City of Heroes, City of Villains: First Impressions

This is only my third MMORPG, but it’s the first time I’ve been able to so thoroughly customize a character. I’d gotten the impression from some of the blog posts I’d seen that the customization was largely just of costume, so I was amazed to see how much you could also affect personal appearance, including many aspects of body type and height, skin color, hair style, a wide variety of facial expressions and facial types, and so on. It completely and utterly seduces the character-creator in me, and I find that the various characters I make look nothing like each other. I also find it far easier to recognize and immediately separate out the various other player characters around me in game. (I couldn’t help going so far as to make a writers’ exercise out of the whole process.)

Needless to say, I’m head-over-heels for the character creation process. I did find that things got a little more confusing after getting into game, however. The tutorial is of limited use for some of the basic types of characters and learning the most basic functionality of the game, but there’s no specific material for teaching you to use the more complex character types—you’re simply told to take a break and go read the manual. Also, if you buy the “Good vs. Evil” version (i.e., the bundled CoH/CoV), which comes with the “VIP club” pass allowing you to teleport into the “Club D” pocket dimension from anywhere in game, I highly recommend waiting to use it until you’re high enough level to survive those areas that have doorways into Club D already. I couldn’t find a way out of the club that didn’t involve going through those zones, and unlike some other games you can’t just necessarily corpse run your way home—getting killed often sends you back to a distant hospital.

Mobs of various levels tend to be scattered around and intermixed a bit more than I’m accustomed to from other games, so it’s easy to round a corner and quickly realize that you’d better turn around and run back the other way. Mind you this seems rather genre-appropriate, so that’s okay. I have yet to figure out how to tell how level-appropriate a mission I’ve been given is until I enter it and view the mob levels; I wish that wasn’t the case. Also, as far as I can tell you can only be on one mission at a time, so if you find it’s a bit much for you, your only options seem to be to either group with others or go beat up random mobs until you level up a bit. In general I prefer to be able to pick up a variety of quests at once and work on whatever seems convenient. Of course, offsetting that is the fact that when you’re playing with superpowered heroes and villains combat can be much more entertaining and fun than in some games, so pure beating up of mobs does have its appeal!

I absolutely adore the three-dimensional aspect of the game. In most games there are very limited ways to, for example, get to any upper levels that might exist in a city and explore them. In CoH/CoV you can use flying abilities and items such as jump packs to boost you up to virtually anywhere—and you’ll find mobs up there when you arrive! You can run and jump over exactly the kind of rooftop terrain you might find in your favorite genre movie, which is just fantastic.

The creators seem to have taken the convenient genre excuse to do away with one of the traditional MMORPG nuisances—travel time. Every character can use a sprint ability to move quickly through the city, and you can buy enhancements to that run speed if you wish. Subway trains link the zones, and travel via them is virtually instantaneous. When done with a mission, a single button can return you to outside the instanced mission area, so you don’t have to run through all that space you just cleared.

All in all, it’s a truly fun game. I’ve only run into a few difficulties with things that were a little confusing, or odd little bugs that I haven’t found my way around yet. (I can’t seem to use the /tell or /t command to talk to anyone… no matter how many variations on the supposed syntax I try it tells me I have the wrong format. But I can at least /reply, so I don’t have to be entirely rude!) I think my husband was quite amused by my evil cackles last night as I ran around playing a petite, young-looking girl less than four feet tall with stony skin who hits like a ton of bricks, complete with massive-punch-landing sound effects.

How could I resist?!


In unrelated news, the Deep Fathom Review is up. Deep Fathom wasn’t as good as Rollins’s Black Order, and definitely was more of a sort of light beach read than Black Order was, but it was still enjoyable!


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Posted in Gaming
2 comments on “City of Heroes, City of Villains: First Impressions
  1. Aaron says:

    I forgot how to send tells in that game, so I did a quick search: “To send tells in CoH it’s /tell name, text
    need the comma in there because there can be spaces in your name.” Maybe it didn’t work for you because you didn’t include a space between “/tell” and the name?

    I think you’ll really enjoy CoH for at least the next month.

    You don’t fully understand how sweet the vertical axis is until you start picking fights on rooftops! That’s my favorite memory from CoH. NPCs take falling damage, too. You can position yourself relative to the enemy and use knockback attacks to push enemies toward the edge, and eventually over the edge. Usually, if they’re still alive, they’ll run back up to the fight. But if you’re fighting a group, knocking one off evens the odds a little for the time it takes him to climb back up. There were times when I was able to knock a second NPC over the edge before the first got back, and other times when I was able to knock more than one NPC off at a time!

    It’s also fun for Blasters. One of their optional skills is a sniper shot, and you can modify it for long distance and higher damage. Then you can start fights by shooting an NPC on another building!

    I don’t remember the name of the zone that was so good for rooftop battles, but I remember it had a lot of those necromancer-cult types and it’s one of the first zones you gain access to after the newbie zone.

  2. heather says:

    AHA! I think it’s the comma I was missing! The error text when I didn’t do it right didn’t mention a comma! You’re my hero.

    I love the fact that the monthly fee is the same whether you play CoH, CoV, or both together, and that you can now get both games packaged together for $30. I have no idea how long I’ll end up playing it, but at least I think I’m certainly getting $30 worth of fun out of it.

    I adore picking fights on rooftops. There are some snakes on the rooftops in the villain starting area, which is fun. I haven’t played with knockback on rooftops, but now that I have my little Brute I can try that. 😉

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