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A Mild-Mannered Reporter: Community timing

Eliot Lefebvre

Welcome to this week's installment of A Mild-Mannered Reporter, where we will not be talking about Going Rogue. Well, OK, that's a lie -- but we're not going to be doing our big analysis and in-depth look at the entire expansion. As of the time I'm writing these words, I've not actually even played the game. (This will have changed by the time you are reading the article, but that's the wonderful part about writing ahead. I'm sending messages to the future from the past!)

So while there are going to be several community threads for City of Heroes in this column, there will not be any of the biting commentary you might have hoped to see. You can at least check out my first impressions of the expansion, if you'd like -- which also isn't written as of the time that I'm writing this, but will be by the time you read it. (Editor's note: Eliot's first impressions of Going Rogue launched Tuesday.) You know what, just jump past the break already -- I'm giving myself a Lost headache thinking about all the time travel.

Second verse, not the same as the first

I'm going to answer this question here, rather than during a usual question-assault, because the answer is boring. The newest information we have on City of Heroes 2 is that we do not have any information at this time. If it's being worked on, we don't know about it. If it's in development, we aren't aware of it. If War Witch and Positron have already made a game with a rich backstory, robust systems, and a button you can click on to create a hot dog wherever you want, we still don't know about it. (If you could work that hot dog button into Issue 19, though, please. I like me some hot dogs.)

What we do know is that the name is taken, and so logic would dictate that the idea is at least being batted around. If there's something to this persistent rumor -- and as the thread indicates, there does seem to be at least something going on -- don't count on seeing much about it until early next year. Right now, our future is Going Rogue... well, technically it's our present by the time you read this. But you know what I mean.

The level cap doesn't mean forever

Level 50 is a special level; there's no arguing otherwise. But the truth of City of Heroes is that reaching the level cap is not the beginning of a journey so much as the end of one. What awaits you afterward -- grinding out Influence or Infamy and trying to kit yourself in the most overpowered IO sets you can find -- is an optional activity, a choice to focus on optimizing a character to be able to survive anything. The endgame is not built around it, and most likely never will be.

So characters at the level cap are much less safe than they are in other games. Getting rid of them doesn't mean getting rid of the same time commitment as it would in a more level-oriented game. Heck, I have several characters who sit in the 30s rather than hitting the level cap -- I don't feel like playing them often, and they've got a wide enough range of powers that I'm useful when scaled up or down.

Uphill. In the snow. Both ways.

When you're reading this, the release of Going Rogue will mean that there has been a big change in the game from the old days. Why, back in my day, you got created on blue side or red side, and by gum, you stayed there! So there's a helpful thread for grizzled old-timers remembering the days when Empathy was the only real powerset for defenders, there were no villains, and archvillians didn't scale.

I do not miss the past. (Mercifully, this thread is done with the sort of tongue-in-cheek humor required for such an exercise. Does anyone really want to return to the days of Issue 1? I hope not.)

The quality of life

Quality-of-life improvements are little things, but they have such a huge impact on the feel of a game. And there are so many elements that don't matter in the larger view, but make a huge difference in practical terms. Objectively, for instance, there's no reason why it should matter if a scroll bar in-game can be adjusted via the scroll wheel or not... except that it's convenient to scroll in-game the same way you scroll everywhere else. And while City of Heroes offers a fairly good quality-of-life all around, there are some areas where it could stand to improve.

Personally, I'm still waiting on visible, immediate durations for character buffs. I like knowing just how much time I have left before Enrage or whatever wears off. I'd also like to see some improvements in the costume design UI -- maybe the option to filter by certain categories, instead of the current "scroll through everything" methodology. And a few more options for mixing parts would be great, but that's moving out of the realm of quality-of-life and into the realm of just nitpicking.

Who gets the big dose of power first?

The Incarnate system is a major alteration to the dynamic of the endgame. We don't know the full details of what will happen after it gets put into practice, but we do know that it's going to change how we view the level cap. So the question to ask is pretty self-evident: Which of the no doubt several capped characters is going to be the first one to work through the system?

It's not a grand oration on the nature of the game, but it's a fun chance to look back through your history as a player. Do you go with your first 50? Your favorite 50? Or the weakest character, the one whom you think would benefit most from the extra doodads? Or you could set up a dartboard and choose one at random. The important point is to follow your bliss.

Those are our community highlights for this week. Next week, I promise, I'll be talking more about the expansion. Until then, you can send me comments, questions, or threats of grave repercussions for my ignorance at And seriously, if you have a game that makes a hot dog on demand, let me know.

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