City of Heroes:
Gameplay Part 1

By Shamus
on Oct 13, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

It’s amazing to find a game which operates using all the common MMO conventions, yet doesn’t feel like one. (At least, not at first.) City of Heroes is a game which lets you feel powerful right from the start. Unlike games where your first job is to kill declawed kittens or brain damaged rats or whatever, in City of Heroes you can jump right in and start punching out pipe-wielding thugs and purse snatchers. (The fact that thirty levels later you’ll still be fighting thugs and purse snatchers is a different problem.)

Combat Basics

Ha ha! Loitering villains are no match for Fullmetal Jackie! Die, misanthropes!
Ha ha! Loitering villains are no match for Fullmetal Jackie! Die, misanthropes!
Like most MMO games, you have powers which operate on a cooldown timer. Generally, the more potent the attack, the longer the cooldown. Using one costs “endurance”, the universal energy that powers all super-abilities. Mana, in the vernacular.

You start off with just a couple of powers, and gain a new one at every even level. (Edit: As someone else points out below, this only holds true until level 30 or so.) Which means by level 50 you’ll have over 25 a crapload of powers! Thankfully, some of those will be always-on “passive” powers, and some of those will be travel powers, and some of those will be annoying prerequisites that you took simply to gain access to the powers you were interested in. (For example, “Hover” is astoundingly useless once you have “Fly”.) So, you won’t actually have to hot-key 25 powers. (Whew!)

Early in the game you’ll spend lots of time waiting for one of your two or three powers to recover so you can fire it off again. Battles are simple and the only thing you have to worry about is not doing anything obviously foolish with them. (As in: Don’t squander your big explosive attack on the guy who’s a sneeze away from death.) As you climb the leveling ladder, using your powers becomes more complex. You’ll likely have many more powers than you could put to use at any given time, and so instead of waiting for cooldowns you’ll be managing endurance use, prioritizing threats, supporting your teammates, and looking for opportune moments to use your big guns. There will be a bigger difference in power between your regular-use attacks and your expensive show-stopper ones. You’ll probably have some area-of-effect powers and a few esoteric special-use ones.

If you can pry your eyes away from your hotkey bar, your chat window, your health meter, and the on-screen damage outputs, you’ll notice that behind the interface there is a pretty spectacular superhero battle going on. People are leaping, flying, punching, and energy blasting while combatants are tossed around the room in a show of superhero excess and ragdoll physics.

Inspirations

Bottom right: The inspiration palette.  This thing works a lot like the Diablo II belt.  It holds stacks of consumable boosts and healing, and it gets bigger over time.  Top right: Me-ow!
Bottom right: The inspiration palette. This thing works a lot like the Diablo II belt. It holds stacks of consumable boosts and healing, and it gets bigger over time. Top right: Me-ow!
You know how in comic books the relative health and vigor of the hero seems more dependent on the needs of the plot than on how much abuse they’ve taken? Like, the good guy is down and fading fast, and then he starts thinking about his dead parents or sister or whatever. He finds some Truth that inspires him, and suddenly he jumps up and kicks ass as if nothing was wrong. City of Heroes has this. It’s called “Inspirations”. It’s the closest thing the game has to potions.

Sometimes you’ll gain an inspiration when you beat down a foe. Players generally refer to them by color: Green for replenish health, blue for replenish stamina, yellow for boosting aim, purple for boosting defense, red for boosting damage, etc. The only exception are the cyan-colored ones used to revive you if you get knocked out, which players call a “wakie”.

You can convert any three inspirations into a single inspiration of another type. Early in the game teams will have to play a round of “what have you got?” whenever a member goes down, figuring out what the victim has and what they need to make a wakie. I got two blues and a yellow. Crud – I got a green and and a yellow. I got a purple.

At level 1 you can hold just 3 inspirations, and every few levels you’re given another few slots in which to hold them. Collecting and converting inspirations is a minor resource management activity that lets you deal with sudden challenges and the occasional boss fight.

But the best part of this system is the way it maps familiar gameplay mechanics to common comic book conventions.

