Paragon Studios talks City of Heroes: Freedom

Comic-Con 2011: Studio offers an in-depth inside look at the upcoming free-to-play update and the content-heavy Issue 21 overhaul.

Who was there: Paragon Studios employees Melissa Bianco (lead game designer), Matt Miller (lead systems designer), David Nakayama (art lead), Nate Birkholz (development producer), and Andy Belford (community manager).

What they talked about: Last month, NCsoft and Paragon Studios announced that their superhero massively multiplayer online role-playing game City of Heroes was going free-to-play under the new name City of Heroes: Freedom.

Thus, it's no surprise where the panel started off, with the developers talking about the move and the major content update, Issue 21, that will arrive alongside it. First, Miller walked the audience through what is offered with each subscription rate, going over the same material found in the change's announcement.

The City of Heroes will grow with Issue 21.

Additionally, Miller talked about the Paragon Market, the in-game virtual store by which the studio will monetize the game for the free-to-play crowd. Various in-game items will be sold via this marketplace for all character types. Additionally, it will be updated weekly with new wares.

Once players are actually in the game they will be greeted by a new tutorial for Freedom, which takes place in an updated Galaxy City. A voice-over will guide players through the tutorial. According to Paragon, this was done because the developer wanted to make the experience "like a ride in an amusement park: quick and fun."

Additionally, newcomers in Freedom will not choose to be a hero or a villain right away; instead, they will begin their career in a neutral state. Inside the tutorial level players make a moral decision, and then gameplay changes to suit that choice.

Another game region, Atlas Park, has also been made over. According to Paragon, the footprint is the same, but missions have been overhauled. All buildings have been remade to look reflective and "beautiful." Paragon said it didn't originally have the technology to pull it off, but now it does.

Furthering Freedom's tilt toward accessibility, Paragon said that the game will sport "ongoing training missions" for hero and villain characters that are levels 5-19. These missions are completely optional and are a way for players to learn about the game in a fun and interesting way, according to Paragon. The developer stressed that so much was added in Issue 21 that it wanted to make sure players knew what the new systems were without cramming it all into the short tutorial.

Paragon also spoke further about the upcoming Issue 21 update and what it will contain. The update boasts a new zone for levels 20-25, new villain groups, a Seed of Hamidon world event, and fresh costumes and weapons.

Just a few of the architects of the City of Heroes.

Issue 21 also includes new assistance for questing in the world. When the update launches, quest-giving NPCs will have icons over their heads, designating that they have a new task to give players. Additionally, there will be a new "Find Contact Button" that will let gamers teleport directly to the contact.

Finally, Paragon talked about one of the biggest parts of Issue 21: signature stories. These are "key storylines" in the City of Heroes universe that are updated once a month. The first signature story is called "Who Will Die?" and will take seven months to complete, culminating in the death of a major character.

During the ensuing Q&A session, Borden fielded a question about the relative size of City of Heroes compared to other superhero massively multiplayer online games. Borden said City of Heroes is "significantly larger than any other superhero MMO," which he later clarified as also including DC Universe Online.

The next question asked how the online attack against Sony affected Paragon and its development of City of Heroes.

"It was impossible to ignore," Borden said. "Fraud is a big deal."

He noted that Paragon is "aggressively trying to make sure we don't get hit by it" and also said the developer is working with other publishers to "fight fraud in a unified way." He did not name who the other publishers were.

Quote: "Friggin' amazing."--Nakayama, describing the overhauled log-in and character creation interface.

Takeaway: City of Heroes has been around for seven years, making it one of the older MMORPGs around. The studio believes it can succeed with its new free-to-play business model, and it should be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Written By

Want the latest news about City of Heroes?

City of Heroes

City of Heroes

Discussion

24 comments
Unholy123
Unholy123

Haha the last time I logged onto City of Heroes it was pretty much being used as a massive s3x chat with avatars about goths n mutants and other crap... plus cat people they seem to breed there. Might give this a gander but I doubt anything would take me back to CoH as a real MMO its more just a pleasant grind that you can do with people to kill the time but all in all no real skill/ no real pvp balance they don't even want to try. They'd just rather you run missions over... and over... and then maybe run a bunch in a row...

