City of Heroes: Issue 22

I still have a special place in my heart for City of Heroes. Now free to play, it is good they continue to release new content and updates for the fanbase. A lot of big MMO’s could learn from this. Anywho, on with the news:

City-Of-Heroes

Today, NCsoft and Paragon Studios have announced that the highly anticipated City of Heroes Issue 22: Death Incarnate has launched!

As the first major content update since the launch City of Heroes Freedom, Issue 22 begins after the death of the Statesman, Paragon City’s prime defender and protector. In these times of strife, the search is on for the next hero of Paragon City and there’s no telling where or how this hero will emerge.

To mark this shift in Paragon City, we’ve unveiled what is possibly the most powerful and exciting trailer in City of Heroes’ history. The trailer for Issue 22: Death Incarnate captures the tension of the times in City of Heroes, and calls out the dire need for one hero to stand above all others.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8FEan6NFrk[/youtube]

There is no better time to join the people of Paragon City and try your hand at becoming the new champion of good!

Issue 22: Death Incarnate unveils a bevy of new content on the denizens of City of Heroes. Below is a quick breakdown of the key features, items and events taking place in this monumental update.

  • Dark Astoria Incarnate Zone: Dark Astoria becomes a Co-op Incarnate Zone in Death Incarnate, allowing level +50 players to participate in the “danse macabre” co-op style gameplay as they traverse the dark, twisted, undead nightmare that has become Dark Astoria.
  • Darkness Power Set: A horrifying new Power Set for Controllers and Dominators, Darkness Control allows players to command shadows and spectral minions to terrorize their foes.
  • Dilemma Diabolique Incarnate Trial: Heroes and Villains must band together against the evil sorceress Diabolique as she wrests the power from the banished god Mot. If she succeeds in her plans, all of creation will be in jeopardy as she moves to take her “rightful” role as the master of all creation.
  • More content for all levels: Fight off the Shivans as they attack Bloody Bay by grouping up in in the new PvE Trial Drowning in Blood. Take your Hero or Villain through new Mission Arcs in Steel Canyon and Cap au Diable. Save Talos Island and Sharkhead Isle from Adamastor’s rage as he cuts a wave of destruction across the islands in the new Adamastor Zone Event.

City of Heroes Issue 22: Death Incarnate comes to terms with the death of a hero by embracing the darkness itself with powers, costumes and quality of life upgrades across the board. To learn more about these deadly new upgrades, visit http://www.cityofheroes.com for a complete list of Death Incarnate content.

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. ~J.A. Laraque

Are we what is wrong with MMO’s?

When you get above age 30 a lot is changing and a lot of has to do with what you believe you should be doing and the direction you should be going. For many gamers there comes a time where they decide if gaming in part of their lifestyle or something they did in their youth and now it becomes something they need to leave behind. For those who continue gaming it will always be different, not only because we are older with different responsibilities, but because many who we used to game with will have moved on.

mmo cafe

When talking about MMO’s many people talk about Everquest and the early days of World of Warcraft the way a man might talk about his college days. You remember a time when you were free and could do what you want and it was celebrated as well as expected. Now, you have to “grow up” and “be an adult” and the fun times as you knew them are over. This is not to mean that there will not be fun times ahead, but that it will never be like it was before and depending on the person this may make them feel that anything that comes next just could never live up to the old and really for the most part, it cannot.

Everquest Friends

So when you talk about that 48-hour camp in the Efreeti room was it that the time spent killing the same placeholder over and over was so much fun or that it was the time in your life that it happened more fun than now. With many of the new MMO’s being released the idea is the teenager with tons of time on his hand in the past now has work, marriage, kids and so on to deal with and cannot spend time playing 12 hours a day. Of course, there is also the people used to having everything handed to them to consider as well.

If you associate, your fun days with a MMO and now those fun days are over then it will be almost impossible to get that happy feeling back no matter what a game does. You could make an exact copy of a game, but now its 10 years later and maybe that awesome boyfriend lost his job and does not do what he used to or your sexy girlfriend is pregnant and angry. So you load up an MMO and hope to have those fun filled nights you had fighting twin emperors and you just cannot find it and you blame the game.

World of Warcraft Guild

I have always said it is the people who make the game so if you played with great friends in EQ then most likely many of those friends have moved on. Now, you have to try and make new friends or gather the few you have left in a new game, but you cannot bring that magic back. This does not remove responsibility from the game makers. Many MMO’s are just lazy and they rather copy and play it safe than innovate. However, many of the arguments comparing the old to the new are the same we do with movies or television shows. The glasses are rosy and the memories seem so much better than the present or the future.

