On February 21st, NC Soft shared an overview of their upcoming City of Heroes add-on, titled Issue #9 Breakthrough. The write up, penned by lead designer Matt "Positron" Miller, gives a glimpse into the add-on's scripted mission (aka "Task Force" ) content. The full contents of the document, as well as some new screenshots, taken from the I9 add-on, are copied at the bottom of this Preview.
In addition to the new Task Force, additional changes to the game will be implemented with Issue #9. We have heard, for example, that the developers have plans to revamp the current end-game content, purportedly making the Hamidon raid scenario available to both Heroes and Villians as well as expanding (or at least changing) the methods that will be employed to defeat the final boss. For instance, it is possible that a raid will be accomplishable by a smaller strike force, and that combating the giant monsters inhabiting the area around the Hive might be part of the new scenario. Additional player-requested enhancements, such as an auction house structure as well as ongoing superpower standardizations and optimizations are planned, as well.
The bulk of Issue #9's improvements, however, are slated to come in the form of Inventions. This addition promises to add a "crafting" component to City of Heroes/Villians. Once I9 goes live, players will be given the ability to use pieces of "invention salvage", dropped by defeated enemies, to craft Invention Enhancements (IOs), costume pieces or temporary powers – basically anything that could be earned as a reward. IOs are enhancements that do not expire as you level up; instead their bonus is a fixed value determined by the level of the recipe used to craft them. At the moment, IOs seem to be the main focus of the current version of the invention system. Could Inventions, combined with the aforementioned auction house, actually lead to the creation of a viable in-game economy, a feature that many players and reviewers found lacking in City of Heroes in the past? Only time will tell, but we're cautiously optimistic.
There is, of course, a certain degree of speculation regarding Inventions – as of February 21, no Issue #9 content is available on the City of Heroes/Villians test server. If the official game forums are any indication, however, Issue #9 may breathe a new level of excitement into the aging MMO.
Check back with Mygamer.com often for updates and a full review, once Issue #9 Breakthrough is released.
Gentleman adventurer and CoH/CoV veteran "SuperChris" contributed to this article – thaks a million, Chris!
Statesman's Task Force – Exclusive Preview
By Lead Designer Matt "Positron" Miller
For those people unfamiliar with the City of Heroes universe, Task Forces (called Strike Forces for villains) are special sequences of missions, sort of like mega-issues of a comic book, which require dedicated teams of up to eight heroes (or villains) to confront challenging tasks and experience pivotal moments within the lore of our fictional universe. Of course these also yield great XP and great rewards.
The Lord Recluse Strike Force, which made it into Issue 7, was our way of getting Hamidon-level Enhancements into the hands of the Villains for City of Villains. We needed something that was difficult, and Hamidon-level difficult, but we didn't want to just regurgitate Hamidon…we wanted something cool. We wanted something where you fought the signature Heroes of the City of Heroes franchise.
We accomplished that goal, but in the end some of the Archetypes felt left out, since they didn't have the build to contribute to the huge Archvillain fights that the Lord Recluse Strike Force was built around (we took our learnings forward from this).
Fighting the signature characters was cool, but it was also something that was exclusively in the hands of the Villains. We really wanted something where the Heroes could have a chance at taking down the signature characters from the Rogue Isles. We wanted Heroes to see some of the cool things we did for the Villains since not every player is into playing "the dark side".
About the Mission
The mission starts out with Statesman telling you that Arachnos is up to something, something big. They are building something in Grandville of unknown power and use, but it is obvious that it's more than a simple broadcast antenna that Lord Recluse claims it to be. Your orders are simple. Get to the factory near Grandville and shut it down.
Here we had a chance to have some "mayhem mission" type action, with your team of Heroes causing havoc in the WebFac, destroying vital pieces to the array in Grandville. This was something that players asked for when we introduced Safeguard missions. They wanted to go to the Rogue Isle and bust stuff up. Now they get to bust stuff up, but with a purpose.
I don't want to spoil too many of the surprises, suffice it to say that players will be encountering, and engaging, many of the more powerful NPCs that Arachnos has to offer. Dr. Aeon plays a key role (several, actually), as does the Arachnos Flier. We also chose some prime locations for the mission maps, a lot of stuff that your average City of Heroes player wouldn't normally get to see.
Oh, and the final battle isn't simply "smash your most powerful attacks until Lord Recluse goes down". We wanted there to be a reason to have Archetypes other than Blasters and Defenders on your team. Controllers will find themselves greatly desired in the final battle if the team wants to have any chance of winning. Our goal was to make sure that all the Archetypes had something to do that could mean the difference between success and defeat.
"Being a Hero" is the driving force behind Statesman's Task Force. Every mission leads up to the ultimate confrontation where, upon success, players will be able to stand in Atlas Park and proudly display to all onlookers that they have Saved the World. Isn't that what being a hero is all about?