City of Heroes:
MMO Lemmings

By Shamus Posted Thursday Nov 20, 2008

Filed under: Game Reviews 59 comments

Last week I mentioned how frustrating it was that everybody wanted to fight impossible foes (purples) in City of Heroes. I want to address some of the common responses:

Fighting purples is exciting! The strategy and teamwork is more fun!

Fine, fine. If people said, “I prefer to fight purples because fighting whites is boring”, I wouldn’t mind so much. But they’re always dragging us to our deaths with promises of an XP bounty. I’ve never heard a single player advocate the harder-is-funner position in game.

Why would you want to fight a battle if you know the outcome?

To which I respond: Why would I want to build a sandcastle if someone is just going to come along and kick it over? Not all of us are playing to be “teh hardcorez”. This is particularly true for newbies like me. I just want to move forward and see the rest of the game. The areas, the powers, the new things I can add to my hero (like capes and auras) and new foes. But I can’t get there because I’m always working off XP debt from teaming up with suicidal idiots.

I can understand if you’ve already seen the end, you’ll want to spend time testing yourself and pushing the limits, but I’m still trying to get there. The higher levels in this game are a huge grind as it is, and prolonging that by fighting purples just makes it that much more torturous.

You should join a supergroup!

Most of the people I group with seem to be in supergroups, so I’m not sure how that will help. I’ll end up teamed up with these same people, except now we’ll have matching uniforms. I’ve joined a few supergroups. Some are too small to be helpful. Most are filled with high-level characters and thus not useful to a mid-level player for the purposes of grouping. All of them seem to want to sponge up influence from me without offering much in return. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky, but joining a supergroup didn’t seem to provide what I need, which is easy access to groups of non-lemmings.

It’s all about teamwork! My group fights purples all the time. You see, I have these special enhancements and our group is made up of…

Great, great. I’m glad fighting purples works for you. But none of this really applies to me, fighting in pick-up groups.

I think I’m getting to the end of my time in City Of X. I could go Villain side, but my gripes with the game are all based on player behavior, and changing sides won’t fix that. Plus, I know some people like being a villain, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. I spent my childhood fantasizing about being Spiderman, not the Green Goblin. The powers and archetypes and quests are reportedly better on the evil side of the game, but I just can’t get into it. I enjoy creating villains, but I enjoy creating them as someone I’d like to beat up, not someone I want to play.

I haven’t brought myself to cancel yet, but it’s been a while since I logged in. I still like the idea of the game. I’ll get the itch to jump in and play around a bit, but before I even launch the game I remember what that really means: Ten minutes of standing around doing nothing while I beg for a group, then a bunch of screwing around waiting for the group to fill up and get to a mission, then a bunch of tedious defeats and re-groupings as we brute-force our way through stuff too strong for us. After forty-five minutes of that I’ll be sick of dying and have little progress to show for my efforts.

I’ve worked a couple of characters up to about level 30 now, which is the end game as far as I’m concerned. Those last 20 levels require investments of time and patience I simply do not posses.


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59 thoughts on “City of Heroes:
MMO Lemmings

  1. Loneduck3 says:

    Don’t know how it is for CoX, but I found changing sides in WoW did help reduce the number of whiny jerky players. (I won’t say which, because I don’t want to spark that debate on your site.) Of course, you could also find the Villains side is even more full of unpleasant players. Fundamentally, the amount of enjoyment you can get derives from the quality of people you group with. Sure, some MMOs have a good solo package, but the MM part means you should be playing with other people, and it should be going well. If you can’t find people you enjoy playing with, and the solo game has grown dull, than I say move on.

  2. krellen says:

    A) Changing sides does change player behaviour. A different subset of people play villains than play heroes. Of course, one of the downsides is that villains team up less, so it’s harder to find a team. Playing as a Mastermind more or less eliminates the need to do so, however. Stalkers are also excellent for solo-play (the Claws/Regen Stalker in my VG is virtually invincible, too.)

    B) I get great joy out of the game playing solo. I know you said you viewed it as downtime, but if the problem is the tedium of teams, why not try going solo a while?

    C) You don’t have to be “evil” to play a villain. Most of the quests involve running against other villain groups, rather than hero groups. Longbow’s basically the only heroes you run against commonly. Plenty of people play redside as “anti-heroes” or spies or other such things.

    D) At least for me, joining a supergroup isn’t easy access to team-mates; it’s easy access to people I enjoy talking to and role-playing with. Without the RP, I probably wouldn’t still be playing CoX, and there are times I would rather do something else (and in those cases, I do), but since I am without a tabletop at the moment, this is a good alternative.

    You play on Freedom, don’t you? The servers have different player-bases; you might try Virtue, the other big server, and see if the base there is more to your liking. I know personally that I’ve rarely encountered people that insist on running against purples on Virtue, and I suspect there’s probably a rather large divide in the player populations of Virtue and Freedom to account for that.

    I don’t usually run against purples – reds and oranges for me, most days – and I scale my difficulty by level. At the low levels, I stick to whites and blues, and as I gain more powers and staying power I slowly crank up the difficulty. I stick to one-off-the-top at the end, though I know my Mastermind is quite capable of taking on purples now. I don’t think she’s quite up to soloing Archvillains/Heroes, though.

    You seriously should try redside if just to play a Mastermind, though. It’s a unique experience I have not seen replicated anywhere else (even WoW’s Hunters and Warlocks aren’t the same as Masterminds, though they’re probably closer than anything else.)

