The City of Heroes Expansion-Going Rogue-hit release on Tuesday (although prepurchasers got access on Monday). Accordingly, I hit the store and bought my copy and applied its serial code the moment I got home.
How big has this been?
Well, a point of comparison. Prior to Monday, I would log into the game and see all the servers but two on “light load”, while the two popular ones-Virtue and Freedom-might sometimes go as far as “medium load”. On double xp weekends, I would sometimes see those two actually go up to “heavy load”.
On Tuesday night (Monday night is a dedicated STO night for me), I logged in after applying that code to see every server at least at “medium load”-and Virtue and Freedom were at heavy load, with queues. That’s right…queues. This kind of thing only happens on double-xp weekends, which as a rule tend to be the time when they ALSO do free reactivation weekends. This is not the case at the moment (although I predict it won’t be long before this happens again, given the expansion’s release), so we’re seeing a lot of re-subbed people on. Or maybe it’s just a lot of people spending a LOT of time online and not logging out. A more suspicious soul might claim that some variables were tweaked to make the servers seem busier than they actually were (an accusation I heard regularly with SOE during the early months of the NGE debacle); but Paragon Studios has a substantially cleaner rep.
I haven’t had a lot of time to mess with the new setting of Praetoria yet; only spent enough time to make a pair of characters. One’s still in the tutorial; I always make it a point to do those, just to get used to the character, and they give early inspiration/enhancements to work with. One is my designated “Loyalist”, loyal to the regime of Emperor Cole, upholding Law and Order…even if it means using harsh methods. His outfit design is kind of Darth Vader inspired-a tech Demon Summoner/Dark Miasma character. The other is more of an old gunfighter with a magic pair of pistols, whose a much more individualistic guy who will join the Resistance, claiming freedom as the highest virtue; of course, there’s likely to be a body count in the fight for freedom, but the ends justify the means, don’t they”?
As one might imagine from the descriptions, Praetoria isn’t a place for absolutes. The devs have put some effort in making the place a haven for the “morally gray”. Long time players of CoH realize that Cole has another name, called “Tyrant” who has tried to conquer Paragon City a few times, and can’t be considered good at all; but the image put out in Praetoria is the fact that he has saved it from giant monsters threatening civilization, that he’s made his city a utopia…at a price. At the same time, the Resistance can and does use some tactics to fight this that would be kindly put as “reprehensible”; but they’re fighting for freedom, and surely that’s a goal worth admiring, isn’t it? Well…maybe, maybe not.
I’m rather looking forward to delving through Praetoria with these two characters, as they take on opposite sides of the fence. And it’s worth noting that within those factions, there are two paths to choose within them, with their own style of missions-you could call them the “high road” and the “low road”. As I didn’t get too deep into those in the beta, I can’t really speak in detail about them. I’m still not sure which choices the characters will make, and I’m looking forward to seeing those choices. I think I may be a little sad when they reach the end of the road at level 20, and must leave Praetoria forever (or at least until the vaunted “endgame” process gets put in, which seems like it’ll be VERY Praetoria related), but at the same time I’ll be ecstatic see which part of the “Primal Earth” they choose to go: to the villainous Rogue Islands, or the Heroic Paragon City. I love the fact that while it might seem obvious which side they’ll go…it isn’t necessarily so. I’ll see as they go along.
I’ve spent a bit of time writing the above on something I’ve barely done yet. What I have done a bit of is the tip missions. The tips are what allow a character to make the moral choices that will eventually put him in a situation where he can abandon his current alignment (hero or villain) and start the path to go to the other side…or just stay on the fringes. Because of my scheduling, I’m afraid not much has happened yet. I’ve had a hero get a couple vigilante points and a hero point towards a mission that will determine his future alignment; a villain got to his halfway point to get that mission as well. It’s worth noting that these tips can be done by any character; a villain CAN choose to bypass a “Rogue” choice and go with a “Villain” one instead, thus reinforcing his current morality, for example. There are benefits to doing this, but I’m not likely to see that for a while. My current planning expects that I should have two characters shift their alignments by one step and stay there by the end of the weekend; two others should also be shifted by one, but likely won’t be able to complete their turnabouts until the following weekend. (This is a danger with playing two MMOs at once, not to mention Real Life; the concept of “timely” goes straight to hell.)
Also on deck for the weekend, I’m hoping to put some time in with my Klingon in Star Trek Online. He still has an episodic mission to do, but unfortunately, that’s about it for him in his queue-besides endless exploration missions and PvP. On the other hand, the PvP queues seem to have been updated to make them more user friendly and reasonable to work with; there had been some issues with them when Season 2 hit, and a fix may have been put into place. For some reason, I always find it mentally easier to PvP as a Klingon than with my Fed characters. I may also roll up another Klingon Empire character, a tactical raptor one. I’ve been putting time into my Fed science/escort captain, and I find myself cackling with glee as I unload the cannons on those who would do the Federation harm! How much MORE fun would it be with a tactical captain behind a ship designed for tactical use? I expect to try that out in the near future as well. Walt has gone as far as he can once more in the terms of levels; he’s got the Vice Admiral slot, he’s top diplomatic ranking, and now he’s working a bit for emblems so he can pick up some upgraded consoles. He won’t be dormant long, though, because the “Weekly Episodes” are coming soon, and when it comes to my first choice of captains, Walt is It.