City of Heroes:
I Should Write a Post About it

By Shamus Posted Friday Oct 10, 2008

Filed under: Game Reviews 49 comments

Today’s lack of posting is brought to you by an acute case of City of Heroes alt-itis.


This is where I would express sorrow and contrition, if I felt any. Frankly, this game is just too much dang fun.

Even grouping. Especially grouping. This, coming from one of the world’s most dedicated solo players. A guy who took a hunter to level 24 in World of Warcraft, and another to level 38. In CoH, I’ve come to see time spent not in a group as downtime. This was something I would not have thought possible.

Detective Grimm is still my favorite character in concept, although in the long run Fullmetal Jackie (my energy / energy blaster on the Freedom server) is more fun to play. She hit level 24 last night.

I have pages of notes on this game, and I’d be sharing them here if I had time to refine them into posts. But really, I’m just too busy playing.


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49 thoughts on “City of Heroes:
I Should Write a Post About it

  1. Rob says:

    HAH! Excellent, you should switch to Virtue though. ^_^
    Also, Star on Chest is an awesome name.

  2. Ran Kailie says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of alt addiction.

    This is how I’ve managed to fill all of my slots of Virtue and willingly purchased two more.

    I think its like 16 characters, many of whom are 30+.

  3. Jeremiah says:

    I agree with Rob, “Star On Chest” is an awesome name. Also, the way Titan Nova is standing almost looks like she has no arms.

  4. Navar says:

    Liberty ftw

    And CoH rocks. Day jobs coming soon should be fun.
    Who doesn’t love a game where every toon can have the self destruction power at level 1?

  5. Mari says:

    Nooooooooo! OK, you’ve already gotten me addicted to Guild Wars and you didn’t even LIKE it that much. Now this? Your secret plan is to destroy my life, isn’t it?

    But seriously, I can appreciate the sentiment even if I’m not playing the same game. Alts are fun. Especially alts named “Star on Chest.” I love that. Not even “Star on Chest Man,” just plain “Star on Chest.”

  6. karln says:

    All this playing, at least 5 alts, and you haven’t touched CoV yet? I’d recommend you try a Mastermind if nothing else, and make sure you get the numpad pet controls set up for him.

    Do those heroes represent each of the 5 basic Hero archetypes?

  7. Rick Tacular says:

    …one of us…one of us…

  8. Chuk says:

    CoV is good, yes. Who wouldn’t want to boss around ninjas?

    CoX is the MMO I’ve spent the most time in, by far. I’m waiting for Champions Online now.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Im impressed that youve managed to take Fullmetal Jackie as a name.

  10. GreyDuck says:

    Adding support to the love for Star On Chest. I wish I’d thought of that!

    My altaholism, let me show you it. (*cough*twenty slots on Protector*cough*)

  11. Palette says:

    … the matrix has you, Neo…

    I play on Guardian, and you can chat with me globally (@Palette) if you like. Don’t be afraid to say hello!

    Guardian is a small server, but that means less lag during things like Hami raids and Rikti invasions. Also, because we’re small, we’re twice as goofy to make up for it. :D

  12. JoCommando says:


    In light of the fact that you seem to be enjoying yourself teaming, I'm wondering what the chances are of there being a Twenty-Sided SG? The “Icosagon Order” or some such fun. Instant teaming connection + prestige earning power… what's not to like? All of my best characters are on Pinnacle (controllers mostly), but I'll gladly reroll on any server to be a part of that action.

  13. Derek K. says:

    5 alts is child’s play. I have 5 alts on my tertiary server to make my supergroup.

    I completely agree on the grouping. CoH is the only game I log in and immediately broadcast lfg. Other games I don’t even consider it until I find an instance to do. It’s awesome.

  14. Fosse says:

    “Fullmetal Jackie” is a truly inspired name. I love it.

  15. Kel'Thuzad says:

    Glad you’re enjoying it. Tell me when you want to experience the horror that is SWG. In the mean time… have fun.

    EDIT: Hmm… I have the 15th comment again. Strange.