  3. GreyDuck says:

    90% or better of my time in CoX is either spent soloing or playing exclusively with friends/family. (Almost 100% of my time in Diablo II was the same way, actually.) My g/f and I duo A LOT, and we manage very, very well that way. We both have terrible alt-itis as well, which means we always have a wide variety of combos to try out for teaming up. “Shall we take the ‘trollers out for a spin, hon’?” “Nah, let’s play the widows instead.” *grin*

  4. Kleedrac says:

    Here’s to seeing you join us back in Guild Wars (as you spent far too little time talking about it before moving to CoH (which I played and truly didn’t enjoy to be honest … to each their own)

  5. karln says:

    Ah. I hadn’t quite grasped from your earlier post that you’re getting these groups ALL THE TIME. On my EU servers I haven’t encountered this much, my groups usually start out white or yellow and only bump the difficulty up if we’re clearly much too strong for the enemy. So I imagined your rant was about the odd idiotic group you found yourself in from time to time.

    If you can stand playing the earlier levels again you probably should try rolling on a different server, to check if grouping is any better there. Worth a few hours just to check in any case; if it solves your problems you can keep playing this cool game :)

    I kinda like the villaining, but it’s a shame I’m working for other people so much. I’d love to be in my lair making elaborate plots to take over the world (with my Freeze Ray I will…), but I don’t see how a game could provide that :( There have been a couple of nice moments though when I’ve had the opportunity to pick which way I’m gonna go with a mission line that could turn out different ways. It’s an old trick of course and very shallow in terms of game logic, but CoV’s fluff really sells it well and makes me excited about it somehow :) I’m hoping to see more of that later.

  6. krellen says:

    I think the newspaper missions are supposed to be you in your lair hatching your own plots, karln.

  7. Adeon says:

    I play mostly solo in CoH because for me it’s a much more enjoyable game. If I’m in a group then I’m basically just sitting in the back spamming attacks. Solo I have to think a lot more about positioning and attack sequence to ensure that the enemies that are dangerous to me are suppressed or killed early. Additionally there are some abilities that I really like (sniper rifle, trip mine and bean bag) that are extremely useful in single player but virtually useless in a group.

    As other people have said though consider changing server. I play on Virtue and have so far only encountered one group that had a setting above Heroic (and that was a guy who was looking for help specifically because he had a setting above Heroic).

  8. Ysabel says:

    Personally, I only see purples when I’m the lowbie in the group, or sidekicked to the lowbie. Usually I like to fight yellows and oranges with the occasional red, or on a well-coordinated team oranges and reds with the occasional purple.

    Honestly, the groups I’m in are usually not having trouble moving at a quick pace or having much problem in the way of members dying. When I’m playing a tank I often end up dying at least once in a mission, because I’m working hard at drawing aggro, but generally I pay off the debt involved before I finish the mission, and, you know, I’m playing a tank, so I don’t mind.

    We often have groups that span the 5-levels range, so someone in the group is likely seeing a lot of purple, but if your higher-level folks in the group are seeing a lot of purple, you’re doing something wrong. You really want the highest level in your group seeing oranges and maybe the occasional red, no higher, or you’re really making the game take a lot longer for no real extra reward.

    I play mostly on Infinity in a very laid-back supergroup (created and run by my spouse) with only one level 50 in it so far, which may have something to do with it. We do get the occasional idiot on a team, and we just make a note not to team with that person in the future.

  9. Mike says:

    As for SuperGroups – IF you can find a large one with a well-designed base, it is a wonderful resource. Teleporters to all zones, a hospital in the base, a source to buy inspirations (green & blue, most likely).

    If it is a really good base, it will have salvage storage, invention salvage storage, inspiration storage, enhancement storage, even an invention table. In our base storage facilities we tend to stockpile unneeded inspirations and enhancements for other members – take what you need, then return the favor when you have extras.

    Heck, we even have the special Christmas salvage from a few years ago so new toons can get the extra costume slots. :)

    Overall, it’s not so much the people in the supergroup, but the resources available in the base!

    That said, if you are truly lucky and find a SG with a great base AND active friendly people, you will always be on a well-formed team of experts that will tear through reds & purples with no faceplants. :)

    I love my SG!

  10. Ysabel says:

    Also, I agree with other posters that you should try a Mastermind. They’re totally unlike anything else.

    I recommend Bots/Dark as an easy soloing mix.

  11. Jim says:

    It sounds like you hit the same wall I did in the same amount of (calender) time. Though you got to higher levels than I ever did, and probably spent more time playing.

    After we had both quit playing, a friend and I felt that CoH would make a really great Single-Player game, ala Freedom Force.

    Start as you do in CoH, building a character and soloing through some early training missions. Then you could create other characters that could ultimately be put together as a super-group. Combat could either be you AI controlling the other heroes or maybe some kind of turn-based or paused action assignment thing.

    Hell you could even do multiplayer where you could team-up with other people’s teams. You could even bring in the City of Villains side by letting them create their arch-nemesis, or even other boss characters.

  12. karln says:

    @Krellen: well yeah but the newspaper stuff gets repetitive quite fast and they’re all just one-offs. I dunno I was thinking of something more involved but non-specific because of course this would be a very hard thing to do in a video game. Maybe a system for building a multi-step take-over-the-world plan from plausible pre-written components? Pump guy for information, steal nonsensoleum, forge mind-control weapon consistent with my origin, manipulate and frame Black Scorpion for underhanded attacks on Scirocco, I dunno. Something.

