It’s the classic MMO question: If I’m saving the world, why are people charging me money for gear? Shouldn’t they just give me the stuff?
City of Heroes fixes this nicely with the influence system. You earn influence instead of money for fighting bad guys, and you use that influence to get items from vendors. In essence, they are giving you stuff for free. The system of influence represents the fact that they’re not going to just hand out free goodies to every idiot in tights.
This is another system which nicely merges comic book conventions with MMO gameplay.
Of course, heroes never die, they just get knocked out. When you go down, you can use a wakie to revive yourself. (Assuming you have one, and you should always have at least one.) When you’re revived, you stumble about helplessly in a daze for fifteen seconds or so before you recover, and even then your health will be low and you’ll be out of endurance. You’ll need to rest a bit before you rejoin the fight, and it’s pointless to revive yourself if enemies are near, as they’ll just swat you back down.
If you can’t get a wakie or the bad guys hold you down, you can click a button to go to the nearest hospital.
I hate XP debt, but the debt you accrue in City of Heroes is fairly tame. It can be erased in a couple of minutes. None of your property is damaged.
It’s the classic MMO problem: You finally talk your buddy into playing your new MMO with you. He joins up, but he’s level clueless and you’re level asskick. You want to keep playing with the character you’ve been working on, but you want your friend to join you. So you roll an alt and forego the fun you were having. Or maybe he hooks up with another group while waiting to catch up. You never end up playing together or doing so turns out to be more hassle than it’s worth. It’s a stupid obstacle to having fun.
In City of Heroes, you get around this by making your friend your sidekick. When you take on a sidekick, they are “promoted” to one level below you for the purposes of calculating hit points, hit rolls, and so on. He’ll still only have access to his limited palette of powers, so he won’t be quite as effective as a normal character of the given level, but it works and it lets you play together. You can only have one sidekick at a time, and your sidekick can’t get too far or they lose the boost, but it’s still a great way to let friends of different levels play together.
Once again we have great gameplay ideas merged gracefully with comic book concepts.
Every power has at least one enhancement slot:
|A power with a single empty enhancement slot.|
This is the power “Explosive Blast”, which lets my character shoot sparkly blue particle effects at bad guys so hard that they fall over. (And sometimes die.) It has one enhancement slot. Into that slot I can, tautologically enough, slot an enhancement.
This is as close as the game comes to having “armor” upgrades like in a traditional MMO. Here, these upgrades are mostly abstract. An enhancement sort of looks like a coin. Bad guys drop them and stores sell them. (And by “drop”, I mean they just appear in your inventory. Real Heroes don’t waste time going through the bad guy’s pockets looking for goodies.)
Into the slot above I could place enhancements to make that power do more damage, burn less endurance, fire faster, reach farther, or be more accurate. The enhancements use the same coloring system that inspirations do, so no matter what the thing is called you can know that red=MOAR DAMAGE, yellow=more gooder hits, etc.
|I’ve put a run speed boost into my sprint ability slot. This one lets me run around 30% faster. This enhancement is level 25, and I’m level 26. When I hit level 28, this enhancement will become useless.|
Enhancements have levels just like heroes do. You can equip enhancements up to three levels above you. They will remain useful until they fall three levels behind you, at which point they turn red and stop working.
Every odd level you can add two enhancement slots anywhere you like. You can use this to boost the powers you use the most or that you think are most crucial. Each power can have up to six enhancements. Note that since you get a power every even level and two enhancement slots every odd level, there is no way you could ever hope to max out all slots for all powers.
|This is a power I use often, so I gave it the full six possible slots. The enhancement in the middle is too far below me in level, and has thus turned red and stopped working. Like a burned out lightbulb, I really should get around to replacing that one of these days.|
|The invention workbench at the university. You pay to get the recipe for an item, which you can then use once, and if you want to make another you must pay for the recipe again. This sounds less like inventing and a lot like a patent license.|
Some enemies drop salvage. Once in a long while you’ll get a recipe. There are a lot of different salvage parts and a lot of different recipes, and you’re limited in how many of each you can carry. You also have a vault you can use to offload some of your salvage until you’re ready to use it. If you go to an invention station and you have a recipe you’re interested in, and you have all the salvage bits required, then you can craft the item.
But getting the a recipe and right parts all together at the same time requires either luck, or mucking about at the auction house. Nevermind if the recipe is one you’re actually interested in. You might need to consult the wiki to figure out, long term, what parts you should be hoarding and what parts you should be selling to vendors and what parts you might want to put up for auction and for how much.