Perhaps this is the reason MMO’s can be played alone more now than in the past. The EQ and even vanilla WOW generation is much older. Can most of you who raided in EQ find 40 good people to raid and play with day after day, week after week. Can you find 25 or even 15 and if so is it just as fun being with them in the game regardless of the game?

Wow guild

Many who find games like Star Wars, The Old Republic fun are not just fanboi’s. I have found people who like to solo like the game. Many who did not have big guilds in EQ or Wow like the game and those who have retained a good core of gamer friends like it because they get together and enjoy each other’s company in the game first and the actual game second.

Personally I think that was the key to EQ besides being the first 3D MMO and alone on the market for a long time. The drama was new and interesting; today it is old and scripted like the worst reality show. In the past you grouped for hours and talked making new friends. Now, you are lucky if you can finish a run with a stranger much less talk to them. In between game time, you would hang out, talk with your friends and interact with the gaming community. Now, you have many more responsibilities and less time.

thunderboss

So for many when a new MMO is announced, especially if you have not played an MMO in a while and have friends interested in giving it a try. You end up putting more than hopes of a good game on the product. People hope it will rekindle that fire, bring friends back together, improve your life and games by themselves cannot do that. There are documented reports that leaving an MMO can end relationships, friendships and even marriages so it is understandable that people think an MMO might create what it can also destroy.

We still have to make sure MMO makers do a good job, and create and maintain the game they promised. However, we should also realize you cannot relive Woodstock, and for many games our “Woodstock” was EQ or WOW.

MMO Rewrite

In the end we must support what we thing is salvageable not what is perfect out the gate, because nothing is. Big MMO’s are like network television, they release a good show but their expectations are so high they cancel it if it does not live up to their unattainable unrealistic goals. We need a cable TV solution where a show can grow and become a hit with true fans who appreciate it. ~J.A. Laraque

MMO Rewrite

I think it might be time to rethink the MMO model. Just as many people get older and make adjustments to their lifestyle the same has to be done with MMO’s and it’s not just graphics or even just game mechanics. The change has to come based on how the community has grown and changed and adjusted to these types of games.

mmo boxes

Let’s look at Everquest, a game many people look back on with rose colored glasses. Most people never did more than a few quests in vanilla EQ. You would run out and start killing rats, bats and beetles, but because it was new and different it was fun, and many accepted it for what it was.

People claimed there was a better community in the past and it was true because it was so hard to level and groups meant everything so you were forced to play nice where today you can dump and find groups so fast many will not tolerate even one death much less wipe after wipe like was the norm in Everquest.

Everquest

People look at Star Wars the Old Republic and complain because you can solo to 50 and the companion system makes the game more like a single player game. However, even in early World of Warcraft most people could solo to 50 and sure there were zones that needed a group, but it was not a requirement and a good number of people were denied groups for level 45-50 zones due to their class or other factors.

Turning back to Everquest, people forget that grouping was more about locking down a spawn than the fact that you really loved to group. In Lower Guk your group would camp one room and if it had a drop like the Flowing Black Sash there would be a rotation. You would be in the same group for hours because if you left good luck getting back in.

Everquest 2

So where did the change start? First, it began when people realized some classes could kite in EQ like Druids or Wizard. In games like City of Heroes, we saw people really begin to only group to finish their mission and then they would quit. When World of Warcraft went from 40-man to 25-man raids and the birth of the clicks occurred grouping took another hit because people were forced to do pugs and then the idea of pubs became so repugnant that if anything went wrong people would leave in a second.

In Everquest 2’s early days, groups would share Exp debt when someone died, so if you made a mistake the whole group might disband. All this, along with the increasing drama on message board forums, and more and more people joining the world of MMO has led to its decay.

City of Heroes

Originally a “server first” meant something, but soon it became a job with people working in teams to reach max level first. The idea of eating through content was considered a virtue as everyone wanted to be first and honestly, many learned back in the days of EQ that it was the first guilds to encounter new content that were the ones to find bugs and exploits and reap gains from them before they were removed, fixed or nerfed.

Then the great expansion came and MMO’s started popping up overnight and just like 3D movies we realized many should not have been made. We were already paying $15 for one MMO, who in their right mind would pay two or three of them. Free to play was enviable, but it also had flaws due to things like having the richest person gain an advantage or companies charging for the smallest things just to nickel and dime you to death.

Players saw games close for the first time and companies abandon their player base by offering little or no new content or support. The insert game here killer became a running joke and it was expected that any game to come out was doomed to fail because either it was not enough like game X or too much like it.

