Over the last week or so, Issue 16 rolled out in City of Heroes; CoH continues to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Champions Online, because this has some big things in it.
The folks who were screaming for more content…well, they’re still screaming. This wasn’t a big content Issue. Or a small one. What it DID do was a couple of what I consider Big Deals.
The first was the obvious one. The Issue was called “Power Spectrum”, because the big spotlight was put on the ability to further customize the appearance of the character powers by allowing changes in color. Is this a big deal? Well, for folks who have specific images of how they want their character to appear, or for folks who like to have their offensive and defensive powers synch up in appearance, or for RPers who like to have the powers match the outfits…yes, it is. Also as a part of this, a couple of powers got special attention-the unarmed fighting ones, which gave new animation choices for those with super strength or martial arts ability. One of the big requests from players in the past was a “street fighting” powerset; these altered animations may do a good job on negating a need for a specific powerset. After all, the desire for street fighting always seemed to me to be the appearance. And now here we are.
As good as that is, though, it’s actually the lesser of the Big Deals. The Sidekicking mechanic-the one that allowed players to take a partner and up their combat level to the higher hero’s, or the lower one’s, depending on choice-has changed. Now, the level of a group is set to the mission holder’s. The biggest problem with forming teams from SG mates in the past was the need to play what some called “level Tetris”, trying to get characters of similar level together, so at least 4 were close enough to change the level of the other half of the team. No longer an issue. And as a bonus, it effectively kills off the bridging method of powerleveling (for the moment; people will always find a way). This has made a massive difference in my SGs; now we can play whatever character appeals to us at the moment, and not worry about level issues.
The last Big Deal was the change in difficulty settings. Instead of a five-tiered approach, now the player can customize the difficulty by determining how many levels above the character you’d want the mission to have; how many players you want a mission to treat you as (you could fight full-team spawns!); whether you want to have AVs spawn instead of EBs, or if you’d want to fight boss level bad guys in the mission. This really is a big deal. The difficulty in size does NOT mean 8 man teams with max settings will spawn for 64 man teams! (That would be so wrong) Team size apparently still overrides some of those choices. But that’s still a whole lot of customization to play with.
And on the horizon is Going Rogue, the next expansion, which gives one more level of customization: the choice of ATs and which side to play on-heroic ATs may start showing up in the Rogue Islands, and the Stalkers may begin making Paragon their playground. But that’s still in the future. For now, I’m having a helluva time with the new options in CoH, courtesy of the new Issue.