  16. Cain says:

    Back when I played I used all the slots in one server (the main role playing server) to play different variations on the same character. He was named Discotek and the idea was that he got different powers depending on which costume and mix tape he had.

  17. Nilus says:


    I loved CoH but I managed to break free years ago. Now I am pulled back in. I agree with your post, I generally prefer to solo in games but CoH makes it so easy and the players are so friendly. I asked a lot of refresher and newb question(a lot had changed since last I played) and I got quick easy answers and everyone has been really helpful.

    Making Alts is addictive but I find I want to play my main character to much so I make an alt, level it to around level 5 or 6 and then it just sits there taking up a slot.

    Are you planning tackling CoV as a seperate game after you have worn out your love for CoH(so in about 10 years)

  18. Illiterate says:


    I think the world of tile-based strategy games needs you to uninstall CoH.

    We can only hope you have the sense to steal some pixels (or will it be necessary to “rescue” them in that idiom?)

  19. Jon K says:

    Does anyone know if this game will work in Vista? I’d really like to give it a try. Anyobody remember a pen and paper RPG from the 80’s called “Villians and Vigilantes?” Me and my nerd buddies got a pretty deep campaign going with that game back in the day.

    Anyway, I’d love some advice on running COH in Vista. Damn, I knew I should have stuck with Windows XP!

  20. SteveSamson says:

    I’m very curious to see where you go with CoH, Shamus. I played CoH and loved it for 8-9 months back before CoV came out. I still think it has the best character creation and character animations of any MMO, ever.

    As you have done, I lost myself in the process of conceiving and creating numerous characters, and I couldn’t get enough of playing each of them and watching them do their thing. What killed the game for me was how shallow the actual game is once you get over how cool the gameplay mechanics are. There are only so many times you can clear bad guys out of yet another generic warehouse.

    I know they’ve added some additional content, but I haven’t heard of anything that sounded the least bit like an actual adventure. My girlfriend and I went back and tried it for a week a year or so ago to see if the addition of PVP made up for the lack of PVE content and we were very disappointed. It seemed to be nothing but gankers and griefers, with no real objective other than picking off people while they were trying to do missions. Is there a new layer to CoH that we totally missed when we went back to give it another try?

  21. Jamey says:

    Ooooh 24 means you can do the first Terra Volta respec task force! Fun stuff :)

  22. Ran Kailie says:

    To Jon K:

    Yes the game runs fine in Vista and Vista 64. ^_^

    To SteveSamson:

    Yeah you missed out on alot, Ouroboros was added and the TaskForces there are really fun and a great adventure. Also for more immersive content really you have to go to City of Villains or the newer content. They’ve changed a lot since COH came out and learned many lessons that when developing CoV and newer items they’ve implemented with lessons learned.

    I suggest:

    Any Villain side Strike Force (Start at level 15) – These are epic arcs that require a team (4-8 depends on which one) that give you a story about some part of the Isles from the mystery of the leviathan to the source of power for mt. diable to even an epic face off against the heroes themselves.

    Rikti War Zone (Level 35 min) – All of the war zone content is epic, and ALOT of fun, especially the Lady Gray Task Force.

    Cimeroa (Level 35 min) – Really I couldn’t sum it up you have to see it and trust me its awesome. If I said anything I’d be giving it away.

    Ouroboros “task forces” – These aren’t true Task forces because you can solo them, but the stories are immense fun, I especially love Lazarus and Tesseract(Tesseract is only villain side).

    I could go on forever, the Eden trial, any of the high level villain story arcs, the Statesman’s Task Force…

  23. DaveMc says:

    Jon K: Anyobody remember a pen and paper RPG from the 80's called “Villians and Vigilantes?”

    I do, but my nerd buddies and I played a pen and paper RPG called Champions, instead. I thought we were the only ones, but now it turns out that it was popular enough to have a spawned a whole upcoming MMO.

