[City of Villains] Many former City of Heroes/Villains players were invited back for a free weekend of play, not that Issue 7 is out. My verdict from the test server: “Once all the major bugs are worked out, this will be exciting.”
Having had several days to play with it, my new verdict: “Once all the major bugs are worked out, this will be exciting.”
The immediate objection is, of course, players whine when things are not available NOW and then they whine when they get it but it is not ready. Do you want it fast or good? My immediate response is that given the choice between getting an update four months later than expected but buggy and getting it five months late but polished, I could easily choose playing World of Warcraft with the 2/3 of my supergroup that quit City of Heroes.
But I digress.
This was a bad time to invite people back. Someone wanted to show off the new content, but it is not ready to show off. If you wanted to play with established content and enjoy the quality of life improvements, it works fabulously and you will have a great time. If you want to explore the new and cool things, or the higher level stuff, you might have issues.
The new stacking buff icons are cool. When you have, say, three layers of Clear Mind, the icons stack on one another, rather than being spread around the buff bar. That is nice. You can even set it to just super-impose a number over the icon. Also, the buff icons flash as the buff is wearing off, which is something you miss when you are used to it in other games.
Recluse’s Victory is an excellent zone. Granted, much of it recycles Atlas Park, but the pillbox wars are a good structure for PvP. It is meaningless PvP that resets itself five minutes later, but you have your little objectives. The zone heavies are a lot of fun to use. Having signature heroes and villains in the fight is a nice idea.
I did not fully explore the re-decorated low-level City of Heroes zones, but what I saw was good. New tricks, added humor.
And Now the Negative Stuff
In addition to the patch with the new issue, how about having a small additional patch on Saturday, one that removes the doors in the new zone. No problem, just remove it later that day and take servers down for a few hours.
Meanwhile, doors and elevators in missions are killing Mastermind pets. Did I mention that Masterminds are a popular class, and that one of the new features being shown off is the new Mastermind pet set? Or that the new Mayhem Missions have several doors for their subobjectives?
The big problem? Archvillains and Heroes. They were all given massive hit point regeneration in the patch (roughly +1000% buff) (yes, I did mean 1000%), so that they were nigh-undefeatable without regeneration debuffs. Fighting an AV who effectively has perma Instant Healing and one of Elude, Unstoppable, or Moment of Glory (without their drawbacks) is rough. Luckily, those changes will be reduced but not eliminated next week, after everyone has decided whether or not to come back. Meanwhile, AVs are problems at the end of almost every task force, at least once in most high-level story arcs, multiple times in each of the new Patrol Power Pool arcs (including one which is broken so that the last mission does not go to Complete after you win, so you lose when time runs out), in pairs in the new Recluse’s Victory, and in groups of up to eight in the new Lord Recluse strike force. The ones in Recluse’s Victory will be set not to give xp debt, sometime.
And, of course, many more status effects in the higher levels. Games are more fun when the NPCs have crowd control powers. The best of which is Ghost Widow, the signature Archvillain (or Elite Boss) in Recluse’s Victory and at least one story arc. She has what appears to be a irresistible area-of-effect hold that does enough damage to defeat anyone who is not healed, and it disables your ability to use Break Frees (probably good, if they would have no effect). As an AE hold, it can affect up to 15 people, so it takes out multiple groups in RV or your entire team on an indoor mission.
Recluse’s Victory is a fun zone, and we had a great time there for hours. The problem, besides the signature heroes and villains, is that it is completely imbalanced just now. Everyone is auto-sidekicked to level 50, but the heroes actually have all those powers and slots from the 40s, in addition to Hami-Os. One side vastly outnumbers the other and is somewhat more powerful per-person. This effect will diminish over time, but it is very present this weekend.
I don’t mean to harp on the problems, except that many of them were known from the test server. But they are all good reasons why this might be a bad time to invite people back to see the new stuff. A 4th of July event might have made sense as a time to bring everyone back, since there would have been time to fix things.
This is not the way to win back old subscribers.