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Issue 16 Hands-On Preview

Carl Cascone Posted:
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City of Heroes remains the champion of character and player customization. Players can customize their characters right down to the levels of accessories, and with a little time and creativity, players can create exactly the characters they envision. Whether a player wants to play a masked crusader from the old four color days of the Golden Age, a mage from the pages of sword and sorcery, or the ever popular tropes from Manga and Japanese animation, the character creator from City of Heroes can oblige. Customization is not limited to character creation, as players can create their own canon or non-canon related stories and missions for other players to enjoy. The release of the long awaited Issue 16 will increase this customization even further. Powers will now be fully customizable , and each player will have increased control over standard City of Heroes missions. Matt Miller (Positron) Senior Lead Designer, Bruce Harlick (Horatio) Lead Designer, and Adam King, City of Heroes Brand Manager were kind enough to give MMORPG.com a tour of Issue 16 Paragon City, and showcase some of the projected new features.

A trip through Paragon City is never complete without a visit to the tailor, and it is here that the most impressive feature of issue 16 will be found. Though the tour took place in the tailor shop of Steel Canyon, all options will be available upon character creation. Several issues ago, the characters that use weapons were treated to a new level of customization. Now all of the game's powers will receive customizable features.

Power Customization is an elegant process of added palettes to each power. Some powers will give the player a choice between a dark palette or a bright palette, and some powers will have only one palette because they are able to have a tint of color. A player does not have to pick a trend for each power set, he can have powers within a power set of both the bright and dark palettes. If a player is happy with the appearance of powers from the other issues, they will simply choose the legacy setting of the power and will not have to touch the other palettes; it will be as if the power was never customized.

Obviously new characters do not start with every power of a given set, but this does not mean a character has to make a trip to the tailor every time they achieve a new power, sinking even more of their hard earned influence. During character creation, once the powers are chosen, the player is brought to the costume customization menu just as before. Choosing a tab for powers will bring up a screen with tabs already familiar from the costume customization. Here the player will be able to choose the color scheme for each power in the character's primary and secondary power sets that will be achieved over the character's career.

As an example, if a player chooses to play a Fire Controller with fire control and thermal radiation, they will be able to choose the color scheme of the Fire Imps (pets) at character creation; long before they will ever actually achieve the power (which is the highest level power for that power set). The player for the Fire Controller will have three options as follows: Legacy, which is the default and looks exactly like the power from previous issues, Bright Fire, and Dark Fire. Both the Bright and Dark fire palettes will allow the player to select two colors from the diverse shades available. If a player decided they wanted to have Earth Control instead of Fire Control, they would find that there is only one palette available called Color Tintable. This palette will still give the player a choice of two shades from which to choose. Some powers will follow the trend of the Fire Control and have the Bright or Dark palette, and some powers will have the single Color Tintable, it all depends on the power sets that are chosen. If down the line a player decides they want to change a color scheme for a power, they will be able to get a power makeover at the tailor. As always, fees will apply.

Issue 16 will also improve on the Epic Power Pools. Each archetype is getting an additional power set in their epic power pool, and each power set is getting an additional power so that there will be five powers from which to choose. Using the scrapper as an example: Blaze Mastery was a power set added to the Epic Power Pool which will include the powers Ring of Fire, Char, Fire Blast, Melt Armor, and Fireball. In addition the Body Mastery power set had the power Physical Perfection added for a total of five powers.

Mission difficulty is undergoing a makeover as well in Paragon City. Individual players now have control over what to expect in a mission. Just as before, players will be able to choose the level difference of critters they face (up to +4 character level), but with this issue they can choose whether or not to fight bosses in missions. Furthermore, they can choose whether the server assigns missions to the character as if they a single character or more, up to treating the character as a team of eight. All of these sliders are independent of each other. A player can choose to have missions of up to the +4 difficulty, yet they will not give bosses. Conversely they can choose critters of lower levels but face bosses within the mission. There is also a choice of whether to treat Archvillains like Elite Bosses.

As a test, a Broadsword/Invulnerability scrapper was brought into a standard mission. He faced the standard group of enemies for a solo mission at mission difficulty +1 character level, and successfully finished the mission. Then the difficulty slider was set to treat him as a team of eight. The scrapper, named Duke Mournblade went into the mission solo but faced enemies as if he was an eight man team. This would be glorious for experience points if not for the fact that poor Duke Mournblade could not last through the first mob of Tech ops, Sappers, Blades of Artemis, and Hercules Titans.

The third major change in Issue 16 will be the sidekicking system. What is being coined as SuperSidekicking will solve the problem of lower level characters finding mentors on teams. The idea is that Supersidekicking will allow for much more flexibility in team building. The procedure is simple, where all characters of the team are sidekicked to the mission character, who does not necessarily have to be the team leader. Each character on the team will be one level lower than the character that is performing a mission for a contact. When higher level characters are brought to lower level missions they will still get experience awards. Lower level characters will be able to travel into zones from which they were previously restricted while on the team. This supersidekicking will make it easier for characters to find good teams without being left behind because they are either too high or too low in level. There are tabs in the options menu which will allow players to choose how much they are willing to be leveled in supersidekick mode.

Architect Entertainment also will receive some improvements with Issue 16. Some AE missions will fall under the category of Developer Choice Missions. These missions will embody those elements the developers feel make excellent missions, and will be deemed outstanding by the developers. In Developer Choice Missions, the players will be able to select whether the rewards dropped are salvage and enhancements, or AE tickets. Developers Choice Missions are always chosen by the developers, but there is a Hall of Fame category for AE missions which are completely player chosen. The Hall of Fame will make it much easier for the favorite missions to be found.

The supersidekicking system will apply to all AE missions, which will help to curb some of the abuse with XP gains for which the AE system is famous. The developers are aware of some of the abusive power leveling techniques used in AE missions and are taking steps to curb them where possible and prudent.

Overall, the changes in Issue 16 are largely positive. The addition of power customization will make the character creator capable of exercising player's creativity even more than it had previously. The mission difficulty will allow players to tweak how they play whether in solo mode or team playing. Super Sidekicking is no doubt the point in issue 16 which will have the most affect on game play, and thus far it looks like a positive change. If these changes prove successful Issue 16 will be a great prologue to the Going Rogue expansion.


Carl Cascone