A View from Atlas Park: Issue #2’s Reviews News

Cryptic released the latest update (called “Issue #2: A Shadow from the Past”) on the weekend. It was full of low – mid level content, some of which was pure goodness, some of which wasn’t. I haven’t seen everything released with this new patch, but the stuff I did experience was mostly enjoyable. My personal recap:


The Good:

    [li]

    Seeing the Soldiers of Rularuu for the first time as they wandered through Skyway City. Giant floating eyeballs and purple mutant men just meandering their way down the street was great to see and really changed what I expected to encounter in Skyway. The number of cries of “Portal in …!” over the broadcast channel were also nice to see, with people pulling together to beat the stuffing out of something.

    [li]

    Gaining some badges was also great fun, especially when it happened unexpectedly. I’m glad Cryptic data-mined and gave me some badges for missions I’d already completed since I wasn’t relishing going back and trying to find what I’d missed. Across the night I gained two badges, one purely by accident (outside the Steel Canyon Hospital). And if you want to ever get Gearsmasher, go on Synapse’s task force mission – we were fighting two Princes per enemy group, so if anyone on that team didn’t get Gearsmasher, I don’t know what they were doing.

    However, I don’t know how long it will take for the novelty of gaining badges to wear off. As a completist, I will be going after every one, but expect to be doing a lot of begging (especially to lower-lvl players) to get onto badge-giving missions that I’ve missed. I appreciate the irony of this (take that, high-level players! The lowbies now hold the keys to the badge kingdom!) but expect to hear a lot of complaining about it too.

    [li]

    The Outcasts are much improved, with all of them now having some sort of elemental power. It really makes them stand out from other “street gang” villain groups. For me, the fun came from re-learning how to fight them and not being exactly sure of what to expect during the initial encounters.

The Bad:

    [li]

    Fighting the Soldiers of Rularuu for the first and second time (since I learnt my lesson after that). I saw a group of greens and one blue, thought “Hey, I can take them” and very quickly ended up in hospital (which is where I found that badge). Then my task force team took on some for fun and our lvl 20 characters were getting beaten up by lvl 14 Rularuu. Not good, if blackly humourous.

    This villain power imbalance was really the greated flaw of this patch. I recognise that some fixes were made quickly and expect more to be made as time goes on, but the fact it got past the Test server bewilders me. Unless the Test players are some sort of “super-player” (which they may well be) I don’t know how Test didn’t run into the “ultra-tough” villain problem.

    Statesman has apologised for this bug, and it was nice to see action taken on it fairly quickly. It will probably take a little while for the correct balance to be struck, however.

    [li]

    Laaaaaaaaag, memory problems and server crashes. I understand that introducing a lot of new content to a game can have side effects, but it still frustrating when you run into them. With the exception of beta, I probably had the laggiest gaming experience ever in CoH with the release of Issue #2. And even then it’s not the same – in beta I was on dial-up, while now I’m on broadband. Dropping out during a firefight is a great way to get kicked off teams and I’m lucky that the team I was on was forgiving about my technical problems.

    I’m sure this will get fixed, but probably only just in time for “Issue #3: When History Repeats…”.

    [li]

    I’m not sure if this is directly related to Issue #2’s release, but I encountered the first mission bugs I’ve had in a while (and in the back end of a task force, mind you!). In my case, attacking some villains in a mission zone caused them to be sucked into a wall and get stuck. This meant we couldn’t finish the mission, which meant we couldn’t finish the task force. That was not fun at all. It was petitioned, but given that waiting for a GM is an unknown property, the task force disbanded shortly after.

    On this note, being able to find out when a GM might be available would be a good thing. Perhaps on the “Server Information” page, along side each server could be some “# of GM’s currently online” and “# of petitions” counters. At least then we players would be able to work out at a glance whether sticking it out for GM intervention was a worthwhile prospect.

The Interesting:

    [li]

    The other villains’ reactions to the Soldiers of Rularuu – none at all. You would think that the Trolls would be irritated when a giant floating eye and his purple friends wander through them during a Superdine deal (they are when my hero does it!), but obviously not.


Other reports I’ve seen about Issue #2 have generally been positive, apart from the whole ultra-tough villain thing. Does it add a new dimension (pardon the pun) to CoH gameplay? Not really, but it is some more content to experience and absorb. It is also the first update that most players will be able to see prior to hitting lvl 40.

Issue #2’s release now sets the sights on Issue #3’s content. What is this non-combat system Statesman is talking about? What other features are going to make it in? Will this next update be buggy as well? Will it keep players involved in CoH when the new shiny of World of Warcraft is due out shortly? All rhetorical questions, I’m afraid – we’ll just have to wait and see.

– UnSub [email protected] 23 September 2004

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