Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise, including minor spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3.
The Star Trek franchise has not been particularly well-served in the video game realm, especially in recent years. With the exception of Star Trek Online, which continues to receive updates, there hasn’t been a major release since 2017’s Bridge Crew. Both Online and Bridge Crew are somewhat niche titles, too, with the former being a massively multiplayer online game and the latter being a title designed with virtual reality in mind.
There have been a couple of new smaller games released this year, including free browser game Star Trek: Kobayashi Maru and Star Trek Legends for Apple Arcade, but considering the renewed popularity the franchise is currently enjoying, it feels as though there’s potential for ViacomCBS to do more with Star Trek as a video game franchise.
Star Trek Online was originally launched in 2010, and while the game is still being supported at time of writing, surely its lifespan is limited and it will eventually come to an end. The only other significant release really in the last decade has been the awful 2013 Star Trek action/adventure title, which was so badly-received that director JJ Abrams criticised it, fearing it actually harmed Star Trek Into Darkness when it was released that same year.
In this article I’m going to suggest five potential Star Trek video game ideas, and we’re going to consider different ways that the franchise could make a new attempt to score a hit in the gaming realm – something that hasn’t happened in a long time! Two of the biggest and most successful Star Trek video games that I can recall were 2000’s Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary last year, and the Star Trek: Armada duology of real-time strategy titles which were also released around the turn of the millennium.
As always, caveats apply! I’m not saying that these games will ever be made, and I don’t have any “insider information!” This is just a wishlist from a fan. Nothing more.
Number 1: Star Trek: First Contact
I’ve already proposed a First Contact tie-in once before, but this time I want to hone in on one particular aspect of my suggestion from a few months ago. In short, First Contact – which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – would make for an excellent first-person shooter title with horror elements. Think Star Trek’s answer to Doom Eternal and you’re in the right sort of area!
Players would take on the role of a security officer aboard the Enterprise-E during the mission to Earth, and this character could be customisable which would be a nice touch. After arriving in the past, the player character would be one of the security officers tasked with holding the line and retaking the lower decks of the ship from the Borg as they attempt to assimilate the Enterprise-E and prevent first contact from taking place.
Though the main cast of the film would be present at points, the game wouldn’t necessarily have to follow the entire story directly. This would be a looser adaptation, with a focus on the battle for the lower decks of the Enterprise-E while Picard, Riker, and co. are busy with the main plot of the film. This would allow for maximum storytelling leeway, and I think a fun and engaging story could be written depicting the fight between Starfleet survivors and the Borg, which was something we saw parts of in the film but not the entire thing.
The first mission might take place during the Battle of Sector 001, and the player character could be present for significant moments like the holodeck scene with Picard and Lily, or even the spacewalk to prevent the Borg using the main deflector. In addition, the narrow hallways of the Enterprise-E, as well as jeffries tubes, catwalks, and even areas of the ship we haven’t seen like nacelle tubes would all make for dangerous and scary enclosed spaces to battle the Borg!
Number 2: Star Trek: Discovery
As Discovery approaches its fourth season later this year, it’s not unfair to say the series has well and truly established itself in the franchise! As the series which brought Star Trek back to television after a twelve-year break, Discovery has been flying the flag for Star Trek for almost four years now. Some Discovery characters have been included in Star Trek Online, but it would be wonderful to see the series get its own video game adaptation.
Though there are many different ways a Discovery game could go, I feel like a third-person action/adventure title would be a great fit. Think Star Trek meets Uncharted or Jedi: Fallen Order and you’re on the right track! A game with a strong focus on story and with mysteries and puzzles to solve along the way would suit this game perfectly, and while it could be connected to either the Control story or the Burn, perhaps an altogether new and original storyline would work even better.
Players would, of course, take on the role of Michael Burnham. However, at points in the game it would be possible to assemble away teams, picking up at least two other characters to join Burnham on her mission. Games like the Mass Effect series worked well with three-person squads, and adapting it to work here would be great.
The game could be set in either of Discovery’s time periods, but the 32nd Century naturally allows for the most storytelling options, as there’s nothing in canon to constrain it. The game could bring back familiar Star Trek races that haven’t been seen since past iterations of the franchise, and all of this could be done without treading on the toes of anything the series wants to do on television. Tying a game into an ongoing series makes a lot of sense, and while it isn’t something we see every television show try to do any more, it would still be a fun idea.
Number 3: Star Trek: Armada III
I mentioned the Star Trek: Armada games earlier, and they were great fun to play around the turn of the millennium. The real-time strategy titles – of which there were two – played similarly to games like Age of Empires, and there were campaigns to get stuck into as well as random matches. Star Trek: Armada II in particular became a LAN party favourite for a couple of friends and I, and we played it regularly!