    I’m not suggesting they should have done this. I just wish I could play it. Meanwhile I’m having fun enjoying stuff like the Willy Wheeler questline, which was in fact perfectly linear but made me grin and feel clever on behalf of my character when I saw where it was going and played it out :D

  13. krellen says:

    Well, issue 14 is expected sometime in early/mid 2009, karln. That might be the solution you’re looking for. :D

  14. karln says:

    Oh yeah I’d forgotten about that (taking a break to play the WoW expansion as that’s where my friends are, sadly)… that does look quite cool :D

  15. Ysabel says:

    I also missed your previous post about people saying they played against purples just for XP. That’s insane. *grin*

    If XP is your only goal, there’s an easy way to get that. Find a team who plays well together, preferably of 7 other people who are all higher level than you. Sidekick to the lowest one in the group. Ideally, your sidekicked level should be 5 below the highest person in the group, though 4 works well too. Go do missions where most mobs con yellow or orange to the highest person in the group. You can earn ten levels in an evening that way.

    And it can be a lot of fun if you’re playing with a group of people you know, especially if you’re all on Skype kibbitzing.

    But that’s not a strategy that really makes sense for pick-up teams, and it’s not the best way to play the game in general, IMHO.

    If I’m playing with random people I don’t know and I’m seeing any of the signs of cluelessness (lots of purples, lack of coordination, anything that means we have to move really slowly), I’m going to bail on that team damn fast.

  16. DaveMc says:

    karln, remind me again what your global handle was? I play on the EU servers, and it would be neat to meet up with fellow Twenty-Sided fans (idea for a supergroup name: “The Twenty-Sided Told”, whaddaya think?) I go by @NanoPixie if anyone in the EU wants to get in touch.

    (I’m actually not in the EU, physically, but I started playing there after an eBay accident (wrong game version!), and found that my schedule actually worked better for playing with people in time zones many hours ahead of mine.)

  17. Kameron says:

    There’s a reason why the server is nicknames “Freedumb”. I played predominantly on Justice and Virtue. I found a nice SG and rarely had issues finding a nice pick-up group.

  18. Jeff says:

    Why would you want to fight a battle if you know the outcome?

    This is silly. Why would you fight a battle you know you’ll lose? You don’t, and nobody does it.

    The groups fight purples to win, and you know you will, eventually. The outcome is never in doubt.

  19. Derek K. says:

    Shamus: get to Virtue. Seriously. I can count on one set of hands the number of purple groups I’ve been in that weren’t built for that purpose. I’ve been in a lot of “forming invinc mish team!” groups, but I don’t expect xp from those.

  20. JoCommando says:


    krellen’s first post touches on some critical aspects of CoV, which I feel compelled to emphasize:

    Brutes, Stalkers, and Masterminds are just plain Fun To Play. That tanker you mentioned hating so much? The Brute is a tanker, but reversed. You do more damage as you attack and as you get attacked, creating a “Rage Rush” that puts the similar WoW mechanic to shame. Defense is an afterthought mostly because the mobs don’t last long enough (the best defense is a good offense after all!). I’ve never had taunt on a Brute build, nor have I ever missed it. My favorite has been Super Strength/Earth Armor, but Electric Melee/* and */Willpower are also worth checking out.

    Stalkers take slightly longer to get going because, at lowest levels, you’re constantly waiting to re-stealth in order to get the most out of your attack chain. But my Energy Melee/Energy Armor stalker is simply INSANE against small groups of mobs or 1-2 large, hardened targets.

    Masterminds are a micromanager’s dream with some knowledge of the /macro command, and can be roleplayed thematically really well. Sure it takes a while to get your last, and sometimes coolest, pet but the Mastermind is as much a one-man wrecking machine as the brute or stalker.

    If you haven’t played one of these ATs you simply haven’t experienced the best that the CoX universe has to offer.

    As for playing as villains, believe me, I often forget that my characters are so-called villains. Most of the enemies you fight are the same hostiles as in CoH: Circle of Thorns, Tsoo, Malta, Family, 5th Col… errr… Council. Most of the story arcs are of the “Undermine those villains’ power” and “stop them before they kill us ALL” varieties which, letls face it, arent so different from the heroic arcs.

    And as I once stated in a post a while back, a well written backstory can explain anything, such as how Endo was thrown through time, snapped the necks of one too many corrupt evil-doers, and got thrown in jail for it, only to break out and begin a crusade for justice in this foreign time.

    I’d hate for you to leave CoX without having at least sampled CoV… please don’t limit yourself to blueside!

  21. Jax says:

    While I’ve always enjoyed my time on CoH for players that have been around for years, it’s easy to forget how eye opening parts of the game used to be to us. The hundredth time you go up against Frostfire isn’t the same as the first.

    That being said, what I truly enjoy about the game is the variety in teams that form. Not every support alt plays or teams the same and the same goes for melee or damage alts. the hardest part for me to learn was I don’t have to be a follower or a leader. Going it solo can be faster exp and just as much fun. Being open to teams will let you do things you certainly can’t solo, but also the pitfalls come with that.

    Finding a good global teaming channel or badge channel on your server of choice can make all the difference in the world. After a while you can identify individuals that you can expect to be either a team leader or teammate that you can count on. They typically have other people that respect them and you can end up with a better quality team.

    It took me over a year to land with a solid super group, in fact the core players have about 4 super groups and 2 villain groups on the same server. That lends to variety and familiarity. The team ups this provides are the only reason I keep playing, that and nothing better has come along.

  22. Sam says:

    I have yet to try to get into a group to finish any missions. That’s mostly because I haven’t had a need to find a group yet. Of course, my strongest Hero is only level 8. And he’s a Tanker. I’m certainly glad I haven’t yet had to put up with the incessant idiots that seem to somehow populate every MMO out there.

