The community for City of Heroes got a big shot in the arm when the expansion came out. While it hadn't exactly died in the last few years, it was certainly on a lower pulse. These days, I can't log in without seeing pretty much every server near capacity. Even with a month having passed since the initial release, it seems that Going Rogue is doing a fine job of keeping people wrapped up in the game. You can rail about the lack of endgame all you want, but Praetoria's a pretty good starting ride.

Of course, it's high time for us to do another community roundup post, so the fact that the community has rallied back serves my own purposes. We've got more than just a surfeit of content to talk about -- we've got a whole collection of new missions and gameplay types to work with. And, of course, there are those "just 20 levels" of starting content to chat about. So click on through to see what City of Heroes players have been chatting about for the past month.
Praetorians are jerks

They really are. But that's part of the wonder of Praetoria, that the people you're working with are rather universally repulsive. And that's the point of this thread, which talks about the fact that there's no contact during the starting zones with a properly oriented moral compass. It's a battle between two sides, yes, but each side is essentially different only in its stated villains. The development team took the hardest of the available routes -- everyone has such good reasons for his repugnant actions.

If there's one thing that really stands out for me, it's the actions of the Praetors. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that Tilman is absolutely out of her mind, White and Duncan are essentially sponsoring a private little war, Berry is barely even cognizant of what's going on around him... and it just goes on from there. As soon as you start working for them, you realize that, loyalist or no, the Praetors are far beyond choices of good or evil. It's the sort of maniac environment that you would get when you have superhumans ruling over normal people, and I salute the creative team for making the whole design work like clockwork.

Combat styles in visuals

There's a lot of combat in City of Heroes. That's kind of a part of the design. But there are two different approaches to the visual styling of combat. On the one extreme, you have the style-laden impracticalities made famous by any number of martial arts movies, stylish games, and various other visual media. On the other side is combat's being a quick, brutal, frequently deadly affair -- blink and you miss it; try to show off and you're out. Everyone prefers one style to the other, so the question becomes which one you like in a game that somewhat caters to both.

Over the years, the game's art direction has decidedly moved toward the flashy side -- Kinetic Melee, while fun, features an awful lot of literal hand-waving as a combat technique. I'd have to say that I'm largely all right with that, since I'm playing a game about superhumans who can leap buildings and fly and project flames from their elbows. Trumping style for reality is like applying a dinosaur band-aid to a severed limb. (If you want quick, brutal violence, your options aren't exactly narrow in the game arena anyway. Mount & Blade does a good impersonation of an MMO to boot.)

Issue 20 will bring food and water and smite our enemies

Or maybe it won't! But we can still wildly speculate about what it might contain. Because that's really all we have -- there are vague hints about what might be there, but the most substantive thing we know about the update is that it will require some heavy-duty NDA paperwork. That means... well, nothing, but it could mean a wide variety of different things.

I'm torn on the very principle of speculating about this update. On the one hand, we really do know pretty much nothing. There have been vague allusions to an endgame system, which probably means the Incarnate system, but putting that under an NDA is sort of pointless as we already know about it. We don't know the details, no, but we still know enough that you don't really need to cover it up. The devs might as well just make all of their internal design documents public and translate them into pig latin. But on the flip side, I do love wild speculation. So toss me in the camp with all the crazy theorists!

(Note: Paragon Studios is not to blame when Issue 20 comes out and the feature you hoped might be there is not present.)

It helps, you don't use it

Out of everything this column has done for me, possibly the best has been training me to use those darn Inspirations. I admit that I was frequently guilty of leaving them just sitting in my inventory, but they sure as heck aren't going to help me there. But I'm not alone, and this thread is dedicated to the countless little benefits all but littered through the game that players frequently forget about -- including players who can't get a wake-up because they're stuffed to the brim with Inspirations that could have conceivably caused them to, you know, not die.

The Empowerment buffs are indeed nice, but I'm a little dubious about listing them as something that players routinely just "forget." They're not universally accessible -- you need a supergroup with a decent base, and you need to have the salvage and currency to afford them. They're sometimes just a little less useful than the cost would imply. Still, if you have the opportunity, it's not always a bad idea to consider picking them up.

Those are the community highlights for this week, served up with our usual mix of varied insights. Next week, it's time to talk about the issue that I've been avoiding in favor of Praetorian nattering: the party pack. So come on back next Wednesday, and until then you can mail comments and questions to eliot@massively.com. Or leave them in the comment thread. It's all the same to me.

By day a mild-mannered reporter, Eliot Lefebvre unveils his secret identity in Paragon City and the Rogue Isles every Wednesday. Filled with all the news that's fit to analyze and all the muck that's fit to rake, this look at City of Heroes analyzes everything from the game's connection to its four-color roots to the latest changes in the game's mechanics.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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