A Few More Days in the City

coh[City of Heroes] I promised I would have a few words after the CoX free reactivation weekend. I played less than I might have hoped, due to travel and a LAN party, but here are ruminations as they strike me at 3:00am.

Quick version before the break: it’s a fun game when you can play it.

Good:

The core game play remains the same, and it is fun. The pace is fast, the characters are colorful, and you can play solo or in small groups with few worries about group composition. Heavily imbalanced large groups may have problems, but you can usually do fine with whatever you have available. All the good things I have said about the game are still true.

The costume generator remains the best character creation system in any game on the market. At the LAN party, a friend spent a couple of hours poking at the options, along with fiancé participation. You can do many things, with more options coming.

Thug Masterminds are pretty interesting looking. I teamed with a friend playing one, and nothing is quite as fun in a combat as having the Thug Posse (a horde of little, uncontrollable pets) rush the enemy. Also, since I was playing my healer, those guys can just keep going.

Bad:

My global chat information got flushed. I am guessing that my global chat name was recycled, and I was reassigned the name of the first character I logged on. Sadly, Zubon was not the first character I logged on. Support says they cannot help me, but they are aware of problems and are working on it. I re-global-named myself back to @Zubon, which may be flushed again by now since the reactivation ended two hours ago. I have no idea. I found some friends without it, and we found a workaround (they remove me from gfriends, I add them to gfriends). So now some people are gfriends with an @Zubon that is me and some are gfriends with an @Zubon who may or may not exist or be tied to any account.

In related news, if you are encouraging people to come back to your game, it is helpful not to cut off their ties to all their old friends in that game.

Log-in servers were problematic, presumably because all the old accounts had been reactivated. That settled down by Saturday. Updates download directly and always work, which I am told has been a problem in other games.

Zoning is hard. I think this bug was new for Issue 7, but it has not been fixed yet. The monorails that players use to get between zones are half-broken. The doors get stuck open, so that you cannot click on them. They eventually close, you click and pick your zone, then after some random time you are transported there without actually getting on the monorail.

Zoning is hard. You must click a guard to get into a hazard zone, which is normal, but the click detection area has shrunk. There is probably a trick to it, like how the clickable area shrunk on all the clickable items at some point, but I did not have enough time to adapt. I need to click the guard’s shield, or maybe his hands, or maybe behind the shield, or maybe anywhere but the shield…

These two became rather annoying since I did the Numina task force. One part of that involves hitting almost every zone in the game that existed at launch, all in a row. Also noting Numina, several Clockwork spawns were removed from Atlas Park in the Issue 7 redesign. The second zone in the set is AP, and that part took the longest because most of the spots I checked had become Vahzilok.

I also did the Positron task force. An enemy in a Defeat All mission spawned in the ceiling. He could shoot us, but we could not shoot him. Maybe some higher level powers could have helped us affect his area (with him in it). As it was, he eventually fell, for no reason anyone could ascertain (keep dancing and hitting random powers and hope that the game blips?), and support answered the support call a couple of hours later.

My other notable activity in the City was seeing the upgraded Malta Group. Malta is the most difficult enemy group, with competition from the Circle of Thorns, Carnival of Shadows, and Knives of Artemis (the last of which tend to appear as Malta mercenaries). Since I played them last, someone decided that they were too easy/unfun, so the lieutenants got more crowd control. There are ranged AE stuns, ranged single-target holds, melee single-target stuns, and probably more that are not springing to mind. The duration of the crowd control was within one second of its recharge time, so you get one shot per hold even-level and perma-stunned at level+1 (or, if they have both melee and ranged stuns, perma-stunned by a lower-level enemy). As I recall, until recently there was a problem with lieutenants spawning in missions (either no lieutenants or nothing but), so maybe they are just getting around to seeing what this change means. Amongst other things, this means that the Malta Group is solo-impossible for about half of the characters.

Maybe I am odd, but I do not find enemy crowd control to be fun. Crowd control has two features. First, it completely stops you from playing. You just get to stand there and wait, unless you have the right inspiration or a friend who can cure/prevent holds. Second, it is binary: either you are immune or it is completely debilitating. If you are a melee class, you will not get stunned unless you are fighting twenty enemies with crowd control; if you are a support class, you will get stunned by one shot. I often play CoX characters who can remove others’ stuns without being able to protect themselves. If you have played an MMO, you might guess how many players skip powers that help others without directly benefiting them. The castable status protection has a relatively short duration, too, so I need to keep buffing all the squishies.

Anyway, a monster’s crowd control power is either irrelevant to me (protection/no effect) or completely prevents me from playing the game until it wears off. Someone thought it would be fun to give more monsters these powers.

Some players are still dumb. Unavoidable.

