And so, after two-and-half-years since it first announced itself to the public, City of Heroes is on the cusp of officially launching. Those who were lucky or smart enough to grab pre-order disks already have the potential to be in Paragon City, with the rest of us waiting until Wednesday April 28th (US time) to log in (or at least for our mail order copy to arrive).

It marks the end of a journey for us long-term fans. The approaching launch of the game has seen the community change markedly, with a lot of in-jokes or shared history going by the wayside. This is especially true given that the official forums will be wiped at some stage and replaced – that\’s over two years of ponderings, questions and general chatter that will just disappear. Yankee Daring\’s Giant Tapeworm thread, Rottweiler\’s I am a Citizen thread, Macallen\’s extremely long and detailed discussions about possible game features – all will go. What will also disappear are references to members who managed to generate some notariety – Qlop, Rhino and DooMHeart spring to mind, but there were others. Then there was the Update Drought, where six months went by with no updates being posted, or the reactions to the announcement that the character creation system was being changed to the Archetype system…

But that\’s okay. Few things last forever and what is a trip down memory lane from one is a waste of time and hard drive space for another. What is important is that City of Heroes launches very shortly and will mark the start of new directions for both the game and the community that surrounds it.

Launch is seen as perhaps the most important part of a mmog\’s life. A bad launch (ie one that is filled with bugs and player disatisfaction) can cause damage to a mmog\’s reputation that takes years to repair – look at Anarchy Online for an example of this. Although a good launch doesn\’t necessarily guarantee mmog success, it does appear to improve the long-term chances of building a large player population.

According to forum reports, CoH is having a pretty good pre-launch. Although there are some reports of lag and other performance problems, generally the billing and log in systems appear to be holding up. Of course, they are just handling the pre-order players at this point. The real test will come once the hordes all try to log in at once on Wednesday. Combine this with the fact that NCSoft (who are handling the billing systems as far as I know) are also launching Lineage 2 on the same day and things appear potentially dangerous.

It will probably take about a month for launch to truly be complete. Although there will be a lot of players clamouring to get into the Birthplace of Tomorrow on launch day, there will be others who wait a week or two before logging in – perhaps to avoid launch day problems, perhaps because they are waiting for pay day before picking up a copy, perhaps because they want to read the official reviews first. Whatever the reason, it will take a little while before launch can properly be evaluated and it\’s success (or failure) determined.

I\’ll take a look at how launch went in a later column, but if you\’ve got any particular comments you want to make about it, please send me an email ([email protected]). I\’d like to hear about your experiences at or around launch and will attribute any comments you make to you (so please include a name / nic for me to use).

Personally I hope the full retail launch goes well – I like what I\’ve seen in CoH and believe the game deserves success. Given that launch also sees the true beginning of CoH – everything before this has just been conjecture – I\’m excited for what the future holds. There are new powersets coming, new villains to fight, the CoH comic to read… Cryptic has a lot of potential avenues to explore.

And then there\’s that City of Villains thing…


Two clarifications for last week\’s review, both arising from email queries:

    [li]

    Yes, CoH does have an auto-attack function, but my point was that you (the player) still have to be at the keyboard to make sure things happen. This is in contrast to the auto attack in some other mmogs, with their famed \”hit a button, then you can go off and get a soda\”-style combat. Sure, you can go off and get a soda in the middle of combat, but you are likely to come back to either a floored hero or one that is standing around, doing nothing.
    [li]

    The fledgling hero (in most cases) is capable of taking out several minions, or perhaps two lieutenants, or perhaps a boss if they are of the same level. This isn\’t true 100% of the time, depending on villain groups and the archetype of your hero, but it has been the case in my experience. Sure, you\’ve got to show some care (I\’ve learnt the hard way that a Blaster can\’t take on eight white-con minions at a time) but your hero starts out fairly capable in game terms. This is in contrast to previous mmogs where you start out having trouble fighting rats and bunnies one at a time. Personally, if I am ever beaten in a fight by a rabbit, I will know that the hero\’s life is not for me and go back to moisture farming for my uncle.

[p] – UnSub ([email protected])

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