It was with some sadness – and quite a bit of surprise – that I saw the news yesterday that City of Heroes was closing down. I’ve not played in a few years now but I still check out what’s going on once in a while and it can have only been a few weeks ago that I was reading about the latest updates and what was in the works. Now, it’s all coming to an end.
My tale began just after the EU release of the game back in February 2005. I’d never played an MMO before but something (I’m not sure what) had caught my eye with this one months before and uncharacteristically for me I jumped in early on. My home was always the Defiant server and my first character was Faultline (not to be confused with the in-game story character who became more prominent as the game expanded). I was Faulty to my friends.
I remember avoiding other players for the first few days – if not weeks – whilst I found my bearings. If anyone even said “hello” to me I’d run a mile. But as I became more familiar with the game and less worried about looking like an idiot for not knowing what people were talking about, I started to team. That was where the game really shone. The world was full of total beginners like me and a few ‘veterans’ that had already worked there way to level 50 and were back helping out the newbies.
I have so many fond memories from the four years I ended up playing but most came from the early days. I played every minute of every hour that I could – some would say I was far too obsessed and I’ll not admit to how many hours Faultline took to get to level 50 – but I kept finding new things to see and do.
I remember seeing the Paladin striding through Kings Row for the first time. I remember getting hover and (very slowly) launching myself into the sky and looking down on the world in awe. Doing the Eden trial and being stunned at the vastness and beauty of the caverns. Tackling Lusca (anyone for sushi). Finding the first Keldian player in Atlas Park and desperately wanting one as he/she showed it’s ability to change forms.
I remember how busy the Hollows was back then, with ‘Taxi’ players helping the new folks get to where they needed to go in safety (although any old school player knows the valuable lessons that were learnt on how to avoid aggro whilst running to the Hollows mission). How many times did I do FrostFire in that zone? And how nice did it feel when I became the veteran player watching over the zone – a guardian angel that would swoop in, heal them seconds before a faceplant and dissapear before they even noticed.
Then there were the players, easily the best part of the game. Aerie – a defiant legend and probably my longest running friend in City of Heroes. Petit/Dawnrazor (Paragon DJ) who I met in my first super group (the mighty Vigilante Earth in our green and purple outfits) who teamed with me for many hours on my way to 50 for the first time and who I went on to form our own supergroup with. That was P.I.E (the Protectors of Innocence and Equality) in case anyone remembers us. There were so many more folks that I struggle to remember the names now but a few spring to mind. False Fiction, Flush, Elfuh, Godswrath, Blue Dragon, Hellraiser, Organi, Zoot, Spudcadet, Cutting Edge, SaiyaMan and Protector X.
And maybe people out there remember me. Faulty was my first but there were other characters I was known as. Sundae, Penelope Comelightly, SoundQuake, Professor Crumhorn, Bob D Buffer and a few others I dabbled with.
So as I write this I’m downloading the game again. It’s free to play now and last time I checked my characters were still all there so hopefully I can have one last super leap around the city I called home for so many years. I think I’ll feel a bit of a stranger returning home after so long but it was only whilst writing this that I realised that I’d not like to loose the memories I had in CoH. So time to dust of the capes, helmets and spandex for some of my characters for a few screenshots to remember them by.
And maybe it isn’t all over yet. By all accounts the end came suddenly. No shutting down of servers and downsizing the staff. The gradual slowdown in the release of new update. One day all was well and good, the next the game was closing and the staff all need new jobs. So maybe a change the other way is not beyond hope and many are taking action. I’ll keep my fingers crossed as I run a few last missions.