Well, it’s been about ten days since I picked up City of Heroes, the superhero-genre multiplayer online RPG — a category of games I’ve steadfastly avoided in the past. Which isn’t to say I have no multi-user online gaming experience; I’ve tons. Literally, there were points in my life when, for years at a time, I was working on some Mushes and Muds for as many hours a week as I did my full-time jobs. Sometimes more. Sometimes much more.
The newer games, though, I’ve avoided. I’ve stared longingly at CoH a number of times (and drooled a bit at the World of Warcraft info), but until Jackie got CoH for me for Christmas (mad, MAD, I tell you), I’d resisted.
So, with ten whole days under my belt, here’s some thoughts.
What I like:
- Supers, man. Every game of supers I’ve played in or run tabletop has been fun for me, despite the systems being not always (or even usually) great. This game makes me want to try out new Supers RPGs like Marvel Diceless and With Great Power or even the Super Heroquest rules that are out there on the intarnetweb. Want specifics about my personal fetishes?
- I like hitting someone so goddamn hard they bounce off of walls nearby.
- I like throwing frigging cars at people.
- I like jumping from rooftop to rooftop on patrol.
- I love flying.
- Let me repeat that. I *love* flying.
- I like almost all of the control interface. It’s quick, it’s mostly easy, and it allows for about a gigagoogle of combinations in appearance and powers and strengths and weaknesses. I’ve seen a lot of clones of various media characters on the game, sure… but I’ve never seen two characters that are totally *alike*. That they manage this with six Origins and
sixfive Classes is really impressive.
- The background. I love the city. I love the fifteen different major plots that are going on, and the gazillion little ones that make up your day. This is New York the size of L.A. This is Astro City, Patroled by Top Ten, policed by Powers, and after (during? we’ll see) WW III, fought by Rising Stars. This is how Marvel’s New York would *really* look.
- I like the environment interface. When I screw up and fall off a building, my heart races, because I’m afraid of falling and baby, it FEELS like falling.
- There is no ‘economy’ to worry about — “wealth” as such is expressed as Influence (which you get by being a hero and rescuing people) — there’s no manufacturing to do or blacksmithing crap to worry about, as is common on most MMORPGs. I love that, because it matches what I want out of the game exactly. I am, to put it simply, logging on to be a hero; I want to find a bad guy and beat the living crap out of him: I want quests, missions, personal agendas, and allies — I don’t want @#$#@ overhead and a virtual job. I *have* a job. When I play, I don’t want to play at a job — I want to play at hero stuff. They’re supposedly adding a skills system in later updates, but frankly I don’t see the point — if it’s skills that are useful for being heroes, great — if it’s a way to make money buy building enhancements for people, well… I only paid for six months.
- One of the biggest problems with online RPGs is that you (eventually) make friends, so you get online to hang out, then you play, and eventually it becomes something where you HAVE to log in, EVERY NIGHT, because if you don’t, you won’t be able to keep up with them and then you can’t hang out with them because you’re not the same level anymore and they’re doing the TOMB OF HORROR and you’re only able to do THE TOMB OF FUZZY BUNNIES.
Well, completely in-line with the genre, CoH has “side kicking”, which lets someone higher level than you ‘sidekick’ you, which makes you mega enough to not die in “their” zones. If you’re the only high-level guy with a lot of lowbie friends, you can ‘exemplar’ down to their level and still get exp and fun. It’s all good. It’s a brilliant solution.
What I’m “Meh” about.
- The communication interface is … well, it offers a lot of options, but the people in charge REALLY like IRC / commands a LOT. Maybe it only seems hard to learn in comparison with actually playing, because actually playing is so damn easy to learn.
- The ability to bind macros to keys and buttons and the like. Eh. Cool, but eh. It’s really hard to see a list of what you’ve already done, and that kind of sucks. Once you figure out what you’re doing, though, it’s really pretty bad ass for making your character much more customized and personal without getting yourself killed typing a soliloquy in the middle of combat.
I also really DO like that it can’t be used to queue-stack a bunch attacks or other @#$@%$ tricks.
What I don’t like.
- Well, there isn’t much. I think that it’s harder to build a sense of community on the mostly-graphical interface, because the communication… the TEXT… is relegated to a smallish window in the corner of your screen, or the speaking bubbles over your head. With text moved aside, there’s a lot of poses and emotes and what amounts to digital miming to communicate, especially when most of the player base is young and not that interested in sophisticated written communication to begin with. I think that, with time becoming familiar with the interface and customizing the look and feel, all that can be gotten out of the way. Meeting people that aren’t morons really helps, of course, and part of my perception might be the fact that I’ve turned down invitations to a number of Super Groups, so I haven’t experienced that yet.
- I can’t decide what character I like more. I’ve got five guys and they’re all the same level, because I don’t want any left behind — I like them all. I want Jackie to play too so she can take one or two over, but at the same time I don’t want to share any of them.
- I want to play ALL THE TIME. Ugh. Hopefully, this will pass.
I just love hitting bad guys so hard they go flying. That kicks ass.