Steel Crusade is a two-part update that starts with players finding people bursting into flames across Millennium City in an adventure that leads inside the bodies of the victims to identify the source of this affliction. Ultimately, the arc culminates in a direct attack on Mechanon's orbital station... followed by an anniversary event that pits players against Mechanon himself in a world boss encounter. It also introduces something that City of Heroes veterans will find familiar in the form of the Reawakened Automaton: a new archetype available to experienced players with unique perks.
Like the Epic Archetypes of City of Heroes, the Reawakened Automaton is available to players who have already hit the maximum level on a character. Like other archetypes, it trades the increased flexibility of freeform character building for a more focused development path. Unlike other archetypes, it also has powers that you can't use on other freeform characters until you first hit the level cap on your Reawakened Automaton, including the celebrated Rocket Punch. Players who want all their character slots to contain freeform characters can take heart, as the unlocks earned while on the archetype are permanent even if you reach the level cap and then delete or remake the character.
We had a chance to speak briefly with the developers regarding the update, and they revealed that the new story arc should take between 4-5 hours to play through the first time. It also includes daily repeatable content that leads players to unlocking other costume rewards and the like; a single clear of the arc won't reward everything that's available.
Introducing an archetype specifically as a reward for leveling (and an incentive for further leveling) is novel, and the developers would like to do more along these lines if the players respond well. It's largely a matter of whether or not players enjoy the approach and the gameplay that it leads to. There's also a definite desire to revisit Mechanon and other major lore characters in the future, with a push toward creating a more unified overall story for the game and a sense of forward motion.
We also took the opportunity to ask about Foundry integration for Champions Online and were informed that there is no official comment on it at this time. The team is aware of player demand, but it's difficult to integrate into the game's existing code.
Players can start taking part in the update's content on September 4th, barring any unexpected delays. If you've been waiting for a chance to take on a big robot and bring him down to size, you've got about a month left to wait.