I should add that your vault, the auction house, and the invention station are nowhere near each other, and you’ll likely spend a lot of time trotting around the city and hopping through a few loading screens before you have your invention in hand.
So after you blow half an hour traveling around, reading the wiki, and fussing at the auction house you’ll have an enhancement that makes one aspect of one of your powers %15.3 more effective than the stuff you get in the store. Given that when you’re on a team (which is the fastest way to level) making one of your powers use slightly less endurance or deal slightly more damage isn’t going to contribute that much to the total effectiveness of the group as a whole. I seriously doubt you can get a favorable rate of return on this at anything other than the highest levels of the game. You would need to play for a long time before having one aspect of one power of one teammate could save enough time to pay for the half hour of travel and fussing around to took to make the damn thing. Maybe at the higher levels of the game it makes sense, but for most of your hero’s life you’ll outgrow the enhancement long before it pays for itself in time. (Unlike other enhancements, inventions don’t quit working when they fall behind you in level, although they don’t get better, either. Eventually the stuff you find will be be better than the stuff you made.)
It’s probably a fun activity if you’re really into pushing your numbers as high as they can go and experimenting with different builds, but I’m convinced that it’s not worth the time if you just want to level. It’s probably best to wait until you’re approaching the level cap before you sink time into it.
To be fair, you can ignore the invention system if you don’t like it. It was added well after the release of the game and the foes were not strengthened to compensate for it.
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37 thoughts on “City of Heroes:
Gameplay Part 2”
You could do work as an advertiser. I want to play more every day, except for the fact that I only tried the trial once.
I really hope you do SWG after this.
I’d say the invention system if more for power gamers and people who solo more often than not.
>yellow=more gooder hits<
U dun tawk good.
Inventions, at least common inventions are nice because you only have to craft and slot them once. They never degrade. Level 25 Invention enhancers are roughly equiv to even level Single Origins. But they never go bad.
That’s the bonus in invention enhancements at the basic level and why its worth it to put in the effort. Generally I slot my characters with level 30 or 35 common IO enhancements then leave it there unless I feel the need or desire for invention sets or level 50 common inventions.
Shouldn’t this be grouped in “Video Game Reviews”?
The fact that invention enhancements don’t run out is actually really important. A little bit of time spent putting together crafting an enhancement means you won’t have to worry about that enhancement for a long long time. I found that if I didn’t have a healthy representation of crafted enhancements I spent far too much time replacing my out-leveled ehancements. If you don’t get too obsessive about the same thing, it’s actually a time saver.
But really, don’t get too obsessive. You shouldn’t need to look at a wiki. Don’t waste time on sets unless you’re a min-maxer. Just craft the invention damage enhancements and such. Easy ingredients to find or get on the auction house, clear and well understood benefits. Done.
I guess the problem with locality of the auction/university/vault is a hero problem. On the villain side all three of these facilities are in the same zone within a short distance of each other. Since the villain zones were created second they benefit from more mature design philosophies. Plus being a bad guy is just way more fun ;)
I would like to point out that most level 50 heroes still play the game (a lot) to “drop” the rare recipes and to amass enough influence (or infamy if you’re a villain) to pay for them at the auction house.
The Invention system, while fairly new to the game, brought a much needed excuse to play your lvl 50. Lots of players complained about the lack of content for high(est)-level characters, and while farming can be a bit dull, at least it let you play your big(s) gun(s).
But, as you pointed out, it’s true that the system wasn’t compensated for it. It does not really count until you have your lvl 50 however.
Despite not playing CoH anymore, I still consider the Sidekick system to be one of the greatest mechanics added to MMOs, ever. No new MMO should ship without it, and old ones should really be working on implementing it (assuming they can figure out HOW in their specific system).
Unfortunately, the industry doesn’t always agree with me…
Shamus, surely you mean:
Every power has at least one enhancement slot
The next issue does sidekicks one better. You create paired characters with someone else, and you both get all the xp.
Potential for abuse, sure, but CoX is kinda over that. You *can* pl, but it’s hardly worth it.
I am thrilled about the new system.
You made me do it! ;) I’ve started playing CoX again… (pity we won’t meet, I’m on EU servers).
And – long time reader, first time writer, blah, blah, blah…
This blog is really good read, thanks.