    I wonder if “Hunted by H.Y.D.R.A.” will be an option as a Disadvantage? We didn’t really do the Hunted disadvantages justice, as I recall: practically everybody took a couple of Hunteds as a cheap way to get some extra points, but the GM rarely made being Hunted as painful as it was supposed to be. The computer could probably do a better job of making you regret taking those extra 20 points . . .

  24. Kristin says:

    More love for “Star on Chest”.

    Some of my alts are serious, others are insane. My favorite name is “Clownstone” – clown makeup, earth powers. Or possibly “Dragon Dagger Dude” – he dresses like a surfer boi with a dragon on his chest and wields a dagger.

  25. ThaneofFife says:

    Shamus, I blame you! I already spend most of my free time on WoW, and Wrath of the Lich King is out in under a month, and here you go saying another game is even more fun! A game I had been thinking about trying anyway! And I’m broke! Must…resist…urge…to…open…wallet…

    P.S. Whew, that was a lot of exclamation points.

  26. Kevin says:

    Damn, one or two more posts on CoH and you might actually accomplish the impossible – talking me into playing an MMO.

    Also, ‘Fullmetal Jackie’ and ‘Star on Chest’ are both awesome names, but I have to say that ‘Star on Chest’ actually made me laugh out loud (that’s right, even on the inter nets I have the time to type out the nine extra letters!).

  27. mark says:

    I had to quit CoH/CoV after i realised i’d never pass level 30 due to chronic alt-itis.

  28. Sornas says:

    I’ve been feeling the urge to come back to CoX pretty strongly lately, I love the community, as well as the teamwork and fast-paced action.

    But I’m REALLY excited for the Mission Architect feature that’s coming in Issue 14. If you haven’t heard yet, it’s going to allow you to design your own missions, including the map, enemies, storyline, dialogue, and bosses, and then send them to friends, or have them ranked and have the best ones available for everyone to play.

    I LOVE to RP in MMOs, and this just OOZES potential for RP supergroups, as well as fixing one of my major issues with the game, which was the repetitive missions.

  29. Jeff says:

    Shamus’ expertise with screenshot comics really show through.
    Reading left to right, with the punchline being Star On Chest. Bravo!

  30. Chris says:

    It was the same for me. I’ve been a die-hard solo player in every MMO I’ve played. But in City of Villains I found myself grouping almost exclusively. Which made me realize that it’s not really me that’s been pushing a solo agenda; it’s that other MMOs have been failing to provide the right atmosphere for grouping.

  31. DKellis says:

    When it all boils down, CoH/V is really rather shallow. Actual tangible character advancement is obtained via beating up baddies, and little else. The in-game economy and Inventions were added on, but deliberately kept optional, because not having loot was what drew a lot of people to this game in the first place.

    What I play for are the stories in the missions. Yes, they all end up turning into “beat up these guys in this generic instance”, but along the way, I get to read something pretty enjoyable (if not exactly high literature).

    And for the non-advancing activities, the costume creator alone can eat up a surprising amount of time. City exploration isn’t as grand and sweeping as in other MMORPGs, but certain zones (Cimerora, Shadow Shard) are really, really impressive. And then there’s the badge system…

    Plenty of changes have been made since launch (even more so since the handover to NCSoft) to make the game a lot of “casual-friendly”, in the sense that one doesn’t need to have a lot of time or skill in order to enjoy the game. This does mean that the range of activities are broad, but not very deep. (Again, many players like it that way. It’s all a matter of taste.)

    Off-topic: I never know whether having multiple 50s despite also having alt-itis is a source of pride or shame.

  32. Adeon says:

    Well, I’ve been convinced to start playing, and I am enjoying it. The trick will be can it outlast the first month, so far the few MMOs I’ve tried have lasted about that long before I decide their boring and move on.

    Unlike most people (apparently) I don’t really feel the desire to roll up a large number of alts but I am having plenty of fun with my blaster. I still need to write up a bio for my character, I did write one involving time travel, but it was mostly an excuse to use silly tenses, make Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy jokes and poke fun at my own hobbies so I ended up deleting it :).

