The plot revolves around a newly promoted captain who is assigned to investigate an explosion of a star in the Maelstrom. Throughout the mystery, the player will often encounter characters from the Star Trek universe, including Captain Picard and Commander Data. In the game, a rogue Cardassian faction is responsible for the destruction of the star and is using a new weapon from an unknown race to threaten the Alpha Quadrant. The captain and his crew take command of the USS Sovereign (NCC-73811) to combat this new threat to the Federation.
The game allows two different styles of gameplay: storyline mode and quick battle mode. Quick battle mode allows for customized scenarios within the a "simulated" environment, allowing the player to pick their allies/enemies, system, etc. With the advent of modding for Star Trek: Bridge Commander, custom missions and even campaigns have been made possible through this engine.
On the bridge, science officer Diaz reports that he is detecting very unusual readings from the star. Before he can analyze them, an emergency transmission is received from the captain. The star’s core is destabilizing. Wright order the first officer to get the ship out of the system immediately. The first shock wave destroys the orbital stations and the shuttle Icarus 2 and turns the surface of the planet into a fiery inferno. Caught in its wake, the Dauntless cannot engage its warp engines.
Ensign Lomar diverts power to the impulse engines and the ship escapes just as the planet explodes behind them. Fragments from the planet impacts the ship starboard nacelle, and Diaz reports that an object is warping out of the system but that he is not able to get a good reading on it. The damaged ship heads for Starbase 12.
The Dauntless undergoes extensive repairs at Soho station. Different views of the ship are seen as repairs progress. Finally it is ready and it departs for its next mission: The Vesuvi system.
The repaired Dauntless, with a new captain, a new first officer, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard as a visitor, departs Soho Station for Starbase 12 to pick up supplies and relief teams for the Haven and Geki colonies.
Haven is threatened by several rogue stellar fragments ejected from the Vesuvi star. The fragments must be destroyed before they impact the planet.
The ship is then diverted to Tevron II to escort the Sovereign. A skirmish with two Romulan Warbirds ensues. After the Romulans are sent packing, Captain Picard transports to the IKC RanKuf for Biranu Station.
After re-supplying the Geki colony, the Dauntless comes to the aid of a Cardassian freighter under attack by a Romulan Warbird. The Romulans claim it is carrying contraband as the ship's cargo is concealed by a dampening field. The Cardassian Gul claims they are carrying relief supply for an outpost.
The Dauntless is then tasked with investigating Ferengi smuggling activities at Serris. Along with DaiMon Pragg's ship it is attacked by Cardassians who do not want the Federation to find out that they have been illegally receiving military equipment and supplies. Concerned by this, Admiral Liu diverts the Dauntless to Biranu Station where Captain Picard is a guest lecturer. Contact with the station has been lost and it seems that the Cardassian and Klingon ships at the station are on the verge of open conflict.
Picard orders the Dauntless not to intervene if a skirmish breaks out. Starfleet is neutral and not involved. Sure enough, the Cardassian and Klingons begin fighting each other. Suddenly during the course of the battle the Cardassians turn on the station, inflicting massive damage. The Dauntless must then team with the Klingons to defend the badly wounded station. After two Cardassian ships are destroyed the remainder will flee to Biranu I. The player can choose whether to hail Captain Picard or chase the Cardassian ships. Either way more Cardassians arrive later and resume the attack on Biranu Station.
Having returned to Starbase 12, the crew of the Dauntless is transferred to the Sovereign. They take their new ship on a shakedown cruise to Savoy to work out any glitches and technical bugs. The USS Geronimo, commanded by Captain McRay, arrives and challenges the crew to a friendly war game. Then the Klingons arrive and want to participate too.
After the war games the Sovereign heads to the Vesuvi dust cloud to assist the USS Berkley in investigating the Vesuvi event. Lieutenant Commander Data comes on board. After wading into the dust cloud and scanning fragments ejected from the star surface, Data determines that the explosion was not a natural event. Then, suddenly, the Berkley is attacked. The Sovereign gives chase but attacker gets away. Much to their horror, the crew finds that the Berkley's mysterious attacker was also responsible for the destruction of a Romulan Warbird. Matters are worsened when two Romulan warbirds arrive on the scene.
Following the attack on the Berkley, the Sovereign is assigned to patrol the Itari Voltaire and Xi Entrades systems, where it ends up protecting Ferengi and Romulan shipping under attack by Cardassian forces. Hostilities with the Romulans are also ended. Though the player can choose which systems to travel to s/he will always encounter Captain Torren, DaiMon Pragg and Captain Terrik in the order listed.