Missions

Great, the eight of us will cram ourselves into this dark tight corridor and start a fight with the big crowd of guys in the adjacent cave-room.  The result is going to look something like the “sparkly blobs of light” screensaver.
Great, the eight of us will cram ourselves into this dark tight corridor and start a fight with the big crowd of guys in the adjacent cave-room. The result is going to look something like the “sparkly blobs of light” screensaver.
The bulk of the game revolves around doing missions. While you can make progress with solo play and freeform bad guy stomping out in the streets, the most expedient way forward is to form a super team with a few other players and do missions together.

A mission will send you to a semi-random location in the city where you will fight your way through a warehouse, sewer, office, or cave. These spaces are instanced, so you won’t see anyone else inside besides your fellow team members and your assigned costumed punching bags of villainy. The path to follow is mostly linear, and at the end you usually have to rescue a person, recover a McGuffin, or pummel a boss. The areas can get very repetitive after a few hours. The game pads the number of foes to be suitable for the number of heroes. If you go in alone, the guys inside will be in little two and three man groups. If you go in with a full team, you’ll be facing dozens at a time.

Individual missions usually take about twenty minutes. The custom is that team members should leave and join the group between missions. (Leaving mid-mission is considered a little rude, and the remaining people will sometimes harrumph a bit once the deserter has logged out.) These missions break the game into nice bite-sized portions so that you can stop whenever you need to, without worrying that you’ll be stuck in the depths of some murderous hellhole the next time you log on. (If you do log out from inside a mission area, you’ll be standing outside once you come back.)

Cave missions are the most dreaded and reviled, mostly because they’re ugly, monocolor, confusing to navigate, and they work hell on the third-person camera. Fights often take place in very tight tunnels where all the action is reduced to a hopeless blur of particle effects and you can’t see what you’re doing. Ugh. The blue and purple texture on the walls is dark and muddy, and doesn’t look anything like rocks to me. (Personally, I like the office missions the best.)

The group leader can adjust the mission difficulty, which controls the level of the foes you’ll face. Generally, you’ll want to nudge the difficulty upwards as the group gets larger. The question of how much is up for debate. Generally, anyone on your team who is five levels below the bad guys is probably making such a small contribution to the fight that they’re almost irrelevant. Anyone on your team who is more than a level above the bad guys is going to get a pittance for XP and may be annoyed that you invited them.

But some people insist that higher level guys = more XP and is therefore always best, and they will push a group until you’re all fighting to the limit of your abilites and you’ve got someone getting knocked out in every fight. (Thus earning the victim a little XP debt.) This is the classic risk vs. reward tradeoff, and some people insist on maximum risk and maximum reward, even if you can prove to them on the chalkboard that in the long run they’d do better and level faster and die less if they took the difficulty down a notch.

Teams

The nicest thing about grouping is that it’s not very volatile. Unless you’re pushing the very limits of the group, you can have someone disconnect or leave without crippling the team. If you have an idiot on your team, they can’t get everyone killed nearly as easily as they can in other MMO’s. (Assuming they’re not the leader, but for the most part you can spot an idiot leader right away. See also: The preceding paragraph.) While a group of smart mature people will always do better than a group of spastic idiots, it’s nice to know that you can still make progress with the idiots if that’s all you have to work with.

The magic is that teamwork happens more or less automatically. The other players don’t need to be hotkey experts and masters of aggro management to do their jobs. If you have a variety of character types and if everyone just spams the place with whatever they’ve got, the “working together” part just sort of happens. Again, it’s not foolproof and nothing beats a group of smart people, but I’ve never had to endure one of those groups where a veteran has to stop and explain to a newbie how to do their job so that we don’t all die. I was able to blunder through the newbie growing pains myself without feeling like I was hurting the team.

For me, the quality of a group is dominated not by their skill at the game, but by their attitude towards it. The best groups are the ones where people make jokes, toss out catchphrases, and cheer our individual victories. It’s a stretch to call this “roleplaying”, but it falls in a similar behavioral space. Like insult swordfighting, what you say is far more important that what you do. For me, missions are a venue for a very particular brand of text and emote-based performance art.

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201838 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. BarGamer says:

    I know you didn’t like that game much, but how would you compare and contrast CoH with Guild Wars? Is the subscription fee worth the extra enjoyment factor?

    How do you tell the spastic idiots from the mature jokesters? Is it apparent right away, or do you find out mid-mission?

