In the future, there is only exploration and peace. That is the promise as it is presented within Star Trek, one of the concepts that make the lore and universe so enticing. It pulls you in like a tractor beam and provides you with hope, yet for all the promises there was still conflict.
From the original series and Captain Kirk's smug smolder to Captain Picard's reserved consideration in The Next Generation, every incarnation of Trek features conflict. This is the premise behind Star Trek Armada, an early millennium real-time strategy game set in space.
The galaxy is in turmoil. Through the intricate plans laid down by the Federation's mortal enemy, the Borg, a time travelling invasion has been planned. A storyline that takes the player across multiple generations of Star Trek, primarily featuring the Next Generation crew (as they are the best).
Whilst the storyline was as complex as the average Game of Thrones novel, it was enjoyable, providing a nostalgic hit after the conclusion of the Next Generation television series. Hearing the voice of Captain Jean Luc Picard blaring out of your speakers as you take command of a legion of Enterprise-class starships, backed up by a handful of Defiant-class ships, was the game of childhood dreams.
Extending the love of real-time strategy into space and opening the door for a sequel, it really was an easy sell for me and many others. A click-and-go with a very short learning curve. A formula that could produce an amazing sequel.
Time for a Third Game?
There are mods out there, such as the Star Trek Armada III mod for Sins of a Solar Empire, but as far as this writer is aware, an official third game in the Armada series was never released, which is a shame. After twenty years, GOG.com re-released the original games in celebration of the anniversary of the second game being launched. A great tie-in and one that begs the question, why?
Why have the original publishers not considered a third game?
With the 're-boot' of Star Trek over the last decade and the subsequent launch of Paramount+, there are more eyes than ever on the franchise. Whilst we can all ponder the question of whether Captain Picard was better than Captain Sisko, we can all agree that as humans, we love a good tie-in/celebration.
Given that Paramount has produced Picard, a 'Next Generation 2.0' series as part of its Star Trek re-boot, there is no better time for a third game in the series.
Real-Time Strategy at the Core
The endearing appeal of real-time strategy games is easy to explain. All you need to consider is the lifetime of success that the Command and Conquer series has run through. Not to be relegated to the past, today's Total War franchise of RTS games has nearly as many customisable options as the average Sims game.
Real-time strategy as a genre is here to stay. Having been around for generations, the concept of a third Armada title would be easily recognisable for players. For example, the scope of choice could be expanded to bring it in line with the Total War franchise. From custom shield generators and fleet formations to torpedo and engine customisation choices. Beyond side missions and training, exercises to improve the experience of your crew could also be undertaken.
Alliances could be brokered and treaties agreed upon, ripped up, and rebuilt. It is a consideration that would easily resonate with fans as they would be signing a treaty with the Romulans only to wonder, when will they stab me in the back?
There is great scope for a reboot of the series. Create sub-missions that focus more on survival, FrostPunk style, where players could be dropped on a planet with limited supplies, with a mission to support the population. Or embrace the idea of a large-scale galactic map, in the style of Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds.
The Undiscovered Country
My memories of Star Trek Armada are fond ones but whilst I can look back with rose-tinted glasses, I have to acknowledge that it is a game that is more than two decades old. A classic that may not be able to blast through the time rift and mould itself in 2022. But with the arrival of Dune: Spice Wars, the new Star Wars strategy game from Respawn, and the ongoing appeal of StarCraft, I believe that a third game would be a success.
The game's publisher Activision is still in business and as far as I am aware still owns the rights to the game, so the question remains, would they consider creating a third game? I certainly hope so and can only guess that at this point in time they don't believe there is enough interest in the franchise to warrant development.
A Final Thought
Star Trek Armada is more than twenty years old, yet much like the remake of Dune and subsequent Spice Wars game, there is life left in the franchise. There is scope for the creation of a fully licensed third game, one that could focus on the last decade of Trek or once again take the plunge into The Next Generation's series of events. The universe of possibilities is endless.
My hope is that a third game will be offered in the near future as it would bring the game into the modern era. Provide improved graphics, new races, and most importantly new ships and relationships to negotiate. Expansion packs that take you into different generations of Trek could also be offered to expand the appeal and lifespan.
All of this is written from the perspective of a lifelong Star Trek fan and a huge convert to the original Armada games. They are classics for a reason and if I have one videogame hope for 2022 it is that Star Trek Armada is provided with the chance for a third game.
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