In honor of yesterday's announcement of a group currently in negotiations to bring back a form of "City of Heroes," let's take a look at some of the features included in the superhero MMORPG that has kept it near and dear to the hearts of its fans nearly two years since its shutdown. Some of these features are unique to "City of Heroes," while some are found in other MMORPGs but perhaps were implemented better in "CoH." Think we missed a great feature (or five?) of "City of Heroes?" Sound off in the comment section and let us know what you miss most about the game!
If you want to play with your friends in most MMORPGs and you have characters of various levels, there's not really an easy way to accomplish this. "City of Heroes" got around this by implementing the Sidekick system, allowing a lower level character to be mentored by a veteran. It got even better with the so-called "Super Sidekicking," wherein every character on a team could be "sidekicked" to the team leader, cutting down on the number of mentors needed for a full team.
The reverse of the Sidekick system was the Exemplar system, which made it possible for high level characters to depower themselves to experience lower level content.
Introduced in "City of Villains," Supergroup Bases offered a place to hang up the cape for a bit. Usually used as a transportation hub by most players (you could create teleporters to most of the game's zones), bases also offered storage space and a creative outlet for base builders. There was a lot of untapped potential where bases were concerned, but even so, they were a nice feature that many MMORPGs are still lacking.
Heroes and villains had been "stuck" on their own side of the alignment fence until 2010's "Going Rogue" expansion, and then all bets were off. Instead of merely letting players "flip a switch" to change from the good side of the law to the bad, Paragon Studios implemented a vast series of "alignment missions" wherein characters could choose actions that would move them along a moral line. Once you were far enough along in this process, you could accept a mission that would switch your hero to vigilante, your vigilante to villain, your villain to rogue, and your rogue to hero. This allowed characters to experience content and earn badges and achievements in both Paragon City and the Rogue Isles.
Being able to replay old content had been a longtime request of "City of Heroes" players, and when it was introduced in the game, it was done in a most intriguing way. The Issue 11 update, "A Stitch in Time," introduced the mysterious organization known as Ouroboros, a group of time travelers with the purported purpose of saving the world from some nebulous future threat. Using Ouroboros' "Pillar of Ice and Flame," players could replay content they'd already experienced to their heart's content, including in some cases content which had been removed from the main game.
Variety of Genres
"City of Heroes" drew from the rich history of comic books and didn't limit itself to merely telling stories of do-gooders in tights and capes. Within the boundaries of Paragon City and the Rogue Isles, players could encounter mad scientists, powerful robots, witches and wizards of all alignments, and monsters straight out of horror movies.
Sure, it was abused early and often by powerlevelers and people out to make some quick cash (or, as the game referred to it, influence), but this shouldn't detract from the power of the Mission Architect. Some great stories were produced by players of the game, and the architect community was a passionate, if small, segment of the playerbase. One particularly prolific and talented player was even hired by Paragon Studios primarily because of the storyarcs he penned for MA.
The feature most often thought of when discussing "City of Heroes," the game's costume creator is still among the best the MMORPG genre has ever seen. One thing that sets "City of Heroes" costumes apart from many other MMORPGs is that abilities aren't dependent on what your character is wearing. In some games, a character may end up looking less than ideal, with mismatched costume parts, because you have to choose certain pieces to have certain abilities or stats. Not so in "City of Heroes," which let the imaginations of its players run wild.
Coupled with power and weapons customization, which came about several years after game launch, you had the ability to make truly unique looking heroes and villains.