    Oh yeah, and in CoV, is there anything like a Necromancer Minion Master or Ritualist/Necro Bomber?

  2. GreyDuck says:

    My son really, really wanted to see if he could get the hang of playing a Tanker. I had no wisdom to offer (my Tanker languishes in exile on Pinnacle, still alive mainly because he has too many classic badges for me to want to delete) but suggested that pick-up groups would be a good way to get the hang of things. Best case, he ends up with folks who can nudge him along the path to greatness. Worst case, he ends up with a team full of morons so it’s no big deal if he screws up while learning the tricks of the trade.

    My point, such as it may be, is that you can get away with a great deal of “learn as you go” in City Of. Just one more thing I love about the game.

  3. Chris says:

    A nice post. Very informative for those who don’t play the game. Just a few quibbles…

    1. You only get a power every 2 levels from levels 1 – 32. After that, you start getting a power every 3 levels (with the exception of the power you get at 49, put there to give you a chance to slot it at 50.)

    2. Hover is, as you pointed out, useless after Fly, but only as a travel power. It has considerable use in-combat as a positioning device (as an energy blaster, you’re probably familiar with turning knockback into knockdown by blasting from above) and a knockback mitigator. If you try to use Fly for this, you’ll run into Suppression – you’ll be reduced to the speed of unslotted Hover when hit. (Oh, right. Hover becomes way more palatable after you put three single-origin flight enhancers in it. You end up moving roughly as fast as sprinting. I’ll give you that the need to enhance it only shows how useless the base power is, unslotted.)

    3. Same enemies for all levels – it can certainly seem this way, especially heroside. Villainside, the game does a better job of moving you constantly from enemy group to enemy group via storylines. However, one of my minor peeves is that you CAN’T fight the same enemies the whole game. At least not for xp. After a certain level, there are just no foes coded for many enemy groups. Skulls, for instance, have a maximum level of…. was it 10, or 15? Same for Hellions and Vahzilok. Other enemy groups, such as Malta and Carnival of Shadows, have a minimum level. Only a few (Circle of Thorns, Freakshow, Arachnos…) show up for the whole game. When on a pick-up group, it certainly can SEEM the game has nothing but Freakshow, but that’s just because they’re easy xp. A good way to see more groups is to lead a group yourself and go through story arcs that feature them, instead of radio missions.

  4. JFink says:

    Nice post Shamus, I’m glad you’re enjoying CoX. I know I do. Oh, and don’t discount Hover. It uses much less endurance than Fly, so it’s perfect for hovering about 10ft of the ground and using your Sniper Blast while the AI groups in a circle under milling around because they can’t figure out how to jump up and hit you.

    Edit: @BarGamer: Yep on Villian Side, there’s the Mastermind Class and it has a both a Necro Primary, where you can summon Zombies and Liches, and a Secondary Skillset that’ll equip your Minion with a bomb, sometimes they’ll set it and get away in time, sometimes they don’t…

  5. Shamus says:

    Re: Telling Idiot Leaders from Nice people: Sadly, unless they give themselves away in chat, you can’t tell you’re in for trouble until you walk in the door and see all the bad guys con purple. (This means their text is displayed in purple, which is a warning that they are four (or more!) levels above you, and therefore are going to give you a savage beating.

    Then you know you’re in for a tough haul.

    I usually duck out of those groups after a single mission and look for another team.

  6. GreyDuck says:

    Shamus: One of the QOL features they recently added is that you can tell what threat level the mission is set to and the leader’s difficulty selection (Heroic, Invincible, etc) in the Mission drop-down display. That might help a bit, at least…

  7. DKellis says:

    Minor nitpick: after level 32, you’ll get powers once every three levels. And after level 30, you’ll get three enhancement slots per slot-level rather than just the two. This lets players max out most of their powers slots.

    The pre-requisite powers vary in usefulness. Hover is one of the more useful ones, especially for ranged characters: it uses a lot less endurance than Flight, and it doesn’t “suppress” in speed. Occasionally there are good-natured (by MMORPG standards, anyway) debates on the relative merits of Hover and Air Superiority, the latter of which is seen to be a fine choice for a power in itself.