    Then again, I just started my account a few days ago, after my free trial ended just shortly before. I suppose we’ll see how it goes once I get my main up above level 10. At least when I do play I know I’ve got at least one guy who’d be happy to team with me, so we’ll have one less slot to fill whenever we do group missions.

  23. Kevin says:

    This was pretty much my exact beef with CoH. Curve too steep for solo play, (for me anyway) and not enough in common with the typical players to really get jazzed about groups or supergroups. (In other words, I was always trying to catch up from just having been killed, and not having fun.) On the whole, it kind of seemed like a step backwards gameplay-wise.

    The people in my guild in WoW, on the other hand, are the same folks I’ve been playing with since EQ for the Mac first came out. I’ve known these folks for years. I’ve met a lot of them, talked to their kids and spouses, and chatted with them about instances, uber-loot, and lawn care. We’re all on the same page as far as what we want out of our gaming experience, and the kinds of challenges we’re willing to tackle. (Though no xp penalty is really nice too.)

    I don’t know if this helps you Shamus, except to say that there probably are other people out there who play the game the same way you do, you’d just have to be willing to slog through the mud long enough to find them. (Which I guess I wasn’t.)

  24. Anaphyis says:

    some MMOs have a good solo package, but the MM part means you should be playing with other people

    No. Just no. The MM part should mean I have the option to play with other people if I want to.

    There might be some educational valuable lesson in traveling with a bunch of tea-bagging morons with the intelligent demeanor of a frozen meat loaf. I get it, loners are losers. But not on my free time, not while I pay money for it.

    That’s the main reason I quit WoW and went back to Guild Wars after my clan broke up cause of personal issues. I don’t want to spend my money and free time to filter the few intelligent people out of the moron sewage instead of playing the game. In GW I can at least play with the bots until I’ve found a nice group to spend my time with.

    Socializing with others should be something worthy to achieve, not something enforced.

  25. sithson says:

    A few things I want to address shamus:
    First off, there is this thing called sidekicking, and it is the best thing I have ever heard of ever. ever. It allows you to sidekick to a higher player, and be one level under that player in terms of fighting foes. Sure you dont have all the enhancments that he does, or the powers, and you miss more than he does, but it does allow you to visit and do things that you wouldn’t normaly get to do without help. So, signing up for a supergroup who have higher level players lets you go fight with them and sorta powerlevel, but not really. You still get the same xp as if the foe were your level, and your friend gets the same xp as if it were his level. Taskforces and long mission arcs is where your going to see a dramatic increase in playability.

    I dont think you have talked about taskforces in this game either. These missions require you to have a full group, and then, its a huuuuuge long story arc in multiple zones, and ends with a archvillian boss fight and some very nice enhancers and or recipies. Often, these things will EAT up an entire day (the higher level ones) but most are going to run a typical nights run. And becuase onece you start a task force its a commitment and people cant just leave. (unless that is youve had enough of the task force and want to continue th enext night).

    Becuase of this its going to be alot harder to find a group for this, and people are not going to be trying to gain the system with a purple taskforce run, becuase they are too difficult to do anyways. Also, yes, the other thing you havent talked about which is why I think COH does so great, or rather has the best idea again…

    Is reverse side kicking! Now, see im back in the day when you could have a level of debt. Not this mamby pansy quarter level you guys get now a days, cap. In that time sometimes you needed to get reid of debt and fast, the fastest way to do so was reverse side kicking, what happens is the hero (lets say a lvl 50 blaster) exemplars (reverse side kick) with a level 10. He would work off 100% of the debt at his level for doing missions while exmplared. Of course you would loose powers and only have what you had at level 10 but it was great. Now your high level friends in your supergroup can reverse side kick go on a task force and have fun! Yeah every one wins!

    what im saying is give it some more time, shamus.

  26. Annon says:

    I probably don’t have much to add, but I can’t leave without advising you to try CoV before you toss the game. Teamwork is not as much a requirement for the villains–I have been easily able to take on reds and purples by myself as a mastermind, and yellows and oranges as anything else. A usual game of CoV goes:
    First, beat up Whites, looking until I actually find a decent group–one that either isn’t suicidal, or one that knows what it is doing. Following that, I either have fun with a new group or I get annoyed and return to step 1, enjoying myself playing solo. Either way, I have fun and I’m not waiting around all day.

    On a side note–MMO Lemmings would be awesome!

    “LVL 3 BLD LFG PST!”

  27. Pi says:

    If I hadn’t found an excellent supergroup, 85% of whose members I thoroughly enjoyed being around/grouping with, I wouldn’t have played as long as I did. Said the person with 4 level 50s, a 41, a 38, and sundry here-and-gone characters up to 20ish. Now, while I tended to play highly soloable builds, one of the 50s was a rad/rad defender with one (1) attack power, which had one (1) slot. Subtle Swarm would never have existed without having good people to regularly play and socialize with.

    I played on Virtue, with Power’s Allegory (the Penny Arcade sg). It was actually one of the lackluster 15% who recruited me to the sg in-game; I had no idea they were affiliated with PA in any way until someone asked ‘So, do you like Penny Arcade? Even know what that is?’.

    Seriously, though, if you’re already on Virtue, or you’re on a server where you don’t care enough to stay and would MOVE to Virtue, I cannot emphasize how much I would recommend finding and joining Power’s A*. Find someone of long standing (I believe Accualt and Gear Girl still play, among others) and tell them Little Lost Girl/Subtle Swarm/Blyndside/Sad Little Mime/KlawShrimp sent you.

  28. karln says:

    DaveMc, I am @Marshlight but my account is lapsed for a month or two while I play the new WoW expansion with my IRL friends. I shall return though.

