GDC 07: More City of Heroes & City of Villains update details

We take an up-close look at some of the updates planned for Cryptic Studios' superhero online game.

SAN FRANCISCO--Nothing says Game Developers Conference 2007 quite like the packed halls of San Francisco's Moscone Center convention hall and its nearby venues. We navigated through a sea of backpacks and printed paper flyers to visit publisher NCsoft and developer Cryptic Studios for a guided tour of the updates planned for City of Heroes and City of Villains in the next content update, titled Issue 9: Breakthrough.

As we discussed in our exclusive interview with lead designer Matt Miller, the new issue will add an "invention" system to the games--the equivalent of a crafting system, which will let players create new temporary powers for themselves, improved "enhancement" abilities for their characters, and new costume elements, such as gigantic metallic wings or jet-engine boots. Miller, who was on hand at the demo, suggests that although the system will let players craft powerful new items for themselves, the developer is seeking to "avoid the negative connotations of loot," such as requiring players to possess certain powerful new items to remain competitive, or to be forced to sit and "camp" high-level foes so that they can eventually pick up powerful items after waiting in line to defeat such enemies. Instead, the invention system will create new items that are definitely worth using but won't be absolutely essential to players' success. Component parts can be found all over the world as "salvage," and the assembly process takes place automatically at various crafting stations.

The game will also add a new "epic raid" adventure for high-level City of Heroes characters called "Statesman's Taskforce," which will let accomplished hero players take on a challenging new adventure--this will be the heroic equivalent of the epic-level raid that City of Villains players may already perform to fight against the powerful Statesman character. It will also include a revamped version of the high-level "Hamadon" raid with a revised "Abyss" area inhabited by powerful monsters that must be defeated to force the mighty Hamadon enemy to appear. Once defeated, this enemy might drop a powerful new enhancement or a new crafting recipe for a rare item--recipes will also act as rare rewards in the new issue.

Finally, the issue will add a "consignment house" that will act as an ongoing auction center and let players buy and sell items across all the game servers, though heroes will be able to trade only with heroes and villains only with villains. Issue 9 will reportedly be released "in the next few weeks."

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22 comments
NandoSupes
NandoSupes

well time to activate my account again,this a good solid MMO ,it has the best character creation out there period,I played WoW atm,but CoH has better combat in it ,granted, it might not be as inmersive as WoW is but if you like superheroes,great community and sweet combat ,CoH is hard to top,I"m going back to it after a short vacation lol.

colinhiom
colinhiom

Well I'm giving the game a break now too. After 2 years. I absolutely love this game but the pace of development has dropped right - when it should have been accelerating. But if you haven't played this game before and are looking for something different in an MMO then now is a great time to start with CIty of Heroes. The last couple of updates (which are free - WOW players should note) have balanced up and stabilised the game nicely. There is a growing interest and development of your heroes for PVP too - which was never a big part of the game before. So whereas some of the old school didn't like the balancing or the PVP options, new players might well love them. And just as the first poster here and BloodMist says the gameplay action and camaraderie are great. I'm moving on only becuase I fancy a change of scenary and to give the developers a chance to start adding new content. At the rate they're going right now this might take some time! But if you're new to the game that won't bother you so much. Enjoy. This new issue should be great for you.

