As time marches on, the distance between us and City of Heroes’ closure grows ever-greater. However, the memories linger, and today I felt like making a list of 10 things I still miss about that game.
1. The incredible, flexible character creator
Even though it didn’t have every option on the planet, the character creator allowed players’ creativity to shine through an insane variety of costumes and looks. It was genius when you look back at it: by allowing players an agency not just in their power selection, but their very look, the game got people deeply invested in the theme of their heroes.
I loved that I could make body extreme characters, from tiny pixies to hulking masses to everything in between. I appreciated the monster options, the funny accessories, and the fun of picking out colors.
2. Getting lost in Perez Park
Sure, it’s something I hated, too, but that park and its dense, labyrinthian forest had a unique feel all to itself and was downright intimidating, especially before one got their travel power at 14.
3. New power levels
Was there anything so exciting as dinging a level where you’d get a brand-new power? It seemed unfair that those came further and further apart the higher you went, but still, it was thrilling. I’d spend hours while gaming planning out my next power picks and look forward to each of them arriving.
I don’t think there was ever an MMO where I grouped as much as I did in City of Heroes. It was simply the most economic way to rake in the XP, and besides, the solo game was rather dull. Heading out with a pack of heroes to blast through instances felt epic and was a good way to show off your costume and powers.
5. Impromptu dance parties
Oh the boombox emote. And the dance emotes. Anytime a group would have to wait for someone to get there, chances are that a dance party would soon break out.
6. Costume contests
Few things brought the community together in droves than a good ol’ fashioned costume contest in Atlas Park. I loved to see the fashion on display and always thought that these community-driven events were a sign of MMO devs doing a system right. I don’t think I ever won one, but I felt that I had a couple outfits that were deserving of an award.
7. The Dark Dark Defender
I almost exclusively played controllers, but the DDD was always tempting me into being a defender. It had a pet (sorta) and so many awesome powers with cool smokey visual effects that I felt epic every time I played one. It was the one defender build that didn’t make me feel that I had to be a healbot or shieldbot but still contribute to the team at large.
8. The sounds
One of City of Heroes’ strengths that was rarely mentioned was its diverse and incredibly memorable array of sound effects, particularly with powers. Could have done without a few of them, like the force bubble whines, but such is life.
9. The sheer fun of super-jump
Everyone had his or her preferred travel power, and while I could apprciate the utility of flight or the economy of super-speed, for me it was always super-jump. It was fast enough to get me around, high enough to traverse vertical spaces, and so exhilerating to activate. WildStar’s low-gravity zones reminds me of it.
10. Paragon City
The main location of City of Heroes was as much of a personality as anything else in the game. It may have been a little bland and non-descript in places, but it cemented itself in my memory as a real place. Every zone had a distinct feel, from the prison to the caves to the run-down King’s Row. It was a cool place to explore — and protect.