  33. Mark says:

    Shamus, I’d love to see the bios/warcries for each of your characters. We saw Fullmetal Jackie’s and Detective Grimm’s already…

  34. Sean says:

    Every time I read about someone playing CoH I feel like playing it too! Showing off your character is what MMOs are all about anyway, just don’t tell your real life friends what you do all day on the computer xD

  35. Alex says:

    As a fan of puns, I wholeheartedly endorse “Fullmetal Jackie”. But “Star On Chest” just slays me. It’s the perfect embodiment of the arduous and sometimes frustrating task of finding a name for an MMO character that isn’t taken yet.

    Or maybe the guy’s bio is that he’s partially retarded. Either way.

    Did anyone else get a Teen Titans vibe from the first two alt pictures?

  36. Cuthalion says:

    Look! In the sky! It’s a bird… no, it’s a plane… no, it’s… STAR ON CHEST!

    Help me, Star on Chest, you’re my only hope…

    Fear not, gentle people of the city, for I am Star on Chest!

    You should make a City of Villains character named “Scar on Face” or something…

    The whole name concept makes me think of one of those Jonny Bravo style heroes… a guy who’s big, buff, dumb, says everything overdramatically, and is an egomaniac.

    I want to hear a crowd chanting “Star on Chest! Star on Chest! Star on Chest!” Maybe he should run for mayor or something…

    It also sounds like a corny action figure. That I would buy.

  37. Viktor says:

    I have to wonder-how much could you make producing custom action figures of people’s CoX characters? I bet quite a few would spend $10-12(+shipping) for that, and heck, I’d buy “Star on Chest” just on principle.

  38. Zen says:

    Try $129.95 s/h: …At least, that’s what they do for WoW. :) They don’t even have karate chop action!

  39. GeneralBob says:

    Azure Paladin…Order of the Stick?

  40. DocTwisted says:

    You know, between your recent posts and my gfriend wanting me to get back into CoH, I just may wind up creating a fresh account with those guys.

    I had quit because at the time, once you hit level 20 the game got s-l-o-w and frustrating… and also because they censored one of my villains for being named “Necro Feel Ya.” In the same hour that it was explained to me by a mod how the name was a TOS violation, I saw at least 20 players in the central chat using d.o.t.s b.e.t.w.e.e.n l.e.t.t.e.r.s to get around the profanity filter so they could call each other fags.

    So tell me, has it gotten better?

  41. henebry says:

    Jon K: Anybody remember a pen and paper RPG from the 80's called “Villians and Vigilantes?”

    Dave MC: I do, but my nerd buddies and I played a pen and paper RPG called Champions, instead.

    Strange, but I was about to post the same comment in response to Jon K. My group played a couple of games of V&V, then went on to become thoroughly enmeshed in the more detailed character-building system of Champions.

    V&V had one cool character-build idea: imagine yourself as a super. What powers do you have? Since this is what practically every kid does who reads comics, it was a great way to get us thinking about what to do in a superhero rpg.

  42. DKellis says:

    @DocTwisted: No, not really.

  43. Derek K. says:

    Marvel Heroes beat V&V. Never tried Champions.

    @Doc: It’s no worse than anywhere else. If you report it, things get done, but no one is watching all the chats….

    @Shamus/all: The best/worst part of CoX is when you have that one idea for a costume, or the worst pun name ever, and have to stop playing just to make it….

  44. Joshua says:

    @DocTwisted – as far as leveling speed post-20, they’ve sped it up considerably as of…issue 11, I think? Basically they tried to smooth out the amount of time you spent at each level to reduce the grind, particularly of certain levels where you’ve outleveled the contacts and can’t get the new ones to give you missions yet, but the overall result was faster XP at every level.

  45. Deoxy says:

    You know, I’ve always been a solo player myself… or so I thought, until I sort of “accidentally” joined a guild (they helped me out of a tight spot, then invited me). While I never really grouped with them, I found having people around that I knew to chat with in game was nice. Now the guild is dead (when the semester started, it cratered), and I find myself missing the interaction. It’s really annoying.

