A couple of days ago, the latest free expansion for City of Heroes was opened up to public testing. Although the main feature that was originally planned, the Mission Architect, has been put back to issue 14, it's still quite a sizeable package. The main features of the new expansion are a Day Jobs option allowing players to earn benefits and accolades from logging out in specific locations, the Shields and Pain Domination powersets, new missions in the Cimerora zone, and a wealth of changes to PvP and to the Epic and Patron power pools.

It's those latter elements that have drawn the most comment from CoX players. The Epic and Patron changes sought to balance out heroes and villains by replacing unpopular powers with new ones; this, however, brought a backlash from players who either didn't like the new powers they were given, wanted to keep the old ones, or both. In response to the player feedback, this has now been changed: the new powers will simply be added in as additional options instead of replacing the old ones wholesale, the first time in the game's history (so far as we are aware) that powersets have been expanded rather than altered. And there was much rejoicing.

There's reason to be optimistic on the base building front, too. Although bases are in a state of flux right now, developer Pohsyb has given an indication of where they are heading in the future. Base builders will enjoy much greater levels of freedom, because players will be able to choose whether bases abide by raiding restrictions or not.

To explain this: as a raidable base is essentially a custom map for PvP, the system needs to know that a crafty base designer hasn't taken advantage of object placement to make key targets unreachable, or built inescapable prisons for invaders, and so forth. This means that objects have to be a certain distance apart, can't block doorways, and the like. However, if a base is meant only for PvE and will never see PvP, there's no reason to hinder base builders' creativity in this way, so in future there will be a selectable option to deem a place PvE-only.

We're also interested to see that in future, base raiders will be able to destroy all of the objects in the defenders' base, meaning that prisons can be broken out of and walls of furniture smashed, and making pathing restrictions much less important. The plan is to replace all destroyed objects automatically after the raid, so players with beautiful bases that took hours of work needn't be concerned.

As for the PvP changes, though many players have had a great time with them (battles now last much longer and there is a lot less rapid one-sided extermination) and there is overwhelming support for the selectable arena maps feature, the path to changing the system has been pretty rocky. Many of the established PvPers didn't like the original changes, and have felt alienated. It's significant that a new patch (coming either today or early next week so far as we can tell) will incorporate a lot of player feedback. Our ongoing advice to CoX players who are involved in the testing is, as ever: please give clear feedback and don't flip out over changes that aren't yet finalized.

This article was originally published on Massively.