NPC Followers in Star Trek Online
"You mean bridge officers right?". Well no, I don't, read on.
What is an NPC follower?
In their simplest form followers are NPCs that become your temporary or permanent companion. In many games followers will interact with you in a limited way, they may fight alongside you much like your bridge officers in STO, they may provide goods or services, food or potions. In some games you can even romance the NPC and marry them which opens up more options and bonuses, Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls V is a good example of this, with many Nexus mods taking the idea far further.
Followers in MMORPGs are far less common, STO is pretty unique in having a whole away team to accompany you on your missions, but all they will do is fight for you. There are also many places you cannot bring your bridge officers, Risa is a prime example.
Romance in massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs) is usually an afterthought because some developers find it hard to fit those into the narrative (if there is one). Star Wars: The Old Republic is different in that regard as it showers you with companions that are single and ready to mingle.
That happens whether you or your sweetheart is a Jedi or not. This can also lead to marriage options as you level up. It's certainly a rare opportunity in an MMORPG and the game is worth trying for that alone.
Is there romance in Star Trek Online?
No, well not overtly, there are some relationships between NPCs but never towards the player character and there are no possibilities of a romantic follower in this game as far as I can see.
So how do I get a follower in STO?
If you want to explore Risa with a follower in STO that is not another actual human being, then your options are limited to one, make another account. Here's how it works.
You are going to really want two monitors on your PC and the computer should be able to run two instances of STO at the same time. Boot your main account and put it on your main monitor, boot your second account and put it on your secondary monitor.
There are no level limitations on Risa but it helps if your second account is levelled up somewhat as they will have more options for clothing, ships and so on (more on that later).
With both accounts running send your main to Risa and send a team invite to your second account. When your follower account beams down to Risa they will be in the same instance as you.
Now here's where STO actually does quite well. Your secondary character can be made to follow your main character. Simply right-click on your main character from your secondary character screen and select follow.
They will then run over to you and slow down to a walk as they get close, standing quite close when they come to a stop. Now let's say you want to fly around the island with your new follower in tow. Simple, activate floaters on both characters and ensure your follower is following your main, then with your main character take to the skies, your follower will also take off and follow you quite well. You can do the same with the power boards.
So why bother, what are the advantages?
1. If you like RPing then you can write any back story to your follower you like. For example, pictured is my main toon with his ingame wife. This goes way back to a foundry mission called "Timeless" which gave you the option to romance and marry the character over a ten-episode arc. When the foundry was discontinued I created this character so some part of it would live on.
2. On Risa, you can double the number of favours you can earn. The dance-off is doubled with two accounts, this is very easy to do if you have two monitors. The Horgan hunt is likewise just as easy as each character will have the horgans in the same or almost the same place, you just follow each other around on floaters. You can also double the favours from Flying High and Sandcastles. Where the follower doesn't work are the races, the follower is too far behind to take the corners and will run up against an obstacle.
3. Team shortfalls: If you have only 4 players in a team and you desperately need another to launch a TFO then your follower can take part (they can even fight - see advanced options below).
This is a little more complicated and requires two computers.
Basically set up your follower as described above, but this time they should be well kitted out and at max level.
The other computer must be set up with a keybind and a macro to activate the keybind and should be within easy reach. Once you enter the TFO make sure you put your follower on follow (following you or another player if you like) and then activate the macro just before the event starts. The follower will fly around and target anything it sees and destroy it just as another player would do. I have had followers pull well over 50K DPS and actually scoring higher than human players. It helps to make their ship tanky and include heals in the keybind rotation as you will be too busy on your main to look after them. On your main though you can focus on your follower and if they are in trouble quickly throw them a heal. The follower should be setup to spam AoE everywhere as single target followers are not as effective.
A word of warning. Some or all of the above may break the game rules, although I can't find anything in the ToS which states this.
I am working on a random dialogue syntax generator which will generate some random text for you to put in the team chat window, you won't know what they are going to say until you paste it in and press enter, this is just for fun and may not work out, but if it works it could add a lot to the RP side of STO followers.
Finally, my follower and I will leave you some screenshots from our vacation on Risa.