Ilseroth
Ilseroth

Glad to see the update, time to reactivate my account. As for WoW vs CoH/V... I played WoW for a long time, although I came off of DAoC straight into CoH and loved it. I took a break to play other mmos and when WoW came out I gave it a fair share. In fact I spent much longer playing it then I expected to, as blizzard hadn't tried an mmo before, I didn't expect as much as was given. However despite that, I found quickly I had nothing to do. I would get on with a friend and he'd say "What do you want to do" and I would say "I dunno what do you wanna do."(by the way this happened in only other one mmo I played, RO) We never had anything to do, the only parts that are sometimes actually fun were instances... and there is nothing but instances in CoH. Admittedly WoW, having fewer instances, put more detail in them. But considering in WoW if I want to do something interesting, I gotta do an instance. Take I want to do an instance, unless its a lvl 60 (now 70) instance, I could spend a good 3 hours waiting for someone. Ok I got a group... we run through dungeon slaughtering everything, very few challenges usually. Oh yay, I levelled up... but this is the only instance for my level (again below 60) so I get to do it again... and again... and again. Admittedly blizzards large fan base and the more broad based gameplay attracts a larger audience then Cryptic's superhero based, action styled mmo. However those arguing that CoH is repetitive... please just pay attention to what quests your doing in WoW. I could try to remember all the wierd things ive done in CoH/V but to make it quick, ill just do quests in WoW. Slay x amount of y creature, Find x amount of item in y location, go to/bring item to/talk to guy at x location. (only counted last one once... they all same thing except one you carry something, one you click on something and one you just go.) Essentially, most of CoH quests burn down to something similar to that minus a bunch of exceptions. But using variety as a argument that WoW is better? Thats just stupid. Then theres the "classes vs archetype" arguement. Lets take this into consideration that there are 9 classes. Then there are 7 hero AT and 5 villain AT.... thats more right there... Ok to be fair I'll just count CoH as some CoV AT are similar. (though to be fair, warlock is semi-similar to mage, paladin is somewhat similar to warrior, so on.) Thats 9 vs 7... but wait, 5 of the 7, have completely different ways of making the character, just the blaster along has hundreds of permutations of how to create the character (not talking about costume.) WoW, characters generally have three paths they can choose (trait specialization) and they generally dont really change character gameplay at all, minus a few exceptions. You could bring races into play, but honestly, with character customizer in CoH, they didn't really need race. Arguing WoW has better variety is a cop-out because there is just as much if not more variety in CoH alone, not including CoV. Now I am not currently saying that CoH is better then WoW just saying the variety argument is full of it. Only thing CoH doesn't have really is loot (which is kind of not true anymore, but still better then looting ina ny other mmo) and a crafting system (again, I9 changing that, hopefully for the better.) Graphically, neither one has an edge. WoW uses cartoon visuals to mask the bad graphics and it works well. You rarely see plain bad textures because of the cartoony look. CoH on the other hand has *technically* better graphics and the visuals of the world are well done. Problems with each is that some people dont dig cartoony graphics and some people don't like living in a city. Combat is probably the biggest difference between the two. While CoH offers a system involving interactive over the top combat. WoW... feels... a... bit... slooow... Grinding in the game is annoying, slow and almost painful to the mind. But as a said, getting a group together for instances... also... slow... The combat feels very remeniscent of DAoC and thats a good thing... except to make it more broad based, they took out the whole challenge part of DAoC so it just feels... slow. Sound is the one place I'd say WoW has the edge. There is consitant, drawing music and sound effects are almost always appropriete and high quality. CoH has good sound effects, but sometimes (like an AoE that makes a sound for every person it hits, hittting about 10 people is painful to the ears) it is wonky. And unfortunately I find myself without music a good deal of the time in CoH. Now, the CoH servers are up from daily repair, but I'll leave with reviewing one last thing... the community. There are two places to view community, in game and in the forums. In CoH/V there are very few times people broadcast pointless stuff (/1 channel if you WoWs dont get broadcast) and in WoW it is a constant annoyance. WoW also seems to be filled with just plain annoying people. Rarely, unless you find a good guild, can you get a group of more then 4 people without some kind of stupid argument happening. Not only that people seem to get pissy about the smallest things in WoW. Not to say there isnt the here and there jerk in CoH but in general the community in CoH/V is nicer, less annoying and more just plain fun to be with then WoW. Now in the forums. You can find people properly debating ideals for the next patch, pvp strategys and archetype builds and alot of people asking questions and getting answers. In WoW forums (official mind you, I didn't do much forum surfing in unofficial for either) people seem to be constantly out to annoy eachother. People asking question and having the only response be "noob", people debating as though they were five years old. "Rogues are better", "No warriors are better we are the l33tist!" Again not to say the occasional jerk and good person doesnt occur. But generally CoH has a much nicer community in a whole, and as it is a MMO, that is one of the best (or worst) and most important parts of the game. please ignore mispells, long post and dont feel like going through it all. Just gunna go play CoH.

AltarUserX
AltarUserX

Yeah I played this game, left August of 06 to try WoW and WoW beat it by a long shot. Maybe I just got bored with CoH/V because I've been playing them for a really long time, but I still think WoW beats it by a long shot because of all the interaction there is and freedom in WoW. WoW also has a bit more to offer with all of its different races and classes though you dont have the ability to customize your character to much I still like how many choices you can make in the game between profession, talents, armor etc. I do miss being able to fly and run really fast, but I guess WoW kind of gave that back with the flying mounts and regular mounts. But overall WoW beats CoH/V in many ways. I do wish WoW would give you some kind of guild base like a Super Group Base maybe Blizz will later on down the road, who knows? On that I bid everyone a good day.

ambros1954
ambros1954

glad to see this update. hope they continue to add to the crafting idea, and add in several more recipes, look forward to the release

werewolf79
werewolf79

I played CoX for about 2 years and left without looking back because WoW has surpassed it in every single way. I was hoping to read that they were actually going to add some things that were signifigant but no, just more of the same. The game has tons of promise, too bad the developers are holding it back and making it pretty much worthless.

AFWorm
AFWorm

Another winner to a winning Saga.

familyguyfan404
familyguyfan404

d_haven you have room to talk. You say the CoH/V missions are repetitive? I've played World of Warcraft for a while and the quests there were probably the most repetitive things I've come across in a game. It's always the same thing- kill 5 of these, 2 of those, and 4 of them. Go kill 15 of them and find this. It's very boring and repetitive. That's why i came running back to CoH/V. And yea Zalb, he did spell Hamidon wrong lol.