  29. Jacob says:

    I’m fortunate in that my favorite class to play are scrappers. Scrappers solo really well, so when I get tired of pick-up groups, I can always ditch out and go my own route. That’s particularly handy when I have a storyline I want to explore and don’t feel like cajoling a bunch of nutwads into coming along.

    I’ve played both defenders and controllers up to 20 or so and I can say with some certainty that both those classes are a drag and a half to solo. Yeah, you can do it, but it takes forever because of your lack of offensive capabilities. I suspect the same is true for tanks.

  30. krellen says:

    Jacob: My highest level hero is a tanker. She has far more offence than my controller does, with the added benefit of being virtually impossible to drop.

  31. Rick says:

    Trollers get better solo in the thirties when they get pets; my ice/storm picked up Jack Frost, Tornado, and Lightning Storm at 32, 35, and 38 and went from “ugh, soloing sucks” to being my best soloer against anything without the Purple Triangles of Doom. (My scrapper’s better against those.)

    Of course, from the mid-teens to 31 is really, really bad.

    As for villains vs. heroes, redside is much better designed (it has the benefit of coming second) except for badges and accolades (I don’t know what they were thinking there), but every now and again the missions get to me (“The Circle is kidnapping Cage Consortium workers for their rituals… hey, why don’t we give them some of the Scrapyarder [former Cage workers now revolting against Cage] leaders so they’ll leave our guys alone!” Blegh.)

  32. karln says:

    Rick: hey wait what? I liked that mission idea: two birds, one stone, and it makes me feel all naughty :) Why didn’t you like it?

  33. Rick says:

    It’s a bit… eviler than I’d prefer to play. It’s one of the mildest examples (I could have brought up Peter Themari…), but still I didn’t care for it.

  34. MRL says:

    Purples? I generally didn’t fight purples unless I was a) sidekicking, b) in a BIG, tough group, or c) both.

    Oranges and reds were pretty much enough for me.

  35. Pickly says:

    You seem to be running into the same types of MMO problems a lot of people have run into. (Issues with leveling, not enough time, being the only non idiot in the game, etc.)

    (I am deliberately exaggerating the “idiot” complaint, as I noticed that most people seemed fine, but there were enough annoying people to easily screw up a lot of the game.)

    I still play Guild wars, but have pretty much lost interest in new MMO’s for these reasons. (Though Guild wars does have its large share of annoying people, including the progression obsessed ones.)

    Lets have some more good EA rants, like about why they stopped producing Alien Crossfire after such a short time, and it now seems to cost more than $100 to get no matter where I look. (Alpha Centauri is also another good game, and good looking also, than still runs well on far lower system requirements than newer ones.)

    (sorry for the off topic, sort of rambling post.)

  36. Nine of Swords says:

    To be honest I never played much on Hero side because it always struck me as kinda dull (“Go out and hunt x Hellions? Am I a fledgeling superhero or an industral broom?”) before I could get into it, but I’ve always found villain side interesting and cool. Having spoken to a few friends of mine who only go hero side, and from the PvP zones, you get a better class of player on villain side. No offence to hero side folks. But there seems to be much less of the tea-bagging morons and assorted monkeys on the villain side for some reason.

    I guess it’s easier to be a jerk to everyone else when you’re pretending to save the world.

  37. DKellis says:

    I solo over 95% of the time in CoH/V. Brought three characters to 50 without teaming ever, and two more without teaming for XP. (Total of seven 50s, if anyone really cares.)

    I solo because I kept getting horrible pick-up groups. I understand that’s not for everyone.

    For what it’s worth, Freedom appears to have a reputation for Sturgeon’s Law population. I’ve never played there, so I can’t comment. I usually play on Virtue (very populated, very drama-queen) and Infinity (nothing special I’ve noted yet).

    I’d recommend sticking around for at least level 35, when you can get into the Rikti War Zone and Cimerora. Then you can quit.

  38. Traska says:

    It’s funny. I haven’t played CoX in a few months, and your post echoes my sentiments perfectly… except I’ve been subscribing for over three years now. I’ll go through a cycle where I play a few months, rest a few months. I’m the same way with EQ2… but fortunately, their cycles seem to coincide in exact opposite detail.

    I’ve always had trouble getting into the villain side, personally. Don’t get me wrong, I love Masterminds, and wish Blasters were more like Corruptors, but the place is so… bleak. I’m tired of “Villains are in control so everything looks like crap”. What about villains like Doom, who rule their country with an iron fist and terrorize the citizenry, but who take pride in what they rule?

    Alas, I think the thing truly missing from City of Heroes is… villains. They have criminals and terrorists aplenty, but where are the spandex-clad bank robbers cutting the vault open with eye-lasers? That part of it always seems only half finished.

    For the record, my highest level character? Level 32 Scrapper. Yeah, grinding doesn’t thrill me much.

  39. Rick Tacular says:

    Get your wife to play with you. Of course, you run the risk of having her outstrip you completely in the game, but that’s the chance you take. =)

  40. DaveMc says:

    From these comments, my advice would be: play on the EU servers. :) I have really not found most randomly-assembled groups, over on Union and Defiant in the EU, to be plagued by idiots. I’m not saying that this is some sort of commentary on North Americans vs. Europeans (and Australians, etc), but for whatever mysterious reason, my mileage has varied *substantially* from Shamus’s. I find that if I assemble a pick-up group, it’s generally a group of friendly folks, and even if they’re not skilled team players, they tend to be willing to learn, and are rarely pushy about things like difficulty settings.