    Caves are among the least liked mission map types among players. (The Council base maps, which is a military base built into a cave, is just as reviled. And then there’s Oranbega, which is an ancient mystical city buried in caves…) Personally I like the (non-abandoned) warehouse maps, despite its repetitiveness. At least everything’s laid out nicely there.

  8. Danel says:

    There are also certain macro files that can be used so that you only hover whenever you’re not moving, which can be handy for saving on endurance.

    Actual story arcs get more dramatic and less based around purse-snatchers at higher levels… though actually finding the story arcs in CoH is harder than it should be, much harder than in CoV where almost all contacts give out at least one. But newspaper/radio missions never really get much better, sadly. Apparently a good source of experience though – powering through max-level radio missions is (apparently) one of the best and most efficient methods for grinding available.

    And its better than defeating ten circle mages in Perez Park.

  9. mark says:

    damn you shamus, I’m thinking of resubscribing now… Anyone interested in a Twenty Sided SG?

  10. DKellis says:

    Police Band missions are more or less madlibs.

    Story arcs in CoH are basically one long series of missions, and you get one per contact.

    Story arcs in CoV are somewhat shorter series of missions (three or four instead of nine or ten), and you can get more than one per contact, although occasionally they link together story-wise well enough that it’ll appear seamless.

    CoH story arcs tend to focus more on the enemy groups (what they are, what their goals are), while CoV has story arcs about the contacts (why they’re giving you all these missions). The net result, seen from the negative side, is that the CoH contacts don’t have a lot of personality, and a CoV-only player may get major enemy group spoilers mentioned off-handedly, instead of a big production.

    The disadvantage about playing in groups is that only the team leader gets to read the story arc text, which has led to complaints on the official boards that there’s “no story in CoH/V”. There’s actually a pretty good (if comic-booky) overall uberplot, but the complainer just didn’t get to read any of it.

  11. Nilus says:

    I would love to hear your thoughts on the Side Kick system. I have not played a lot of MMORPGs but SKing was one of the things I really liked with CoH. It meant that casual buddies who only played once or twice a month could still hang and do missions with the obsessive that put in two hours a night in the game.

    I think one of the things that make team work in teams pretty easy in COH is that a lot of support powers tend to be area effects. Healers don’t need to heal people one at at a time, then can spam the group. Plus although Scrapers and Tankers are the front row fighters, it seems like people in just about every class manage to pickup one or two melee powers to hold there own if the mob pushes past the big fists in front.

  12. krellen says:

    I just got my first 50 last night, and found that the “final” storyline for Villains leads to a perfect introduction to the Villain “Epic” Archetypes, who are Arachnos minions. So now I have a VEAT that is basically the future version of my 50, which made for an easy background but feels a little weird.

    Overall, I’ve found the stories better Villain-side, though I mostly solo. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that there’s simply no comparison for the Mastermind; it’s a singular class that plays unlike anything else. And I just love it.

  13. Merle says:

    Nilus:

    Yeah, the Sidekick/Exemplar system was one of CoH’s best features. They’ve already added in an exemplar-type system to FFXI (the whole group can level down to the lowest member), and WoW reportedly has one in the works as well.

  14. Templar says:

    there’s actually a “notes” section in the game now, where you can enter in a brief note on a player (seen only by you, ever. it’s only for personal use.) to remind you what they were like, and whether you enjoyed playing with them. I believe it also carries over to their global identity, so if you team up with some jerk in the Hollows and he’s totally an “idiot leader type”… and you’re on with another character later, and you encounter one of his alts, you can check your note and bow out before things get… unpleasant.

    another vote for “Hover ROCKS!” here. I’ve got an energy/devices blaster who i declared “will never walk on the ground again!” (unless he totally has to, like the brief second or two when he walks in a door.) I use a key-bind that lets him toggle between hover and fly by pressing the left shift-key (it only toggles between the two, there is no “off” for his flying antics :D). he hovers as fast (or faster) as my teammates can walk with sprint on, but hover uses less endurance and even provides a small defense buff. i use fly to get from mission to mission, but i’ve got Hover on 100% of the time otherwise.

