People (mostly on the official STO forums) love to argue that X ships aren't desirable for STFs and that Escorts are favoured.
And yes, I'll admit that nowadays I tend to prefer having other Escorts around than Cruisers/Science Vessels.
But is it due to inherent ship imbalance? No.
STFs oriented towards DPS alone? No.
No, the reason is: everyone tries to be a DD.
If everyone tries to be a DD, inevitably the ships slanted towards DDing (Escorts/Raptors) will be favoured over the ships built around tanking (Cruisers/Battle Cruisers) or healing/CCing (Science Vessels/Varanus); it's mostly a playerbase issue not a game issue.
In most MMOs (and how it was intended to work in STO), tanks grab attention away from healers and DDs, healers keep tanks alive and DDs try to maximise their damage-over-time and stay out of AoEs; in STO STFs many tanks let DDs have the Borg's undivided attention and healers sit on their heals, never really needing them since they rarely attract any attention... and everyone accepts that as a normal thing.
When I started doing STFs, I was glad to see Cruisers and Science Vessels, but nowadays I'd really rather not.
What's the point if I'm going to:
- top the parse (DD);
- have that Tactical Cube/Gateway/Donatra's attention from 100% to 0%, respawn time excluded (tank);
- have to rely on my own heals alone (heal).
When I fly a Cruiser (Bortas), I'm not content with firing at the target; I actually consider it a responsibility of mine not to let my teammates die.
I don't bemoan "that noob that always dies" because quite frankly, unless he's halfway across the map, i have some responsibility in his death.
When I fly a Science Vessel... well, actually, I don't. I'd like to try it, but I don't have the character slots.
Now, there are gameplay reasons behind that sad state of affairs, it's not entirely
a playerbase issue:
1. There are very few tanking tools availlable.
Points in Threat Control help (and when I fly my Bortas, the Escorts don't get fired at too often), Fire at Will also helps focus a crowd on yourself, but that's still scarce tools to tank.
If it was up to me:
- ships would have a passive threat generation modifier based on their "tankiness":
Cruisers/Battle Cruisers: +25% threat
Carriers/Flight-Deck Cruisers: +15% threat
Science Vessels/Fleet Support Vessels: +10% threat
Escorts/Raptors/Destroyers: -10% threat
Raiders: -15% threat
Exact numbers obviously subject to change.
This encourages tanking AND mixing up: your team only benefits from this if there are different ship types in the group, obviously.
- I'd add some BOFF powers that fulfil new functions, like:
Level I, LT: diverts damage from a friendly ship to yourself for the next 15s and reduces it by 10%*.
Level II, LTC: diverts damage from a friendly ship to yourself for the next 20s and reduces it by 15%*.
Level III, C: diverts damage from a friendly ship to yourself for the next 30s and reduces it by 25%*.
*on top of your other resistances.
Shares cooldown with: nothing.
Modified by: Shield power level (+.05% damage reduction per point over 25).
It's a big staple of MMO tanking, the ability to shield an ally from damage.
For the canon-obsessed: think of the Enterprise-E shielding the Defiant towards the beginning of First Contact. Now you can reproduce that scene!
Potential issue: though this is meant for PVE, it could throw PvP balance off and I can't find a good name. I'm bad at naming things. "Cover" was another name I considered, but it's awfully generic.
2. PvE and PvP aren't separated.
Crowd Control and other debuff abilities for instance can't be balanced for both, not if they do the same thing: instantly and completely disabling a Tactical Cube for 10 seconds is useful, but not necessarily OP whereas instantly and completely disabling a BoP for 10s in PvP is OP; instantly immobilising 5 Spheres is nice but not OP whereas instantly immobilising the whole other PvP team is OP.
Those abilities need to have different magnitudes (or even completely different effects) in PvP and PvE; otherwise Science Vessels will always either be underpowered in PvE or overpowered in PvP, alternating between those 2 statuses with each nerf/buff cycle.
3. Gear is a bit of a mess.
A Science Vessel, a Cruiser and an Escort shouldn't strive for the same gear and to an extent, they don't... to a very limited extent.
The core idea was good:
Deflectors: Graviton Deflectors give boosts to Science abilities (meant for SVs), Neutrino Deflectors grant resistance to status effects (great for tanks - though I'd replace Sensors with Threat Control) and Positron Deflectors help make glass cannons slightly less glassy (other than Omega, the slot doesn't give boosts to DDing); Tachyons are a bit more all over the place.
Engines: Hyper-Impulse engines were meant for manoeuvrable, high Engine setting Escorts; Combat-Impulse to make Cruisers slightly less clumsy and Impulse a middleground for SVs.
Execution wasn't so good: Hyper-Impulse are basically best for everyone, the cut-off point is too low (Hyper-Impulse are faster than other engines at ~49+ Engine Power).
Shields: Regenerative Shields were probably meant for the long-lasting Cruisers, as they'll get more mileage out of the high regen, Covariants for the frail Escorts who can't get much benefit from the regen and Resilients for the "weak Hull, strong Shields" Science Vessels who'd welcome taking less Hull damage.
But endgame sets are all over the place! MACO has a mostly Positron (despite the name) Deflector, Impulse Engines and Resilient Shields; Omega a mostly Neutrino (despite the name) Deflector, Hyper-Impulse Engines and Regenerative Shields; KHG a mostly Tachyon (despite the name) Deflector, Impulse Engines and Covariant Shields... and since Set effects are so strong, mix-and-matching is kept to a minimum (the Borg consoles allows mix-matching 2 sets, better than nothing).