See, Lord British does it again!! FROM SPAAACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This doesn’t sound right.
“…they are “promoted” you one level below you for the purposes of calculating..”
Being a member of a Supergroup does a lot to alleviate the time it takes to make an Invention Enhancement. Bases can be equipped with Invention Crafting stations and Vault access, as well as teleporters to various zones, including the ones with auction houses, which makes the process a lot quicker.
And yes, redside does have them all clumped together very close to one another in Cap au Diable, which makes it into an instant hub and gathering location. Lag is pretty bad there on the big servers most nights.
Personally, I refuse to play without Inventions. I solo a lot more than I team, and when I do team I tend to gain 2-3 levels pretty quick. It’s nice that I don’t have to take a break after teaming and spend all my influence/infamy on upgrading my enhancements.
Plus, in the long run, Inventions are significantly cheaper than equivalent Single-Origin enhancements because you’re not constantly upgrading them.
At least until you get into some of the high-powered IO sets, anyway, which often cost in the tens (or hundreds!) of millions in influence. But enough of those slotted together lets one villain keep the entire Freedom Phalanx asleep while the other seven systematically tear them down one-by-one, so there’s a huge return on that investment.
Getting deep into the invention system, for set bonuses and whatnot, definitely takes a lot of money and a lot of time (or no money but excessive time, or no time but excessive money), even if you’re just copying a build from the forums, or having a build-savvy friend make you one.
That said, dabbling in it is probably one of the better investments you can make. Starting at level 22 (when you can slot level 25 enhancements), getting common Inventions instead of Single Origin enhancements is going to save you a lot of money in the long run. By the early 30s, a character who mixes sets for enhancing can end up benefitting greatly, both in economy of slots and effectiveness of powers. For example, when I get a character to 32, generally I’ll mix up sets to give myself the equivalent of about 2 Accuracy SOs, 3 Damage SOs, and 2 Recharge SOs in each attack, using five slots.
Also, are you on Virtue and interested in free money? Maybe it’s just the amount of time I’ve been in there, but seeing level 25 DOs being used makes my insides sad.
You should get a kick out this, Shamus, if you haven’t seen it yet.
From the diet coke and mentos guys.
As others have pointed out, the nice thing about Inventions is that they don’t decay.
Let me rephrase this: That’s REALLY nice, and really useful. In the Old Days, once you hit level 12 you’d upgrade to Dual Origin enhancements, which would turn white at 15 and go bad at 18. This gave you the Sophie’s Choice of having to either run without benefit of enhancements (and therefore take much longer to level up) or buy them all AGAIN, and of course they’d be more expensive for being higher level. And then in four more levels you’d want to upgrade to Single Origin enhancers….
Nowadays it’s much easier. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass to get Invention Origin enhancers for all your powers, but they don’t go bad, EVER, and that’s 10 levels you don’t have to shop (except when you get new slots.)
Besides, in any decent Supergroup there’s at least one dedicated hardcore crafter who’s more than happy to make you IOs for the cost of materials. Crafters who’ve memorized recipes not only don’t need to buy said recipes but they can make them for substantially less…
In other words, it’s good economic sense to join a supergroup. :)
@TA: Yeah, seeing the Dual Origin being used is hurting me too, but not as bad as seeing 3 Accuracy Enhancements being used in one power.
Oh and about the Inventions, I find they’re best in either Passives (like Sprint) or powers you don’t use very much (like Rest and Sprint). Trying to make Sets is really only good for Min-Maxers, or people with a lot of time on their hands.
Hey Shamus, have you tried any of the Task Forces yet, or is that the next update? If you haven’t, I recommend trying a Respec TF or if you’ve reached lvl 30, a Katie Harmon TF in Croatoa. Those are a blast. I’d recommend the Imperious TF but I don’t think you’re high enough level for that yet (level 35 , but higher is preferred).
Edit: Oh I almost forgot, the other big thing in Invention Enhancement’s favor is the bad guys drop enhancements based on the group’s type. Great for Tech, Magic, and Science based Heroes, bad for Natural and Mutation Heroes as there are very few groups that drop those origin Enhancements. For those two types, IO’s are much, much cheaper in the long run.
With my level 50 tanker, I played with getting the Invention sets for a bunch of powers, and it was an entertaining mini-game within the game. Once. I’ve never gone back to that, and now I generally second what most people are saying about sets not being worthwhile unless you’re really obsessive about maxing everything out. I wanted to see if I could do it, but with my current characters I don’t feel any great hunger to do it again.