    (sidenote: air superiority, also rules. it’s got a ridiculous knockdown rate, and if an enemy ALSO has fly, and tries to get in your face, it’s a quick and easy means of sending his butt back to the ground to resume blasting the heck out of him)

    I’ve frequently taken Hover and/or Air Sup. on characters who have non-flight travel powers. An extra attack is always welcome (particularly one that causes the bad guy to spend a few precious seconds getting back to his feet, and not hitting you)… and the minute you set foot in the Shadow Shard, you’ll understand why having Hover can be worth it’s weight in gold for *any* character. (or, you know, you can make a pretty nifty superman-esque tanker build with Super Jump as your travel power, and a heavily flight-speed slotted Hover just for flavor)

    issue 13’s upcoming “alternate build” thingy will make taking Hover for specific circumstances even more useful (like the shadow shard, hamidon or PvP if you’re into it.) since you can swap back and forth between your “REAL” power choices, and your “circumstantial” choices.

  15. TA says:

    Seconding the comment that Hover still has its usefulness even after you have fly. Hover’s movement doesn’t suppress, meaning that once enhanced for flight speed, you’ll move faster in Hover than you will in Fly during combat. But more importantly, Hover’s got +Defense in it. Makes it easier to dodge things. And with the way Defense works in the game, that can get exponentially strong as you layer it on top of other sources of Defense.

    I’ve got a Fire Melee/Super Reflexes Scrapper who uses Hover. When it’s toggled off, she gets hit 1.2 times as much in Melee or from Area attacks, and 1.58 times as much at range.

  16. Gildan Bladeborn says:

    There’s a typo in the last paragraph of the section about Missions, in the last sentence: “Even if you can prove to them on the backboard” is almost certainly supposed to be “blackboard”.

    Also the picture accompanying that section has two typos in the caption: “Great, the eight of us with cram outselves….” would look a lot better as “will cram ourselves”.

  17. Kris says:

    I went and downloaded the demo after reading your last CoH’s post, and started a Natural Blaster named Power Glove. He was the result of a failed modding experiment during an electrical storm which opened up a time rift throwing his from 1989 into present day Paragon City. Woo. Yeah, the backstories and character creation are one of the best parts of the game.

    I was level 13 the first time I felt like a real super-hero, we were running Frostfire out in the Hollows, and watching everyone slide across the icy floors still shooting electrical blasts and blowing things up was thrilling. The moment had almost sold me on purchasing the game, which is something I never contemplated doing before that point, as I despise ‘rentals’. But they almost won me over with that.

    Then they level capped me at 14. I can’t play any further even though I’m only two days into my fourteen day trial. So they lost this costumer for the limited demo capacity. Oh well! Enjoy your super-heroing!

  18. Rick says:

    Responding to Shamus and various comments:

    “‘Hover’ is astoundingly useless once you have ‘Fly’.”

    Except, as others have said, as a defensive/positioning tool. It enabled my blaster to solo one of the hardest Elite Bosses in the game (the Envoy of Shadow), something I can’t believe I pulled off given the trouble my scrapper, who soloed just about every other Elite Boss, had.

    “Cave missions are the most dreaded and reviled”

    You haven’t been to Oranbega.

    “After a certain level, there are just no foes coded for many enemy groups.”

    Sometimes this is justified. In the teens, you can run story arcs to deal major blows to the Vahzilok, Clockwork, Outcasts, and Trolls. And then there’s the Lost…

    “CoH contacts don’t have a lot of personality”

    Part of the problem here is that, up until about level 30 or so, for most CoH contacts, there’s at least one other contact that gives the EXACT SAME MISSIONS.

    Not surprisingly, the higher-level contacts, and the “zone” contacts (Hollows/Faultline/Striga/Croatoa/RWZ), who are all unique, have a bit more personality.

    “a CoV-only player may get major enemy group spoilers mentioned off-handedly”

    City of Heroes doesn’t handle the revelation about the Lost very well. It goes from “all the clues are there” to “hey, you know what the Lost are, right?”

    “Then they level capped me at 14. I can’t play any further even though I’m only two days into my fourteen day trial. So they lost this costumer for the limited demo capacity.”

    It wasn’t always that way. However, the game’s recently had trouble with RMTers, and have put a lot of draconian restrictions on trial accounts as a result. Sorry that’s driving you away from the game.

