The Closed Beta test of the upcoming City of Heroes Invention System is well underway. I can’t say much about it at this time, but I think it’s potentially a really exciting addition to City of Heroes and Villains.
As you may know, I’ve been working for NCsoft for well over a year now as “web content writer” – I write the stories and articles that show up on the web site, and help with event fiction for newsletters, review and edit player submitted stories and art pieces and publish the best to the Top Cow comic book, etc. I post under the name “Arctic Sun.”
I missed the first year and a half of CoH’s development, coming on board as City of Villains – the dark side expansion – launched, and I’ve been around for the subsequent free updates (Issue 7 and Issue 8). While both of those added a fair bit of content to the game, there were certainly rumbles from the community that not enough new content was being added, or that Issues felt “light.” I’m torn a little over this, in part because despite CoH being my first and still primary MMO, there’s still large parts of the game that I’ve barely seen, let alone explored fully. Still, I recognize that the heart of our vocal community is considerably more hardcore than I am, and they burn through content pretty damn quick. They always want more, and it’s the developers job to try and keep up with that appetite to the best they can.
So it will be interesting to see if Cryptic introduces a robust enough system in their crafting mechanism to make the game that much deeper than it currently is. Obviously, on one level CoH will always be what it is – a comic book fighting game, with an absolutely amazing character creator, which does a really good job of making me feel like I have super-powers. It has some brilliantly written stories (and some just OK ones), some really funny NPC dialog, and some great background characters/groups. But for some people – especially if you don’t have a regular group of friends (and it is far more slanted towards being a team game than a solo player game), it does eventually become repetitive. So the Invention system will let you take salvage that you randomly earn by beating up baddies and invent (or craft) nifty and different enhancements to your powers, OR create new costume parts, OR create new temporary powers, etc.
The big question is how many people will embrace this new, fairly intensive game system, and how many will simply want to ignore it and keep playing the way they always have? Will it really make the game feel like it has more options that just fighting, or will collecting salvage be a chore? (Like having to upgrade all your enhancements when you go up a level). From what I’ve seen, the system is flavorful and will give them further options down the line. It’s just very hard to predict how adding a new system like this on top on a well-established game will do.