I’ve gone rogue
February 14, 2011 2 Comments
I have been playing a lot of the various MMOs out on the market that are F2P. The big shocker: they’ve all been PvE! *GASP* Honestly, it’s more because that’s what I can find, because PvP is niche (and my itch is well scratched by EVE and BFBC2). Beyond that though, the only F2P that seemed worthwhile to me so far, at a base level without any extra spending, has been LotRO. Whether that’s because it’s one I have little experience with so I don’t know what the “full” version is like, or because it is genuinely the best example of what the market has to offer, is something I’ll leave to the reader to decide. For me, the models of CO and EQ2 are just uninviting to a fun experience for me. That said, I wanted to explore a bit more fully something I mentioned in passing a few posts back.
City of Heroes is a game I played way back when (like any good comic book fan should), and sporadically throughout the years. I’d pick it up for a month or two and play around in it, fully indulging in alt-itis in all it’s bottom-feeding glory. However, a fire lit by someone reignited that bit of an itch again to check out the game’s Going Rogue expansion, and I decided to bite the bullet. As a company, I despise NCsoft, but as a studio, I really enjoy the development team at Paragon Studios and what they have done with the game. They’ve got an interesting community (if the forums are any indication), and they have done what seems to be a great job of responding to their customers.
So, I created a new account, kissed goodbye to my various wings, cloaks, and other entitlements I’ve scratched together over the years, and made a new metahuman in the Praetorian Earth.
I made a dual pistols/mental manipulation blaster. The name (Zyar Rayz) is terrible, because I was feeling completely unoriginal when I created him. Awful name aside, the new powerset is fun, and I was glad to see CoH continuing to iterate on their character creator, and the customization it allows. The ability to change the color of your powers was something I think players of the game wanted for a long time, and I imagine the ability to do so in Champions Online was much of the impetus behind Paragon studios pushing for that to happen. So, the game plays much as it did before, with a few differences, but what seems to have been improved on, at least in this alter-Earth’s incarnation, are the missions.
In the previous versions of the game, everything was a conceptual carbon-copy of the previous. Talk to Contact, go to the explosion mark on your map, go inside, kill baddies. Done. Now, before you get your hopes up, the game is still very much that same reality, however, it’s the conversations in between that change the way you view the missions. The dialog choices with contacts often give you options and even moral choices. You’re able to play along those decisions as you progress through Praetoria, playing hop-scotch with morality like it’s a jump-rope, or you can adhere to one path. There’s even the possibility to do missions for the opposing ideology as an undercover agent, while reporting it to the side you’re “really” faithful too. The implications are interesting, and I found myself actually reading the mission text.
There is a downside though. When I hit level 21, and was finishing up my missions, I was given a final mission that made it clear I was going to have to choose good or evil and go to the “old world”. I was surprisingly dismayed by this. I had really enjoyed playing the more morally complex reality of the Praetorian loyalist – a character who sees the flaws of the current system but that it could be worked within still and be used for the good of the people. Having to choose to go with a dualistic route after the fact killed a lot of my interest to continue playing, and, I’ll admit, there are badges still in this world that the completionist in me wants to grab still. Mostly though, it’s being shoe-horned into the Hero/Villian role. I was so initially opposed to it, I created a pair of alts to see which I wanted to play.
Maybe it’s possible that I’ll get to continue along the route of the Loyalist on the side of Primal Earth, but I’m doubtful. I really expect that Praetorian Earth is little more than an extended 20-level series of newbie-zones, before shoving you off into the rest of the game. I hope I’m wrong, and I’ll probably find out this week. However, I’m still shocked at the level of disappointment I had at hearing I had to make that choice, when it seemed so counter to what I had just experienced.
As usual, I don’t see myself lasting long in CoH. The grind is too much, and if the rest of the game post-Praetoria is just the same content I’ve already mostly played through in the past, my desire to do it again is virtually nill. It also doesn’t help, that with my first character, within the first couple of days (level 14), I had 4.5 million influence, and that by reaching level 21, I had just shy of 10 million. When the cost for a level 20 dual origin enhancement is 10,000, it means that I’m way ahead of the “old” power curve, and economics isn’t much of a concern, killing an entire potential aspect of meta-game fun.