Having completed its patrol, the Sovereign receives a distress call from a Klingon task force led by Captain Korbus. They were attacked by an unidentified craft. They won't say who it was but confirm that it wasn't the Cardassians and the Romulans. The Sovereign helps them locate the derelict IKV Gon'dev, a missing Bird-of-Prey for which the Klingons came searching. Suddenly the Cardassian arrive and attack the wounded Klingon force and the Sovereign must fight alongside the Klingons. After the Cardassians have withdrawn or been destroyed, the crew surmises that they are the ones responsible for instigating the attacks. Korbus tells the Sovereign's captain that he is in his debt.
The Sovereign is tasked with locating and destroying Cardassian outposts. It arrives at Riha and assists Captain Draxon of the RanKuf in attacking a Cardassian convoy, but unfortunately the freighters escape. The Sovereign tracks them to Cebelrai II where it destroys a Cardassian outpost and its defenders. It then receives a message from Captain Korbus asking to meet in the Belaruz system. Here the player should decide whether to meet with Korbus or track the enemy freighters to Nepenthe.
Captain Korbus is here to repay the Klingon debt of honor. In defiance of the high council orders he provides information on a mysterious ship that the Klingons sighted in this region of space.
Tracking a group of ships to the Nepenthe system, the Sovereign is able to spy on a meeting with the Cardassians and the Kessok, a previously unencountered alien race. Just as Legate Matan is about to seal a deal between the Cardassians and the Kessok, the Sovereign is spotted by a Galor-class vessel commanded by Gul Sek.
Acting on information acquired in its last mission, the Sovereign, accompanied by the Enterprise, penetrates deep into Cardassian-held territory and destroys a shipyard at Chambana I. There they find several hybrid ships of Cardassian-Kessok design. Unfortunately, all the ships self-destruct, leaving nothing to salvage once the Cardassian shipyard is destroyed.
The Sovereign is assigned to intelligence gathering missions. Tasked with completing the Geronimo's mission, it discovers an abandoned Cardassian intelligence outpost at Prendel III. This, in turn, leads them to a crash site in the Alioth system. They arrive to find the system swarming with Cardassian ships and satellites and must locate an alien device without being detected. Unfortunately, the device has crashed on an highly inhospitable planet and only Data can go and investigate it. As Data find the device, the Sovereign is suddenly detected by a huge Cardassian fleet. Consequently, the crew has no choice but to leave him behind.
Legate Matan's forces finally declare war on the Federation and launch an all-out offensive, attacking Arturus and Ona. Fighting a losing battle, the Sovereign and her fleet retreat to Savoy where they must ensure that the station is successfully evacuated.
The Sovereign escorts the hospital ship USS Nightingale behind enemy line to rescue survivors who have escaped the destruction of their vessels. Among these is the Dauntless.
Starfleet must stop the Cardassians from using Savoy station as a forward base of operations in the Maelstrom. The Sovereign must also prevent the Cardassians from destroying the station once the enemy realizes that they cannot hold it.
The Sovereign is tasked with finding the location of a Cardassian command and control base near the front lines.
Now that the Cardassian base has been found, the Sovereign must assist the USS Khitomer and her fleet in destroying it. But they haven't bargained on heavy Cardassian resistance and Kessok reinforcements. The assault has to be aborted and the fleet barely flees for its life.
Separated from the Khitomer's fleet, the Sovereign returns to Starbase 12 where it must defend the base from a combined Cardassian and Kessok attack. Luckily, the USS Geronimo and the USS Enterprise arrive to help. After defending the starbase a second time against Kamakazi freighters, the Sovereign is fitted with sixteen phased plasma torpedoes.
Ambassador Salek is attempting to negotiate an alliance with the Klingons and Romulans and directs the Sovereign to Lya Station at Albarea III. A surprise Cardassian assault forces the Sovereign to diffuse a volatile confrontation between Captain Korbus of the IKC Jon'ka and Captain Terrik of IRW Chairo.
Before an attack on Alioth can be launched, the Sovereign must destroy all the Cardassian sensor posts at Arturus, Geble, Serris and Poseidon as well as the resupply depot at Ascella. En route, it must also rescue the USS Geronimo, which has been ambushed. The Geronimo then joins the Sovereign in its mission, having been ordered to join a strike force to retake the Alioth system.
The allies finally attack Alioth, destroy the Cardassian station Litvok Nor and rescue Commander Data, who provides valuable information on the Kessok device. The Enterprise is also there to help. The device regulates the fusion in a star, but tampering and misuse resulted in an accident, causing the Vesuvi star to go nova.
