A Mild-Mannered Reporter: Everybody needs a question answered sometime

Eliot Lefebvre
E. Lefebvre|05.05.10

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A Mild-Mannered Reporter: Everybody needs a question answered sometime
If you haven't read Jason Vuic's excellent history of the Yugo, you're doing yourself a disservice -- at least, if you have any interest in terrible cars, history, or just the crazy stylings of Malcolm Bricklin. What does that have to do with today's bevvy of City of Heroes questions, hot on the heels of our anniversary? Well, not everyone can afford the Batmobile. There are places where the Paragon Monorail (aka Justice Mass Transit) won't take you. And on those occasions, well, you truly wish that you'd just dropped the ten dollars on the Martial Arts booster or taken the darn travel power. Onward!

Dashel asked:
"When will Blasters get more secondaries, original or proliferated?"

Soon! Maybe. I've heard tell that we may well be due for another wave of powerset proliferation with the release of Going Rogue, although that's far from a confirmed fact. So Blasters can expect to get some more love there. But we don't have any idea of exactly when we'll see more secondaries as opposed to more primary sets. The trouble is that as Blasters have been designed, they have the undesirable trait that Masterminds share: they've got a setup for one of their sets that nobody else shares.
There are some powersets that are easy to port from one archetype for another. A Scrapper, Brute, or Stalker primary naturally works well as a Tanker secondary, and vice-versa. Defender primaries are Controller secondaries, Blaster and Corruptor primaries work well for Defender secondaries, and so on ad infinitum. The two sets that no one else really gets access to are Blaster secondaries and Mastermind primaries, because each is a pretty unique cocktail.

"Because we are creatures of habit. We see a number, and it would be a better number if it were higher."

Dashel pointed out in his very long mail (which was well-appreciated, I'd like to note) that Blasters have the smallest list of secondaries out of every archetype other than epics. This is very true. Masterminds, similarly, have the smallest list of primaries of any non-epic -- and up until Going Rogue, that number was capped at an earth-shattering five. The primary set is a strange mixture of pet powers, pet buffs, and ranged damage. Blasters, meanwhile, have a hybrid setup of light control, melee strikes, and ranged buffs.

In short -- both archetypes have sets that are hard to just bring over without a fair bit of work. And Blasters, as a whole, aren't doing too badly with their ten primary sets. Hopefully we'll see something nice with the next pass of proliferation, but there's a reason they don't usually get secondary love. There's nowhere for the powers to be proliferated from. (Not that it excuses the hundred-odd possible combinations that Defenders get, but...)

SirNiko asks, wisely:
"Why does City of Heroes even feature farming anymore?"

Because we are creatures of habit. We see a number, and it would be a better number if it were higher. We see an experience bar, and it would be better if it were filled. So often we rush to impulsively do these things that it's only when we reach the level cap that we ask ourselves what the hurry was. Especially in City of Heroes, you have the freedom to do as you see fit.

The case could be made for rushing up to 30 or so, since by then you have access to most of your powers and can focus largely on mechanics... but even that seems like a weak justification to me. People are trained in pretty much every non-City game to focus on getting to the end, and as a result they force themselves toward it. If you're inclined, however, I'd like to point out InfamousBrad's excellent explanation of why it's a bad idea. (He's talking about IOs, yes, but the same logic applies.)

Mattwo asks:
"...how is Going Rogue not an 'expandalone'?"

Because it's not a stand-alone expansion. You cannot play it without CoH (or City of Villains, technically, but the merge happened so long ago that it's really not a thing any longer). Not in the sense that you won't get the full experience -- it doesn't work unless you have the game installed and maintain an active account. This makes it a rarity among NCsoft's games, as Guild Wars is the only other game to get an expansion in the classic sense (and that was after several stand-alone sets).

And to answer your followup -- why didn't I pick Squirrel Girl? Because everyone picks Squirrel Girl. She's like the gold standard of unpopular and/or bizarre characters to fixate on. In retrospect, I almost wish I'd gone with Booster Gold. Or Vulcan, because nothing says "awesome" like taking groundwork for an unnecessary and boring revelation and replacing it with an eleventh-hour new character!

Green Jeans asks:
"I have an older computer that strains enough running the game. What does Ultra Mode actually change?"

Surfaces, at this point. The biggest things that it changes are how surfaces interact with light sourcing and reflections. And while I went on record as saying that it didn't seem like a huge upgrade, having seen it in action, the small effects really do add up to an impressive cumulative result. The water improvements are one of the things that seem tiny until you get to the actual coast and notice how nice things look.

Having said that... yeah, it does bog down the machine a little bit. I can crank everything to max on my machine (which is about six months old now, an Alienware with a GeForce GTX 260) and it drops my frame rate to around 30 outdoors -- not enough to really impact gameplay, but enough to be notable. I wonder how much of that has to do with the overlays of the old zones and how much of it is just the march of technology. We'll see once we're messing around in Praetoria.

That's all we have time for this week, folks. Or more accurately, all the questions that I opted to answer within this timeframe, take your pick. Further questions, interesting forum threads, or arguments about why the whole third Summers brother idea was nonsense from the start can be directed to Eliot at Massively dot com. Next week, we're finishing up that anniversary column with a look forward instead of backward. And there may be more dinosaurs. If you need more anniversary content prior to that, take a look at Off the Cape's anniversary podcast, which also has a short piece in which I babble like a fool. Good times for all!
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