City of Heroes Diary #1

Up, Up and a... wait a minute, look at the size of that thing.

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I'm soaring across the skyline of Steel Canyon, simply because I want to, I can and it's been a while.

I want to, because it's the traditional Oldest Dream Of Man. I can, because that aforementioned Oldest Dream Of Man led me to choosing it when I reached level 14 and true flight was finally selectable. And it's been a while because... I haven't been at Paragon City for a while. And I've missed it.

All of the above makes me something of a dreamer; there's far faster ways to get around Paragon City. Flight's also tricky, in that, while versatile, it reduces your chances to hit what you're aiming at, making it useless in combat (For mid-melee floating, you'll be needing Hover. Which I have as well, but is famously, hysterically slow unless you spend a wedge of your slots on enhancing it. And I'm going to have to explain Slots soon enough, aren't I? For now, think, Semi-Permanent power power-ups and we'll get back to it next diary). A power gamer would probably think before taking it.

Me? I like superpowers, and wouldn't swap the view for anything.

Now I'm back, Steel Canyon's cityscape is both painfully familiar and shot through with moments of strangeness. Like most Massively Multiplayer Games, the game doesn't present a static landscape, both in features and geography. However City of Heroes takes it further than most, with its updates - affectionately labelled to show its pulp-comic origins as "Issues" - expanding the content in genuinely meaningful ways. I took my leave of absence from the protectorates of Paragon City just after the start of Issue 2, only staying long enough to earn the right to wear a cloak. Because I'm a poser. With Issue 3 now live, there's a lot of stuff I simply don't understand yet.

By "don't understand" I mean "haven't found and annihilated". Er... by "haven't found and annihilated" I mean "haven't found and annihilated to prevent it hurting the innocent citizens of Paragon City", of course. Don't want my Hero licence revoked. Yet.

So, I'm flying along, when in the corner of my field of view, I catch sight of a few snowmen on a roof. Snowmen. The central one is a big fellow, but it's got a couple of miniature friends. I quickly check his challenge rating. It says he's level 15. I'm completely out of his league, with a good six levels over him. It'll be a slaughter, and I won't get any experience, but... well... ever since I heard about the seasonal Issue 3 special event, I've wanted to kill a snowman.

C'mon. You would too.

I turn off my flight power with a tap of a key, falling a few hundred feet into range, before activating hover to ready my Sniper Blast. A few seconds later, a torrent of energy is projected from my vibrating forearm towards the frosty-fellow.

I'd forgotten about one, crucial thing.

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Perspective.

Those tiny little monsters by his side were actually fairly hulking beasts in themselves. And the Winter Lord is the size of a house. That is, a big-boned house with attitude. I've just gone and picked a fight with a Glacier.

The discretion/valour equation comes into play. As does Man's Oldest Dream, though it's safe to say that Cavemen lying beneath a prehistoric sky didn't envisage soaring through the sky with a cape between his legs while a Avalanche with legs chased him.

Back in Paragon City. I've got a lot to both learn and re-learn. Not least, dignity.

Take later, where the discretion/valour equation rears its head again. Easing myself in, I'm soloing through a mission that I had left before my sabbatical, involving finding a cure for a Vahzilok plague.

Oh - you don't know what the Vahzilok are, do you? Well this one's easy: Vahzilok are bad guys. Get hep to the street jive, daddio.

The climax of the storyline finds me facing off against a dastardly chap by the name of Patient Zero who... er... kind of sends me packing to the hospital in a "dead" kind of way. I blame it on the changes to Boss characters made in Issue 3 which increased their power - to be rolled back in the next patch - rather than my continuing incompetence.

Now, with proper planning, I could go back in there and sort it out myself, but this is as good excuse as any to get on the Bat-phone and make an old friend get on the first train to Paragon City.

He is ANDOV. I am The Warwych. We're having a team-up.

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Warwych is named from an old character I had lying around a role-playing folder. Embarrassingly, one of the canon characters of the City of Hero universe is called "War Witch". Which is kinda embarrassing, but I put a brave face on it. ANDOV is called ANDOV because he is called ANDOV. Do not question: he is the Anti-monster!

Relevantly to the game - because it's a little early for a diary about the importance of fashion sense in City of Heroes, I think - he's a Tanker and I'm a Blaster. For aficionados of the game, he's an Invulnerability/Super Strength Tanker and I'm an Energy/Fire blaster. I don't know. You could be making notes or something.

We arrived in the city simultaneously, and our abilities at this point neatly cover each other's weaknesses. Tankers and Blasters are, essentially, at either end of the spectrum of player archetypes. Tankers deliver their fairly-averagely mighty blows in melee while absorbing huge amounts of damage without even raising a perfectly manicured eyebrow. Blasters strike with devastatingly powerful attacks from a range, but are reduced to a bag of hero-mush at the slightest tap on the nose from an elderly criminal.

The standard tactics, essentially, are he takes the hitting while I do the hitting. He has an array of powers which draw the aggression of the opposition onto him rather than letting them choose other targets, gathering mobs to hammer on his sturdy form. The vast majority of my abilities focus on a single opponent, meaning that I can pick off the groups one by one without attracting more than I can handle. And, as has been previously discussed, I can handle just about none.

Traditional dancing around a beat-box in the street completed, Warwych and ANDOV head back into the mission and, in the manner of Arnie in the Running Man, turn Patient Zero into plain Zero.

And then we go off and join a mob of dozens of heroes running around King's Row and lynching Winter Kings.

No, it's not very heroic. We're not really very heroic heroes. But it is glorious.

It's good to be back.

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