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A Mild-Mannered Reporter: What we need on the road ahead

Eliot Lefebvre

Here we are after the kick, and I have to say, thus far 2012 feels pretty much the same as 2011 but with fewer weather effects. But it also brings the opportunity to ask for a new round of features from City of Heroes, and as I think you've all learned by now, I'm always willing to ask for new stuff for the coming year. Just look at all my requests from last year and you'll see what I'm talking about.

So did I get what I wanted? Well, we got a big new dump of improved content after all, which sort of fulfilled my first request. There's been no word on any new archetypes, and we only got two full issues last year, unless you count the little half-issues in between. Let's call it an even half. But those weren't predictions, after all; they were just wishes. So what do I think we should wish for over the next year?

Flashback to the right now.A reworking of older mechanics and unlocks

Readers of The Mog Log will know that this is one of my pet causes when it comes to Final Fantasy XI, as well. Older games are subject to what I'm coming to think of as mechanical cruft -- stuff that made sense when the game was new or the designers didn't yet know how people would play but no longer serves a purpose beyond annoying the players. (There's a whole article to be written about that, actually.)

City of Heroes has had a long time to build up some pretty awful cruft. There are mechanics in the game that could do with some paring down or removal, starting with what I like to think of as the game's group-related sucker punches. The game likes to be very solo-friendly right up until it isn't, and the structure of the game sometimes makes these sudden doses of mandatory grouping pretty awkward.

Case in point: My spider, whom I've repeatedly extolled as one of my favorite characters, needs to unlock her Patron Pool. For better or worse, the story arc requires her facing off against several Elite Bosses that are really problematic for her when they're even fully doable. This is a series of missions to unlock a feature pretty much core to her class. It would be like having to do a mandatory group quest to pass Level 35 or unlock most of her Enhancement slots.

It made sense at the time, sure. But it's just one of many things that the game has since evolved past. We don't need as many archvillains running around, we don't need limited respecs, we probably have more flavors of Enhancement running around than are really necessary, and it shouldn't be quite so easy to bypass getting your Ouroboros portal. Let's clean some of this stuff up, yes?

Sad Rikti: sad.Some love for the Rikti

The Rikti have historically been the archetypical villains of CoH, but these days they've kind of wound up on the sidelines compared to Praetorian and random other opponents, which is a shame -- everyone else gets in-depth story treatment, while the Rikti are relegated to a warzone and occasionally to being used as a Praetorian stooge.

Quite frankly, I'd like to see another outright invasion. I'd like to see the Rikti come through in full force, showing all of the tricks they've learned over the years. I want to see Rikti Incarnates, freshly empowered, armed and dangerous and taking over areas left and right. I want to see the big boogeymen of the game's lore marched out. As it stands, they deserve better, and they can be used much more effectively. Make them a significant force to be reckoned with again.

Good use of the Paragon Market

Paragon Studios has been going the smart route with the Paragon Market, throwing a whole bunch of stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. It's fresh territory for the game in many ways, and I think that by and large the team's hit on just about the right prices for several things, although there are some things that still feel a bit over-priced. Right now, there's a fairly wide selection of power sets, costume parts, and even a little bit of content in there. That's good.

What I want to see is for the studio to really start expanding the sort of things that can be found in the store. Power sets alone are neat, but let's see something unique. Let's see the option to pick from, say, two primary power sets along with your one secondary. Pull out some unique game design elements and see if they can be priced out in the store at a fair rate. Go ahead and experiment, right? Some of it's going to not work, some of it will be bizarre, and some of it will get yanked or discounted, but experimentation is a good thing.

No fake-outs with the Signature Arc

Seriously, guys. Killing Statesman is pretty cool, it's shocking, it's unique, it's something I didn't see as terribly likely. Now stick the landing and let him stay dead. If you revive him a year down the line, sure, I can accept that; we're talking about comic book dead here. But let it stick at least for this story because if the answer to "Who Will Die?" is "nobody," you'll have missed an opportunity to do two things: tell a cool story and kill off Statesman.

I really like killing Statesman, see.

At any rate, that's my wish list for the next year. Let me know what you think down in the comments, or wing along your thoughts to, same as last year. Next week, let's take a drop at one of the villain groups yet again, and then it's time to do that topical blend column at long last.

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.

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