  19. karln says:

    Yeah regarding the trial level cap, I do think 14 is enough to give you a decent general idea on how your powersets play. And I wouldn’t even have noticed that restriction for the first month or so anyway, I rolled so many alts :) I have 3 or 4 of them around level 20 now (3 and a bit months in), and come back to them sometimes when I run out of alt ideas…

  20. MechaCrash says:

    Unfortunately, the bit about “everyone just falls into teamwork” is only mostly true. Fortunately, it’s only really a problem if there’s one idiot with a lot of knockback powers who doesn’t know how to use them, or an anchor-based character (Radiation Emission and Dark Miasma for Defenders are prime examples) on a pack of people who don’t grasp that the glowy enemy should go down last, not first.

    Fortunately, those are the only ones where you can really be actively subverted. Most of the rest are just not working together as well as they should, like a team always going after the bosses that the controller can keep locked down forever while ignoring the swarm of minions that’s too big to control and can collectively pose a significant threat.

  21. RubberbandMMOer says:

    I really did like CoHs but after my trial ran out I can’t bring myself to pay money for it since the same companies NEXT superhero MMO is getting close to coming out, Champions Online.

  22. DaveMc says:

    Re: teaming in COX — It’s one of the most amazing things about the game, to me. I had always heard about how the entire online game space was a roiling cesspool of bad manners and insult-hurling 13-year-olds, so I entered COH (my first and so far only MMO) with some trepidation. I was pleased to find that nearly everybody is polite and helpful, or at least not actively unpleasant. (I refer here to the EU servers, but I’m glad to hear that things are about as good over in North America.) I got an “LOL noob!” the other day for the *first time*, and I’ve been playing for over 18 months.

    I’ve often wondered why this is . . . Perhaps pretending to be a super-hero puts people on their best behaviour? My recent limited experience in COV has been a little less nice, on average, so maybe there’s something to that, or maybe I’ve just been unlucky.

    Re: foolish team leaders and their identification — The ones who send blind invitations have an above-average chance of needing to be avoided.

  23. Josh M says:

    I confess to being an MMO hopper myself. I’ve been into SWG, AoC, and EVE and every time just fall out due to the inability to be engaged by the gameplay. But, (and I roundly blame Shamus for this), I jumped into CoH so that I’d have something to do while my wife plays AoC. That said, I’ve been greatly enjoying it. They must be doing something right when I even enjoy running from location to location.

    Unfortunately, I too am uncertain if I should continue after the demo is over, or if I should just wait for Champions to show up…

  24. Chris says:

    Regarding “the same companies NEXT superhero MMO is getting close to coming out, Champions Online.”

    It’s NOT the same company. Some of the same DESIGNERS that originally created CoH are involved. However… CoX has considerably improved since the lead designer left. He had a very specific idea of how the game should play – one that many players didn’t agree with. While I’m glad that the lead designer pushed through and made CoH possible in the first place, I breathed a sigh of relief when he was gone.

    Since ‘Statesman’ left, the design team’s motto has become, ‘Give the players what they want, within reason’, and it’s worked out wonderfully.

  25. Rev.Blacky says:

    I must say, I became tired of CoH/CoV.
    At level 70 you are in the exact same maps doing the exact same missions as level 7.
    Just slightly different skin on the map and bad guys.
    Okay, maybe that’s over-simplifying things, but you see what I mean.
    Actual Roleplaying is minimal, and I like me some good roleplay.
    It is very pretty though!
    And the costume maker is fun for hours!
    If there were a game that was just that costume maker, I’d just play that.
    Even building the secret bases became a pain of rent management and placement.
    /blame Shamus

  26. mistergreen says:

    City of Heroes was made by a guy that had no real game making skills and kinda half assed did things to his “Vision”. Which honestly hindered the game until Jack sold it to NCSoft and now look at the things they are adding and more plans are in the works for at least the next 3 years.

    Champions Online, if you read all the hype on MMORPG.com is going to be nothing but a CoX killer and I’m afraid with all the over promising, Jack will under produce and not deliver. Remember they also have Star Trek Online developing at the same time.