There is one zone on each side (hero and villain) with an auction house and a university within a few hundred yards of each other: Steel Canyon for heroes, Cap Au Diable for villains. I’m pretty sure they both have salvage storage vaults nearby, as well, although I’ve never had any particular need for the vault, myself.
Myself, I don’t usually bother with invention-origin enhancements (IOs) until level 47 (when you can slot lvl 50 IOs, and IOs don’t go higher than 50). There is something to be said for crafting whatever happens to drop for you that you can use, though: they’re usually better than non-IO enhancements of the same level, but, as Shamus says, not enough better to put any effort into research or buying until you can slot 50s, at which level the difference actually is noticeable and worth it.
Incidentally, after about 30 you start getting slots two out of every three levels, and around that time you also start getting three slots each time instead of two. At 50, you can easily wind up with all your favourite powers 6-slotted and most of the others 3-slotted, but it is true that you can never 6-slot every power.
Read this guide, Shamus, I swear, it’s quick and easy and will demonstrate the true power of IO’s as everyone else has pointed out:
Yeah, the fact they never run out is huge. You can set yourself up with some level 15 IO’s at level 12, which will be as good as DO’s for the entire time you’re using DO’s. The bonus will be about the same, and won’t need to be replaced for 10 some levels.
Come level 22, you can craft level 25 IO’s which are as good as SO’s, and again, they never run out. More to the point, the rate of increase in IO’s slows down at about this point. For a non-min-maxer a level 25-30 IO is “good enough” to get you to 50 without *ever* being replaced.
A level 25 IO boosts your power by the same percentage as a level 50 SO, and never needs to be replaced. It is also much cheaper.
A level 30 IO boosts 105% better than that 50 SO, and never needs to be replaced.
A level 50 IO is roughly 120% of a SO, those thirty levels only go up by about 20%, and that’s simple gravy over a DO. You can get “higher level” common IO’s whenever you want.
Honestly, the IO system allows lazy people who don’t want to deal with hassle *alot*. You just need to put together the invention three times over your career (at 12, at 22, and nearing 50), and you’ll be golden. Meanwhile, you’ll be saving influence/notoriety to buy on nice stuff you might want.
By the way, if you haven’t yet, try villain side. It’s *almost* a different game, and in general I enjoy it more.
I agree with what Plasma said. I’ve recently started playing (based partly on the blog entries here) and use whatever salvage I find to make IOs. I love crafting in games, and the invention system satisfies that itch nicely. In my case I actually find IOs much easier to acquire than DOs (I’m still to low level for SOs). Maybe I’m looking in the wrong areas but I seem to get plenty of salvage for accuracy and damage IOs but very few technology origin DOs (and the ones I do are almost invariably for skills I don’t have).
Also the memorization goals appeal to the badge collector in me. Every so often I’ll look through my stored salvage and figure out what I can make towards completing some of them.
Shamus, you’re making it really hard to continue my self-preserving no-MMORPG policy. If I fall off the wagon, I’m giving my wife your e-mail address.
Final Fantasy XI has already implemented an Exemplar-style system. WoW apparently has one in the works as well.
Ah the sidekick typed system.
I know the same function in several games.
As far as I know, Age of Conan had it, It’s some thing having it jump up three times normal damage… now only if I had the combo’s in that case.
But I am more familiar with the system in EQ2, Mentoring, other wise dropping down to the lower guy’s level, giving a XP bonus. (good for power leveling) and of course letting friends play together.
Though it’s quite nice being able to ask a level 80 (max level atm) to come to a lower level instance purely for Alt-achievement points. (form named monsters) think of AA like talent points in WoW.
in addition to that stated above, if you’re willing to put the time and effort into sets [which, admittedly, can add up to a LOT of time and effort] they can be pretty spectacular though. set bonuses are global, meaning they affect All your powers. now, a lot of them are pretty pointless…
but some are really spectacular.
slot up three powers with the right sets [i can’t remember which ones right now, sadly] and suddenly all your powers have a ~20% recharge time boost, in addition to what’s actually slotted into them. they’re also a nice way to get access to toxic and psionic resistance, as well as psionic defense, and any other stat that’s normally difficult for your character to acquire.
then there’s the enhancements that whack a whole new damage type or ability on your power. an [apparently] fairly common one is to load up the energy damage proc crafted enhancement from… positrons blast, i think it is? into the ‘caltrops’ power, for ‘exploding caltrops’ suddenly all those enemies with high defense or resistance to lethal damage are getting hit properly.
