CoH: Just Can’t Find the Joy

Issue 23 hit today. I was intending to go check it out. Maybe get a Magisterium Trial in since it was the newest big thing. Get exploring First Ward (which I never got around to) and then segue my way into Night Ward.

Well, I did check it out, for all of two hours.

I spent an hour in Dark Astoria, getting more and more upset inside, as I got reminded again and again why I hate raids. About 15 of us sat around spamming the broadcast channel going “LF Magi Trial.” No one wanted to lead. Can you blame them? I didn’t either. No one knows the trial, unless they did it in beta. Everyone expects the trial to be hard and be extremely unpleasant without proper leadership. And proper leadership is hard to come by if no one knows the trial. It’s the old raiding catch-22.

And of course, those who know the trial and are willing to lead are also well aware that it’s hard, and therefore they are going to pick and choose the people who will give them the greatest chance of success. People they know, ATs they’re missing (like support), and they sure won’t pick any Tom, Dick or Harry standing out in the streets announcing forlornly “lf magi” unless they just needed them to make up the numbers. So we have an exercise in playground unhappiness as people get picked and others get left standing on the sidelines.

Eventually, I got pissed off enough to ask myself, am I having fun here? And the answer was a big fat NO.

(Plus some additional cussing at devs who thought this sort of thing would be fun. Aren’t we into the new generation of MMOs who know to design for better player behavior by now?  And cussing at myself because I -knew- this would happen and I still got tempted to attempt it anyway.)

So I got onto my sub-level 20 hero and meandered into First Ward.

(While I’ve been in the area before, and think the zone looks gorgeous in terms of graphics, my first impression of it left a bitter taste in my mouth because it so happened that I wandered in on a Praetorian loyalist villain – the type that the level designers forgot when writing First Ward. It turns out that the mission writers assumed everyone would be pleased to help the Resistance because it’s the right thing to do. I did one and a half arcs and got very disconcerted over my character’s motivations. That character was supposed to be a Power Loyalist villain, out to get power for himself, and following Cole’s regime to do it till the point where he got overly tempted by power and made one moral choice to destroy the Olympian instead of reporting it to Cole.

I was already a bit upset that that choice appeared to flip me entirely to Resistance. I rationalized it off as saying, well, maybe Cole’s regime found out and declared me Public Enemy Number 1 or something along those lines. So the next sensible choice would be to go to Primal Earth and the Rogue Isles and keep seeking power for oneself. But somehow, in First Ward, all the contacts were treating me like a caring, helpful errand-running puppy and that simply wouldn’t do. I decided to do what my character would, get uncomfortable and abandon First Ward to its own devices and go find profit over in the Isles.)

I took some time to explore and take screenshots. Which was fun.

But then some guy decided to recruit a team to defeat the Seed of Hamidon. And I have never fought the Seed of Hamidon before, so it seemed like an opportunity I shouldn’t miss.

So I went. Then I got salt in the wound as my lowbie face was rubbed in the fact that these things are better fought at lvl 50, exemplared, in IOs, as all manner of the devs’ newest favorite type of attack – targeted player or mob or ground-based impending damage aoe, READ THE LETTERS ON THE SCREEN AND RUN AWAY (OR HUG EACH OTHER CLOSE) NOW started exploding, oozing and in general splooging all over the screen per seed we attempted to attack.

And the whole phase thing got fairly tedious as we kept running around killing seed after seed in the hope of keeping the seed numbers low while working on the Seed of Hamidon.

And it was further aggravated by unfigurable-outtable targetting of the Seed hitbox for my melee character. I could target the Seed fine, but was forever out of range. If I hit F to follow and hug the Seed wherever I could attack it – which seemed to be sort of from its flank and underside – about 2 seconds later, I ate a 800 hp Seed of Hamidon attack which also deactivated fly. It was survivable, but it left my lowbie character out of the fight, on the ground, with 1/4 hp left and no self-healing skills in the build yet to recover quickly. Aggravating, in other words.

I don’t supposed it was helped by me being on a Titan Weapons character, which is notable for exceedingly slow ass wind-up animations. So extra long rooting also got in the way of being able to quickly react.

Eventually the Seed died. Through very little effort of my own.

So I saw the content, but didn’t feel very good about it.

As that wound down, I considered my original plan of working through the First Ward story arcs, and didn’t feel too thrilled either. I just felt exhausted and unhappy. So I decided to let it keep for another day and logged off.

30 more minutes of hanging out on my pathetic one and only Incarnate, who was only made to actually see the content, rather than grind for umpteen slots… with no success of getting into a league, and I got fed up enough to log him off too.

I dunno. Maybe it’s just me overreacting. But I can’t believe all the things that I felt were a pain and thus tried to avoid seriously playing any raid-focused game… have ended up in City of Heroes.

Just ignore it, go the advice of some people. You don’t have to do it at all. Just continue to play the game your way.

But I can’t.

I finished the game my way quite a long time ago. Got some lvl 50s, saw all the old content and storylines, and the only thing that’s new is the new stuff.

It’s not a sandbox. There’s a storyline to this themepark, and now all the storylines are going right through the big group raids and the umpteen task forces that I’ve lost track of. The design of a good number of the new mobs and zones are built on the assumption that your toon is well-built, kitted out in IOs, maybe soft-capped defense, and possibly sporting Incarnate levels of power.

Why tell me to keep playing old content, when all the new stuff that is advertised is centred around being able to understand and play through these storylines and mechanics?

And then I try to do them, and somehow I don’t really find them fun, and I don’t know where I fit in this game anymore. Not too much of the community seems to understand either, so it and me seem to have diverged paths some time back.

I dunno. It just makes me sad whenever I think about it.

It just doesn’t feel like the City of Heroes I used to know a long time ago.

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