City of Heroes takes the entirely reasonable step of freeing up character names. If you account has been inactive for 90 days, the characters are moved to a backup server, and anyone else can use those names; if you come back before someone does, you can reclaim the name, or else you pick a new one if it has been taken. I do not know if these little reactivations count. All my characters still had their names. A friend lost a few names, but he has been gone for a long time. I would be disappointed if I lost my character names. Is 90 days a bit short on that, or are most people 3 months gone never coming back?

So there are problems, but you can work around them. Conveniently, on the Villains side, you have boats you can always enter rather than monorails you can sometimes enter, so zoning works just fine on that side. So there’s your incentive to pick up the new game.

: Zubon

9 thoughts on “A Few More Days in the City”

  1. I don’t think many players who stop playing and paying for three months are coming back. Admittedly, City Of Heroes does have new content come out on regular basis, so a player that goes through all of an Issue’s content in a month might be unpaying for three or four months before the next issue comes out, but that’d be quite an impressive achievement.

    The Global Chat name bug affecting a lot of paying players, as well, enough to result in a global chat token handout.

    Crowd Control is a big problem for the City Of universe. Malta are the most commonly complained about because they can actually turn off most higher level Hero mez protection by Sapping characters (draining
    ‘endurance’, which has the twin effects of making it impossible to activate clicks and turns of all armor, including mez protection), but it’s an issue for a good thirty levels before, where Tsoo start tossing out sleeps, holds, and stuns pretty commonly. Usually the complaint isn’t just that being mezzed is unfun, but that it hits players who don’t typically solo well – Defenders and Blasters – much harder than Scrapper and Tankers, who usually are already soloing much stronger.

    Malta are, again, pretty ugly, but by 40, most squishies are packing a full tray of BreakFrees (anti-mez ‘potions’) into every mission, so I guess the assumption is that they’re no worse than everyone else.

  2. Th crowd control thing is a major reason that I do not believe Statesman Jack is capable of designing his way out of a paper bag. Crowd Control that is either game-stopping or irrelevant is not “fun” at any level for anyone except some useless designer who gains a perverse pleasure from annoying his players.

    It is not the same situation as in EVE, EVE provides you with lots of options to take out things that have ECM. In CoX you are very limited in scope and your only option is, I won’t do any of these missions.

  3. Regarding crowd control:

    I can recall back when Statesman said “people don’t like fighting statues.” Well, we don’t like BEING them either. This was a lesson learned once before- and one they’ve since forgotten.

    Chain-mezzing isn’t fun- for the same reason they added “suppression” to PvP (a technique that gives you a degree of immunity to a mezz after experiencing it once) it should be in PvE. It wasn’t necessary before, because they built the mobs to minimize chaining. Well… chaining’s back.

    Then again, there is a time and place for these effects. I’m not a fan of immobilizes (which can absolutely STOP the gameplay of the melee classes or holds (nuff said) but they do make us have to change our tactics a bit- reorganize, rethink, and rebound. Too often, the tactics my team would use against one foe are the same as we’d use against another. The inspirations we want to carry are the same for any foe.

    Now, we’re getting a chance to adapt.

  4. I logged in, played with my scrapper for about 20 minutes, my defender for about 5 (who lost his name, sadly, since I really liked it) and then made a newbie character to fiddle with.

    The scrapper was fun, but I could see the power nerf (if you had more than 2 or 3 of a single type of enhancement) since he was no longer able to mow people down. Also, apparently Hasten was nerfed/changed (?) – my permahasten was gone, usually down for about a minute before restarting.

    My defender was laughed at, for the most part. I enjoyed him most as a group character, being Empathy/Dark (the dark so he could solo when my SG was buzy), but I was told empathy was a “dead power set”, and that I wasn’t needed. Not intending to solo with him, I renamed him and logged.

    Made a new, mace tanker. A elfin-sized female. I still am in love with their character generator with all of its options, but there were new ones I didn’t see before. True, this was my first female CoH character, but was there always a “bust size” slider, and is it really needed? My super tiny tanker had a mace as big as she was, and two, um, forward shields, nearly as big. She was certainly had super powers – back muscles of heracles at least.

    My main disappointment was how early it ended. At 6pm on Sunday night when I tried to log in, I was told “your subscription has ended”. I never found the trenchcoats either; someone said those are still in the future.

  5. I really enjoyed the game but they still havent fixed the powerleveling.

    I was able to level my toon up to 22 within a few days (of course I still have friends playing the game so they helped)

    Its a great action MMO but there is still nothing to do once you hit 50 besides make another toon.

  6. I’ve had multiple periods of inactivity longer than 3 months, but my names tend to be comprimises anyway (condensed into one word or rather far derived from the original intent) so it’s not a problem.

    As for the Hazard Zone guards, try closer to their feet. Always works best there for me.

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