World of Warcraft

Finally, we all got older. The teenager is now in college, the young man now has a wife and kids and the basement dweller has a full time job. Want to know another effect of having a casual friendly game, when they are done with it they are less likely to move on to another and more likely to just stop gaming altogether.

There has been a lot of heat on Star Wars and they deserve a lot of it, but we as gamers need to realize that MMO’s need a rewrite. There will never be an Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot or World of Warcraft experience again. Even those who were the ten-year-old gamers will not experience games the way we did because the times are different and because of this MMO’s need to adjust just as our expectations of them should.

My prediction, games will get smaller not larger. Remember the, it’s time to slay the dragon commercial for EQ? Sure, it was made fun of, but there was something important there. It was about 5 or 6 friends coming together in a game. I believe that is our future. The large raids and guilds of 200 plus members are over. MMO’s will become games where you can solo and then call a few friends to do larger content.

star-wars-the-old-republic

Also, MMO’s have to drop the monthly fee. Remember EQ 2 and their 5-dollar content updates? It was a complete joke at the time, but I see that as the future. No monthly fee, weekly bug fixes, maintenance and patches, but every few months you buy a chapter consisting of new quests and zones for a small fee with one big paid expansion per year.

This allows gamers to switch between MMO’s , but still provides enough revenue to keep games going. If companies keep looking to have 20 million subscribers, they will continue to fall short. We have all grown and changed and its time MMO’s followed suit.

In the end we must support what we thing is salvageable not what is perfect out the gate, because nothing is. Big MMO’s are like network television, they release a good show but their expectations are so high they cancel it if it does not live up to their unattainable unrealistic goals. We need a cable TV solution where a show can grow and become a hit with true fans who appreciate it.

Otherwise, we will just jump from bandwagon to bandwagon waiting for the would-be giant to tumble and laugh as it falls right on top of us.

Cryptic Studio Has Moved On But Have Their Games?: Star Trek Edition


For those of you eagerly waiting for this review after the sudden ending of the previous portion of this two-part article, I apologize. I wasn’t having problems with time or just pure laziness. No, I had problems with how to word my feelings towards Star Trek Online and how best to give an honest review without completely belittling the game. I know, I know. You’re used to that kind of response from me but I decided to be a bit more delicate with how I explain the faults and pluses of STO.

So here goes…

It is laughable to think that Cryptic Studios thinks of STO as an MMORPG. While all the big boys in the room strut their stuff with content, gameplay, character growth, and easily defined instructions, Star Trek Online stumbles and fumbles around the room like a drunk teenage girl at a frat party. At the end of the night, the only ones with a grin on their faces are the real MMOs while STO is dabbing off semen from its face with wet naps.


Wow… I feel uncomfortable reading this. I’m going to just-

What could possess me to attack Star Trek Online in such an unrelenting manner? Is it because I could barely give the game a shot beyond level 4? Yes, it is! I got to level 11 in FF XIV and that game is the equivalent of dining on Indian food , beautiful to look at but horrible to digest. I have never been unable to hit at least level 10 in an MMORPG but Star Trek Online managed to prove me wrong.

That sounds horrible, Mr. Khan! Why was it so god awful?

That’s an easy question to answer, Little Timmy. The game’s initial tutorial manages to be not only fast paced but slow at the same time. There’s a ton of jargon thrown around that doesn’t make sense to begin with and there isn’t much of an explanation as to what any of it means. All I got from the tutorial was that I could shoot lasers and photon torpedoes when I’m in my ship and when I’m on a ground mission I can shoot laser beams and “backstab” the enemy when I attack from their blindside. There really isn’t a clear definition in the beginning what role your class plays or what kind of ships you are able to command. I was certain I was limited to Science Ships since I chose the Scientist profession but I later found out from a friend that I could pilot any ship. Oh, that’s fucking fantastic to know.


For those of you who enjoy looking at your character and face stomping the enemy while adoring how badass you made your Vulcan or Custom Alien, sorry to disappoint but the game is lacking in ground missions and you are spending most of your time viewing the ass tail of your ship. How engrossing! Yes, you can customize your ship but the differences aren’t that vast aside from size. The ship customization is as in-depth as the shape variations presented in a Lego Kit. Everything is a block except some are half a blocks! Whoop-dee-fucking-doo!

