A View from Atlas Park: Playing with Dolls

No, I haven’t quit CoH or writing columns about CoH.

For whatever reason, my previous column wasn’t released when I thought it would be. Since I only write a new column once the old one appears, I haven’t been writing them. As such, I’m behind the current events (as per usual).

As of April 28 2005, CoH has been publicly available for one year. I was going to use this thread to reminisce about all the changes that have occurred during this time, but this thread on the offical CoH forums does the same thing and probably better than I ever could.

It’s probably suffice to say that CoH has come a long way from release. There have been three free major updates and, regardless of your opinion about what they may have contained or removed, it says something positive that these updates didn’t cost us players anything extra. Issue #4 “Colosseum” is now out and is the first mass-test of pvp (player versus player) in CoH. Due to my lag-o-riffic connection, I’m not planning to pvp for a little while, except maybe to get some badges. Ahh, badges. Gotta get’em all.

Instead, I’d like to look at the other big introduction that came with Issue #4: the costumes. A whole host of new costume options are now available for the heroes to dress up in and CoH continues to make character creation / alteration a fun and time devouring process.

Having had a bit of a play with the costume options, it’s great to see how much the new options add to what characters can look like. Some of them are a bit weird (eg was there really a huge demand for shoulder-mounted kittens and pandas?) but for the most part they are likely to fill a costume need that you probably didn’t know you had.

My favourite are the new jackets. UnSub is a suit-wearing hero, which unfortunately delegated him to one costume option that made him look like a member of The Family (but with more style, of course). The new jackets provide a lot more range for UnSub to try out and I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen. Sure, one of the new costumes I created for UnSub got him referred to as “a conceirge”, but the hero who said that was in jeans and a tank top and obviously just jealous.

Once you’ve got over the costume options, there is still the magic of the shape sliders to play with. Being able to morph the shape of your character’s head and then the facial features is another fantastic feature – it is something else that can make your hero unique. Of course, now it is fully possible to make Micheal Jackson appear in CoH (those cheek and nose sliders have quite a bit of range) but you have to take the good with the bad.

And then there are the body sliders, which further let you make a hero look like a stick figure or the Michelin Man or any stage in-between. Although a bit hidden under the colour palette in the costume screen, being able to control the width of various body parts allows for a customisation not seen in other mmogs. After giving UnSub a more narrow body shape, I immediately went off and tried to create a female character to see what was available.

At the time I had a World of Warcraft-playing friend over and we both had a good laugh at the “breasts go up, breasts go down, breasts go up, breasts go down” chest slider allowed for females characters. Although fully keeping with comic traditions, I envision a horde of pneumatic heroes landing in Paragon City over the coming months. But that’s what happens when you let boys play with dolls.


As I said above: I’m behind the times. So when I had my first experiences of mission farming and Invincible missions on the weekend, I was a bit surprised at how much they were against my playing style.

Farming is the term used for clearing a mission that has a glowing object (aka glowie) in it of villains, but not touching the glowie (or getting the glowie and leaving a villain or two alive). Heroes then exit the mission and go back in – it’s now fully restocked with villains that the heroes can again ‘arrest’ for experience.

I don’t like farming. As a casual player, I am aiming to see as much of CoH as possible, which means doing as many missions as I can. Farming goes against that goal and just seems boring – who would want to do the same mission over and over? Personally, I preferred it when missions wouldn’t reset when you left them – it certainly made the life of a soloing hero easier and stopped the massive experience grab that is farming from occuring.

As for the Invincible mission, I received help from one hero completing some missions, so thought it only fair that I help them in return. Unfortunately, this hero had their mission difficulty set to “Invincible”, which made the mission long and (again) returned a huge experience chunk. If I’d have know that they (a Tanker, meaning they weren’t getting hurt much by the villains, but couldn’t do enough damage by themselves) had this set up, I probably wouldn’t have taken their help.

Yeah, I know – I’m complaining about getting too much experience, which must be a first. It’s not that I think the experience comes too fast – I don’t – but because I’m aiming to get all the story arcs for my level set and do the task forces before I have to exemplar myself into them, every experience point is one closer to me not meeting that goal. I’m on the cusp of lvl 24 and still haven’t got the Banished Pantheon or Tsoo arcs for the lvl 20 – 24 set. I’m sure I’ll make it, but after a weekend of large experience gains, it means I’ll miss out on the smaller missions that let me see other villain groups and find out more information about them.

– UnSub [email protected] 16/5/05

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