A View from Atlas Park: Will You Be My Valentine?

I made one mistake (so far) in my last column – I said that the new Pocket D was going to be launched with Issue 7. Instead, it went live sometime in early February and about a week after was used to launch the Valentine’s Event 2006 (which, as of writing, is still going).

After complaining about the Christmas 2005 events (of which I didn’t mention the incredibly-boring-keep-circling-a-zone-until-you-collect-all-the-presents-you-need-for-the-badge event, which was good only for the fact I managed to get the Cold Warrior badge I’d missed previously) I have to say that the Valentine’s event is great. In summary, heroes and villains have their own contact within the Pocket D that hand out a two-part mission. To complete the second and final part of the mission, you have to have a character of opposing morality (ie heroes need villains; villains need heroes) to destroy a critical item. For the badge, a character must complete both sets of heroic and villianous missions. If you stop to kill everything, you’d probably be able to get the event badge in about 3 hours maximum.

This is the best event seen in CoH since Halloween 2004. It requires teamwork between a hero and a villain for a short-ish period of time that I’ve seen some players complain about, but honestly, if you have to you can solo the mission up to the point where you reach the critical item, then call in the opposition for 2 minutes work. When I was on, there did appear to be some trepidation between heroes and villains in actually joining a team together – lots of requests went out, but very few appeared to be answered. However, once you picked up in the Pocket D, you could start the missions pretty quickly.

One great apect of this event was seeing how well my AR / Dev Blaster worked with an Ice / Cold Corruptor (named Puddcludd, I think – sorry if I got that wrong). This team worked very well – the Blaster had the range while the Corruptor had the holding power and Scourge to stop enemies getting too close or finishing them off when they did. It was also a change from the usual teams where I knew exactly what to expect from an Archetype – I was pleasantly surprised at how effective the Corruptor was and slightly envious at how good Scourge seemed to be as an inherent power. Later on, I teamed up with a Robot Mastermind, which was also a heck of a lot of fun for the brief time we did his villain mission.

So, what made this event fun and the Christmas event not-so-fun? In my opinon, it was three things – novelty, simplicity and brevity. Novelty: it started off in the new Pocket D, where for the first time you got to fight alongside an opponent and likely fight enemies you hadn’t faced before (or don’t normally face depending on which game you spend your time on). Plus there were some new temporary powers that enhanced teamwork. Simplicity: you run what is a fairly straightforward mission arc that requires a two players (at least). Repeat it for each side and you are done. Brevity: you could complete the event in just a few hours (at most) and get the badge. The Christmas 2005 event wasn’t that novel (the present collecting was in many ways a less enjoyable repeat of the Halloween 2004 event against enemies from the Winter 2005 event), it wasn’t so simple (well, the “save the presents” one was, but the collecting presents one did require quite a bit of attention) and it wasn’t that brief (collecting presents until you hit the requisite for the badge could certainly take up a lot of time). The ‘collecting presents’ event also didn’t allow for teamwork – you had to pick up every present yourself.

I’m not saying that the best events are easy events or ones that you can coast by on the back of a larger team, but I found that this Valentine’s event was a lot more fun than the Christmas event for the reasons of novelty, simplicity and brevity. Bringing together heroes and villains was a nice touch and certainly makes me look forward to the Fall From Grace system – I’d love to team up with more villain ATs… provided they became heroes first.

(Of course, you may have had a different experience to me, especially if you had a bad team or difficulty in finding someone morally opposite to your character to team with. Then the event may not have been so great for you. Your mileage may vary, and all that.)

I can’t remember if I’ve said it before, but I take back my reservations about the introduction of ragdoll physics into CoH/V. Sure, I still think introducing more powersets would have been a great idea (*cough*dualpistols*cough*) but I’ve been greatly entertained by the painful and awkward [strike]death[/strike] arrest poses of my enemies. It does make the game a bit more fun, especially if you leave an enemy hanging upside down with their foot caught on the rails or lying prostrate over a chair. It’s the little things like that which make CoH/V a great game.

David “Zeb” Cook left Cryptic Studios end of January (or rather it was announced then by Alexa in thread to explain why he wasn’t going to be answering any more questions). Since Zeb was filling the role of Lead Designer on City of Villains and also had the nic of Lord Recluse, big bad arachnophile of the Rogue Isles (hey, that almost rhymes…) this was a big thing. The kind-of hushed way he left Cryptic set a lot of players murmuring about why he left: did he jump or was he pushed? Was it Statesman’s fault and, if it wasn’t, how can we blame him anyway? And, most important: can I have his stuff? I mean, I’d make a GREAT lead designer for CoV…

It’s been a few weeks and I haven’t yet seen any news about where Zeb has headed off to. Until he reappears, a lot of the little mysteries regarding his departure won’t be solved. I had thought about doing an entire column about it, but in reality, until some new information comes to light, there’s not that much hard info about what happened that is in the public domain. All I can tell was that he left unexpectedly at some point. Why unexpectedly? Well, Cryptic wouldn’t have planned to have him publicly answering questions if they knew he was leaving. Whether or not it was Zeb or Cryptic who were surprised when Zeb left his office for the last time is something that we don’t know (yet).

And I was serious about wanting to be CoV’s new lead designer. My first addition? Six words: King Kong in Monkey Fight Club. With ideas like that, I’m a shoe-in.

– UnSub [email protected] 16 February 2006

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