  27. Kris says:

    @Rick

    Well damn. I’m disappointed to hear that. Because I really wanted to see a little of the higher level gameplay. I’m pretty sure I would have been sold. This goes back to Shamus’ long rants on game creation and selling, and I remember one of his points being that demos should not have decreased functionality if it was already a limited time trial. I dislike the idea of leasing/renting a game to begin with, which is why the only MMO I play is Guild Wars. CoH was almost exciting enough to overcome my resistance to it though, and if I’d been able to take my character up and get more attached to him, I’m pretty sure I would have had to keep playing him through.

    Oh well. It’s $15 a month saved.

  28. Chris says:

    “Because I really wanted to see a little of the higher level gameplay.”

    You CAN see all the higher-level gameplay you wish, thanks to the sidekick system. Levels don’t matter that much.

    (Well, okay, some areas are level-locked, but they’re few and far between.)

    You can’t level up past 14, but I think that’s fair enough, given that it’s a trial. That lets you try a travel power, and a bunch of powers from your primary and secondary sets. Those powers are useful even in high-level missions, thanks to how things scale when sidekicking.

    Still. If you find 50s willing to sidekick you, you can see a bunch of high-level content.

    Heck, make a character on Virtue and I’ll be happy to give you the tour myself by sidekicking or lackeying your character to my high-level heroes and villains.

  29. sithson says:

    fyi shamus, when you hit 50 youll unlock a special archetype loving nick anmed “the squid” I dont know if you seen many of these heros but they get fly at level one (or teleport if your the drak version) villians also get a special unlock at 50 as well, and i have to say it, try a villain shamus! =D

  30. Derek K. says:

    @Rev Blacky: Level 50, not 70. ;)

    But I disagree that it’s just more skins – after a while, you get to the point where knowing your enemies is exceptionally important. If you’re facing high S/L resists, you need to know it. If you’re facing all fire, you better have a tank with fire resists. Etc. And don’t even talk about Psy damage.

    But CoX is the most rp friendly game there is. If you’re used to more RP in an MMO, I’m curious what you’ve been playing. CoX has entire areas devoted to RP (Pocket D, for the main), and so highly lends itself to light RP – catch phrases, silly comments, pithy discussions, etc. It’s the only game besides WAR (and then only playing Greenies) that I ever think to speak in character, because it’s so much fun…..

  31. Helm says:

    The thing that I like is that you can play a female toon without some moronic dick trying to stick his cyber hand up your cyber skirt unlike every other mmo I’ve tried (apart from eve obviously). I have played coX longer and more often than any other mmo I’ve tried. Enjoying your take Shamus

  32. Rev.Blacky says:

    @ Derek K.:
    Pocket D is always empty, except during holiday specials, when i go in, and even then it’s people spamming for groups to do and re-do the special missions.
    Maybe I’ve just been unlucky?
    The best rp I’ve had there was when I started a hero league of all kid characters based on our main adult heroes.
    I then did it again with CoV.
    That was fun, but it died out as our best roleplayers went on to other games (WoW usually), leaving us with the usual point and click grinders.
    Bleh.
    Oh, and I said level 70 because I said level 7, just as an example, hehe. ;)

    I still want just a character creator program!

  33. DKellis says:

    Pocket D tends to be full of roleplayers (of varying quality) on Virtue, and rather empty on the other servers (except possibly Freedom, which seems to hold huge non-IC dance parties at random). Holiday events and the ski chalet make Pocket D quite full as well, but that has little to do with roleplaying.

  34. Bizarre says:

    City of Heroes is a great game, and it’s the MMO that’s held my interest for the longest.

    Just a note about Champions Online – it’s not being made by the same company. It’s being made by the company who originally designed City of Heroes. And take it from someone who played when Jack Emmert was the original lead designer – CO is not going to be very good. The jump in quality between when he left and Matt Miller took over lead design is absolutely incredible, and Jack is going to make the same mistakes in designing a game for himself and not for his audience with CO.

  35. Jamey says:

    @BarGamer:
    quote: “I know you didn’t like that game much, but how would you compare and contrast CoH with Guild Wars? Is the subscription fee worth the extra enjoyment factor?”

    As an avid fan of BOTH CoH/V and Guild Wars, YES! I have played CoH/V for 4 years plus (not sure how close I am to the 51 month badge, but I have the 48). I have played Guild Wars since beta. They are different games, to be sure. I get bored with one, and then I’m re-energized to go back to playing the other. I play GW mostly solo, but CoH/V for grouping.

    quote: “Oh yeah, and in CoV, is there anything like a Necromancer Minion Master or Ritualist/Necro Bomber?”

