We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Heroic Games CEO Casey McGeever for a tour of Ship of Heroes. Ship of Heroes is one of several MMO projects that popped up to try and fill the void left by NCSoft’s shutdown of City of Heroes back in 2012. As someone still pining for a new superhero MMO to call home, I was eager to learn more about what the team was working on.
The first thing you’re likely asking is what’s with the name? Like City of Heroes, the name Ship of Heroes should be taken quite literally. The entire game basically takes place on a giant spaceship (though you will be able to adventure outside of it at some point). We’re not talking a spaceship like the USS Enterprise here, but something along the lines of the Citadel in Mass Effect. It doesn’t look like you’re on a ship, but you are.
This decision stemmed from the team’s desire to explore the space side of superheroes. We see tons of superheroes in space in the comics and, obviously, this has been a huge focus for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it seemed like a natural fit for a new superhero MMO. In universe, the game takes place hundreds of years into the future where humanity has outgrown Earth and leveraged a rare resource called Unobtanium to power massive spaceships that act as their own nation-states. The constant exposure to Unobtanium had a side effect of pushing forward human evolution, making it possible for children born aboard these vessels to develop superpowers.
Ship of Heroes focuses on the largest of these ships, the FHS Justice. For our demo, I got to play around in a city aboard the Justice called Apotheosis City, a city which bore a strong resemblance to Atlas Park in City of Heroes. Loading into the game for the first time this realization hit me right in the feels. The game is still early and very rough around the edges, but I sort of felt at home right away.
Despite the similarities to Atlas Park, Heroic Games isn’t looking to recreate City of Heroes. They want to improve on things where they can. It was a great game that we all loved, but it wasn’t without its flaws. One of the standout changes we discussed was the team’s approach to archetypes. I was a huge fan of City of Villains due to the fact that most of the archetypes on that side of the fence were a bit less one-dimensional than the ones on the Heroes side. Villains archetypes were a bit more versatile overall and this is something Heroic Games wants to emphasize with Ship of Heroes. For example, Ship of Heroes’ analogue to the Blaster, the Devastator, will also have access to supportive abilities to help out its allies. They’re also planning on giving you more powers than you can slot for each powerset, so even if you’re a Fire Devastator, you won’t necessarily be the same as another Fire Devastator you run into. You’ll sort of build your own loadout of powers from the sets you select for your character.
Another feature I appreciated was the fact I could move around in combat. This isn’t unique to Ship of Heroes, as Champions Online allows for the same level of mobility in combat, but it’s something important to note as this is a significant departure from the way combat in City of Heroes played.
As early as things are, it was cool to see the attention to detail paid to the various villain factions. The enemy groups in Ship of Heroes aren’t just reskinned characters with different names; they often feature mechanics you’ll have to consider in combat. For example, the lieutenant tier enemies of an alien faction we fought called in reinforcements after their health got low enough. For these guys, you’ll want to focus fire their lieutenants so you don’t end up fighting more enemies by attempting to AoE the entire pack down at once.
I played an electric Devastator which had access to a good deal of AoE and crowd control abilities. The only thing that felt off to me was that the cooldowns were a bit long in this build, but things are so early we expect tons of iteration on the various powersets. I did also eventually get to try a dual blades melee character that I found particularly enjoyable, considering that one of my main characters in City of Villains was a Dual Blades Brute. I didn’t get to play with all the abilities since some were bugged, but the animations for the powerset were pretty snazzy already and I almost felt like I was playing my old character.
That’s really the takeaway I got from Ship of Heroes at this point. Things are too early to really dig in too deeply, but Heroic Games already seems to have a handle on establishing the feel of City of Heroes. Things are familiar enough to feel comfortable, but it’s clear the team is also doing its own thing here. If you’re a CoH player looking for a new home, you should definitely keep your eye on Ship of Heroes.