust pattern skin only builds on this image. It also bears more than a passing resemblance to the title ship class from a certain sci-fi show named after a glowing insect. Anyone who has been searching for a good ship to roleplay a character from that show will find some serenity in the Hunter.

Players will notice that it’s also very small, even for an escort–on par with the Aquarius for size. It’s very much not a military ship with room for a huge crew. The Hunter is a working ship, built on an efficient design, with only what it needs to fly, hold atmosphere, and shoot.

The bridge is weird. It’s like an upscale apartment for the high-class serial killer. It’s got bones in acid vats, nets filled with skulls, and plush carpeting. There’s even granite tile in the foyer. The viewscreen is replaced by a picture window, accented with a tasteful weapon display.

Another weird thing about the bridge is the large amount of storage space. There are three rooms coming off the bridge, with working doors, and none of them have any function at all. They’re walk-in closets.

The bridge even has skylights to help open up the room and bring a certain cheery warmth to what is a literal charnel house.

As it stands, the Hirogen come off as modern urban professionals who enjoy a good organic coffee blend with their quiche, before going out to murder people.

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Handling

The handling review of a ship in Star Trek Online is broken up into three parts: maneuverability, armament, and armor. As with most lockbox and lobi ships, the Hunter has an interesting console layout and comes with a special console that permits it to make a hard U-turn. Combined with a little bit of inherent stealth (that gives a tiny bit of an edge) and a +15 weapons power, this little ship is a 100 lbs of firepower packed into a 10 lb casing.

Hull Strength: 36,000

Shield Modifier: 1

Crew: 200

Weapons: 4 Fore, 3 Aft

Device Slots: 2

Bridge Officer Stations: 1 Commander Tactical, 1 Lieutenant Commander Engineering, 1 Lieutenant Science, 1 Ensign Universal, 1 Lieutenant Universal

Console Modifications: 4 Tactical, 4 Engineering, 2 Science

Base Turn Rate: 17 degrees per second

Impulse Modifier: 0.19

Inertia: 60

+15 Weapon Power

Matter-Antimatter Warp Core

Can Equip Dual Cannons

Console – Universal – Enhanced Inertial Damper Field

Long Range Sensor Masking (Passive Stealth)

The Hunter is an agile ship, even by escort standards. It has a slightly higher turn rate on paper compared to the standard escort, which transforms into a very noticeable difference once skills and consoles get involved. The ship’s small size also affects its turn rate, since its nose isn’t very far from its axis. This gives the Hunter an excellent power slide, and makes it easy to keep its guns on target.

The Hunter does include a special console, the Enhanced Inertial Damper Field, that allows it make sudden U-turns on the spot and rack up defensive and offensive bonuses for the doing. This console works on charges instead of a typical cooldown, so it’s almost always available.

The Long Range Sensor Masking is an effect that makes the Hunter hard to see at range. In practice, NPC ships seem to spot it at around 9 km instead of 10. It’s seriously questionable how practical this is in PvP terms because of a proliferation of actually invisible (cloaked) ships.
By way of armor, unlike the usual escort, the Hunter is a brick. Most escorts have hull in the 30-32k range, while the Hunter offers 36k with a 1.0 shield modifier. That’s essentially cruiser toughness in an escort package. The Hunter does not go gently into that good night even under massive bombardment.

The Hunter also backs up that toughness with a deep Engineering bay, meaning it can run a full Aux2Bat build and the defensive Engineering BOFF abilities.

As for armament, the Hunter offers the standard escort weapons array of 4/3 fore and aft. With its turn rate and bonus to weapon power, it can run the usual escort cannon build with four dual heavy cannons up front if you’re an Engineer (three DHCs and a torpedo for everyone else), with three turrets in the back.

Support those cannons with Cannon Rapid Fire and Cannon Scatter Volley and you have a ship that is never not shooting. The Aux2Bat build will keep those cannon abilities up and running.

Since the Hunter is very good at stripping shields in one attack run, torpedoes are very useful, as such a well aimed Torpedo Spread does a number on any ships caught in an opening Scatter Volley.

The U-turn console is very effective at bringing the ship around for a second pass, and it buffs the Hunter at the same time. Proper escort tactics against a single ship do not involve passes, of course, you just sort of bounce off your victim and incinerate them while backing up in reverse. However, against packs that you want to fly through while hammering the Scatter Volley and Torp Spread buttons, the U-turn console is very handy.

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Build Advice

The Hunter supports a very strong BOFF layout. As mentioned, it is one of the very few escorts who can support a full Aux2Bat build without compromising its defenses. At the same time, it can also manage a full array of cannon abilities, plus Tactical Team, Omega 3, and a torpedo ability. It also supports Hazard Emitters and Transfer Shield Strength to round out its defenses. This makes the Hunter a very strong escort with both solid offense and defense.

For those who want to use the Hunter as a zippy cruiser, it can also run Beam Array Overload 3 and Fire At Will 2 with Omega 3.

The Hunter also sports a strong console layout. It has a full ten consoles, marking it as a top-tier ship. Its four Tactical consoles are enough to do the job, providing it with space to support its Engineering bay with four Engineering consoles. That means it can run those wonderful universals like the Plasmonic Leech while still packing on the armor plating for even more survivability. Two Science consoles are enough to improve the ship’s shields and take another universal.

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Conclusion

Star Trek Online is showing an excellent run with virtual property (in this case starships) they cost money, time, and sometimes digital blood-sweat-and-tears of the players. This new item has shown some flying colors in an interesting piece of graphics coupled with a massive fun-factor.

The Hunter is very much a cruiser in an escort’s clothing. It’s tough, it has a heavy Engineering focus, and it can run a solid Aux2Bat build. If you’re a cruiser player, this is a ship worth looking at. For the escort player, the Hunter has all the hallmarks matching a ship of that breed: it turns fast, has 4 guns up front, and that +15 weapons power makes it pack a very solid punch. In short, as an escort this little rust-covered package floats like a butterfly and hits like a freight train.

Any captain looking for a solid boat with a strong turn rate and massive firepower will find the Hunter Heavy Escort to their liking. The rust-bucket aesthetic and the interesting bridge make it a unique acquisition for any discerning captain looking to bulk up on badass.

Content co-authored by Kyt Dotson and Nelson Williams; cross-posted from GameOgre.com


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