From a game with such an absorbing avatar customization, it’s a shame that you spend your time running slow naval circles around enemy space bandits. As far as I could grasp the tactic was to go half speed and adjust your acceleration and deceleration to complete this amazingly slow circle strafe around your enemy to knock out their shields and ass fuck them with photon torpedoes. Combat got repetitive quickly.

The game’s missions were probably the most bland I’ve ever seen in an MMO post 2006. “What was that, Ensign? There’s no one in the quadrant? I guess everything is… Oh my god! Space Bandits out of fucking nowhere!” That was as in depth as the missions got at level 4. They didn’t want to showcase more early on maybe because there wasn’t anything left to show.

The ground missions were probably the worst part about leveling. I should be excited to see my captain running about shooting bitches in the face and parachuting off planet sized drills like in the movie, right? Too bad! I was limited to picking up resources on a planet and randomly getting jumped by “Unknown villain #3” and then transporting back to the ship. Oh wait, I forgot. There were more options. I was able to go to a mining site to speak with a couple of diggers to see how they felt about their jobs and report back to their manager. Yup! They called in the space fleets special forces to settle a dispute about a broken holodeck in the break room.

"Come on, Team! Lets pick up some rocks!"

Now, I understand I have been harsh on the game and there is a reason for that. If STO were a free to play MMORPG, I would dress it with every accolade known in the universe. A free to play space RPG? Sign me up! Let me have fleeting moments of fun!

Unfortunately, the game isn’t F2P. It’s Pay to Play and it’s $15 a fucking month. This game has a huge pair of balls to even consider charging people. Cryptic was fortunate enough that people even purchased fucking the game. It has the depth of a game developed for a smart phone.

STO lacks the environment, quests, gameplay, and depth of games like World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and even City of Heroes. Quite a bold statement coming from a level 4 Lieutenant, right? That’s why I’m not saying for people to keep away from this game. Play it if you like, it’s your money. I personally don’t see the justification of this game being $15 a month. You’d probably find more fun in Runescape for a cheaper price.

Perfect Worlds purchased this title when they acquired Cryptic Studios. What potential they see in this hunk of shit I will never know. The game is an MMO-abomination and is better served on a free to play model or simply a box sale model like Guild Wars. Then and maybe then it would be worth the time it takes to patch and login. Until that unlikely day comes about, STO will remain uninstalled and far, far away from my computer.

City of Heroes: The Best and Worse

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

I have always loved Superhero’s ever since I was a kid and after playing Everquest for several years I was looking forward to something old and something new. The old was Everquest 2 which turned out to be a failure for me in its opening few weeks. The new was City of Heroes, which I felt was a breath of fresh air to the MMO scene.

The Best:

Total Costume Customization

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Since there was no real loot in the game besides enhancement tokens your costume was extremely important and to this day I believe COH has the best costume creator out there. You could pick from a template, go simple or spend hours designing an outfit that matched the hero you wanted to create.

Some people spent hours on their costume alone and who could blame them, you could pretty much make anything, including replicas of your favorite superheroes which got many in trouble. Later you could add capes and special lights and auras and additional costume slots which just added to the awesomeness.

Travel Powers

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Today various travel abilities are available in many different MMO’s, that wasn’t the case during City of Heroes time. COH gave players a ton of abilities, allowing you to fly, teleport, jump and speed your way across their world. You could even enhance those powers to go faster than the default speed and it really made you feel like a superhero. It also showed you how big the zones were when you have fully upgraded super speed and it still took time to travel across the map.

You could even add additional travel abilities so you could fly and jump and teleport. Of course this meant less offensive and defensive ability slots, but for some it was perfect fit for this hero design.

Massive Battles

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

In Everquest it was almost impossible to fight more than one mob at once if it was anywhere near your level. Sure, you had classes that could kite, but it was a long, boring, slow process. Pretty much the name of the game for EQ was tank and spank. This meant the tank turned the mob towards him in a corner or some such obstruction and everyone else pounds from behind.

What thrilled me about COH is that even at level 1 most classes could fight more than one mob at a time. The game was designed so you could take on a ton of minions, a few Lt.’s and one Boss or Arch Villain. It made sense to be swarmed by ten plus minions only to take them out easily and then you see the big bad boss in the background. The thing was, even though they were weaker, you still needed to be on your toes or you would be on your back. This made for some great fights and powerful action.

The Worst:

Tile Sets

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Freeport, East Commons, Estate of Unrest, Lower Guk, Plane of Fear, these are some memorable places from Everquest. The problem with COH was not many of the mission zones or tile sets were memorable at all. Honestly, they were downright pathetic and repetitive.

