Jockeying for my #3 MMO at the moment is City of Heroes, which I picked up at least for a couple months due to the summer lull, the upcoming expansion, and a desire now and then to play fairly mindless (yet purdy) combat. I remade my plant/radiation controller Killophyll (sometimes coming up with names is the best part of superhero MMOs) and set out to see how the landscape had changed.
The old maxim that players will always seek out the least amount of effort for the greatest reward has been proven true in CoH over and over. Running regular missions is passé. Sewer missions give you a boost through the first 10 levels in under an hour, and then virtually everyone now jumps into Mission Architect farms.
I’ve been doing these AE and punching bag farms over the past week (groups form for them more than anything else I’ve witnessed), and I have mixed feelings about them. I really like the Mission Architect setup, and the sheer variety of missions offered combined with some impressive creativity (and a lot of lameness as well, as is par for the course) means a wealth of unlimited content to explore. I don’t have to travel much to get to it, and the scenery changes quite often.
Plus, the rate of leveling through farms and punching bags (the latter are level 2 arch-villains who reward you a healthy chunk of XP and are scattered all over one big map) is really impressive. Like, I feel as though I’ve accessed the CoH cheat code impressive. It’s fun to quickly level up a toon and feed your altoholic side, but…
…But it does take away a lot of the accomplishment of doing so. And, of course, there’s the lack of variety that drains a lot of the enjoyment out of running these.
I’ve found an interesting phenomenon with these farms, in that people are so bored doing them that they actually start talking. I’ve been in a lot of groups where we get into great conversations because the combat goes on auto-pilot at a certain point, and in a way it seems like it’s how older MMOs like EverQuest used to be. Groups mindlessly farming while chatting away. Tipa summed up the experience in a recent post, and I’m inclined to think that CoH, in a way, is actually heading back in that direction.
Has the old become new again?