Choose My Adventure City of Heroes
Yes, Virginia, there is a game after character creation.

With such extensive customization available, it is quite likely that I would have spent the duration of Choose My Adventure without ever actually logging in to play City of Heroes. For all of the hours I spent in character creation with all the options (enough to completely blow a fuse in your mind), it was easy to lose sight of the fact that there was actually a game to go play once I finally made my character. Now I see the real appeal of the VIP pass with all of those character slots; it has even me thinking wistfully of all the alts that could be.

Luckily I have you folks directing me, forcing me past the costume creator and into my role as defender of truth and justice. If it hadn't been for you, I would have never embarked on my journey of flight and fricasseed evil doers in Atlas Park. Or participated in an impromptu street band performance. Yup, it is all your fault! And I'm looking forward to what we do next as we continue our City of Heroes adventures together.

But first, let's take a look at what mayhem I caused... er, put an end to this past week.

City of Heroes screenshot
Learning the ropes

After a prolonged battle, my first foe was conquered: I finally succeeded in completing my character and moved on to the tutorial. As far as tutorials go, City of Heroes' is surprisingly short and takes only a few minutes. You move forward, make a left, smack one little other-wordly creature around, then zone into an area where a giant lava-rock, meteor-calling behemoth pops out of a chasm to try to squish you. Oh, and you make an alignment-altering decision as well: Right before moving into the final boss area, you come upon a downed super-hero and are given the choice to let him absorb some power from you (branding you a hero) or absorb his powers for yourself (making you a villain). For once, the choice was easy -- you already made it for me!

Although others can join you in the final battle, I wore the beast down myself. He wasn't difficult, but I got to experience occasional help messages flashing across the screen, such as "move away before the meteors smush ya." I gathered the point of this particular fight was to get used to moving about while in battle; as a habitual mouse-button mover, I can't say the practice wasn't helpful.

Once I defeated the boss in the tutorial, I thought I was all set to leave and begin my big superhero adventures. However, I wasn't allowed to transport to the city until I completed one final tutorial task, one that was completely unexpected and actually quite strange to me: I had to purchase something from the cash shop! I suppose it's good to introduce people to the shop so they know how to access it, but Paragon Studios is lucky this "purchase" was really a free badge; had it been a purchase requiring my own money, I would have left the game then and there.

City of Heroes screenshot
Frolicking in the park

After the brief pit stop in the tutorial area, I finally gained access to Atlas Park. Initially, while waiting for the vote to come in, I held back from leveling too much. But that all changed last Friday night when I gunned the engine and stepped on the gas, starting on the road toward hero greatness.

Per your bidding, I have been seeking out quests and doing the story lines. I know lower levels always move by quickly, but I have to admit that I was so caught up in the story of my missions and just poking around that most of my levels came as a surprise. Although you readers directed me to follow the quests, I had trouble passing by random groups of thugs, so I often stopped to lay the smack-down. It was kind of neat to have the citizens gush, "I can't wait to tell my friends about this!" after their rescue. *chest thump* It wasn't all altruism that kept me out clearing the streets long after my tasks were done, though; I really couldn't pass up the opportunities to watch things burn.

While most levels sneaked up on me, I was very aware of that ding to level 4 because that meant I could finally obtain that which my little spandexed heart desired most: flight! I freely admit (and not just because I had witnesses) that I kind of brushed past those last quest dialogues in my rush to get to Ms. Liberty and gain that power.

Sadly, some perfect opportunities for you readers to make choices for me came and went during the course of play, so I was left on my own. For instance, after helping my first contact, I was given the choice of speaking to a grunt police officer or a doctor. We all know I am decisionally challenged, right? Well, luckily it was only two choices. If worst came to worst, I could always use eenie-meenie again. However, after a bit of pondering, I figured having an "in" with someone in the medical profession could prove useful in the future, so I chose the Doc. She sent me off to combat more forces of evil. A hero's work is never done!

City of Heroes screenshot
The good, the bad, and the how COULD you!

So what were my first impressions of City of Heroes? The game world looks nice, and the variety of costumes you see around you is amazing! A definite +10 for individualism and fostering creativity. Flight is a definite thumbs-up as well. Being able to call your mission contacts remotely so you can continue missions without always running back is also pretty great. Let's not forget the awesomeness of being able to fly. I also really like that chat bubbles will pop up when you get close enough to various NPCs so that you catch a glimpse of local flavor and lore. The chat bubbles add to the immersion, a facet of gaming that's key for me. Oh, and did I mention flight?

I would also have to say that livestreaming the game and grouping with viewers was definitely fun and made the time go by quickly. (If you missed it, check out the livestreams and become a witness to this week's shenanigans by tuning in Friday at 9:00 p.m. EDT.) Finding the dance emotes was also a highlight; the resulting dance party was quite entertaining, even if the local denizens refused to acknowledge our awesome moves. The active quest destination icon was also good. It wasn't too intrusive, and it allowed me to see the distance to my target to make sure I went to the right spot. The fact that I can disable it is also good if I just feel like wandering.

The negatives include the fact I cannot jump on a moving car and ride it around the city. Believe me, I tried. I also felt that some of the tutorial hints were lacking enough information to let me get a handle on some features like enhancements. I disliked and continue to have trouble with the default mouse-button movement locking me into auto-run; the number of times I have released the buttons only to continue to shoot past my target...

Another aspect of the game that is probably relatively minor but drives me nuts is the camera view -- specifically, the mechanic of panning your view around to see the front of your character where the view sticks there but your character continues to move relative to the original position. I spent a couple of days always having to manually reset the view after my character would sprint toward me when I thought she was heading the opposite way. I was so happy to discover the page down key auto resets it.

What gave me the biggest headache was the command list. I am all for lots of choices, but after Googling the list of commands and trying to peruse it, I ended up with a migraine. Hopefully I won't really be needing many of those because I am not about to spend hours of my game time trying to find just the right command, assuming it even exists. Hopefully, the kind folks in the help channel or local chat will be able to direct me to anything important. Thankfully, one kind groupmate shared the shortcut to the emotes and dances so I can inflict... I mean, enjoy them at will.

City of Heroes screenshot
Where to next?

All right folks, I have gotten my proverbial feet wet now, so it's time to delve in even more. So what's around the next corner for us? Remember, you map our course. Shall we continue adventuring or take a break and give crafting a look-see? Shall I keep to myself or continue to recruit others to group with me? And should I explore supergroups and try to join one or maintain my solitary hero-ness? It's up to you! Just remember to vote before 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, May 12th.
CMA: Focus
Continue adventuring -- torching and scorching is the only way!272 (80.2%)
Explore crafting... after all, idle hands are the Villain's workshop!67 (19.8%)
CMA: To group or not to group
Solo is the way of all the greats.75 (22.3%)
Group up! Adventures are better shared.262 (77.7%)
CMA: Supergroup -- super idea?
Yes! Find a supergroup and check out bases.247 (73.1%)
No way! Be your own hero!91 (26.9%)

Strap yourself in for the ride of (six weeks of) your life! Where are you going? Well, that's entirely up to you, the Massively readers, to decide -- the where, the what, and the how are all directed by you. The who is MJ Guthrie! For the duration of Choose My Adventure, her virtual life is in your hands! Join MJ in-game and on-site to be a part of the adventure and watch the story unfold.

This article was originally published on Massively.