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.

Gaming Round-Up: The Lightning Round

Been having trouble settling on a “main” game lately. I’ve run out of stuff to do in Anthem, and The Division 2 is more something I just pop into from time to time (plus I’m a little burnt out on shooters right now).

A cutscene in DemoniconInstead, I’ve decided to try out a long list of games, rapid-fire style. Most of these were via Origin Access, which I subscribed to for a month just for the sake of testing out games, but a few were from my Steam backlog or other sources.

Demonicon

I really liked the world-building for this. It seemed like a very unique setting. However, everything about the game is just super janky, from the outdated graphics to the inexplicably wonky controls to the weirdly incest-focused storyline.

Fractured (alpha)

I got a key for this via my gig at Massively Overpowered. Honestly, I don’t why they dropped the NDA. Fractured is in such an early state it barely qualifies as a tech demo. You can run around, do some basic crafting, and kill wolves, and that’s it. At least the music was nice?

I’m not saying Fractured is a bad game. I’m saying it’s not a game at all yet.

Pillars of Eternity

I’ve been wondering for a while if my newfound love of table-top gaming would improve my view of CRPGs, which seek to replicate that experience in a video game environment.

My character in Pillars of EternityNo, it has not.

Mechanics that make sense in tabletop just don’t work as well in a video game, and Pillars of Eternity is especially egregious example of why I don’t like CRPGs. Combat pretty much plays itself, and victory or defeat is determined on the character sheet, not the battlefield. What’s the point of playing a video game with so little interactivity?

Some of the class concepts are pretty cool, but it isn’t enough to overcome how dull the actual gameplay is.

Also, wow, is the UI for Pillars of Eternity ever bad. Why are all my active abilities teensy weensy icons I can only access by hovering over a tiny widget in the corner of the screen?

Tyranny

Another CRPG, I found the gameplay of Tyranny far more palatable than PoE (though that’s a low bar). I actually got to press buttons sometimes, so there’s that. I also think the premise — being the servant of an evil dark lord — is interesting, but it doesn’t seem to do it justice.

I was hoping for something like the experience of playing a Light Side Imperial in SWTOR — struggling to balance your personal conscience with your loyalty to corrupt superiors. Instead, Tyranny seems content to pigeon-hole you into the roll of the villain no matter what. It’s not even a case of choosing the lesser evil; you’re just the bad guy.

Combat in the CRPG TyrannyI don’t think You Kick Puppies: The Game is a very compelling premise.

Beyond that, I also found myself exhausted by the information overload this game throws at you. The game mechanics are overwhelmingly complex, and every NPC has absolute reams of dialogue. I’d say it’s like reading a novel rather than playing a game, but novels have editors.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

This one was pretty fun. Force-lifting people off of ledges was good fun, and I felt like the force of destruction a Sith ought to be. I did find some of the controls a bit odd, and the way the camera changes for boss fights is jarring.

Ultimately, I lost interest because there didn’t seem to be much of a story.

Torment: Tides of Numenera

I probably wouldn’t have tried this if I’d known the combat was turn-based. Again, it makes sense in tabletop, but not for a video where I’m trying to be immersed in the moment.

Also, like Tyranny, the amount of reading was ludicrous.

Combat in Torment: Tides of NumeneraDarksiders

Like Force Unleashed, this was fun, if a bit mindless. I enjoyed hacking and slashing my way through demons for a while, but the story didn’t grab me much, and when I got stuck on a platforming section, I became frustrated and walked away.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

I know this is considered one of the all-time greats, but to be honest I only lasted about twenty minutes. The graphics have not aged well, and the combat turned me off right away. Then I bugged out(?) and couldn’t move, and I lost my will to keep trying.

Grim Dawn

Seems like a solid game. Very similar to Titan Quest, but not quite as tedious. As in Titan Quest, you can combine classes, which allows for some interesting combos. I went with shaman and occultist, focusing on nature magic and pets. I also liked how, well, grim the setting is. Very ambient.

On the downside, the voice acting is abominable, I felt very starved for skill points, and I strongly dislike games that require you to unlock higher difficulties. Normal is too easy.

My shaman in Grim DawnI’m definitely tempted to buy Grim Dawn and play more at some point, but I will have to think about it.

Dungeons III

Now this game I liked. So much so, in fact, that it deserves its own post…

New articles

Finally, before I go, I’d like to drop a link to my latest article at MMO Bro, where I explore group roles outside the traditional trinity.

And don’t forget to follow my Not So Massively column at Massively Overpowered! I have some more detailed reviews of new games I’ve tried recently over there.