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

As a veteran of the game with 18 months of play time, a level 50, a couple 40's and many alts of other level ranges, and a modicum of forum infamy (some of you out there might recognize me from the official Blaster forums as the guy who gives out Assault Rifle/ primary advice) I gotta say that while I quit CO* because I wanted more, Crafting wasn't what I wanted. Frankly, balance issues regarding AT's and powersets were part of what made me quit, but it was mostly what d_haven referred to that drove me away. A dry atmosphere, repetetive quests, not much storyline worth a damn (especially in COH, in COV there's a bit more,and it can be occaisionally interesting), lack of consistent/immersive music and tinny sound effects, and overall just a lack of little details that mack the ambience and world "pop out" and come alive for you. That, and the very slow advancement and lack of customization/advancement options after the early levels just really killed the experience for me.

zalb
zalb

I wonder if he realizes that he spelled "hamidon" wrong several times?

d_haven
d_haven

Bloodmist, I appreciate your point of view and I will give it to you that the combat can be entertaining. Forgive the pun, but I had a blast playing my blaster and enjoyed just how much butt he could kick. But as for ME and MY opinion, the game's dry atmosphere and quests are not something that are able my attention. I felt that it lacked the substance to keep MY attention. Kudos to you for enjoying it so much.

Ryu
Ryu

Love CoH/V, but I'm taking a break from it for a couple of weeks, and possibly until I9 comes out. It really needs this update. I8 was nice and all with the vet rewards, but for those without at least 15 months under their belt, it was a meager addition at best. Sure, scanner mishes help heroes who want to level quicker, but that didn't exactly diversify the way you played the game at all. I question how useful the auction houses will be too with how abundant influence/infamy are end-game, but I could be wrong. I'm definitely interested in trying the invention system to maximize my characters' potential, but they really have to balance the difficulty of getting each individual piece or it simply won't be compelling enough for most folks. SO enhancements make you incredibly efficent when you can fully slot yourself, so these invention enhancements need to be pretty hoss. Aside from that, they really, really need to add some new powers/archetypes in I10. I've played just about every powerset in some form, and some new blood would really be compelling for the old-timers and give some extra variety for anyone just jumping onboard. On the debate, I didn't care for WoW personally (the LACK of character customization put me off from the get-go, and the vanilla world just made me sleepy), but I love CoH/V. I'm not contending that CoH/V have near the amount of gameplay variety that WoW does, but there's things that each game does better. Frankly, WoW's combat was extremely boring to me as well. CoH/V has that over-the-top feel that some people crave. While there's certainly things CoH/V could do better, it shines brightly in it's own light. For some people like myself, WoW's huge world and gameplay mix doesn't stop it from being a dull venture next to games like CoH/V.

BloodMist
BloodMist

The main attraction of CoH/V is the combat, which in COH/V is second to none in the MMO genre, in terms of just being fun to look at, and fun to play.It reminds me a lot more of an action RPG, not an MMO, even if it isn't realtime, it sure does feel like it is.So you can keep your so called "dry" comments to yourself.It also has an excellent community, and some of the best groups ive been in, have been in this game.When you're in a really good group, you can have tons of fun.

Dematrion
Dematrion

I would love to come back to COH/COV, but World of Warcraft is so good!

decoy1978
decoy1978

I agree with d_haven. I played my char till around 40 but just gave up because the lack of personality in the game. You basically fight the same mobs you started fighting at Lev 1 and the difference is that they just get stronger. The scenarios may differ, but at the end there really isn't that much difference.

d_haven
d_haven

The problem with this game..and I played it for a while (had a lvl 50 blaster) is that its so DRY. I hate to do the obvious, but when compared to Warcraft, its very very sterile and lacking personality. It draw more people in if the developers would add some simple life to its bleak landscape. Not adding faux-loot or teasing you with the promise to raid when its raids are boring at best...a sedative at worst. My suggestions are as follows: a lot of the quest are "you see a guy doing so and so, you follow so and so to such and such a place and are kinda excited after seeing yadda yah." Riiiiiggghhht...Why dont I just accept the quest, pay no attention to your actually well thought out stories and just wade my way through this thing so I can dredge on to the next piddly little task. Oorrr....HAVE NPCS AND PCS ACT IT OUT! I'm sorry, but if I wanted to read a novel...well..I'm sure you can guess the rest. I am not interested in playing an mmo to use my imagination. Sad but true. I read fun little stories offline thanks. The good parts of COH still shine..its character customisation is second to none but it CAN NOT be what keeps that sinking ship afloat. Die-hards might disagree and to them I offer my salute. Its awesome to see folks interested in the super hero genre, but I for one will not sit in a game that offers me mediocre quests...which are one of the main draws for mmos and be offered more of the same drivvel as a fix. Sorry, but that "rain" sir, is all urine. The game needs a serious overhall if it is going to survive, and if it doesnt get its fix it will not last another 2 years. It certainly will not outlive Warcraft.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

I will come back if the servers fill up again, or maybe combine servers? 90% are completely dead now...

BloodMist
BloodMist

A crafting system that doesn't suck.Whoda thunk it!

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

This game is still running well.

PotatoSklls
PotatoSklls

Next few weeks? People go to the coh.com forum. It may not even be on the Test Server in the next few weeks. I love my people, and I spend every day supporting them, but the last sentence plain aint true.

DarqFlare
DarqFlare

Sounds like some good updates.