Of City of Heroes, Livestreams, and Singing

This past Wednesday night, nearly the entire Massively Overpowered staff gathered together to play City of Heroes on the Homecoming rogue servers whilst being livestreamed by our own MJ Guthrie. I’ve been meaning to give CoH a try — having never played back in the day — for a while, and it seemed like a good team-building exercise, so I opted to swallow my stage fright and join in.

The Massively Overpowered staff in City of HeroesI rolled a blaster, mainly because Bree told me it wasn’t a good choice for a newbie. I focused on pistols as my main power set and went with a Victorian-inspired outfit — I was thinking Helen Magnus.

It was a fun evening. I only died once. It wasn’t a good way to learn about the game, though, as we mostly just zerged through things.

To that end, I’ve now made a villain alt to play solo. She’s an Elf, because of course she is. I went brute as my archetype, initially with savage melee and regeneration as my power sets. However, I didn’t like the aesthetics of savage, so I used the ability to import and export costumes to quickly reroll with psionic powers instead, which seem to fit a bit better.

I’m still very early in the game, so my impressions are very basic, but so far I’m enjoying it. I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll sink a lot of time into in the long term, but I see the appeal.

I tell you, that character creator could consume my life. I never thought I’d say this, but it might have too many options. It’s overwhelming. Each character took me at least an hour to create because I just got lost in all the options.

My Elfy brute in City of HeroesWith the wealth of costume and build options, I can see why so many CoH refugees ended up in The Secret World. In a cosmic irony, we may now find ourselves in a world where TSW refugees flee to CoH.

I am impressed with how incredibly well the graphics have held up. They’re clearly not state of the art, but this is still a very nice-looking game, in a cartoony sort of way. I especially like how moody the villain starting area is. I think I heard something about the Homecoming team tweaking the graphics, so that might have something to do with it.

The combat is also better than I expected. I’d heard a lot of people say it was very slow and old school, but it’s actually not that bad. It’s very much “whack-a-mole with cooldowns,” as I tend to call these things, but there’s very little downtime in my rotations, and the lack of auto-attack is welcome. It’s a long way from great, but it’s tolerable.

On the downside, so far there doesn’t seem to be much of a story, and you all know how important that is to me. If anything kills my interest in CoH, it will likely be that.

So it’s early days, but at least for now, I see more City of Heroes in my future. If nothing else we’ll probably be doing more streams over at MOP. Surprisingly I had almost no nerves at all. I guess being surrounded by familiar people (and not reading Twitch chat) helps.

My steampunk blaster in City of HeroesTechnically, this wasn’t my first time being on a livestream. I was on a number of Moiren’s TSW streams back in the day. I just wasn’t on voice chat then.

Speaking of Moiren, she’s been trying to hit world first level 200 in Twitch Sings. Now, I’ll admit I don’t really follow Twitch Sings, so I don’t really know what that means, but I’ve never known her to be unrealistic in her goals, so I don’t think she’d be trying if there wasn’t a decent chance she’d succeed. Maybe head on over to her channel to cheer her on as she pushes on to 200.

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Review: Dungeons III

The one big success story to come out of my recent flirtation with Origin Access is Dungeons III. I liked it enough I managed to play through the entire campaign (though not the DLC) before my Access subscription ran out.

The surface world in Dungeons IIII hadn’t played the first two, but the story isn’t exactly deep, and I didn’t find my lack of experience with the franchise made things any less enjoyable.

Dungeons III is a mix of real time strategy, simulation, and city-building. You play as the Ultimate Evil, a cartoonish Sauron-type figure. You construct dungeons, defend them against incursions by parties of heroes, and raise armies to bring ruin to the surface world.

While underground, the game plays a city-builder. You have less direct control over your troops, and the focus is on building rooms and traps and managing the big picture. When you send troops to the surface, the game turns into an RTS, with more direct control.

The difference in control schemes between the two set-ups is occasionally jarring, especially as you’ll spend a lot of time going back and forth between them, but mostly I would say the variety of the two modes is a strength of the game.

The other great strength of Dungeons III, I’d say, is that it’s a very relaxing experience that you rarely have to work too hard at. The pace is slow, and you can take your time building the evil empire of your dreams.

Some rooms in Dungeons IIIThe tone of the game and its story is quite silly, too. At no point does it even approach taking itself seriously, and it breaks the fourth wall about once every fifteen seconds.

The story is mainly built around Thalya, an Elven priestess of the light whom the Ultimate Evil corrupts into a champion of evilness. So, you know. Sassy Elf girl. I’m sold.

On your journey to confront and defeat Thalya’s paladin foster-father, you cut a swath through his allies and his kingdom, including locations such as “Dollaran,” “Twistram,” and “Stormbreeze.”

Nudge nudge, wink wink.

The Blizzard-like feel is further enhanced by the bright, stylized graphics, whose vivid colours and exaggerated proportions make even the darkest pits of your dungeon seem inviting. It may not be pushing the technological envelope, but it’s still a very nice game to look at.

My health has been bad lately, and Dungeons was exactly the low stress gaming I needed while I was coughing and wheezing. No “srs bznz” here. This is a game that was just built to be fun.

Evil does pay after all.That said, it is of course not perfect. It does get very repetitive after a while. They make some effort to throw different mission types at you, but you’re still going to be doing mostly the same stuff every level. I think it would have helped if they gave you more established dungeons to start with later in the game, but you pretty much start from scratch every time.

The pacing of each match could also be balanced better. The rate at which you gain resources is heavily throttled, so no matter how well you play it takes a long time to get established, and this can make the early game a bit of a rough ride sometimes.

Conversely, once your economy finds its footing and you start laying down traps and mustering your army, things start to snowball very fast.

I’d have liked to have seen the early game be a bit easier, and the late game be a little more challenging. I’m mostly okay with your dungeon being unassailable past a certain point, but it’s too easy to run roughshod over the surface once you have your deathball up and running.

Still, it’s a game I’d recommend.

Overall rating: 7.4/10