  41. Krellen says:

    Traska: Your problems are issues my VG tries to address. We are spandex-clad villains, and most of us want to rule the world with a fat, happy populace too lazy to overthrow us. :D

  42. Rich says:

    Go Villain. Go Virtue. Play a Mastermind. Trust Me. ;)

  43. Greg P says:

    I have to say, Shamus, that my experiences in CoH have pretty much been the polar opposite of yours. In part because I picked up the game to play with some friends in the first place… we all pre-ordered it before CoH hit the shelves, and all ran together from the start. And perhaps in part because I never ran on Freedom. I’m on Justice, and have some characters on Virtue.

    I spend about half my time grouping, and about half solo. When I’m with a group, it almost always is a group of people I know. I don’t actually recall the last time I’ve been in a PUG, except to do seasonal content like the Zombie Apocalypse, or the Rikti Invasions.

    I find it hard to believe with the number of readers you have posting comments here that it would be very difficult for you to find a good SG to join. ;)

    I go back and forth between red and blue side. I have two level 50 heroes, one 50 villain, and am currently working up a second villain as my ‘main’. CoV *is* the ‘better’, more polished of the two, but I just really like to be a hero. So I switch back and forth, depending on which character I feel like playing, or which side my friends are playing that day.

    I’m not sure I really have a point, so I’m gonna just stop rambling here…

  44. DKellis says:

    Spandex-clad bank robbers with eye lasers are certainly in CoH. Not everyone likes Safeguard missions, though, and I sometimes skip them if I really don’t feel like it. (I avert my eyes from the detective contact’s horrified reaction.)

    I can’t personally help with SG recruitment, since, as mentioned, I solo almost exclusively, but I do know some quite good SGs. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any that are on Freedom in specific.

    I’ll just repeat my exhortation: level to 35, and take a look at the eye-candy of the Rikti War Zone and Cimerora. Then you can quit.

  45. rose glace says:

    i think more important than a good supergroup is a good
    global chat channel. most of my toons are in groups, but
    with few exceptions all the toons in these groups are, well,
    me. global channels are where i meet and communicate with
    other folks.

    i can recommend decent ones on justice and virtue; not so
    much on other servers.

  46. Danath says:

    I would never advocate “harder is funner” position in game, I would never level with such powerful monsters unless i was in an obviously overpowered group, although once in a while pulling that “extra tough” that hangs around the normals can be fun, or going out of your way for a challenge (not related to leveling), but I agree with Shamus, when it comes to level, fighting purples constantly IS NOT fun in a group, with once again FFXI being a shining example of how killing stuff that is T (orange) and VT (red) is about two, to five times (or even more if you have a spawn with alot of them) than fighting IT (purple), simply because you can steamroll them faster (ive seen groups level on ITs, but they tend to be stacked groups of the hardest hitting classes with the best buffs, and if not, then they suck).

  47. Dragonbane says:

    I don’t even play CoX anymore, haven’t for a couple years, but I’m still going to chime in that you should try out the Mastermind before you leave. I recommend Robots or Thugs – Robots are just cool, but Thugs have fun knockdown. Pick up one of the two personal pistol attacks for added amusement value. Then pick up all of the minion-enhancing powers. The downside is a required Summon & Buff chain upon entering each mission or area, but the fun of minions who do what you tell them to is oh so worth it once you figure out how their command macros work. :)

  48. Mmm. I guess I’ll be trying out CoH next, since PlayNC is shutting down my drug-of-the-hour, Tabula Rasa, and they’re compensating the loss by giving away three month doses of CoH and Lineage II.

  49. Rich says:

    @48: Can’t say I’m surprised about Tabula Rasa. I was in the beta from the beginning. I didn’t go retail. It just didn’t float my boat. Sorry about it going under, though, especially if you were enjoying it. I was a hardcore Auto Assault player, beta and retail and I remember how sad I was to see that shut down.

  50. Derek K. says:

    I wanted TR to be awesome, but I couldn’t get in to it. I was playing Planetside at the time, which probably didn’t help.

  51. Danath says:

    I actually enjoyed Tabula Rasa, but I didnt play the game long, I just had other better games to take up my time, if they made the game world a bit smaller with some more NPC’s it would probably be a decent single player game maybe.

  52. Malimar says:

    Apparently they’re also changing Masterminds in the next Issue so you only need to use your upgrade and better-upgrade powers once each on entering the mission, and it will affect all your henchmen. Unless that’s a PvP-only change, I haven’t actually been paying attention to it. The setup time is the one complaint most people have about masterminds (the other main complaint is that they’re easy mode for soloing), but that should be drastically reduced by this change.

    Masterminds are indeed probably my second-favourite archetype. My favourite is scrappers. Of course, I’ve gotten two MMs to 50, so the main reason they’re not my favourite is probably because I got sick of taking so long after entering each mission to get up to full combat capacity.

    Aside from echoing everybody else’s exhortations to roll an MM and try villain-side (the players really are very different. Better, I don’t know, but to assume they’re just the same on both sides is to assume something that is, in my experience, quite incorrect), I would also like to echo the exhortations to get a character up to 35 at least. For me, 35 is where the game really picks up. 30 is good, because you get an aura, and 32 is good because you get your most powerful primary power, and 38 is good because you get your most powerful secondary power, but 35 is best because it gives you access to the Rikti War Zone and Cimerora. The RWZ is amazingly awesome, and if you quit the game without having experienced it, I feel you’ll have done yourself a grave disservice.

    You can specifically try this method: Get in on a Katie Hannon run with one of your level 30s (30 is the minimum level, 35 is the max for XP), if you haven’t already. People run them for the recipe you get at the end, but I’ve found running several of them is the best way to get from 30 to 35 if you’re in a hurry. Most teams blaze through the TF in 15 to 30 minutes, and I usually average out to at least a level per run. I don’t recommend relying on only that for the whole 30-35 range, because I don’t advocate skipping over the actual content, but it’s certainly better than the newspaper missions you’ll be grinding with stupid PuGs.

