A View from Atlas Park: Issue #7 – To Villains, With Love

Cryptic has released the intial information about the contents of Issue 7: Destiny Manifest. It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that most of the content in this Issue is for villains – after all, it’s a lot of the stuff that didn’t quite make it into the launch of CoV. Of course, that is cold comfort to heroes-only players, since for the most part it looks like we’ve been left out.

A lot of villain players would be most happy with the increase of maxlevel from 40 to 50. This puts them on the same playing field as heroes. Another nice addition is the introduction of Patron powersets for villains over level 40, but there’s not a lot of detail there about them. It will be interesting to see exactly how these Patron powers work out and if high-level villains will still be balanced once they get them. My understanding of Patrons – you accept a Patron and s/he gives you a special powerset – would seem to open the possibility of some ATs being given access to things that may offset some of their weaknesses. However, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Mayhem missions also sound like lots of fun for villains – missions where the destructive joy of being the bad guy comes to the fore can only be a good thing. I do wonder what the hero equivalent of mayhem missions is going to be though, since “harass[ing] citizens, rob[bing] stores, destroy[ing] property, plant[ing] bombs and battl[ing] the police” aren’t exactly heroic. Destroy a Freakshow drug lab instead or harass people looking to sign up to the Council? I don’t know, but it is a nice addition and the fact that the technology exists should provide a lot of anticipation for what it will look like in CoH.

The new PvP zone, called Recluse’s Victory, also sounds interesting due to the zone’s ability to change “dynamically as a result of [player] efforts”. What this means exactly is anyone’s guess, but it would be nice if it means that players could actually change how a zone looks or acts in a way that is meaningful. Again, we’ll see what this actually means once I7 goes live.[/p]

What is most likely to cause friction amongst the CoH population (even those who play CoV too) is the introduction of some more powersets that are villains only. Electrical Armour and Electrical Melee are two powersets that have been talked about by Tanker and Scrapper players for a long while, so lots of players are going to be disappointed to see that only Brutes get to have them. Also, a lot of players are disappointed to see their favourite powersets unavailable to their hero or villain of choice and adding a few extra powersets that they can’t have to the mix isn’t going to help. Let’s hope that Cryptic announces some plans to start bringing powers from CoV into CoH (and vice versa) soon.

(As a side note, I’ve heard that the new Mastermind petset, the Thugs, have dual pistol attacks, which makes me happy. This would indicate that the basic animation for a Dual Pistols powerset has been introduced, meaning that this powerset might have a snowballs chance in hell of one day appearing in CoH.)

New base features, fixes to quality of life items and another shift towards bringing CoH graphically in line with CoV round out the official I7 announcement. More cosutme items seem to be coming, but “details to follow” later. It’s widely expected that a lot of the CoV costume options are going to be made available in CoH, but perhaps there will be a nice surprise and some completely new costume pieces will be made available to everyone in CoH/V.

What isn’t mentioned in this release information are a number of important things. First off, Statesman has indicated that I7 will see a change to the way defense works, meaning that defensive powers will get a whole lot better after falling away post-I5 / ED. This is going to make a lot of people happy, with the extent of the happiness depending on how much better defensive powers get.

What is likely to make players unhappy, on the other hand, will be the powerset nerfs to CoV. They’re coming, alright, with Masterminds likely to receive the worst of it. In most cases, these nerfs will be justified on the grounds of game balance, but it’s another case of wait-and-see. One interesting test will be to determine how these changes impact on PvP combat as a lot of players will be unhappy to start losing where they were once winning due to I7 changes.

An item not mentioned in the official I7 statement is the revamp to the Paragon Dance Party aka Pocket-D. Once a warehouse map with lots of flashing lights and pretty much no-one in it, the PDP is getting a big facelift. First off, it will actually look like a dance club. Secondly, it will have have citizens in the background, trying to do club things eg trying to pick each other up. Thirdly, and most interesting to me at this point, it will serve as neutral ground for heroes and villains to meet up without having to worry about PvP. There has been speculation that the PDP will also offer missions at some point in the future that may allow for hero and villain team-ups, or even be the place where heroes can go bad and move to the Rogue Isles (or villains can repent and get let into Paragon City). The new PDP is currently on the Test server and I’d be very surprised if we don’t see its launch in I7. Of course, the new PDP may suffer the same fate as the old PDP and get empty real fast, but I think the place has a bit more going on than the old warehouse rave.

No doubt a few things will appear in I7 that haven’t yet been mentioned – perhaps some new badges will be introduced, while some bugs being squashed and some others to make a grand entrance. Overall, I7 looks to be a good move towards making the CoV playerbase happy while unfortunately not doing too much for CoH players. Although I’m sure this will lead to a lot of grumbling on the CoH forums about how CoV gets more from this issue, it has to be remembered that this patch really only brings CoV into line in terms of of maxlevel and powersets – it’s more of a catchup to CoH than an advance beyond. It will be nice in the final analysis if Cryptic does give out something exclusively to CoH players, but I don’t think that they necessarily will. So it will be a good Issue for villains, but a mediocre Issue for heroes.

I think most players can accept this for the moment, but this is going to place a lot of pressure on Issue 8 to deliver some real hotness to CoH. At the same time, villains are going to want to keep up, so they are going to want the same stuff. Issue 7 is very much a “to villains, with love” update from Cryptic, but in order to keep the peace, Issue 8 better be for everyone.

[p] – UnSub [email protected] 31 January 2006

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