Based upon the Starfleet Battles tabletop game, Star Trek: Starfleet Command III is the first title from developer Taldren to be set within The Next Generation universe. Taking place on the outskirts of the Neutral Zone, players are cast into the middle of a tense peace accord between the Federation and the Klingons. The story arc draws three factions into the fray, namely, the Klingons, Romulans and the Federation, each of which has a unique campaign associated with it. Although excluded from the story-based scenarios, the Borg are playable in the game's Conquest campaigns.
The three races all make use of technology and strategies inherent of their species and with which many fans of the series will be familiar. The Klingons for example, have a versatile Frigate-class craft known as the Bird of Prey, which is capable of cloaking itself during battle. Klingon ships also forego luxury amenities in lieu of increased armor and greater weapon capacity. The title offers 28 different vessels dispersed among the four factions: Federation supporters can commandeer the Saber, Norway, Defiant, Intrepid, Akira, Excelsior, Nebula, Galaxy, or Sovereign; the Klingons have at their disposal the B'Rel, K'Vort, K'Tinga, Fek'Lhr, Vor'Cha, and Negh'Var; the Borg offer Pyramid, Diamond, Sphere, or Cube craft, with Prime variants of the first three; and lastly, the Romulans pilot the Talon, Falcon, Shrike, Hawk, Raptor, and Warbird.
Each of the ships available to the player has various hard-points associated with it (spanning categories such as Primary Weapon, Heavy Weapon, Hull Systems, Shield, Bridge Systems and Engines) that can be outfitted as the player desires, within the restrictions imposed. A hexagonal map, the Dynaverse 3 setting utilized by the title delineates open space into so-called sectors, each of which generates random encounters and events based upon factors such as the controlling race. Venturing into specific sectors will see the player engage in story-driven missions, success in which can alter the balance of power within that sector, as well as random events that can yield additional prestige if accomplished.
Battles offer an imposing array of strategic options, requiring players to take heed of numerous factors in order to emerge victorious. Craft must be properly positioned, while shields and weapons systems carefully managed; the former consists of four sections that can be reinforced or diverted as need be in order to minimize damage to the hull, while the latter must take into account accuracy and range, at the same time compensating for such variables as the speed of the vessel. Other tactics include disabling particular ship systems, boarding enemy craft, or utilizing smaller shuttlecraft to draw enemy fire.
The proficiency of the crew, too, plays an integral role in the outcome of battle, as more capable crewmembers provide access to high-level skills and abilities. Officers are categorized according to Science, Tactical, Medical, Security, Helm, and Engineering faculties, and are responsible for vital functions aboard the vessel. While the crew will gain experience with time, special care must be taken to ensure that high-level officers are not injured or killed in combat, lest they be replaced with an inexperienced ensign. Success in battle will afford players prestige points that can be exchanged for new ships, systems, and crew.
Two multiplayer modes are offered: a skirmish mode in which players can customize various settings and mission types to their liking and a semi-persistent online mode in which players take part in a massive world established within the Dynaverse 3 setting. Here, players are given a small ship and newly trained crew and must complete missions in order to earn prestige and gain in stature. Additionally, players can join with others to form large fleets of vessels with which to scour the galaxy.