Many Foundry missions released up to this point include the Borg Collective as the main antagonist. Now this is no bad thing, the Borg are a personal favourite of many a Star Trek fan (including this one). However, I feel that in some cases people sometimes miss the point and/or the motivation that drives them. In my opinion the way Cryptic has used the Borg doesn’t really help. Many (most?) official Borg missions quickly descend into what are affectionately called ‘zerg rushes’, in other words fighting wave after wave of enemies. Now think back to the Star Trek episodes with the Borg. How many drones did Picard or Janeway’s crew kill in ground combat? Very very few indeed.
The Borg board your ship? You do whatever the hell you can to beam them off, while sealing up critical areas. You have to go onto a Borg cube? Activate some kind of jamming signal and hope they don’t notice you (props to Cryptic for using this tactic in ‘Assimilated’). Go in all phasers blasting and you are likely to get assimilated pretty damn quick. I’m not a canon fascist, and I’m not knocking Cryptic’s missions, 99% of which I enjoy immensely, of course the Borg will have changed tactics in the 40 or so years between VOY and STO, of course the Federation/KDF will have developed more powerful and effective weapons. However, I’ve played quite a few missions where the use of Borg didn’t quite gel. I realize why the high-level missions are designed the way they are, it’s to provide challenging endgame content, but the Foundry gives us the freedom to put the story first.
My hope is that people will be able to use the Foundry to create experiences inspired by those we saw in the series. Think of Janeway’s mission to steal a transwarp coil from a Cube. Minutely detailed planning and a second-perfect execution. When the Foundry gets the features to make it work, a mission like that is something I’d definitely want to play. Or how about this: the Borg have attacked and disabled a Federation ship carrying, say, a prototype neural disruptor weapon capable of severing drones from the Collective en masse (something they’d definitely want). The ship’s crew have secured the device and themselves in Main Engineering but they can’t hold out forever. Your away team beams onto the ship, and has to work out a way to secure the device and save the crew. You can’t fight the Borg, but maybe you can beam them out of the Bridge. So you have to get to the Transporter Control room without getting assimilated, subdue maybe a few drones, and give the Borg a taste of vacuum. Then you go to the Bridge yourself and work from there, with this perhaps culminating in a short battle against the drones in Engineering while you wait for your ship to lock on to your pattern enhancers and beam you out. The combat is still there to make the mission exciting but there’s more to it than a ‘zerg’. Think of how the Season 2 missions were designed: the Devidians were pretty plentiful toward the end, but there was enough puzzling and story to keep things interesting. Obviously something like that may be hard to do with the beta version of the Foundry, but as it improves things like this should get easier to do.