Issue 19 hit the City of Heroes servers last week. And suddenly, two things happened.
For starters, the Ouroboros zone actually had multiple instances, something that probably hasn’t happened since the zone was introduced. Secondly, there was a big, big push for lots of people to run the high-end task forces. The reasons are linked: it has to do with the newly introduced Incarnate content, a plank in the big end-game plans touted by Paragon Studios for the game. Instead of upping the character levels, it is adding a bunch of special slots which will increase the powers the character already has-or at least, that’s what seems to be the goal here.
Certainly the theory is supported by the Alpha Slot, the first of those Incarnate slots. What does it do? Well, if you have the right Incarnate salvage (most easily obtained during those high-end TFs I mentioned), and if you’ve unlocked the Alpha Slot by running a mission arc that starts in the Ouroboros zone, you can craft the Alpha Enhancement. Or I should say, “an Alpha Enhancement”, since you can swap them out (although I believe there’s a cooldown involved). These enhancements affect the character’s already slotted enhancements; for example, the Spiritual Boost will up the recharge rate of all powers that have slotted recharge enhancements. Further crafting can improve this ability to affect multiple types of slottings. And the big deal here? A portion of that boost bypasses the “enhancement diversification” that kicked in a long time ago, ensuring that what the Alpha Slot enhances is better than what any non-Incarnate can get.
Naturally, the character has to be at level 50-max level-to even start the Incarnate arc.
There’s a couple new task forces, too, which are geared for those who have slotted in their Alpha slot. If a character hasn’t, he’s debuffed by four levels! Given that the bad guys in those TFs are around level 53-54-ish (as I hear it), that’s one helluva crippling effect. Non-Incarnates need not apply. The ones who do ’em are involved in a big set of epic encounters; the hero side of things defends Paragon City from an attack of Praetorians-and this isn’t a simple assault like earlier mission arcs. It’s “throw in the big guns” action. The villain side is the retaliation of Earth to Praetoria, demonstrating that “yes, we CAN get to you” to Emperor Cole.
The downside-if it can be called that-is that there’s one big limit to the endgame content beyond simply the Incarnate’s slots. And that’s the fact that it requires the purchase of Going Rogue. This isn’t such a big deal, in my view. I have seen few people who like CoH who were willing to pass up the expansion in the first place; and new players are likely to be purchasing the game via the Going Rogue box (or digital download; I’m not THAT out of touch). I can easily foresee a time when GR will be a part of the standard package and merged into the full game for everyone, much like City of Villains did eventually. But it isn’t gonna happen soon; that merging took at least a couple years; I’d have to do some researching, but this was hardly a quick cash grab. GR is likely to at least follow that course-and it’s possible it’ll never be “automatically applied” to those who didn’t get it. I expect that to be a minority, though-and so the coming endgame will be there for everyone willing to try it.
Does the Alpha Slot make your character a god? Not really-but there’s nine other slots waiting to be unlocked with future issues, with their attributes unknown at the present time. The character may never get to the point where they’re slapping around archvillains like they were punks (well, outside of the first mission in the Incarnate unlock arc; payback’s hell!), but they’re definitely on the way to dwarfing the bad guys.
And the good guys, of course; after all, villains can become Incarnates too.