A Mild-Mannered Reporter: The wish list

In just a few weeks, it will be the most wonderful time of the year, a time for giving presents to the most important person you can think of. Yes, that's right, my birthday is quickly approaching, and that puts me in a mind to ask for things that I want. Also there was some other gift-related holiday recently. I can't keep track of every little thing; I've got bigger issues to focus on. You don't even know.

Now, while I could probably write a thousand words about what I want for presents overall, this is a column about City of Heroes rather than my greed-filled demands. But there are things that I'm hoping we can see in the game over the next year, and so I'm putting together my wish list for 2011 in the city. And who knows -- with City of Heroes set to face some stiff competition in the coming year, we might have a fighting chance at some of these...

More Praetoria-level content

By this, I do not mean "content that occupies the 1-20 level band." I mean content that's up to the standards of what Paragon Studios has done with Praetoria. I've gotten a sweet hit of what the game can do, and I want more.

Praetoria is really a ride, and the game engine gets up and does a dance whilst you either work for the noble-but-brutal Loyalists or the dirty malcontents of the Resistance. It's a lot of fun, and it really pulls you along as you examine your loyalties and work within a shifting framework. Then the game dumps you out into either the city or the isles and pretty much tells you to have fun from here on out.

Yes, you can still do tip missions and alignment missions and all that fun stuff, but the missions lack the acerbic bite of their predecessors. There are no cutscenes mid-mission forcing you to make a difficult choice, and there are fewer personalities that tend to stick with you (especially as a hero). The alignment system as it stands works just fine, but it's not as engaging as the prior content, and I'd like to see more stuff like that.

Force me to make choices mid-mission. No, I don't care whether it affects anything in the long run; just let me feel as if I'm getting to make unique decisions that have an outcome of some sort. Even if all you can bring over is the flavor, that is some darn tasty flavor.

New Epic Archetypes

A rather bizarre wish? Perhaps. But let me explain that I really, really like new classes. I especially like new classes that somehow fit into a lore niche, classes whose very nature is inextricable from the setting. As a prime example, I'm going to have to cite the Puppetmaster of Final Fantasy XI and the Dervish of Guild Wars. These classes are so tied with the lore of a specific time and place that they can't exist outside of their games of origin.

Scrappers can be Batman or Wolverine or Deadpool. Spiders, on the other hand, can only be Spiders. You can bend and twist their backstories -- something I've done myself with my newly heroic crab working for Longbow -- but they're tied to the story of the game world just like Kheldians. And as I've continually rambled on about the need to establish each individual character as being tied to the game world, this comes to the fore.

Yes, this would introduce a host of new balance issues, but now is really the time for them. We've got more Incarnate slots coming, and that's going to throw balance to the dogs anyhow. Might as well thoroughly screw with the balance of everything now and sort it out later on, right?

At least four issues

I tend to be a fairly positive person when it comes to Paragon. I freely admit this. Part of it is dealing with the staff -- Melissa Bianco just exudes a sort of genial enthusiasm that you can't help but share. The bigger reason is more obvious, since I'm generally of the mind that the studio has done a great job listening to players and giving us what we want with only occasional missteps.

That being said, next year, we are going to need a bunch of content patches. Because I promise you, there is at least one other superhero game that is going to be getting plenty of them.

No, DC Universe Online is not going to appeal to everyone, but it offers hero or villain play right from launch, and it isn't like Champions Online in its missteps. Every single moment that people are playing CoH, they are going to have to ask themselves, "Is there a good reason to play this game over DC Universe Online?" And if they don't have a good answer for that question, off they go.

Incarnate system additions will certainly help, but I'm reminded of a post Eric Burns made forever ago about the EATs when they were first released. They were conceptually nice, but despite having played the game for half of forever, he didn't have any characters at 50, and thus they were essentially nonexistent for him. It was a benefit for players, but only for a certain type of player. And I'm willing to wager there are players out there who are still not playing with the Incarnate system, who like tooling around at lower levels and have no real urge to hurry up to max level.

Four issues is a lot, but they would also mean that the team at Paragon is working overtime. It would serve the purpose of sending the message that the game is getting regular updates, big updates, the sort of thing that had slowed for a little while. It would help keep players thinking that the game is still as vital as it's ever been, even six years later.

Also, four issues would be awesome. I can admit to a wee bit of self-interest, right?

Those are my requests for the next year, and if we could get all of those by the time my birthday rolls around, that would be awesome. (It would also mean a whole lot packed into a really short period of time.) Agreements and disagreements may be sent along to eliot@massively.com, as always, or left in the comments.

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.