that said, because of the way the economy’s turned out in that game, Empaths may as well just out and out ignore the IO system entirely. forget paying 100 million for a set. they end up paying 100 million for a single IO Enhancement that’s actually worth having. seems, for all that healing is the ‘worst’ form of survival rate improvement, everyone who can get it wants to have it and make it better.
so, yeah, while you can skip out on the invention system entirely, it’s almost better to run enhanced until you get the money and get to level 22+, then go all out on the sets. you don’t even really need to look at the wiki that much, especially not if you’re in an SG. once you buy and slot the enhancement, you never have to look at it again, and the procs and set bonuses get pretty impressive.
not to mention that a lot of IOs actually boost multiple stats instead of just the one.
so, yeah, Wonderful for min/max-ing, but pretty darn sweet for everyone else too. . . . or it would be if the supply/demand balance weren’t so badly skewed in places.
of course, it’s still the least busted in game economy I’ve ever seen [which doesn’t say Much, but is still something]
it also helps that, if you read the City Scoop, CoX has it’s own Market Analysts, of all things :D
A (long) note about Task Forces: hero-side, the “main” TFs (the ones available from Positron in Steel Canyon, Synapse in Skyway City, Sister Psyche in Independence Port, Citadel in Talos Island, Manticore in Brickstown, Numina in Founders’ Falls) are considered “old-style”, in that they were designed before the devs found out that most players don’t actually often have several hours to dedicate to a single task. The TFs are a long, long, long series of missions (think four hours at one go for a non-steamroll team, minimum) which tell a story (of varying quality). The possible exception is Numina’s TF, which doesn’t have that many missions, but does send you all over the city (in a certain pattern) defeating a certain number of certain enemy groups.
Many people include the Shadow Shard TFs (available from 40 and 45), which are also a long series of repetitive missions, but for three of the four, there’s an impressive payoff in the last battle. (The odd one out, the Dr. Quaterfield TF, is said to be the absolute worst TF in the game.)
There are also Trials, which consist of a few standard missions (mostly), and then one big and lengthy final mission. Respecs (more accurately the Terra Volta Trial), the Abandoned Sewer Trial, and the Eden Trial fall under this.
The “zone” or “special” TFs are the Ernesto Hess TF, the Moonfire TF, the Katie Hannon TF, the Imperius TF, the Lady Grey TF, and the Statesman TF. Apart from Moonfire, which is a kind of transition halfway case, these are held to be superior to the “old-style” TFs, and consist of fewer missions, and either a tighter story or an impressive finale. The villainside Strike Forces usually follow this model. (Trial-wise, villains only have their own version of the respec, nicknamed the “treespec”.)
In short: if you want a good introduction to Task Forces, go for one of the newer ones.
Switching topics: Inventions are definitely not necessary, but using certain Invention Sets with certain powersets can yield some really scary results.
Many people (myself included) hold off on using Invention Sets until the 40s, relying on standard SOs and generic IOs until then. If something neat drops, and I happen to have the necessary salvage (or can get my hands on them for cheap), then I’ll use it. Otherwise, I don’t worry about it.
Still, I will say that without Invention Sets, specifically the Red Fortune defense set, my Dark Melee/Super Reflexes Scrapper (Happy Punch, named in a drunken haze) would not be as enjoyable as she is. She’s not optimized, but she performs significantly better than without. In contrast, my Ice/SS Tanker (Generic Snowflake) really can take it or leave it. Therefore, It Depends.
CoH has an system for that as well (Shamus may not have come across it yet), it’s the Exemplar system. Powers get restricted to the ones you had at that level and no XP is gained but debt is paid off at double rate and influence\prestige gain is increased.
As for the Auction House\Vault\Crafting station distances all becomes better when you’re a member of a SG. You grab stuff from the AH, travel to your base which has vault access and then turn around for the crafting table (If the base designer has a shred of common sense).
As for slotting, I generally don’t bother with IOs till the level 30 enhancments, from memory;
At character level 27 level 30 Single Origins out perform IOs
At character level 28 the difference is in the 0.1-0.2% range
At character level 29 IOs out perform SOs by a few points overall and keep getting better until
At character level 32 your SOs turn red and are not contributing anything.