Horrified by the discovery of the device's destructive potential, Admiral Liu teams the Sovereign and the Geronimo with the USS San Francisco and dispatches the task force on a search, locate and destroy mission. She also extends Commander Data's assignments on the Sovereign, as he is the only one who has the most extensive knowledge about the Kessok devices.
Battling through Kessok forces, the crew of the Sovereign is able to destroy two of the devices. They are also astonished that the Cardassians have acquired a Romulan cloaking device. Admiral Lius later informs them that the Romulans have admitted to losing two devices.
At Belaruz I the Sovereign is confronted by an unshielded Kessok heavy cruiser. When hailed, the ship's captain demands for Data to be sent over. Ultimately, Data is successful in establishing a peaceful contact with the Kessok and the commander, Captain Neb-lus, allows the Sovereign to examine the device and verify that it is actually a solar-forming platform designed to reform suns to make a star system more hospitable for colonization. Depending on the player's choice, this mission ends with the destruction of the third solarformer and its escorts or peaceful first contact with the Kessok in which one of the ships accompanying the Sovereign in the next mission will be the Kessok heavy cruiser.
Intelligence reports from the Klingons and Romulans indicate that the last Kessok device is orbiting the sun of the Omega Draconis system, site of a new Kessok colony. The Cardassians have also activated large tachyon emitters, preventing communications and warp travel. Paired with two other ships (one will be the Neb-lig if the player tries to hail the Kessok ship in the previous mission), the Sovereign must establish communications with the Kessok colony at Omega Draconis III and inform the Kessok that they have been betrayed. But they haven't reckoned with deadly hybrid vessels.
The vengeful Matan swears to destroy the Omega Draconis star and taunts the crew to stop him. Stopping him won't be easy since he has the codes to the solarformer's program and his ship is cloaked. Data could be beam over to the device or the crew could scan Matan's Keldon, after disabling it of course.
The crew of the Sovereign is unable to rescue Matan. His disabled ship crashes into the sun and explodes. Badly damaged herself, the Sovereign maneuvers away a safe distance from the sun, and after effecting repairs, it rendezvouses with the Enterprise and a Kessok cruiser. Captain Picard congratulates the Sovereign's captain on a job well done and informs him that diplomatic relations with the Kessok will be opening soon.
Most game functions are carried out by selecting an individual bridge officer, and selecting from a set of commands or options in order to control that individual's set of responsibilities. In this way, the game simulates being in command of a starship. For example, a player could issue the command to intercept a fleeing starship through the Helm menu, or order Felix, the tactical officer to destroy an enemy ship. An AI would then pilot the ship for the player.
Players also have the option to switch to an external ship view, and carry out many piloting and weapons functions themselves. In this view, they are able to view various tactical indicators.
Since its release, the game has been heavily expanded upon by modders and gamers of Star Trek: Bridge Commander. Modifications vary in size and quality as the amount of information available to the modding community is extensive. Several thousand mods exist that encompass re-textures (such as Chronocidal Guy's Sovereign, which is one of the most used re-textures in Bridge Commander), new sound packs, playable maps, and total conversions. Several large mod packs, including Kobayashimaru 1.0, DS9 FX, Slipstream, Stargate Pack and BC Supermod 3.0 to name a few combine many of the highest quality mods available for Bridge Commander, to not only allow several normally incompatible mods to work within the same game install, but to also make the game more canon to what is displayed in the Star Trek series. Most mods are released for The Next Generation era.
Many ships seen throughout Star Trek are now playable in game. Some of these include: Akira, Ambassador, Constitution, Excelsior, Miranda, Sovereign, Galaxy, Intrepid, Nova, Rhode Island, Defiant, Nebula, Centaur, Steamrunner, Cheyenne, Danaube Runabout, and various shuttle crafts.
Borg Cube, Borg Sphere, Borg Diamond.
Klingon BOP, Klingon Neg Vah, Klingon K'Vort.
Cardassian Keldon, Cardassian Galor, Cardassian Hutlet.
Dominion Battle Ship, Dominion Bug Ship.
Many high quality, non canon, ships have also been released. Ships like the Excalibur class, CGI Voyager or DJ Curtis' Century are extremly popular among the BC community.
A number of 'supermods' are currently in production. These include (in alphabetical order) Delta Quadrant Pack by JL Studios , DS9FX Xtended by BCS:TNG, and Kobayashi Maru - Remastered by ChronowerX Productions