A Mild-Mannered Reporter: Question chilled

We've had a fairly calm month since our last session, and really, I'm kind of relieved. I spent most of October expecting that City of Heroes was going to drop some sort of bomb along the lines of "game shutting down in December, releasing huge new game in January, have a pony." And I'm kind of glad that didn't happen, because I have nowhere to keep a pony in my home. With that awkward preamble out of the way, on with the questions!

Jeromai asked: But think, the enemy code [developed for Going Rogue] might later be used for smarter AI for enemies that Incarnates face. A higher-level challenge. Gee, doesn't that sound like endgame content?

Well, yes and no. Yes, it certainly sounds like a higher-level challenge, and if you ask a certain segment of the endgame population in any MMO, that's exactly what they want. But endgame content is frequently kept challenging solely through artificial barriers, and as bizarre as it sounds, we kind of want it that way, because the alternative is really, really annoying.
Most endgame bosses do not actually use much in the way of careful reasoning. They have a pattern that they stick to rigidly, and that allows players to plan for the bosses' more painful abilities and to fight back. It's why World of Warcraft players spend a whole bunch of time studying videos and dry writeups of boss abilities, so that when it comes time to beat the boss senseless there's no real mystery about what the boss will be doing in the fight.

When you stop and think about it, this means that every fight is essentially a glorified dance, and players who know the steps well enough will be able to dance successfully and get their incremental reward. That incremental reward will make the dance slightly easier and prepare you for the next dance to come afterward. So really it's best that you not think too hard about it, because the endgame is just a nonstop cycle of getting better upgrades that will be obsoleted by the next round of upgrades and so forth.

There's no doubt in my mind that the newer code could allow for fights more akin to raid boss battles from World of Warcraft. But I'm really OK with the new task forces just being more challenging and not handing me big rewards that get obsoleted a few months down the line. I'm hoping Paragon Studios doesn't go that route.

El Pollo Grande asked: If we ever do get new epic archetypes, what would they be?

I really don't know. Every statement that the developers have made has suggested they currently have no plans on the table, and unfortunately it's really difficult to figure out where they're going next. I was called out (rightly so) when I mentioned that a new EAT would necessitate two EATs, one for each each side, when in fact a new archetype could be Praetorian and bypass that entire debate. Or a new EAT could enter a special tutorial and then pick a side, since the game now has the technology for that. So there aren't villain or hero groups that scream "make me an Archetype for balance reasons" any longer.

I'd really like to say that there would be an EAT for each origin, so that all five have equal representation, but that's already out the window thanks to the all-Natural spiders and Natural Peacebringers. Warshades are from Science, sure, but I really think 10 total EATs is a maximum. (Since there are 10 regular archetypes and all.) No directions pointed there.

There are hooks out there, to be sure. The Rikti simply scream for players to get a renegade Rikti archetype (albeit one that would require some serious rejiggering of costume options), and I would love the choice to actually become a part of the Devouring Earth's bizarre mutations. Power armor and the (rather nebulous) spy concept are frequently cited by other players. That being said, until the team decides to actually move forward with a new epic archetype... we're all shooting in the dark.

Garbanzo asked: How do Ancillary Power Pools and Patron Power Pools work with the faction-changing mechanics?

Pretty simply, but you still might want to sit down. There will not be a test, but you may wish to take notes. And you're going to have to be a villain if you absolutely must have every power available to you.

A hero, once he's hit the power selection at level 41, gets to start playing around with the APPs to his heart's content. Villains, on the other hand, have to do a quest line in order to unlock a villainous PPP, which has always been a bit obnoxious. The important thing to note is that the quest to unlock a PPP is now considered just an unlock rather than a selection of powers, which means that villains sort of get a net advantage.

If you change alignments as a hero to a villain and then unlock a patron's pool, that's your option for the post-40 powers. (You can respec and unlock a different patron pool, but you're still stuck with one of the patron pools.) If you unlock a pool as a villain and switch back to a hero, however, you get access to the full suite of APPs... along with any and all PPPs you've unlocked for yourself. The best of both worlds!

Of course, you can still only pick one of the available pools. And neither is available for Peacebringers or Warshades, so you don't have to play the faction game there. I don't believe there are any APPs currently available for spiders, so you kind of miss out a little there. Still, it's nice knowing that your briefly fallen and then redeemed Tanker can run around with one of Scorpion's maces, right?

That's this month's round of questions, which we can only hope have relaxed some of your worried minds. If not, well, we tried. Maybe next month will work out better if you send in your questions to eliot@massively.com or leave them in the comment field right here. Next week is going to be a harrowing journey into the depths of the human psyche... or a chance for me to take a look at the focal shift going on behind the scenes of City of Heroes. I guess we'll see when we get there!

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.