The newest update of City of Heroes/Villains, Issue 16, is now live! While this issue does not bring any new content in the form of new missions or zones, it does provide a set of improvements and changes – some of them certainly due to the competition with Champions Online.
The release notes can be found here.
I am mainly positive about the changes, but not all of them.
1. Custom colours for powers. This has apparently been a huge effort to accomplish and I think it certainly is a nice option for those who want to be creative with their character apperance. Seeing some of the creative uses in Champions Online for this type of feature I think it may provide interesting new views in City of Heroes/Villains. The coloring options may even be better here than in Champions. Probably noth that will convince someone to go with CoX instead of CO in itself; rather something to perhaps keep old players.
2. Super-sidekicking. The old sidekicking pairs are gone and a much more flexible system is not in place, on par with Champions. Together with some of the other team-related options CoX would be the better one for team play in comparision with Champions. Part of this revamp is also that players can still earn XP even if they are changed to a lower level – before the only earned influence/infamy in that case. That will certainly make more of the content interesting for people to play regardless of level.
3. Personal group size settings and wider range of difficulty settings. Instead of the 5 difficulty settings that were before it is not possible to have a wider range of level differences for enemies and it is also possible to trigger mob group sizes and spawns based on a virtual team size. So even if you play solo one could potentially get spawns for a full 8 man team. This will provide better options to set the difficulty that suits each person or team and will make play more fun for many I think.
4. If enemy groups in Mission Architect missions do not have minions, lieutenants and bosses in them, then XP will be reduced – if they are part of regular group spawns. This certainly is aimed at taken the edge of easy farming missions. It does not include boss fight objectives. I can think of some legitimate non-farming situations when not all three of those types have been used, so I am not all positive about it. But this particular change may perhaps bring more good than bad overall.
5. XP reduction for custom mobs and limited enemy group compositionsin Mission Architect missions. This one I do not like. Custom enemies have three difficulty settings – standard, hard and extreme for each of their powersets. However, even on standard setting custom enemies have often been more difficult to fight, in particular for lower levels. But now XP is reduced unless enemies are set to be hard/hard at least, plus there are no XP bonus here for them to be harder.
This is most likely some attempt to deal with excessive farming in Mission Architect, but I think it will mainly hurt those who use it the way it was intended. Already before this change XP was in practice lower with “normal” usage and teaming more complicated to deal with than with regular missions and not it is potentially lowered even more, if custom enemies are included in the story arc. I do not see that this would hurt the excessive farmers much but I think most likely make people less inclined to play Mission Architect missions they way they were intended.
To be honest, while many people like good stories they will in many cases not go out of their way to experience those – better XP and rewards will have higher priority for many players, as have been seen over and over again in many MMOs. A great story has limited value for both author and player if no-one experience it and the mission architect system already suffers from too many arcs in comparision to the number of people playing them.
I would like to be proven wrong here, but I suspect there will not be more people playing Mission Architect arcs they way they were intended. It may reduce farming, but will likely not increase story-oriented play. I hope I am proven wrong here though.