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Ten things to do in City of Heroes before it's gone


A year ago to the day, I grudgingly, sorrowfully published Ten things to do in Star Wars Galaxies before it's gone. SWG was my favorite MMO of all time, and I was devastated to see it canned for licensing reasons, but I wanted to do it justice, and hey, at least I had my second-favorite MMO to fall back on, right? City of Heroes -- now that was a game that had staying power!

Welp, so much for that. As we've been covering for the last month and change, NCsoft is pulling the plug on City of Heroes come the end of November, and the genre is faced with the loss of yet another pioneering and ostensibly profitable MMO long before its time. While there are still soldiers fighting for that slim chance NCsoft might sell the game to a willing investor, the likelihood is that it's game over for Paragon City, at least in its current incarnation. Fight on, I say; don't give up. But make sure you enjoy the game that exists right now, too. Log in. Play. You may never get the chance again.

Today, I'll tell you 10 things you should do in City of Heroes... before it's too late.

Design a costume or 50.
10. Design a costume or 50

I'm surely not alone in thinking that City of Heroes' character creator tool is a game in itself. I've more than once found myself designing costumes for characters I never got around to playing. I've even tricked non-gamer relatives into wasting a few hours making superheroes. Do it! Be creative without even playing the game.

Cool power sets
9. OK, maybe roll a character, too

It might seem pointless to make a new character so close to the end, but leveling is speedy nowadays, especially if you group up with other lowbie characters in Death from Below and take advantage of the permanent double-experience buff. It doesn't take long to get a new toon up to 20 or so, meaning you can easily try out archetypes and power sets you always meant to get around to rolling but never did. In fact, Paragon gave all players access to the VIP server, so you can even try out power sets that never made it to the cash shop, like Bio Armor and Martial Assault. Don't forget to play around with travel powers; you can't fly, superjump, or teleport in many games!

Rob a bank
8. Rob a bank

Few MMOs allow you to truly play a villain; at best, you're playing some shade of grey with an ugly face, a bad guy who's just a little bit misunderstood. But City of Heroes provides a home in the Rogue Isles for your characters with darker impulses, those who enjoy a bit of light kidnapping, robbery, and world domination. So go redside, at least once! Don't forget to undertake a mayhem mission, in which you rob a bank, defeat an iconic hero, and are actually rewarded for destroying inanimate objects like cars, dumpsters, and telephone booths.

Check out iconic POIs
7. See the world

City of Heroes is filled with interesting places and strange points of interest that border on pure Easter eggs, like Drenched Donuts in Faultline. So give yourself a final tour. Ride the rails, read the billboards, fly to the top of Atlas' globe, take one last long look inside the dreaded office map, and stand inside the donut hole. Do it!

Kill Skuls
6. Go. Hunt. Kill Skuls.

You must get some hunting in, and do it in a group for maximum particle effect awesomeness. You don't have time to play every arc in the game, but you can hit the highlights, and the newer zones and storylines tend to be the better ones. Zero in on the signature story arcs, the alignment missions and tips, and the new and revamped zones, like First Ward and Dark Astoria, but don't forget classics like the Faultline arc and The Radio; play them through Ouroboros if your toon's too high. And zip through the featured arcs in the Mission Architect, too!

Script an AE mission
5. Become a game designer

Yes, City of Heroes was one of the very first MMOs to implement a player-generated content system. The Mission Architect allows you to design your very own mission arc, with custom characters and power combos and dialogue and lore. It's a much more novice-friendly tool than PGC in other MMOs, so why not give your story-telling skills a workout and put together a mission for your fellow gamers to die in play through?

Build a base
4. Hole up in your lair

If you happen to be a supergroup leader, you have access to a suite of base building tools. You don't just decorate a house; you can construct a lair as big or as small as your imagination, room by room, wall by wall, floor by floor. You can even control the lighting and theme. Give it a spin just to see one of the more creative ways old-school MMOs tried to give players their own custom spaces in the world. Or just fill up an entire room with plants stacked on top of each other. Whichever.

Actually finish that build you've been working on for three years
3. Finish an elite build

You might think playing the market an odd choice for an end-of-the-world activity, but you can nab some surprisingly good deals right now as players liquidate their inventories and price their enhancements and recipes charitably. If you really love crafting or consider finishing the perfect IO build your endgame challenge, then take advantage of the game's end-of-life economy.

Document memories
2. Record your memories

One of the things that made Star Wars Galaxies' sunset easier for me to handle was my obsessive approach to screenshotting and documenting everything. Do the same in City of Heroes. Take screenshots of all your characters and costumes, your supergroup bases, your biographies and builds. Then go snag Sentinel Plus, a little utility that will help you export all of those snippets of code in XML format. Who knows -- maybe someday, you'll be able to import your characters back into a future version of the game.

Atlas 33
1. Pay your respects

Standing vigil on the Virtue server are the stalwart members of the Atlas Park 33 crew, those players who've dedicated themselves and their computers to keeping Atlas Park 33 alive ever since last month's rallies. You absolutely have to make the pilgrimage to Atlas 33 and salute those torchbearers. I can't think of a better place to be standing when the lights go dark for the last time on Paragon City.

Rest easy, City of Heroes. With any luck, the Ouroboros of our future will let us replay you again.

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