    Yes. Zombies are one of the Master Mind “power sets” and “Traps” is one of the secondary sets. Detonator is unfortunately the last power in the secondary set, which means that it’s not available until level 38, and cannot be fully slotted until 40. But that allows you to explode a zombie minion. I don’t have a “necro bomber” but I do like my “ninja bomber” :)

  36. Alexis says:

    I’ve been writing this comment for like 2^W3 hours, so I’m going to sum up. * = win, – = fail.
    edit: Shamus, plus is being converted to a space.
    and I’d still like a bigger edit box, please?

    * Everyone has some crowd control, that works on most things. My ice blaster can reasonably lock down two mobs, rescue the healer etc.
    * Automatic AOE aggro
    WoW is only just providing baseline aoe aggro. After like 3 years they noticed threat is not the insanely fun game they imagined.

    * Amazingly player-centric. HOW MANY character slots? I can’t emphasise how striking this is enough.
    Player suggestions have just been noticeably ignored at BlizzCon.

    * Faultline story arc (Jim Temblor)
    – Poor guidance into story arcs and taskforces
    – Contacts give madlib missions
    – Mystery badges. WHY?!? Do they own shares in online badge guide sites?
    This is one where WoW wins, bigtime. CoH has the stories but it’s almost apologetic, you have to hunt hard. I’ve been soloing a lot just so I can pick the missions and follow the story.

    – Disjoint doors superspeed = flat nose
    – Running around 20mins after everything is dead looking for the doohickey. I kid ye not.

    * Joined a SG very easily
    * Got a million inf and a mission boost
    * Vets offer global friend
    I count myself an elitist jerk in WoW, I have to be. WoW communities tend to be very insular. CoH is so innocent, it’s great being able to slip out of that shell.

    – Did not allow me to purchase the game without purchasing additional time (beyond the included free month)

    I’m playing CoH in preference to WoW, at least until the xpac (in all of a month).

  37. mavis says:

    You did not mention two of the key aspect of the basic game play… (well it’s been a long time).

    Firstly they got rid of auto attack – so everything is triggered off a power. Which made combat feel more involved.

    Secondly the minion/sidekick/boss aspect where your meant to fight multible foes simultanously… So much cooler then just fighting one guy at a time.

    If had the spare time I really owuld be tempted to get back into it……. But wow, and lord of the rings – leaves nothing…

  38. Katerinae says:

    QUOTE:”City of Heroes is a great game, and it’s the MMO that’s held my interest for the longest.

    Just a note about Champions Online – it’s not being made by the same company. It’s being made by the company who originally designed City of Heroes. And take it from someone who played when Jack Emmert was the original lead designer – CO is not going to be very good. The jump in quality between when he left and Matt Miller took over lead design is absolutely incredible, and Jack is going to make the same mistakes in designing a game for himself and not for his audience with CO.”

    Truth!
    city of heroes started out as a small potatoes game without any big expectations, the actual consumer interest was a big surprise. The original design of city of heroes is pretty unambitious. But what they’ve done with it over the past (almost 5) years is amazing. It barely resembles the original (or maybe my graphics card is just better now?). Anyway, its 10x the game it was at launch.

    What is encouraging to me, is that instead of shirking away from Cryptic’s new champions online project, they’ve poured significant resources into improving city of heroes to *compete* with it head on. Cryptic has an edge in that they’re not having to work with a ‘modded all to he11’ variant of an antique unreal2 engine. But ncsoft’s city of heroes has 5 years of refinement under its belt, and a great player base. I’ve asked around in game, and I don’t find many who are planning to jump ship for champions. I know of several who intend to try it out, but remark that they fully expect to come back to coh. In a way, I think champions online may be ‘good’ for city of heroes. forces ncsoft to keep working hard, and not sit on it as a cash cow ;)

    I’m not sure what a new mmorpg would try to offer that city of heroes doesn’t have. coh has graphically kept up with the times and stays way ahead of most mmo’s (miraculous given the engine it uses), and the content is a contantly expanding stream of eye candy and ideas.

    I’m not sure how many hero-mmorpg games the market will bear though.

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