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Choose My Adventure: The last mile

MJ Guthrie

You haven't steered me wrong. At least, not yet.

I am pretty sure there is that nagging worry at the back of the Massively writers' minds when they give themselves over to the masses for Choose My Adventure. Sure, there is an element of mystery and excitement, but what if... just what if the majority manifests an evil streak and sends you careening over an embankment to your virtual doom? Or banishes you to tasks that would make you want to lobotomize yourself with your mouse -- things like run Death From Below repeatedly? Thankfully, you all spared me from such torture. And with this week's tour of the Mission Architect system in City of Heroes, you definitely steered me right -- this is my favorite aspect of the game yet!

I am glad to say that my trust in you all has not been unfounded, and I will speak on your behalf to the others. The fact is, I have enjoyed our little road trip immensely and am sad it must come to an end. So let's take one last cruise through City of Heroes together before you drive off into the sunset with Eliot.

Gallery: CMA: City of Heroes | 67 Photos

City of Heroes screenshot
Base jumping

Last week I admitted that I didn't have the chance to explore many bases as I was so caught up in checking out costumes and running story missions. So that night, I went to make good on my promise to follow where you led me: I toured a variety of supergroup bases (which you can see for yourself). Now, I will say right now that I was blown away by the creativity demonstrated by City of Heroes players. And the bases I have visited are but a smattering of all that are out there and available.

There are so many different building materials and decorating pieces that each place I visited was completely and totally different from every other. While there were functional bases with a contemporary flair, I also saw a cave of the four elements and an entire miniature city, including parks, a bell tower, and a theater. That's just a few examples. If you haven't had the chance to tour some of these yourself, it is definitely worth it to make a character and pop in.

However, one thing I wish Paragon Studios would change is the fact that bases are so restricted; there is no way to tour a base unless you are either in the supergroup or in a group (and even then, the only superbase you can enter is the one belonging to the leader). Supergroups that are part of a coalition can also visit one another's bases. There really should be a setting by which people can open up and share their awesome creations with the public if they so choose; it is a waste to see so much creativity locked away. For now, just ask folks in the "help" channel if anyone wants to show off a base; the people are pretty friendly, and you'll get some guides.

And be careful about whom you bump into when base-hopping because Lord Nemesis might just be waiting around a corner to recruit YOU into his evil plots and then pull you into a massive battle when you emerge from the base. That was truly an epic moment added into my CoH travel log.

City of Heroes screenshot
One, two, this mission's for you

Three four, where's the door? No, seriously... my first mission found me floundering for an entrance. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So for our final week together, you decided that I should partake in the goodness that is other players' missions instead of building my own. That's all right; I still plan to go back and make my own. I'll just have to do that later. This week is for you. I bet you are wondering how it went, aren't you? It went... OK. More than OK! Well, except for the door part.

The first thing I did was cozy on up to the Architect Studio Manager in Atlas Park. He told me I'd be introduced to "the ultimate experience in sensory stimulation." Bring it on! Then he sent me to tour the facility; I made it to two people before I was shown the Mission Architect terminal. OOoo, shiny! Because of the vote, I skipped past making my own mission this time around (who needs a tutorial?) and decided to jump head-first into someone else's. I chose developers' choice -- as suggested -- and went for a medium-length story. Who got my attention? The title that grabbed me first was called "Two tickets to Westerly" by PW. I clicked start, chose between rewards and then.... nothing.

Er, maybe I should have actually finished that tutorial arc before I jumped into a story. I guess my excitement to see what others created got the better of me. I wandered about, clicked the terminal (which told me I couldn't re-enter if I aborted), clicked the large glowy column in the center of the room, then started wandering around the building a bit looking at other doors. Feeling a bit sheepish, I finally resorted to my friend the "help" channel. Gotta appreciate nice and helpful folks! Turned out I actually needed to first speak with one of the ladies standing around the glowy column protectively before I could get in. That's when I remembered that those three bodies were androgynous forms without features when I walked in; they changed into my first contact after I accepted the mission, in this case a slightly trashy-looking woman with a cigarette hanging from her lips. Into the glowy column I go!

City of Heroes screenshot
Mission possible

In a nutshell, I had fun. The maps were new to me, so I got to explore a bit (although in the second step, I actually traversed the sewers four times before finding the sweet spot that opened the secret hatch to continue). New to the Mission Architect yourself? Hint: It is not a good idea to get so involved in the story and reading the dialogue that you forget to check your health bar before the boss fight. At least I know that the Architect Mission place has its own hospital. Yeah, that was planned intel I was gathering for you all. Really. Also important intel: What's been cleared stays cleared when you have to re-enter. I am thorough, yes? Even better news is that the boss remained at the low health I left him.

Speaking of dialogue, I found that the conversations were half the fun. I had the chance to fight corrupt LARPers and hear the boast "I am the ARCH-MAGE OF AWESOME!" from a slightly delusional boss who whimpered after I hit him.

When I dropped from hover and switched to first-person view, the sound of my steps echoing off the warehouse walls was eerie and immersive. The decorating was realistic looking, especially those boxes. As someone who gets paper cuts from corrugated boxes, I can tell you that those areas made shiver more than facing any of the bipedal nemeses did.

Before I even got very far in that first mission, I knew I would be taking more. And more. The experience was great. So I kept going. I really am having a blast with the Mission Architect. There are so many missions to take -- some missions are still there from years ago! I have no idea how I will get through so many, not to mention actually setting up my own. Who knows if I will manage to get back into the rest of the game world! Oh wait, I will have to because you voted for a night of story arcs during our final livestream. Sneaky little buggers, you!

City of Heroes screenshot
And that's it for our jaunt into the city. Thanks for having me along for the ride, folks; I really enjoyed it. Hopefully I will get the keys again and we can set off on another adventure. I am truly looking forward to packing up and heading out with ya'll again sometime soon. Until then, enjoy the next leg of your journey! And don't forget to watch -- and join in -- the farewell Choose My Adventure live in City of Heroes tonight, Wednesday the 22nd, at 8:00 p.m. EDT!

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.

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