If you join an SG they may well have a badge collector, if so there’s a good chance that they’ve got the crafting badges – this allows them to build IOs at half price and do it without a recipe, all they need are the components. Often you’ll find storage bins packed with commonly used IOs as a by product of the badger
@Dzi (Alexis here I think?): I got a global friend invite yesterday and dismissed it without thinking since I didn’t recognise the name. It occurred to me afterwards that might be you; if so I apologize. If I see the same name again I’ll accept and check if it’s you :)
@karln: Hi! Yeah that was me :)
I’m usually playing Felrose now, global name is @Zanikke iirc but I do have a toon called Dzi… I don’t know how it picks your global name.
@Marwin: maybe you’d like to join us? Just add me as global friend.
@Shamus: SKing is great, but it gets annoying when you’re travelling. I was escorting my SK through Boomtown and every now and then he’d wander off and get killed >..<
Oh and… OMG the Apocalypse set is good.
I recommend checking out stealth… I’ve fallen back in love with superspeed (since yesterday) since I’ve been speed-running some missions. Often you can solo a mission killing 0-3 enemies. My blaster is killing +2 elite bosses now /flex which helps :)
Stealth IOs seem really expensive tho and I’m *still* a little unclear on whether you get permastealth from slotting sprint + keeping spring and superspeed on.
WAR has a system that boosts your level in RvR senarios up to a medium-high rank as well. It seems like designer are starting to realize that people just want to have fun. ;)
While I will second the “try a Task Force” thing, I’m going to throw in a caveat: don’t do Positron’s task force. It requires a lot of travel, caps you at Level Suck, and pits you against the three most annoying factions that pop up at that level. You should do it eventually, because you get the Positron’s Ally badge, which you need to get the Task Force Commander accolade which gives 5% HP and unlocks epaulets at the tailor, but it can be rather bad. I did it with an ice tank relatively recently, and got exemped down to the point where I was effectively defenseless because the powers that protect me aren’t in my build.
For IOs, yeah, they can save you money in the long run, but that up-front cost is killer. For commons, anyway. And sets, when used together, can be a big bucket of brutality when the bonuses add up. I’ve got a friend who plays a Corruptor, and he uses enough set bonuses that his defense is on par with a Super Reflex scrapper.
The Leveling Pact thing is actually not that useful for powerleveling, simply because the person getting PLed will gain XP at half the rate, since all XP earned by either member is split between them. They explained how debt works, and while I don’t remember, the point was “you will both still hit 50 at the same time, don’t worry about it.” I think.
Your global handle by default is the name of the first toon you created, preceded by @. You can change it, but only one time ever. See http://cityofheroes.wikia.com/wiki/Global_Chat_Handle
Bah the middle of my comment got eaten. Must stop using smileys.
Thanks karln. @Zanikke will do me fine I guess.
Seeing Shamus’s slotting there reminded me of my ex-girlfriend’s Stalker. Around level 30-ish she was talking about how she basically had to stealth through all her missions. I offered to have a look at her character.
She was still in Training Origins. Whatever DOs and SOs she had were drops.
She enjoyed it a lot more after I went on a shopping spree for her.
> For IOs, yeah, they can save you money in the long run,
> but that up-front cost is killer. For commons, anyway.
ah, but there are badgers. they knock the “economy” on its
an explanation: for common IO enhancements, there are badges
for crafting 8 of these, 7 of those, and so on. many folks
want the badges. and after they’ve done it, they have 8 of
these, 7 of those that they have no use for. some of
them will put them on the market for way less than they
cost to make.
if you watch the prices for common IO enhancements at the
market, you can see this happening — you can see when
someone put a pile of them up for sale for 1 influence.
put in a bid and log off. :-)
Regarding the cost of IOs;
With a bit of planning (I know, I know) they can be cheaper than SOs.
Knowing what salvage you need and what’s expensive (Luck Charms and Alchemical Silver mostly) you can stash the good stuff as you get it. Put low bids for the recipes before you need them and you can get most for under 5K inf.
Given you can get through missions just fine without IOs while levelling, I guess they are indeed a waste of time in a sense (although they almost certainly do save you money if you slot a few that you got from drops at 15 or 20 then leave them there until endgame). However… I do find the mini-game of checking my inventory, and the vault, and the auction house, and trying to figure out what enhancements I could buy/craft for myself, quite pleasantly relaxing at times when I’m feeling a bit quiet for actually playing :) So it can be an enjoyable waste of time, at least.
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