The character creator in CoH is the antithesis of the one in Tabula Rasa. When it comes to concept, appearance, and gameplay, CoH offers so much variety and so many possibilities that at first I was paralyzed with choice. It took me over an hour to get into the game. It was like I was standing in the middle of an amusement park with no lines and I couldn’t bring myself to just pick a ride – I wanted to try them all. At once.
This game makes a very compelling first impression.
- Blaster: Your ranged fighter class. High damage output, but a little fragile. This would be your Archer / Puller in a classic fantasy setting.
- Controller: Your crowd control class. Good for disrupting large groups of enemies so you can fight them a few at a time. Very fragile, but very interesting powers.
- Defender: Ye Olde healer class. Buffs in this game are potent. When someone boosts you with healing or “buffs” you with their powers, you will feel the difference right away. I haven’t played one of these guys yet, but I love having them around.
- Scrapper: The fisticuffs class. Good damage output and fairly sturdy. The downside is that they have no ranged attack and (worse) they can usually only hit one foe at a time. This becomes a problem when you start facing crowds later on. This is my favorite class so far.
- Tanker: The damage absorption class. Moderate damage output, but very hard to kill.
Here is where you choose how you got your powers. Early in the game this affects who your initial contacts are and what sort of missions you’ll get in solo play, and a few other minor things.
- Science: You became a superhero through scientific experiments / accidents. Examples: Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, The Fantastic Four. Geeze… nearly everything created by Stan Lee, really.
- Mutation: You became a superhero through mutation. Examples: The X-Men.
- Magic: This is a catch-all for supernatural stuff ranging from demon powers to witchcraft to mythical gods to regular old wizard-style hocus pocus. Examples: Thor, Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, Hellboy, Spawn, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel.
- Technology: Your powers come from a machine or device unique to you. Examples: Iron Man, Green Lantern (assuming his ring is a device) and Cyborg.
- Natural: You don’t have super powers. You just train hard and maybe augment yourself with a few high-tech gadgets. Examples: Batman, Punisher.
(I notice it’s hard to fit Superman into just one of these. But then, you couldn’t fit Superman into a single archetype, either. He’s a scrapper and a blaster and a tanker.)
The permutations seem endless. While some combinations are better than others, all are playable.
These vary based on your archetype, but not based on origin. So, you can be a “magical” superhero that uses an assault rife, if you really want. Powers are designed to be balanced, not to force your character into someone else’s idea of “cool”.
|Have you ever wanted to see a superhero in medieval armor with kneee socks, a top hat, and an assault rifle? Yeah, me neither. But you can.|
You can edit the bio and catchphrase once you enter the game, so don’t agonize over it too much here if you’re anxious to get started. Good luck finding a free name, though.
This is the icing on the cake. Once you’re done, you can come up with a name and a backstory for your character. I love running around, clicking on random people in the game and reading their stories.
This is one game where you don’t begin in rags and then grind your way into magnificent apparel. With a few small exceptions (no capes until level 20) you can look any way you like, right from the start. The characters are incredibly diverse. I don’t find myself saying, “Oh, another one of those guys again.”
To be honest, I think a goodly number of the superheroes I meet aren’t very appealing to me. They might look stupid or have unappealing stories. But the beautiful thing is that everyone feels awesome. I’m sure lots of people look at my character and think, “That’s dumb.” But it’s fine, because all of us have exactly the hero we want. No matter what I think of it, the guy playing that goofy character loves it enough to walk around and show it to the world. It’s crazy and it’s chaotic and it’s ridiculous and it’s absolutely brilliant.
And if all of that isn’t enough variety for you, keep in mind you can be a villain as well, which will give you access to all new archetypes, missions, weapons, powers, and start locations.
|Aim High: You can’t fly until level 14. Lots of the characters run around in revealing and not particularly protective suits. But this is one game where this sort of thing makes perfect sense, because that’s what comic book heroes are like, and this game isn’t trying to be taken seriously. It’s metal suits, platform boots, spandex tights, and wonderful ridiculous fun.|
I don’t know what replay value the game has down the line, but I found the first ten minutes of City of Heroes gave me about ten hours of gameplay.
Enraged Nitpick: When you press the button to create your new character, it gives a popup asking if you want to enter the Tutorial Zone, then it asks you what starting area you want, and then it checks to see if your chosen name is taken? Given the fact that trying to name your character is basically mounting a brute-force dictionary attack on the name database, making you click those two popups over and over is just asinine. A smart person would have designed it to do the name check first. Sheesh.
Two minutes of fun at the expense of a badly-run theme park.
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