    Also also! I heartily recommend joining the global channels Freedom Events and RadioFreedomServer (Radio Freedom, as well, but it may be full and you can’t dump inactive channel members yet, which is why they made RFS). Those channels have most of the awesomest, most competent, last stupid people on Freedom, so it basically gives you the benefits of joining an excellent supergroup, without the effort of trying to find a non-crappy SG. They do have some emphasis on TFs (but then, TFs (not counting the Task Force Commander and Shadow Shard ones) are the most fun part of the game), but they also blaze through most TFs with impressive alacrity, suitable even for a time-constrained blogger like yourself.

    Also also also: task forces are way, way better in terms of your trying-to-fight-purples problem. Most teams, on most task forces, will agree “This is long and hard enough to begin with, set it to the easiest difficulty so we can get through it faster.” I particularly recommend the Lady Gray Task Force (35-50, 2 to 3 hours) in RWZ and the Imperious Task Force (35-50, 1 to 2 hours) in Cimerora, those are two of the best task forces in the game. Most of the villain task forces are great, too, as is the Statesman Task Force (45-50, and I can’t remember how long it usually takes). The Eden Trial (38-40, I think, and as little as 15 to 30 minutes for a “speeden”) is also significant fun times.

  53. Malimar says:

    To reiterate and expand upon my earlier comment: you have no idea how painful it is for a CoH veteran to read “I've worked a couple of characters up to about level 30 now, which is the end game as far as I'm concerned.”

    35 is the level where you gain access to the Rikti War Zone and Cimerora and two of the best TFs in the game. The late 30s are when your character has all of his core powers and starts to gain things that are just icing. The 30s are when you start to be able to take on much higher-level foes with great ease and really feel like a superhero. The late 30s are when the vast majority of the idiot players (excluding PLed noobs) have been weeded out. Level 40 is when you gain access to the Shadow Shard, which, while the worst thing ever to get around in (and containing four of the worst TFs in the game), still has some breathtakingly pretty areas.

    So to me, saying “level 30 is high enough” is saying “I’ve gotten almost, but not quite, to the point where the game starts to really become totally balls-to-the-wall awesome, and I’ve seen enough.”

    Of course, perhaps it is a real problem that some of the best content in the game can take up to a 2-hour single-stretch time commitment. If real life prevents you from doing the most fun stuff, then I guess I have nothing particularly helpful to offer.

  54. Jae Walker says:

    I have to echo the sentiment to try Virtue. I play on Virtue, Triumph and Pinnacle (and have a toon on Justice to play with a friend). I’ve had very few bad teams, and spend a lot of time playing with my friends.

    I have only one toon over 40, and I thought the content got a LOT more interesting after 35. @gamerchick – look me up before you give up!

  55. JP says:

    Sorry if replying to old posts is considered bad manners, but I just couldn’t resist.
    I’ve been playing CoX in the Europe servers for 18 months now, and I think I’m there to stay.

    I know standing around and trying to find teams is pretty annoying.
    I play the game with my real-life friends, and we have 2 evenings per week set aside for CoX. We play for a couple of hours, and have agreed not to play the main characters outside our common playing time.
    So our chars are always at the same level, and questing becomes much easier.

    Joining supergroups doesn’t help, if you can’t find same-minded players inside that group. It takes time and effort to find a great group of players amongst strangers.
    The best choice is real-life friends, but that isn’t always an option.
    If you find a fun and like-minded player, invite him as a Friend. Ask him for a place on a team next time you play. Chances are he already knows other great players.

    Oh, and playing with villains isn’t that much better. The players are mostly the same, and I find the quests more boring on the Villain side. Especially the world maps are annoyingly maze-like, and a real pain for under lvl 14 characters.

    Battling purples, for me, depends on the character. If I’m soloing, I always drop the difficulty and battle white/yellow enemies. It just makes most sense, and give me the most fun challenge.
    But now we’ve been playing with a group of three healer-masterminds, and purple enemies drop like flies. The game is challenging but still fun.

  56. Katerinae says:

    There is a difficulty level beyond which things just get discouragingly hard, and people leave the team, etc. That’s “too” difficult. Exactly what that difficulty will be for any given team is going to vary wildly. Some teams can set to invincible and just roll through it no problem. Other teams ‘not so much’. Bear in mind that the ideal ‘xp’ difficulty and the ideal ‘fun’ difficulty will be slightly different, but not drastically different. best xp is zero death, fast paced, but not too easy. most fun is periodic death, rarely a team wipe, medium paced, and challenging. you’ve been on teams with people who have preconceived notions about xp/time ratios. There are ideal formulae for this (such as 6 man team on unyielding) but that may not be ideal for a particular grouping of players, especially if they are sub-30’s.

    If you just really want to level as fast as possible, it is easy to powerlevel in CoX. There are specific missions which are almost tailor made for the purpose, and you can manipulate sidekicking to put yourself down half a dozen levels from a 50 who is soloing large spawns in a ‘farm mission’. with a few ‘fillers’ you’ll go from level 1 to 8 in one mission. then to lvl 12, etc. you’ll be in your late teens with a few more runs. But you won’t actually DO anything, and its not particularly ‘fun’.

    So presumably there is a point at which your sense of wanting advancement meets ‘acceptable risk’ & ‘challenge’ and results in ‘fun’. Any group should be shooting for this balance, though not all members may agree on the exact balancing point. If someone’s trying to force a preconceived idea of difficulty level onto a team, whether too high or too low, then they’re not adapting to the needs of that specific team and that’s not going to be as fun.

