Tomorrow is a solemn day for players and fans of superhero MMORPGs. Ten years ago tomorrow saw the public release of "City of Heroes," a game that was ahead of its time. Shut down in November 2012 by publisher NCSoft for reasons that are still unclear, "City of Heroes" gave its players fantastic adventures and innovative gameplay and fostered a community the likes of which most MMORPG developers would be envious.
Even discounting the thousands of improvements and additions to the game made during the 23 free content updates (called "issues" to call to mind the game's comic book roots), "City of Heroes" had, from day one, several innovative features not found in other MMORPGs then or now. Its costume creator put all others to shame, and it only got better and better over the years. The ability to "sidekick" allowed low level characters to experience high level content safely. And the game's prevalence of instanced missions meant that camping enemies or overcrowded areas were relatively rare.
Many former "City of Heroes" players continue to be part of a community mourning their game. In the wake of the game's shutdown, several Facebook pages sprang up to give fans a place to share memories, such as CoH Survivors and Triumph United - City of Heroes. The network of fan sites known as the Titan Network remains very active as well.
A lot of negativity has been focused on NCSoft for the seemingly senseless shutdown of what was by most accounts still a profitable game, but I won't dwell on that here. I choose to mark the anniversary of this amazing game in a positive way, by thinking of the great adventures that I had in Paragon City as well as the friendships that I formed that continue to this day. I choose to remember the sense of awe I felt as I read an early review of the game in some PC game magazine that made me rush out to buy the game. I choose to remember the first, and best, MMORPG I ever played.
"City of Heroes" made me fall in love with the MMORPG genre and led to me wanting to write this column. Although I do play others from time to time (World of Warcraft and Star Trek Online, primarily), no other game has come close to the experience that "City" gave me. I'd like the Paragon Studios developers and my fellow "City of Heroes" players to know how much the game, and the community, meant to me.
Fly high, heroes.