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Looking at a Colorful Future - Issue 16

Cecil Adkins Posted:
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Let me start by saying that at first I was prepared to consider Issue 16 a "light" issue for me. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I thought it might be disappointing, but the biggest feature of the issue - powers customization - is one on which I never placed much importance. Obviously, many other City of Heroes players have talked about it, wanted it, for years now. For me, I always thought that the developers' time could be better spent creating "real" content for the game instead of just giving us the "fluff" of recoloring our powers. However, I realized the need for City of Heroes to include this feature because something very similar is a big selling point for newcomer Champions Online.

Wow. After seeing powers customization in action, I cannot believe I could ever have been so indifferent. The feature breathes new life into this game, just in time for the arrival of its first real competitor in the superhero MMORPG genre. There are an incredible amount of options for nearly every power in the game, and the interface with which you sort through these options is done really well. From minor tweaks to major makeovers, everyone is sure to find some use for powers customization to bring their character closer to what they envision them to be in their minds. The screen on which you pick colors and alternate animations for your powers also gives you a preview of the animation for each power, so you can see from character creation how every power in your chosen powersets will look.

Powers customization brings with it a redesigned character creator. City of Heroes already had the best character creator among MMORPGs, and now the best just got better. Champions Online may have more costume options, but that's the only area of the character creator that's arguably better than City of Heroes. City of Heroes' character creator has always been easy to use to generate a unique, nice-looking hero or villain. With Issue 16, the interface gets tweaked to allow jumping between any portion of the creator without losing progress. Want to select your power colors before your costume? You can do that. Need to check to see if a name is available before you get too far in the creation process? Now you can do that from within the character creator itself. Decide on a different powerset? You can go back and pick a different one without worrying about losing the incredibly detailed costume you just spent a half-hour putting together.

Speaking of picking powersets, Issue 16 includes the next phase of powerset proliferation. Introduced several issues back, powerset proliferation means opening up existing powersets to archetypes that previously didn't have access to them. Issue 16 features Radiation Blast for Blasters, Electric Melee and Electric Armor for Scrappers, Thermal Radiation for Masterminds, Archery and Trick Arrow for Corruptors, the long-awaited Claws for Brutes, and much more. With fourteen powersets now in the hands of archetypes that couldn't use them before, combined with powers customization, there should be no problem in finding a combination with which to create new characters.

Ancillary and Patron Power Pools (special "fifth" power pools heroes and villains gain access to at level 41) have been redesigned somewhat. They each now have five power choices. This is an attempt to balance the pools against each other, as some had powers that made them obviously much better than the other choices. There's also been a new Ancillary Pool created from scratch for Scrappers, who had less pools to pick from than other archetypes. Blaze Mastery is the perfect complement to Fire/Fire Scrappers, or any Scrapper who just wants to add a little sizzle to their power selections.

Another big feature in Issue 16 is the so-called "Supersidekicking." With this feature, putting teams together is easier than ever. There'll be no more "mentor Tetris" as people try to make sure they have the right mix of mentors and sidekicks for everyone to get experience. With Supersidekicking, everyone on the team is sidekicked or exemplared to the team leader or mission owner. To facilitate teaming with members of various levels even further, the developers are doing away with level requirements for most "hazard zones." A side effect of Supersidekicking is that bridging - having members of specific levels in order to powerlevel the lower-level characters - will be a thing of the past.

There are yet more features of Issue 16, including enhanced difficulty options and changes to the Mission Architect, but suffice it to say that this is a much bigger issue for which I at first gave it credit. Not everyone is going to love everything about Issue 16 (some people, especially those who utilized bridging or the MA to powerlevel their friends, may even hate much of it), but overall this is a huge issue in terms of quality of life features. Between this issue and the upcoming Going Rogue expansion, City of Heroes fans should have stuff to keep them busy for a good long while.


Cecil Adkins