City of Heroes: Going Rogue Review

City of Heroes: Going Rogue is the first official expansion to the City of Heroes universe since 2005’s City of Villains. Like Villains before it, Going Rogue‘s goal is to dramatically change some of the core gameplay mechanics of the world, while refining and improving upon others. Overall, the update accomplishes these goals, but not without some limitations.

Going Rogue takes place in the alternate-reality world of Praetoria, which is divided up into three cities: Nova Praetoria, Imperial City, and Neutropolis. Lording over the land is Emperor Marcus Cole, hero of the people and saviour of Praetorian Earth. Longtime players will recognize Cole as Tyrant, a doppleganger version of NPC hero Statesman. In the normal world of CoH, Tyrant is not a nice guy, and is often at odds with the heroes. However, things are looking up for him in Praetoria.

A tribute to Emperor Cole

Since establishing his seat of power, Cole has transformed the cities into a sparkling utopia of peace and prosperity, where heroes are celebrities and are often worshipped as icons. However, beaneath the surface (literally) of Praetorian paradise, lurks a rebellious underground of Resistance fighters who seek to remove Emperor Cole from his lofty position and return power to the people.

Since Going Rogue is essentially a level 1 thru 20 starting zone, players wanting to experience the new content will need to create a new character. Upon completing a brief tutorial mission, they are given the option to side with Cole’s Loyalist faction or wth the Resistance. Choosing a side doesn’t have any immediate consequences, but as players progress throughout the Praetorian story arcs they are given different missions depending on which group they are loyal to. Even then, it is still possible to swiitch sides and shift allegiances.

Depending on which side you choose, you will essentially be going down the path of a Villain (Loyalists) or Hero (Resistance). Thankfully, these choices are not exactly cut and dry. Loyalist members can either pick the path of Power, a self-serving route to fame and glory, or Responsibility, which asks you to sacrifice celebrity status to serve the people and uphold the law. Resistance players also have similar choices in the forms of Warden and Crusader.

A Resistance member plotting his revenge

Players are now given access to four new power sets: Electric Control, Dual Pistols, Demon Summoning, and Kinetic Melee. Prior or Going Rogue, pre-purchase customers had the chance to try out Dual Pistols and Demon summoning, so these additions aren’t quite as exciting, However, Kinetic Melee and Electric Control are definitely worth checking out as they are still mostly untested in group and solo play. The long-requested combined auction house for Heroes and Villains is now realized as well, adding some much-needed diversity and content to the marketplace.

The design of Going Rogue is by far one of the most beautiful and well thought-out zones since the game’s launch in 2004. The new cities look and feel like they were designed with functional architecture in mind, and throughout my travels I never felt like I was retreading the same city blocks over and over. Each of the three zones is unique in appearance as well. Whereas Nova Praetoria is bright, clean and shiny, Neutropolis feels more industrial, with its gritty streets and plumes of smoke wafting through the air.

Smoky Neutropolis

Missions are also more cleverly designed, with actual dialogue choices that create multiple outcomes reminiscent of games such as Mass Effect. These choices added a whole new layer of excitement for my character, and there were times when I literally gasped out loud at my actions. As a despicably evil Loyalist character, I felt like my choices had a noticeable effect on the world around me, which is a rare sensation in a MMO game. For example, when I broke someone’s hand in an interrogation sequence, I laughed the first time. When I broke his other hand after the confession, I cringed at how low I had had sunk in my quest for power. Moments like this kept me guessing and drove me to delve deeper into the story, a facet I tended to ignore before Going Rogue.

Another noteable feature of the Going Rogue expansion is the newly implemented Moral Alignment system. This system allows current CoH players to gradually shift from the Heroes side to the Villains side, and vice versa. Heroes and Villains can pick up missions that lead them down the path of redemption (Rogue) or corruption (Vigilante). Eventually, after accepting and completing enough of these missions, the character can choose to become a full-blown Hero or Villain and move to that group’s zones. Players who feel comfortable treading the line between allegiances can alternatively select a neutral stance and enjoy access into all zones in the game. While both routes have their benefits, players determined to collect every badge (like Achievements in WoW) in the game will need to spend time in all four roles.

Choose your allegiance carefully

While City of Heroes: Going Rogue does many things right as an expansion, it’s not without its flaws. Praetoria is currently limited to new characters, so veterans of the game will not be able access the new zones until a later update. Players are also restricted to the normal 10 archetypes of powers. This means, anyone wishing to create a Kheldian Peacebringer, Warshade, Arachnos Soldier, or Arachnos Widow is left out in the cold. Epic archetypes, as it turns out, are not allowed into the new zones as they are faction specific (Heroes or Villains, respectively).

Additionally, while Praetoria is a fun diversion for new and old players alike, it doesn’t add much new content to the game for existing players. Yes, the new alignment system, combined auction houses, and powers are nice, but players are still limited to 50 levels of experience with no new endgame content. Hopefully, with some more polish and continuing updates, Going Rogue will evolve into a must-have expansion for all CoH players. For now, it’s a brief, though throroughly enjoyable side-story for fans and newcomers alike.

4 out of 5


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Author: Kyle Bittle View all posts by

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