CoX Issue 11: First Impressions

The newest expansion for City of Heroes and City of Villains, Issue 11 has been in open beta for a couple of weeks, and -- so far, at least -- it's proven to be a hit. As with all other releases, there have been the inevitable tweaks and adjustments to make sure that levels are being balanced and that powers are neither too strong nor too weak. Still, all things considered, it's been a phenomenal step forward in the elegance of the game.

It's hard not to squeal with delight when I think of the changes that have been made since I first created my account in June of 2004. Whether we were peering Through the Looking Glass or fending off an Invasion, NCsoft was always pushing to give us new features, and to make sure that the play was as balanced as possible. As far as I can tell, they've done a phenomenal job of continuing that trend.


The first two elements are biggies: the Dual Blades and Willpower selections. For those of you who have played with the Regeneration power set, you'll see some similarities. There's one major difference, though: Willpower provides some benefit against psionics. And speaking of benefits, don't forget that you can now receive as a drop -- or purchase, if you have loads of virtual cash -- Extremely Rare Invention Origin recipes.

Incidentally, one recipe a lot of individuals have wondered about is the Respec recipe. Over the last two weeks, the lowest price I ever saw it going for in either the auction house or on the black market is 20,000,000, and today's top price was 51,000,000. Yes, that's right: fifty-one million influence. Needless to say, it's not something that even my wealthiest alt is likely to purchase any time soon.

As I ran my lower-level characters through Steel Canyon in order to reach Icon (the things I do for you people), I noticed that I was seeing more purple than when I edit my own writing. Yipe! Once I made it to Icon, though, it was simplicity itself to scroll through the weapons options and see how different characters looked with different blades and rifles. There are also new options for hairstyles, and I think -- although I could be wrong -- the clothing and facial choices have been enhanced, as well.

I played around with those options for a while, then -- since I didn't have a Dual Blade character -- I thought I'd create a new character from scratch and see how it played out. The answer? Sweeeeeeeeeet. *ahem* That is to say, the animation is phenomenal, the combination attacks are delightful, and -- like bow-based characters -- he kicks for his Brawl attack when his hands are full.

Admittedly, the bells and whistles are all well and good, but what about the meat of the issue? What about the newest, hottest feature: time travel? Well, there are a few caveats to this element of the game. First, in order to get the badge necessary to activate an Ouroboros portal, you must either have previously travelled in time via Recluse's Victory or time-related Task Forces, or you must piggy-back on someone else's portal. Either option will provide you with the means to open your own temporary temporal slip.

When you first arrive at the Ouroboros platform, you're greeted by The Pilgrim, and he introduces you to what Ouroboros is all about. I like the fact that his dialogue isn't as stilted as some of the earlier expansions were. In fact, this expansion in general really works at making the NPCs more ... well ... for lack of a better word, human. The flavor text is well thought out, and even the street-based non-interactive characters seem to have more diversity in their word choices. Looking forward into the past, though, I did take a disproportionate level of joy in one of the mission options I had: I got to face off against the Fifth Column again. I've missed them.

Speaking of mission options, when you start a Task Force, such as the Mender Silos Task Force mentioned in yesterday's One Shot, you have a number of options to choose from: you can prevent your team from using Inspirations, you can auto-buff the enemy, and you can make the mission as deliciously difficult as you choose to. One of the nicer elements of these Task Force and time travel missions, however, is that there's far less running around. Once you have your assignment, simply touch the Aspect of the Pillar of Ice and Flame near you, and off you go.

So ... my final opinion, hopelessly biased as it is? Well, I've played with Dual Blades and Willpower, attempted the Task Forces, and shot back in time on a number of missions I missed out on when I was first leveling. Admittedly, I'll have to do it again once everything is live on the main servers, but it's nice to look at my personal information and see some of the badges and accolades I missed getting a couple of years ago. All things considered, I'm giving Issue 11: A Stitch in Time five mouse clicks out of five. Well done, NCsoft. Well done, indeed.

This article was originally published on Massively.