In addition to starships that could fight, part of Armada II involved base-building and resource collecting, with different kinds of ships and space stations required to research, build, and maintain the fighting ships. There were different factions to choose from as well, which is a must for this kind of title.
Armada III could pick up where the earlier games left off in the early 2000s, with a setting around the 2370s-80s. Or it could be set in the 23rd Century to connect with Strange New Worlds, with factions like the Klingons, Tholians, and Gorn. Alternatively, a 32nd Century setting would be an option, with the rump Federation and factions like the Emerald Chain and Ni’Var.
Regardless, I’d keep the real-time strategy gameplay more or less unchanged, with options for deathmatches and a single-player campaign. There are plenty of real-time strategy titles at the moment, with the genre going strong. There’s no reason why a new Armada title couldn’t be one of them!
Number 4: The Dominion War
If Armada III would be a real-time strategy game, I imagine that the Dominion War could be adapted to make a wonderful grand strategy title. If you can imagine Star Trek mixed with the likes of the Total War series, you’re on the right page.
The Dominion War is perfect for this kind of grand strategy game, and players would have the choice of siding with either the Dominion and Cardassians or the Federation Alliance. The game would depict the entire war from beginning to end, starting with the loss of DS9 and concluding with the Battle of Cardassia… or the Dominion conquest of Earth!
Both factions would change as the game wore on, with the Romulans joining the Federation alliance midway, and the Breen throwing in with the Dominion about two-thirds of the way into the campaign. Perhaps, though, these events would not be set in stone, and failing to achieve certain objectives or keep key characters alive would mean the new allies don’t join.
The game would be similar to Total War titles in that there’d be an overall campaign map, but players would also be able to dive in and participate in individual battles. Pre-made battles or randomly created ones could be available to play in multiplayer as well, though the main campaign would be a single-player experience.
Number 5: An open world title
Perhaps the expression “open galaxy” would be more appropriate! It would actually be tricky to create a true open world in a Star Trek game, unless the action was to take place entirely on a single planet. But in the vein of games like the Mass Effect series or Knights of the Old Republic, perhaps a role-playing/adventure game could be created with multiple planets to visit.
Players would have their own starship or runabout to command, along with a variety of potential recruits to join their crew, giving this game a “Mass Effect meets Star Trek” kind of feel. In addition to a main quest, which would see players tasked with defeating some kind of nefarious villain, there would be many smaller missions and side-quests allowing for plenty of opportunities for Star Trek fun.
I imagine the player character would be a Starfleet officer, given a “covert ops” assignment and sent on their way with minimal interference from Starfleet command, which would account for the large degree of player choice on offer. Though there would be a main story to follow, a big part of the fun of open world titles is exploring the map, discovering fun locations and side-missions, and getting lost in the world.
Star Trek has what I consider to be the best world-building of any franchise, so crafting a game that took advantage of the deep lore that the Star Trek galaxy offers should be something achievable. Giving players a practically blank slate to create a character and take them on their own Star Trek adventure sounds amazing, and I bet a game like this would win the franchise new fans.
So that’s it. Five ideas for future Star Trek video games.
Star Trek video games, unlike comparable titles in the Star Wars franchise, have never really hit the mainstream in a big way. There have been some successes: Voyager – Elite Force had a moment in the year 2000 where it was popular with PC gamers, for example. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that most Star Trek games have really only appealed to hardcore Trekkies. Finding a way to reach out beyond that is key to the success of any future title.
That doesn’t mean ViacomCBS should jump on some of the gaming industry’s fads or worst trends, but I think it does mean that, if they’re going to go to the expense of developing a video game, it should be one that has more than just niche appeal. I’ve mostly considered single-player games, because those are my personal favourites in most cases, but as Star Trek Online has shown, there is room for multiplayer experiences as well.
Star Trek is currently enjoying a renaissance, and if this continues it’s not implausible to think that future Trekkies might look back on the 2020s as a “golden age” of Star Trek in the same way fans of my generation look back on the ’90s! Video games aren’t essential to Star Trek’s success going forward, but the medium continues to grow and there’s a huge degree of crossover between Trekkies and gamers, so taking advantage of that and producing a high-quality, engaging game that’s fun and easy for new fans to get stuck into seems like a no-brainer to me. I’d dearly love to see a new Star Trek game some time soon – and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!
All video games mentioned above are the copyright of their respective studio, developer, publisher, etc. The Star Trek franchise – including all titles mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.