    Note: being utterly broke, I’m playing Maple Story. It’s free. I got into it about 18 months ago for about 1 month or two, then got back in about 3 months ago. It scratches the RPG “gain experience and get better abilities” itch, I guess, though the gameplay is certainly not in any way “deep”.

  46. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    Star on Chest is the name the Tick should have had. Assuming he had a star on his chest.

  47. Katerinae says:

    Mari, if you’re addicted to guild wards, then good luck putting down city of heroes. Guild wards held my attention for 2 months… I’m coming up on my 33 month veteran’s badge in city of heroes.

    CoH/CoV works fine on vista (and now mac too)

    Steve, is there more content now? yes, quite a bit more. City of villains is a whole lot of content in and of itself. But again, some of the generic warehouse kill-all feel after a while in cov. To cure this I recommend task forces, trials (like eden), hamidon, rikti war zone and rikti raids, oroubos, cimorera, the wildly revamped pvp (as of issue 13), any contact mission arcs which tend to culminate in more unique mission content and arch villains or heroes (depending on whether you’re naughty or nice), giant monster hunting, badge/achievement collecting, supergroup/villaingroup interaction, the invention system and auction house (basically introduces ‘gear’ and an economy to the game), mid’s character spec planner (an out of game program), altaholism and fun in the character creation section, RP, holliday events/content, and possibly trying a different server ;)

    Adeon, I’m RP oriented, and frankly I would have loved your hitchiker’s guide based character story. Not everything has to be ‘serious’, Look at the heroe mission to rescue Leroy Jenkins, or the villain mission to destroy the Super Freak (he’s superfreaky).

    DocTwisted, I can’t imagine anyone getting bent out of shape over a name like Necro Feel Ya. But then I’ve never seen people running around with d.o.t.s between letters to get around profanity filters either. Perhaps you should try a different server. Personally I think Necro Feel Ya would be a great necro-mastermind name.

    Really if anyone has had problems with the player base in city of heroes, its either a fluke, bad luck, or being a bit thin skinned. I’ve played WoW, guild wars, warhammer, and CoH, and CoH has by far the nicest player base. Also the average age seems somewhat more mature than most MMO’s. You can run across unfriendliness in any MMO, or really anywhere on the internet for that matter, but CoH has a minimum of immaturity (as MMO’s go). Granted I’ve spent 99% of my time on Virtue, so perhaps I can’t speak for the whole game.

    Agreed, Star On Chest is a great name :) It reminds me a bit of my boyfriend’s new favorite character Superoverpowered Man (fire/mental blaster, which is frankly overpowered), or one of my alts which I haven’t leveled yet, named Angry Plumber. He’d a big hulking unshaven cigar smoking brute of a fellow who wields a big monkey wrench as a weapon. In what other game can you make a character built around a monkey wrench??

    But personally I find that the characters I stick with to 50 tend to be the ones with a bit more depth of personality. Like Yukiko Amenomai, the bane of the Tsoo gang. The Tsoo have given her the street name Shinigami’s Kiss. She wields the Amenokatana ‘the sword of heaven’, an enchanted sword handed down in her family for generations. She has traced her parents assassins from japan to paragon. There she helps local law enforcement, primarily to have the opportunity to slice her way through the tsoo until she finds those responsible for slaying her parents. well that’s the short version anyway…

    WoW has the best strategy playing in instances/raids, and fair pvp. It also has the largest explorable square footage.

    Warhammer has the best pvp, and a fun sense of style.

    COH/V has the best graphics, character creation & customization, physics/mechanics, playerbase, grouping system, and the most flexibility for casual or serious gaming.

    I can’t wait for the mission architect in issue 14 either :)
    and do you know what’s coming in issue 15? issue 15 will be released on the 5th anniversary of coh.

  48. Varewulf says:

    Oh. My. God. It’s Star on Chest! :D Though obviously before his really beefy part of life. ^_^ That just made my day.

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