I completely understand that COH is in the real world, but to fight in the same, office building, warehouse and sewer, got real old real fast. Yes there were budget issues with COH, but honestly, even adding smaller missions in grocery stores or people homes could have helped immensely. They did add more in later months, but not nearly enough and by then new MMO’s were released and many walked away.

Suppression

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Originally when you had a travel power you could easily kite mobs using them. You could fly in, rain down the firepower and fly away. I get that it was kind of cheap, but honestly, so many people were creating new characters to try out new power and costumes, this was an issue that really could have waited.

What suppression did was make it so if you used an offensive power near a mob you would not be able to use your full travel power for a few seconds. This allowed the mobs to hit you with their opening or alpha strike.

This caused an uproar within the community and many people did quit because of this. The biggest gripe was that farming was the best way to gain experience quickly and yet it had not been removed, but suppression was added.

For those that don’t know how farming in COH worked, one way was to have a tanker class select a specific mission with specific mobs he could gather in a specific place and use taunt so everyone else could burn them down. It was like AOE farming in World of Warcraft mixed in with tank and spank.

Many felt weakened and less super after the nerf and so began the  mass exodus of COH players.

Mission Architect

City of Heroes
City of Heroes

Believe it or not this one is recent, but if COH was already dead to many this was its burial. The idea behind the Architect was to give players the tools to create their own missions using the same tile sets and mobs the developers used. It sounded like a good idea until you remember this is the MMO community we are talking about.

What happened is farm missions were created and dominated the game. Sure, there were some real map developers out there who made awesome missions, but not many played them. One reason for this was because of a bug where you could add in a specific mob that registered at boss level and gave boss level EXP, but was as easy to kill as a minion. This led to people making tons of these maps and players who wanted to level fast played them until it was removed by the developers.

Unfortunately, it was not just the farm maps. People felt no real need to travel the COH world anymore. All you had to do is log into AI headquarters and shout for a group. It turned a massive world into a sandbox and let’s face it, a sandbox just isn’t that interesting.

Fond Memories

COH is still alive which considering how many other MMO’s have come and gone is something of a miracle One reason is because it was the only superhero MMO and Champions just isn’t doing it for many. The community is very loyal and many of them hate W.O.W for whatever reason. With that said the new DC MMO looks promising and though it is part of the evil SOE Empire, many may give it a try and if they have learned from COH’s mistakes, they might have a winner on their hands.

Steam Sale – THQ Complete Pack for $50

THQ Complete Pack
THQ Complete Pack

Steam Sale – THQ Complete Pack for $50

For $50, you get just about all the best games that are out currently from THQ. For that price, from Steam, you get: all of Company of Heroes, Frontlines: Fuel of War, all of Full Spectrum Warrior, Juiced 2, all of Red Faction, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, Saints Row 2, all of Titan Quest, W40K: Dawn of War 2, and all of W40K: Dawn of War.

For the price, it’s worth getting for CoH, Red Faction 1, STALKER, Saints Row 2, and all of the DoW games.

The Company of Heroes games are basically some of the hardest World War 2 RTS games out there. Online play is pretty competitive.

Red Faction 1 was the first FPS game that allowed serious destruction of terrain. It’s an oldie but a goodie, these days.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is like Fallout (3) but MUCH harder and more realistic.

Saints Row 2 is like GTA 4 but funner and crazier.

Many people still like DoW 1 over DoW 2, and it’s worth getting all 4 games and playing them through if you are a fan of the RTS genre, especially since the Warhammer 40K universe is so sick, it’s a great experience sending your troops forth to die for you (In the Name of the Emperor!).

It’s a good time to pick up DoW 2 since the expansion is less than a month away! Our internal link to the promo on the expansion. Click here for our review of DoW 2.

The link to the Steam Sale for the THQ Complete Pack is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/sub/2539/

Steam Sale – Company of Heroes for $12.49

Company of Heroes header
Company of Heroes header

Steam Sale – Company of Heroes for $12.49

One of our favorite and hardest RTS games, Company of Heroes is on sale this weekend through Steam for only $12.49. The link to buy it is: http://store.steampowered.com/sub/1529/

You get the original game and both expansion packs included. They would all regularly sell for a combined price of $50.

Company of Heroes Songs From The Front OST

Company of Heroes Songs From The Front OST
Company of Heroes Songs From The Front OST

Free Stuff – Company of Heroes Songs From The Front OST

If you love war music and music that is similar to Dawn of War music then you will love the music of CoH Songs From The Front. This sound track is pretty epic, as is the game! You can download this entire soundtrack for free from this link: CoH Songs From The Front