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.


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.

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J.A. Laraque

J.A. Laraque is a freelance writer and novelist. His passion for writing mixed with a comedic style and intelligent commentary has brought him success in his various endeavors. Whatever the subject, J.A. has an opinion on it and will present it in writing with an insight and flair that is both refreshing and informative.

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