City of Heroes: Welcome to Nova Praetoria!

Last week our City of Heroes group assembled once more, this time for adventures in Nova Praetoria. That’s actually an area/expansion that I hadn’t ever encountered in the MMO to date, as it came out when I was on a break from the game.

Unlike the “blueside” content of the Heroes and the “redside” content of the Villains, “goldside” exists in an interesting state of limbo that was a fascinating direction for the game with Going Rogue came out in 2010. Giving players the ability to switch allegiances and explore the more murky grey areas of comic book superheroes provided a much-needed third angle to the title — and one that I don’t see any of the upcoming superhero MMORPGs addressing.

Just getting to Nova Praetoria was a bizarre experience of going through The Underground — a network of sewers and subway tunnels that I had never seen before either. Along the way, I bumped into these grotesque cyborgs that raised all sorts of questions that I had no time to explore. All I knew was that this wasn’t your mama’s Clockwork any longer.

Since I had never been in Nova Praetoria and was only passingly familiar with it from press releases, in my head it was some sort of modern Roman Empire, complete with pillars and columns and coliseums. I guess I was making too many assumptions on the name alone, because the zone — a series of connected islands — is like a cleaned-up Miami. Tropical, high-tech, water, nice beachfront properties, the works.

Again, we weren’t there for a huge tour or backstory, so I’m going to have to do some reading up on all of this later, but I know I’m missing out on a lot. Bree told us during our missions that there were two competing factions (Resistance and Loyalists) in this region and that each had two sides to them (Warden, Crusader, Responsibility, Power), so players had a choice of four groups with which to ally through various choices made during quests. All very interesting.

But hey, we were there to PARTY, not to join sides! It’s not a City of Heroes group night without a bunch of weirdos assembling to go through the emote list and try to amuse everyone else. Say what you will about this game, but CoH had great dance moves. Not as many as, say, Fallen Earth, but the robot and pop routines were great.

Apparently Nova Praetoria is ruled over by Emperor Cole, who honestly sounds like a great guy. I’ll vote for him, if voting is an option for emperors! Look at how he’s keeping that tentacle alien away!

As for our missions, they were pretty much a series of runs through either spotless stainless steel rooms or a near-endless subway tunnel packed with mobs. One of our teammates had earth control, and we gave him no end of grief for how much his powers kept obscuring, well, everything.

See, this is one of my small but persistent pet peeves about City of Heroes, and that’s the fact that some powersets are simply more obtrusive on the play experience than others. Throwing stalagmites everywhere or making your group all blaze with nonstop fire or giving us those whiny, whiny bubbles may have helped to win the fight — but was it really worth the bother?

This poor dismissed soldier minion ended up collapsing in the most gruesome way possible. All I can imagine are the sounds that his spine made in those final moments.

Anyway, it was a pretty good run — we were all chatty on discord, ended up gelling as a fighting unit, and I got a couple of levels and a new power for my time.

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