Paragon Studios answers our questions about Issue 19 of City of Heroes

Just three months after the major upheaval of Going Rogue, City of Heroes is getting another big update in the form of Issue 19. Bringing with it new task forces, the first part of the new Incarnate system, the long-awaited baseline Fitness pool, and several other quality-of-life improvements, the issue is packed to bursting with things for players to enjoy. So we naturally had a few questions, even above and beyond our first impressions of both the Incarnate system and the new Apex task force.

Of course, this issue isn't the work of just one or two people within Paragon Studios, but the whole team. So it was fitting that we got our questions about the newest update to City of Heroes answered by several members of the team. Melissa Bianco, Matt Miller, Sean McCann, and Tim Sweeney all took the time to answer some quick questions about the substance of the update, so click on past the break to see our questions and their responses.
Massively: How long has the Incarnate system been in the works?

Matt Miller: The Incarnate system as a whole is about two years of work to get us where we are today. It looked very different before in the beginning and went through several iterations to get to its current state, which we're very excited about.

Massively: Currently, tip missions give a choice between hero/vigilante outcomes in Paragon City, and villain/rogue outcomes in the Rogue Isles. Are there any plans to add missions with rogue/hero outcomes or vigilante/villain outcomes for characters midway through the shift?

Melissa Bianco: When Issue 19 comes out, we are adding more tip missions for characters who are in the middle of "going rogue." These new tips will be for vigilantes and rogues only; vigilantes will stalk criminals in the Rogue Isles and rogues struggle towards redemption in Paragon City. Thematically speaking, these missions continue to follow the player's personal story as he transitions from Avenging to Fallen Angel (vigilante) or Backstabbing Scum to Charming Scoundrel (rogue).

Massively: Are there any in-game explanations provided for Praetorian characters taking part in the Apex or Tin Mage task force (i.e., characters who started off by being a part of the invasion now helping to thwart it)?

Sean McCann: We want players to feel a connection to the story, something they can identify with, so we are focusing the story on the conflict of Primal Earth. The current storyline set up in Praetoria does not have the player characters as a part of the Praetorian invasion. Praetorians will either be in Primal Earth to try to stop an invasion from happening (heroes) or because they're out to gain their own power (villains).

Massively: The Apex task force features some Rikti enemies. Will the relationship between the Praetorians and the Rikti be explored in the future?

Sean McCann: The Rikti aren't a large part of the current Praetorian invasion arc. We can't go into further detail about what exactly their role is at the moment.

Massively: If a player joins a lower-level party and brings his level down temporarily, does he retain Incarnate powers? Does he still have a chance to earn the materials required for Incarnate abilities?

Tim Sweeney: Incarnate Abilities become inaccessible below level 45 -- the Well of the Furies only sends its energies towards those who are operating at or near the peak limits of their capabilities. Some Incarnate components may be earned at the lower-levels for particular tasks (for instance, the Imperious Task Force will award a component even if completed at lower than level 45), but it is not typical. The Well tends to reward only those who push the boundaries.
Non-Incarnate Ability rewards will be accessible at all levels, however.

Massively: Are Incarnate "crafting" drops segmented like invention materials, or can they drop off any appropriate enemy?

Tim Sweeney: Incarnate components are segmented by the content, not by enemy group. You will find that the Issue 19 content will only drop Alpha Slot components, and that the upcoming Incarnate Trials will drop a variety of components unique to that Trial. That being said, there will be more than one way to acquire almost every component.

Massively: Will there be any live events to herald the incoming invasion of Praetorian forces?

Melissa Bianco: We will not be hosting any Live Events, as the content in issue 19 itself represent the invasion.

Massively: The Apex force features some very different mechanics for fights and feels much more dynamic than previous task forces. That having been said, what about the task force didn't work quite as well as you had hoped?

Sean McCann: Something like this can only really be answered once the task force has been in the hands of players for quite some time. As always, player feedback during the beta process has been instrumental to the success of the task force. We'll definitely be paying close attention to what players like about the task force and keep that in mind for content that we'll be doing in the future.

Massively: A lot more storyline is being conveyed via in-mission cutscenes and text. Is this a trend that will be continued?

Sean McCann: It's something that we would like to continue to do, at least with task forces. Captions are very helpful in conveying the story to an entire team of players without pausing the action, like a cutscene would. This is something that's especially important in a task force, where players will be doing them repeatedly. We've used captions a lot in Going Rogue, and we'll be continuing to use them in missions and task forces to smoothly combine story and game play without one interrupting the other.

Massively: With Fitness' becoming baseline, will encounters be balanced around the increased regeneration/recovery/movement speed available to all characters?

Tim Sweeney: So much of the game had become de facto balanced around players having Fitness that it really hasn't been a concern. We are more looking at balancing around what you do with your three "freed up" power selections.

Thanks to Melissa Bianco, Matt Miller, Sean McCann, and Tim Sweeney for giving us the scoop!
This article was originally published on Massively.