I'll freely admit that even as a fan of City of Heroes, I hadn't been super-azzed about Issue 24. It wasn't that I thought it would be awful; it just hadn't really roped me in. But now that all of the features are laid out in front of us, I find that it's actually looking a lot more interesting. There's some cool stuff here, and in what may be the most welcome news, it's stuff focused on a variety of the game's elements.
New stuff to do
I've complained for a while that players are kind of left out in the dark for certain level bands in the game, so I'm just pleased as punch to see that this game is adding in new stuff for two level bands: 7-20 for Heroes, and 30-50 for both sides of the fence. Exactly what this new content will entail is a bit more debatable, but I think I speak for everyone who is me when I say that it really does not matter.
The 30-50 stuff bothers me slightly because it once again involves Vanguard, an organization that seems much cooler to me when it just fights the Rikti. Having Vanguard members care about Praetoria makes sense, but it also seems like it's an excuse not to make another organization care about this crisis. Then again, it's also perfectly in keeping with the goals of both factions in the game; the heroic side is trying to work with the "redeemed" Praetorians, while the villainous side just wants to grab whatever is left over from that whole messy conflict. It's a perfect example of how to have two sides running through the same core content without making a mirror copy.
Power Pools make the grade
I like the idea of Power Pools more than the usual execution. In theory, it's really cool that you have an entire set of powers that aren't beholden to the game's usual structure. In practice, most of them are largely useless. Adding another power to the rotation may not completely fix this issue, but it does give heroes and villains alike another element to consider when choosing powers, especially if that top tier is particularly good.
In the interests of full disclosure, I must say that I haven't played with all of the changes, but right now, Fighting looks solid for characters with a melee bent (especially hybrid Blasters), Medicine seems solid for support characters who don't have a straight healing-style set, and Leadership is useful for group players. Concealment is just more of the same, and Presence is... I don't know what's being attempted with Presence, honestly. The changes seem odd. It's not really aimed at tanking any longer but is aimed at... something?
As for customization of the sets... it's not going to help the game play better, but it's still a welcome change. More thematic consistency across powers is always keen.
I'm pretty sure this is the first time that VIPs have received only new secondary powers rather than at least one primary, but I could be wrong. Either way, the new secondaries are pretty nice. They fill in a gap that existed for Blasters created with a more low-power feel. You could pick Devices, sure, but that always seemed more tech-focused. Martial Combat is a set for a hero without a bunch of special super-technology; you're just a guy who shoots X (guns, for instance) and punches anyone who gets too close in the head.
The new stuff that's slated for further on also looks pretty interesting. Bio Armor is something I can't wait to play with; I might worry about some of the creeping powersets, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy them. I do feel upset about the fact that the whole "Shark Melee" set was meant as a joke; I actually want to play that now. Not sure if you hit people with the shark or what.
And for the Incarnates in the audience...
There aren't new trials listed in here, but there are several new pieces of content available to high-end Incarnate players, and that is good. I'm particularly interested in the idea of an Incarnate-only story arc, since up until now Incarnates haven't had anything to do other than go run more Incarnate trials. It's a system that raises your power, but that level of power is unnecessary unless you're doing more trials. Having something extra just makes good sense.
Extra Lore pets, on the other hand, I'm a bit less enthusiastic about if only because we're getting an ever-lengthening list of pets to summon all day every day, and it's always some villain group or another. It's all well and good, but there's increasingly less connection between the Incarnate lore and the groups you're summoning. Still, if you've really wanted to pal around with the Banished Pantheon, I can't say I'm upset you'll have the option.
A good shot in the arm
Overall, there's nothing that jumps out about Issue 24 as astonishingly great, but everything together looks good. It's a collection of items that City of Heroes needs, even if it's all a bit less flashy.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments or mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I'll be writing the column I originally planned for today; we'll be looking at some flashy street tech.
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.