It's a month and a half since City of Heroes Issue 12: Midnight Hour went live, and by now the developers will have been hard at work on Issue 13 for some time. While there has been little in the way of concrete information, over time the Developers have given out a multitude of hints and comments that have enabled us to put together a speculative look at some of the coming content. As we'll see, there's been a lot more hinted at concerning powers and game systems than new mission content or zones.

The safest bet for Issue 13 is the introduction of the Shields powerset, which Back Alley Brawler has described at length: 'Shields will be a defensive powerset, not an AT. They'll also be useable with any unarmed or right handed weapon powerset... because Shields require their own combat mode animations, they have to work with every attack power, every buff, debuff, hit reaction, pool power, ancillary power, and patron power that might be used while holding a shield out in front of you. So the bulk of work on Shields is just all the animations.' The bulk of those animations were completed with Issue 12, as many of the Cimeroran NPCs use shields. Since the NPC hero Blue Steel is famous for his shield, we'd be surprised not to see him play an active part in the game at last.

Back Alley Brawler has also hinted strongly that Villains will be getting the Broadsword powerset, addressing a thread that complained of its current absence. This seems like a natural choice for Stalkers and Brutes, and as it's a one-handed weapon power, broadsword and shield Brutes seem like a no-brainer. If Castle has his way, though, we won't be seeing Stalkers with shields at all: 'I'm pushing for Stalkers NOT to get the Shield set, since the powers as planned don't work too well, thematically or practically.'

On the subject of power proliferation, Issue 13 will also bring the long-awaited Villain version of Empathy, according to Positron and Castle: it assuredly won't be called Empathy, however, as that would be just too heroic-sounding for a villain power.

Castle has confirmed that dual pistol blasters are 'on the books' to do, though given his choice of phrase - 'at some point in the future' - we doubt they'd make it in for Issue 13. Dual Pistols are one of those 'already partly done' powers, since Thugs Masterminds already use twin pistols. Some NPCs, such as the infamous Lady Jane, are also dual pistol wielders.

The recent nerf to Energy Melee could make it much more feasible to port that set across to Scrappers. It's already been mentioned as a potentially problematic set for that archetype; it's possible that the recent tweaks were intended to iron out some of that complication. We're already seeing unsubstantiated rumors to that effect.

If we hold the Devs to their own promises, we should be seeing new Invention Origin Enhancement sets in Issue 13. We were told that 'IOs are like proliferated powersets; there may be an issue that goes by where we don't do any, but there won't be two issues in a row where there are none.' Seeing as there weren't any new IO sets in Issue 12, we'd feel comfortable betting on their arrival with Issue 13, especially as Castle now has two new colleagues working with him in the powers laboratory.

The other safe bet for Issue 13 is base improvements. We've already devoted a feature to this; we'll just say here that any such improvements would be timely and welcome.

But what about new zones, new missions, new TFs and trials? The developers are remarkably tight-lipped. Joe 'Hero 1' Morrissey has been more forthcoming than most, but even he hasn't committed to anything solid. We know that Hero 1 will have to find a way to deal with his current condition 'pretty soon', that all will be revealed concerning the mysterious 'Coming Storm', and that the identity of the Ouroboros letter-writer will also come into play. For those that don't know, some of the Ouroboros missions include Easter Egg-like 'glowies' that yield cryptic letters, written to your character personally from a sinister source.

On that last point, it seems a safe bet that more time-travel missions will be included in Issue 13, going by Joe's statements on Issue 12 concerning the revelation of the letter-writer's identity:

'It just wasn't best for this issue. We didn't have enough flashback content, this issue, to really merit it, and since you only get these notes from when you do a flashback mission, and I stash them in somewhat hidden places. So it was like, well, we only have one this time, so we don't really want that to be the one, so let's see how we do next time.'

The overwhelming impression we get from Joe's words is one of a big coming reveal. 'I hope to surprise, and to shock and awe, if possible.' Players who have tackled the Imperious Task Force will already have come across one surprising reveal, which we won't mention here. Those who have completed that Task Force - which we strongly recommend you do, if you have a character in the 35-50 level range - will probably be expecting to see more of the key villains involved. When speaking of Nemesis and his prevalence in the game so far, Joe let slip that the story will be 'kind of dancing with another group for awhile', which suggests that one villain group will be center stage.

The final element that has been planned, and we hope will make it into Issue 13, is player generated content. Matt 'Positron' Miller has written enthusiastically about this coming feature; the closest he's come to a timeline is the comment 'I actually can't say anything about it right now, but I have a feeling that at some point this summer I'll be able to talk all about it.' We're now in the middle of summer, so player generated content for Issue 13 doesn't look unachievable.

Going by previous experience, the official teaser announcements should begin soon. We're looking forward to it. In the meantime, the players will continue to devour any partial information the developers let slip, as always.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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