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City of Heroes


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City of Heroes (Games)
City of Heroes (Games)
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Information about City of Heroes

City of Heroes (CoH) is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game based on the superhero comic book genre, developed by Cryptic Studios and published by NCsoft. The game was launched in North America on Apr. 28, 2004 (17 years ago) and in Europe (by NCsoft Europe) on 4 Feb. 2005 (16 years ago) with English, German and French language servers. Fifteen free major updates (Issues) for City of Heroes have been released since its launch. The newest update, "Anniversary", was released on Jun. 26th, 2009 (12 years ago).

In the game, players create super-powered player characters that can team up with others to complete missions and fight criminals belonging to various gangs and organizations in the fictional Paragon City.

On Oct. 31, 2005 (16 years ago), the game's first sequel, City of Villains (CoV), was launched, allowing players to play as supervillains. Initially dubbed as an "Expanshalone" by the developers (a portmanteau of expansion pack and stand-alone), the game did not require CoH to run, but if the user had both games, content was added to the CoH side of game play. On Jul. 16, 2008 (13 years ago), NCSoft merged the two games' content together, thus a player who only owned City of Heroes could now play City of Villains, and vice versa. Prior to this, a purchase was required to access either game's content, but they were linked by one account and subscription fee.

On Nov. 6, 2007 (14 years ago), NCsoft announced their purchase of the CoH/CoV intellectual property and transitioned the staff from Cryptic Studios to a new location in Mountain View, CA to continue development of the game. The new studio on Apr. 14, 2009 (12 years ago), became Paragon Studios, which shares credit with Cryptic Studios for the development work. This then led to City of Heroes becoming available for download on the Steam software, along with other NCSoft titles, on Apr. 22, 2009 (12 years ago).

On Oct. 30, 2008 (13 years ago), NCSoft announced a partnership with Transgaming Technologies in order to bring both City of Heroes and City of Villains and all 13 expansions to Mac OS X.

City of Heroes: Going Rogue was announced on May 11, 2009 (12 years ago). Labeled as an expansion, the game centers around the alternate reality of Praetoria and features a new alignment system allowing player characters to shift allegiances between Heroes and Villains, giving characters access to both the Paragon City of CoH and the Rogue Isles of CoV. Paragon Studios describes this as "[exploring] the shades of gray that lie between Heroes and Villains".


Players begin by using the game's extensive character creation system to first select an archetype, then primary and secondary power sets, then design a unique costume. In the final character creation screen, players can optionally write a backstory or description and battle cry for their hero as well as choose a name. The name may be changed at a later time for a one time charge, and the description and battle cry may be changed at any time. There is an automatic check to make certain the name has not been used by any other player on that server.

Characters may begin in an isolated tutorial zone, or skip the tutorial and begin in an open low level zone.

A character's level increases by earning experience points from defeating foes, completing missions, and exploring zones, then returning to a trainer. Benefits for rising in level include more health, more powers, more slots to allocate enhancements to powers, and larger inventories.

The game's hero side primary setting, Paragon City, is divided into different zones by giant energy "war walls." Especially dangerous zones called hazard or trial zones, which teem with large groups of enemies, are restricted to heroes with a minimum security level. The game's villain side setting, the Rogue Isles, consists of islands connected by a network of ferries. A few zones are accessible to both heroes and villains; some are cooperative zones, while others are player versus player zones.

Players initially move around the zones by slowly jogging or using a minor speed increasing power such as Sprint. As heroes grow in level and accumulate more powers, they may choose among four higher speed traveling powers: Teleportation, Super Speed, Super Leaping, and Flight.

As characters level, players may choose new powers from the character's primary and secondary power sets, as set during creation, or from shared power pools. The power pools contain the four travel powers, as well as other generic, usually utilitarian powers falling under categories such as Fitness, Concealment, and Leadership. In addition, as characters level up, they gain access to new costume features, including the ability to change between up to five costumes and unlockable costume parts such as capes and auras.

