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A Mild-Mannered Reporter: Superheroic news for July

Eliot Lefebvre

So how's everybody been? You all doing well? Because I'm super, and thanks for asking.

For some reason, July was one of the first months since its announcement that seemed to be fairly quiet for Infinite Crisis; I can only guess that most of the staff was too busy playing to make announcements, which would be the ideal situation. But the other superheroic games on the market certainly didn't quiet down, with Marvel Heroes and Champions Online both making plenty of noise. Even DC Universe Online got in on the action, or tried to until SOE Live wound up being all about one game.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. You want a rundown on the super scene from last month? It's all here behind the cut, so come on down and take a look. It's the third month since we moved over to the new format, and I can't help but hope that I'm starting to get into the cadence.

If you squint, it sort of looks like the Pacific Rim Defense symbol.  But I think lots of things look like that.A Kickstarter is coming for The Phoenix Project

I've said before that I think Kickstarter is heavily overused these days, especially for MMOs. But I've been following The Phoenix Project with interest, and I'm curious to see how it does once the Kickstarter actually starts up because it's got an uphill battle to fight and a promise I'd really like to see realized.

Whatever the goal is, this project will most likely need to court some people who aren't former City of Heroes players while still being a project very much modeled after City of Heroes. I've talked about the potential pitfalls of the project before and won't go into depth again, but I don't think it's a cut-and-dried cast of looking for funding and immediately finding it.

That having been said, if this works, it'll be the first project of its type to move beyond the concept stage, which is pretty excellent. And for all the flaws I can point out, that doesn't change the fact that I want to have something like CoH back in my life again. So let's see what happens once September rolls around.

Marvel Heroes accidentally breaks all the things

The most recent big patch for Marvel Heroes had a bit of a problem when it was launched. This was the patch that was meant to roll out a new loot system while bringing out the long-delayed Human Torch, so it was kind of a big deal. The patch was rolled back, and I find myself suddenly of two minds about this.

On the one hand, there are several bits here I want to praise MH for. It was a patch meant to fix some of the hero-unlock mechanics in a fair and equitable way (and let's face it, there needs to be a reason to buy these things because the development team needs to eat). It brought in a character that some people had already pre-purchased, something I had taken Gazillion to task for in the past. When the patch turned out to have broken the game, the patch was rolled back but anything players earned or bought will be restored once the issues are fixed. All good stuff.

On the other hand, how was this not caught in testing?

I realize that there's nothing quite like pushing something to the live servers, and something unexpected will always break, but most of those issues don't result in reverting the entire game back. This is one of the reasons a test server environment exists in the first place.

Good form, but the execution leaves something to be desired and moves into being somewhat baffling. Still worthy goals for a patch, though.

It's also apparently retooling the idea that Green Lanterns have to look cool.DC Universe Online retools looting

DC Universe Online didn't really have an opportunity to shine this year; EverQuest Next pretty much stole the SOE Live show. But it did get some screen time as Sony Online Entertainment was showing off its library, mostly in the form of another DLC pack and the addition of a rather different system for looting.

In essence, the new loot system seems to work the same way the current one does with the exception of everyone getting an item. There's no assurance that you'll actually want what you get, but when the big bad drops, everyone gets something to show for it. And that seems like such a simple and straightforward solution that I find myself wondering why every game doesn't do something like this.

Sure, you might not get something you want, but that was always the case. Before, your options were to walk away with nothing, with something you didn't want, or with something you did want; the revamp removes that first possibility. You get more stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing it in action.

Champions Online goes digital... and lockboxier

So Champions Online is getting some new content, which is good! It's mission stuff, and while it's meant to be a group operation, that's the most neglected area of the game anyway, so that's even better! And it's... accompanied by the usual parade of lockbox madness, which is not nearly as good. Yes, the developers need to eat; I just said that. But this particular style of lockbox always rubs me the wrong way. (Random grab bags don't bug me; being "rewarded" by the chance to spend real money does.)

Stepping away from the lockbox aspect, I do think the content thus far seems to be spread out and is hitting a lot of notes without recycling old premises, which is a good thing. It's still not tying into a larger overall theme, but new stuff is new stuff, period. And it's certainly a bit meatier than more recent events. I'm just not thrilled to see that the game is still pushing those lockboxes with such fervor.

As always, feedback is welcome down in the comments or via mail to I'll see you here again next month for another news roundup!

By day a mild-mannered reporter, Eliot Lefebvre spent years in City of Heroes before the world-shattering event that destroyed his home world. But he remains as intrepid as ever, traveling to other superheroic games and dispensing his unique brand of justice... or lack thereof.

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