Zloth2
Zloth2

@oblivion-cool, and if they raised it you would get to level 60 (or whatever) in a week or two. What then? They are adding new content but it's through all levels of play. You didn't say when you last played but there's a good chance you could start a brand new character and run through the game again with only a few missions repeated. Then you could start a third and do bunches of architect missions to see what weirdness other folks have come up with.

Jordon_p
Jordon_p

@oblivion-cool They have raised the level cap, just not in a traditional way. They have added 5 incarnate levels which each give you a new power that is interchangeable, the first one even lets you bump your stats up to as if you were level 51 and 2 of the other ones let you bump it up 2 levels further while in trials. They have plans for 5 more incarnate levels at least so that will make the level cap 60.

Psychoti
Psychoti

Not resubscribing because the level cap isn't raised pretty much means you're never going to play again. There is a lot of new content in the past year - and yes, there's finally an "end-game" system - and besides that there are a ton of new powersets and story arcs to enjoy. Hell, just a few days ago I did the Field Agent Keith Nance story arc and went on to the next contact in that arc and did her missions too. It was a lot of fun.

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

City of Heroes:Freedom... clever.

Ranma_X_basic
Ranma_X_basic

I've never gotten around to playing City of heroes myself. lately since champions online has become free to play i've been playing that game. I might just give CoH a chance when (if it hasn't already) become free to play as well. i've heard some good things about it.

oblivion-cool
oblivion-cool

Issue goddamn 21 and no real new expansion. I have a level 50 ice controller and I havent been back since. I will only come back it they rise the level cap, I mean come on WOW is killing the hell out of it. atleat raise it to 55, COME ON!

cipo89
cipo89

@BlackPhoenixBG I played both CoH and Champions, trust me CoH is far more superior, better everything.

jcopp72
jcopp72

so when does it go FTP?

BlackPhoenixBG
BlackPhoenixBG

Interesting.. i love Champions Online's free version, i am curious how COH will be compared to it..

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

Played CoH around launch however many years ago and it was a lot of fun. I've been toying with the idea of getting back into it... maybe I'll give it another chance!

alphawolf700
alphawolf700

@DiscGuru101 I know I will, and I'll bring some friends along too :P

OmegaRecon
OmegaRecon

@funkymonkey4710 Champions Online is made by Cryptic Studios, while City of Heroes was originally made by Cryptic, it is now run by Paragon studios. I'd recommend giving it a try none the less. I've been on city of heroes since City of Villains was released, and I'm planning on taking advantage of F2P. Being a returning player, I get the premium advantages! :D

funkymonkey4710
funkymonkey4710

Then again after reviewing the content that comes with Free to Play I am kind of disappointed with it. Sure you get to play the entire game for free, but you can't take part in some of the best parts of the game like Supergroups, Certain Chat Channels, Forum Access, and lack of many of the archetypes. This is Champions Online all over again.

funkymonkey4710
funkymonkey4710

Looks like I am getting back into City of Heroes, I cancelled my subscription about 2 months ago and said I wouldn't return unless it was free-to-play. Now it is!

stevo367
stevo367

The game has gotten constantly better throughout its existence. I think they took too long to implement certain elements (trading items to your own characters through the mail, as an example) but the core game play is still definitely better than either of its superhero MMO rivals. I just wish they would work on creating a COH 2 with an entirely new platform with new cities, zones, missions, trials, story line etc. because the basic idea of the game was great. It needs a new engine and framework to run on though and definitely more advertizing. It's still better than most of the MMOs out there but you wouldn't know it from its lack of self promotion.

Triton
Triton

Always wanted to play this but never loaded it up. Think its about time to give it a spin.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

I think there is a decent chance long lost players will return to dust off old toons. If they ever hear about it.

Jaybonaut
Jaybonaut

Quite the amazing MMO, by the way. I prefer it over WoW actually.

warrner11
warrner11

@9Dguy Sorry to hear u feel that way. All the perks coming with being VIP guarantees i never stop paying...

9Dguy
9Dguy

They're really making a decision like this THIS late in the game? Really? Not really sure what the point is at this point. I might go back and play a bit because I can but its not gonna get me paying anything...