This afternoon, we heard the news this afternoon that City of Heroes will be closing. I’m greatly saddened, because it was the very first MMO I ever played and the game that got me back into gaming in general. It was newbie-friendly, easy to play, difficult to master at times. It was the place where I participated in my first raid (the Hamidon) and played in my first small-group “heroic”, the impressive Terra Volta trial. It was where I joined my first guild, a wonderful group of guys that I stay in contact with to this day.
Back to the start: My husband (a huge superhero geek) picked up a copy of the game on launch day. He had never played a MMO before, but thought the game looked interesting. At that point the only online “game” I was playing was Neopets (for real!), but that night I watched as he configured the character creator for an hour before ending up with his character, a Storm/Illusion controller named Spector Storm.
After he finished playing for the night, I took over his account for a little while and came up with my character – named, I kid you not, Cyber Chick. She was an Empathy/Energy defender, primarily a healer, with a funky cyber-punk style and hot pink spiky hair that looked like she stuck a finger in an electrical socket. Interestingly, even with that name, she was never propositioned in-game. Whether that’s due to the overall decent community that CoH had or due to the hair, I’m still not sure.
The next day I bought my copy of the game and created my account, and it totally sucked me into MMOs. Within 2 or 3 days, we joined a guild called Liberty Force, which had been started by a former hardcore EQ (me: “what’s EQ?”) and ex-military player who decided that CoH would be where he would attempt to play more casually. He was still a hardass at times: we weren’t allowed to be in any other guilds on our alts, we had weekly supergroup meetings that were required attendance if we were online, and if you missed an event that you signed up for, well, you were sure to hear about it in no uncertain terms. Still, when all was said and done, he was fiercely protective of his guildies, understood when we had to take extended breaks due to life stuff, and encouraged us all to be not just a chat channel, but a tightly-knit and active group of players that eventually became able to take out just about every encounter in the game. He taught me everything I know about guild leadership, and while I’m generally nowhere near as strict a guild officer as he was, he was an excellent teacher for a complete newb.
My absolute favorite thing about CoH were the villain groups they came up with. My favorite were the Freakshow, a bunch of cybernetic-enhanced street punk anarchists that were usually surprisingly hard to defeat. Other favorites were the corrupt circus Carnival of Shadows, the highly-annoying Clockwork, the occult sorcerers of the Circle of Thorns, and the morbid Doctor Vhazilok, who creates patchwork abominations out of citizens and criminals alike. I’ll never forget rolling through the maze of Perez Park, having no idea where I was and being chased by Circle of Thorns guys into a group of Hellion gang members, jumping into a lake to get away and running into the Kraken. Good times.
We played City of Heroes for almost a year, until we got into the beta-test for a new hot game called World of Warcraft. After that we returned to the game a few times short-term, but really we were on to other things, though we still had very fond memories of City of Heroes. Ultimately, while CoH was (and still is) a great game, it hasn’t aged so well. I sort of lost interest after City of Villains was released, but still, hearing that they’re actually shutting the doors down is a surprise. We didn’t hear a word about CoH being in trouble or having issues, so it’s likely a safe assumption that they just simply weren’t profitable enough for NCsoft.
My thoughts go out to the current employees at Paragon Studios. Thank you for everything you’ve done over the years and for developing an amazing game – and I hope that you all find great places to land and keep doing what you do best – making us heroes.