'Star Trek: Bridge Crew' VR Gameplay Is Holodeck Enough, Skip The Tutorials

Engineering is just one of four roles players can take on in Bridge Crew.
Engineering is just one of four roles players can take on in Bridge Crew. Red Storm Entertainment

There’s an absurdity to running holodeck drills inside a VR headset, our time period’s closest approximation to same. So even if it might seem like a good idea to run some holodeck training simulations before jumping aboard the USS Aegis or USS Enterprise, the two ships available in Star Trek: Trek Bridge Crew, I’d urge you to skip it. Not only is it a profoundly boring introduction to an otherwise fascinating Star Trek simulation game, it’s utterly inadequate and unnecessary to prepare you for the actual human-to-human interaction that makes up the bulk of Bridge Crew ’s gameplay.

Almost two months ago, I spent a few hours playing Star Trek: Bridge Crew at a press event. Even with some substance abuse and a loud room full of goobers standing over my shoulder, the controls quickly became evident under the pressures of play. And Star Trek: Bridge Crew gameplay, more than any video game I’ve ever played, has nothing to do with the controls. My first impressions should give a sense of just how pointless a dry recitation of control schemes is to the lived experience of playing:

You’re not an independent agent, aligned with your teammates only against a common enemy. Instead you’re more like a single limb, your perspective narrowed to a portion of a greater whole… The nature of its interactions feel substantially new, perhaps even a peek beyond any its mechanics, to a future where virtual reality becomes a surprising and powerful medium of human empathy and interconnection… Several times while playing Bridge Crew, I found myself looking over to a fellow crewmember then looking away so as not to stare. Any experience with VR reveals the power (and current limitations) of embodiment in a player-character, but the visceral experience of other bodies came as a surprise. I behaved like a social ape rather than a gamer. Players would turn to look when someone else on the bridge was speaking nearby. Without consciously performing a game action, I pointed out a course bearing to another player on the astrogator screen between us.

Every factor that defines Bridge Crew is of a nature that the tutorial cannot deliver. Instead, playing Bridge Crew solo feels like an endless interaction with cumbersome menus. Playing the tutorial is like getting trapped in the Grubhub app — laying out your orders, inputting your address, endlessly scrolling — but never getting any food. It’s an experience superficially related to the one you’re meant to be having, but offering only tedium. In fact, since the tutorial is focused entirely around interactions with AI crewmembers for solo play, it’s just as likely to confuse as it is to prepare you.

Online games can be intimidating, but more than most there’s no real way to prepare yourself in advance for Bridge Crew. No amount of time spent in the holodeck can replace the experience of serving aboard an actual virtual reality starship. Plus, the tutorials are boring and suck. LLAP.

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