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."