Missions are obtained through various channels. Missions are typically staged on private instances accessible only to the mission holder's team, and may require defeating a boss, escorting NPCs, or finding a particular clue or item. The level of enemies, and number of enemies per spawn, are set according to the team size, level of the mission holder, and difficulty setting of the mission holder. Amid the missions, some story arcs will emerge. These are mission sequences which form a larger story.

For players who can devote a block of several hours to the game, other types of activities are available—task forces for heroes, strike forces for villains, and trials. These activities disallow adding new members to the team once started, and so consist of a series of linked missions that must be run to completion by the same team. Certain trials reward players with an opportunity to respecify their characters by choosing a different complement of superpowers within their selected power sets, and reallocating enhancement slots.

Teamwork is a large part of City of Heroes. Players can form supergroups reminiscent of classic comic book groups such as the X-Men or Justice League of America. Additionally, City of Heroes has a system known as sidekicking or lackeying whereby a character can temporarily increase his level while playing with a higher level character. Similarly, the system known as exemplaring or malefactoring allows a character to temporarily reduce his level while playing with a lower level character. Characters may also make leveling pacts under which the characters receive experience points equally whether online or offline, which keeps the characters at the same level.

Other game features include auction houses, crafting inventions. The Architect release gives players the ability to construct custom mission arcs, with customized villains and layouts that can then be played by other players on that server.



As in most other MMORPGs, players must pay the publisher (NCsoft) a monthly fee to continue playing City of Heroes. Portions of the subscription costs go to supporting a full-time "live" team, which develops additional content for the game; other portions support the significant server maintenance and bandwidth costs. In addition to paying subscription fees via credit card, another option is prepaid cards that are available at video game retailers. Once purchased, the player inputs a code from the card and their account is updated to allow as many months of play as the card is good for. PlayNC time cards are available from stores that work for any NCsoft published game, and come in 15, 30 and 60 day options.

Continuing active subscriptions are also entitled to Veteran Rewards. The system rewards players with a plethora of costume pieces, extra powers, supergroup base items, respec opportunities, and other minor in-game perks to all characters (both hero and villain characters) on any server tied to the active subscription. Inactive accounts do not accrue time for Veteran Rewards.

As of sep. 2008 (13 years ago), City of Heroes had around 124,939 subscribers in the US & Europe, according to financial reports released by NCsoft in Nov. 2008 (13 years ago).

Both City of Heroes and City of Villains are now bundled together when purchased or downloaded, when they were once two separate games with a single subscription fee.


City of Heroes and City of Villains employ several servers that are based in different geographic zones (some are based in Virginia, others are in California). The servers are divided between the American and European markets, with separate servers specifically for German and French players.

Awards and nominations

  • Most Improved Game of 2008 (13 years ago)
  • Computer Gaming World: MMORPG Game of the Year 2004 (17 years ago)
  • Spike TV 2004 (17 years ago) Video Game Awards: MMORPG Game of the Year
  • GameSpy: Game of the Month - May 2004 (17 years ago), Editor's Choice - May 2004 (17 years ago)
  • Billboard 2004 (17 years ago) Digital Entertainment Conference & Awards: PC or Console Game of the Year, Multiplayer Game of the Year
  • Wargamer: Award for Excellence
  • Games Magazine: Game of the Year 2004 (17 years ago)
  • Computer Games Magazine: Editor’s Choice - Aug. 2004 (17 years ago) Issue
  • Computer Gaming World: Editor's Choice - Aug. 2004 (17 years ago)
  • Game Informer: PC Game of the Month - Jul. 2004 (17 years ago) Issue
  • Loadedinc, Hot Property Award
  • Actiontrip: Editor’s Choice
  • Warcry: Best Expansion - City of Villains - E3 2004 (17 years ago)
  • IGN; Editor’s Choice
  • GameSpot: Game of the Month - May 2004 (17 years ago)
  • GameSpy: Game of the Month - May 2004 (17 years ago)
  • GameSpy: Editor’s Choice
  • E3 2003 (18 years ago) Game Critics Awards: Best Online Multiplayer
  • Game Revolution Best of E3 2003 (18 years ago): Best Online Game


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