    Myself personally, I am in that category you’re complaining about ;) When they ask me how difficult I would like it, i ask how difficult they can make it. But when i’m running a team, I recognize that a lot of people don’t share this preference for excitement & demand for skill over quick & simple advancement, and I try to gauge the desires of the group as a whole. Also, sometimes I’ll encourage a team to try things ‘just a little harder’ and then maybe educate them a bit on some tactical tricks we can use to overcome the challenge.

    A lot of newer players don’t know what LOS (line of sight) is, or a Corner Pull, or have never seen a tank ‘Herd’ (including some tanks). A lot of them don’t realize how their debuffing abilities stack up with other players powers (or even some of their own powers) and accumulate on mobs, and how to maximize those effects. Sometimes a healer who needs to land a hit to get their heal to work needs to come to the epiphany that its a lot easier when targeting a minion than a boss. Or maybe if you get a blaster to bide their time for an extra second, letting that stormy put down freezing rain, and then cut loose with their best attacks on the freshly debuffed mobs… there’s a synergy to many of the powers in the game, and it takes time for people to get used to how they mesh with their teammates. If you’ve got an awesome power which does a lot of knockback, maybe in a large group who’s just herded a bunch of mobs together, that power could do more harm than good by scattering them. maybe if it were directed downward onto the mobs it would just knock them down though, or into a nearby corner where they stay pretty clumped up. I was on one team where someone, i forget the archetype actually, anyway they had this big long recharging nuke-like power which threw mobs all over, but did fair damage to them. on the one hand it did great damage really, but on the other, it threw mobs all over, and though it hurt them it didn’t kill any of them. so then everyone had to use single target attacks to try to finish them off. it was pretty messy. we convinced the person that although their power was indeed awesome, it would be oh so much more awesome if they waited until the mobs were about half dead and thoroughly debuffed, and *then* did their nuke thang. And voila, the scattered mobs were mostly just bodies, we stopped having players dying, we started doing missions like 2x as fast, etc. The bad part of a PUG isn’t generally because of a bad mix of powers, its because of poor coordination between players.

    As you get to higher level, you’ll find players get better at using their powers, and better at working well with their teammates’ powers. and honestly I think that makes a bigger difference than the cool later level powers you get. And if you play with the same group of people regularly, you can become a lean mean villain squashing machine. and then you’ll really want purples (really!).

    Anyway, I’m on virtue, @Katerinae
    I’d make a low level alt to play with if you wanted, i am a certified altoholic. or take you on a sidekicked tour.

    Its a nice server, unofficially its an RP server. Freedom is unofficially a pvp server. As a rule of thumb, that means freedom is a bit more “GANkT! z0mG Ur so n00b!lol I [email protected] ur bodieeee!” while virtue is more likely to say “what do you mean its bedtime? *character looks up* the sun’s shining high above paragon. You haven’t fallen victim to one of the council’s vampiri have you? *concerned look*”
    Personally I prefer the latter.
    If for no other reason than the fact that they’re more likely to focus on teamwork and making adjustments rather than calling their teammates n00b and quitting. Also, they’re more helpful to new players. I see people giving a million influence to new players all the time, strangers, not recruiting for a supergroup, just cuz they like to help new players out.

    incidentally, at lower levels (i forget the specific ranges) running around in supergroup mode does generate prestige for the supergroup, but does not cost you any xp. beyond a certain level though, it ends up splitting the xp into 1/2xp & 1/2prestige. Most decent supergroups only ask players to regularly run in SG mode up to that level. or perhaps as part of a group effort to get a certain amount of prestige for some particular supergroup base bling. I know of one SG which had crafted a huge and intricate maze in their sg base, it was kinda cool. My supergroup consists of only a few players though, and there’s enough prestige just from low level alts running in sg mode to afford a nice little base with teleporters, medcenter, invention tables, storage, etc. So i can’t imagine why a supergroup would feel the need to be demanding about sg mode.

  57. Glazius says:

    Heh. I know you probably won’t read this, Shamus. (@GlaziusF in the game if you still play it and want to shoot me a line.)

    But with some of your later posts being about scalable per-player difficulties, I thought I should come back and toss this up: the “purple lemmings” have found a level of difficulty with which they are comfortable, and you are not. The problem with MMOs is that generally if there’s a big preferred-difficulty gap in a group there’s really no way to all experience the same things and satisfy everyone. Between groups, not so much of a problem.

    I generally feel alright seeing yellow minions in the average team. That can swing up or down depending on the team’s average level, but generally while I don’t enjoy hurling several incarnations of the entire party at a single group to take it down, I also don’t enjoy a field full of whites where I may as well put the leader on autofollow, set one power on autocast, and then go fold laundry for all the difference it’ll make. (I was feeling that way on a Freakshow respec with the reactor complex floor covered in purple Freakshow tanks once. Playing a defender who needs an enemy anchor for powers, and any given tank seemed to die in 5 seconds.)

    I guess I can offer the advice I take myself – if you want a pickup group that works, make your own.

  58. CoV player says:

    I want to be able to solo the stupid imperious task force just to get the costume pieces. It sucks they are tied to that. I absolutely HATE grouping with more than 1 other person so I will have to find a hack or cheat or soemthing off a couple sites to duo that taskforce

  59. Gordon says:

    I’m sory to hear you left the game beind, especially with imprived graphics and going rogue on the way, as well as mission architect and power spectrum. you REALLY should have tried to get to the imperious TF, it is incredible

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