City of Heroes: Nostalgia for a classic that I never played

One of my great regrets in life is that I never got to play City of Heroes before it tragically shut down well before its time… that is, until a few months ago. In a bizarre series of events, it came to light that a secret City of Heroes server, that you had to know someone on the inside to get an invite to, had been running since the live game shut down, and, after being forced into the light by a YouTube expose, the code was made publicly available and the Homecoming servers were born. Now the people who were running these once secret servers are reportedly in talks with NCsoft to legitimize their claim to the game.

I was trying to explain this to my Elder Scrolls Online guild the other day, and I don’t think they believed me. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them. The whole thing is a little insane. It sounds like the kind of thing someone makes up to get you to install spyware or something. And yet here we are, flying around in our capes and spandex.

If you read my blog, you know that I’m just a bit of an altaholic. So when I found out that this game gives you a thousand character slots, I was in heaven. Nooby, low level, gamer ADHD heaven. I know little to nothing about this game’s META, so thus far I’ve been mostly making characters based on a concept that may or may not result in terrible gameplay. Heroes like Fire at Will, a fire/thermal rad corruptor, The Sandwitch, an earth/dark dominator, and Executive Staff, a staff fighting/willpower scrapper. Yes, the puns just kind of… happen. And they’re getting worse. I made an earth/fire dominator (with the lava rock visual set on earth) named Magma Cum Laude. I’m not even a dad. I think I need help.

The early game experience isn’t the greatest. You start out with only two powers (plus one more if you grab it off of the P2W vendor), so chances are you’re going to spend a lot of time waiting for cooldowns for several levels. But then there comes a point where you start getting really cool powers and everything clicks into place and you get a real feel for how this character is going to play. I’ve made a lot of characters, and some work well, while others don’t. That’s the beauty of this game, though; you can play pretty much any crazy thing you can imagine.

Movement powers become available at level 4 (I’m told the requirement was much higher back in the day, so thanks to whoever made that change!). So far I’ve only tried flight and super jump. Flight is iconic and it feels good to just zoom over everything, but it’s also really slippery. Definitely something to be turned off when you get to your destination, though I do appreciate that you can actually fight while your travel power is toggled on. Super jump will get you most places that flight will, but with a lot more control. Super Speed seems like the most boring travel power to me (I’ve never been quite sure if Big Bang Theory is trying to be ironic, making all of the characters think Aquaman is lame and Flash is cool, but I can’t stand the show so I try not to think too much about it), and teleport freezes you for a strangely long period of time, so flight and super speed are the only two I’m likely to use much. I also think it’s really cool that there isn’t just one “flight” power, but different versions depending on which power pool you take it from; sorcery has mystic flight, for instance. How is it that this game from 2007, that couldn’t even give characters individual fingers, can have this kind of variety of player choice, but modern games seem to find it too difficult?

It’s weird being a noob in this ancient game that has been dead for so long. Most of my playtime has been with the Massively OP crew (check out our streams! Including us failing miserably at robbing a bank!), but I’d like to go through some of the story missions and get to know my characters without the cacophony of flying particles that groups bring. These new servers have popped up at a really bad time for me, materializing just between Guild Wars 2’s season finale and Elder Scrolls Online’s Elsweyr expansion, as well as some non-MMO games, but what I have played has been a lot of fun, and I’m definitely planning on really digging into the game soon. Until then, away I go!

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