Alpha Strike is live
Today the latest update for City of Heroes, Issue 19: Alpha Strike has been released. This is a quite interesting release in a few different ways.
Perhaps the most significant part is the new advancement system for max level characters; the incarnate abilities. These new abilities will be released step-by-step, with the first part being what is called the Alpha slot. The Alpha slot is essentially an enhancement slot that is global – its improvements will affect every power that can be affected with whatever bonuses have been put in there.
Bonuses in the alpha slot is something players will successively build and improve upon, gathering components. Components can be gathered through running certain task forces – specific task forces provide different components. If it is not possible to get certain components for various reasons, then it will also be possible to build the necessary components using shards. Shards can drop from any level 50+ content, or can be obtained through exchanging Vanguard merit points (e.g. typically gained from Rikti War Zone content).
Thus anyone can get what is necessary to advance the incarnate abilities and the alpha slot with a level 50 character – however, playing solo and just regular missions will probably be a somewhat slow approach.
The two new task forces included – Apex and Tin Mage task forces – will in practice require people to have an alpha slot with some enhancement in it, even though it is theoretically possible to play without one.
From what I heard comments from people who tried the task forces, they are really quite good and do provide a step up in challenges compared to some of the old content. It will be interesting how that turns out. But since I generally only have time for a few hours play each week, it will probably take me some time to get there. The Going Rogue expansion is required to access the incarnate system.
Another significant change, but which will affect almost all characters in some way is that the Fitness power pool has been made inherent from level 2. The Fitness pool was something that almost all characters had to pick and pick 3 powers from in order to have a somewhat decent playable character. The lack of these powers caused the first 20 levels to perhaps be somewhat less fun than they could be – both because health regeneration & power recovery was lacking, plus also characters could be painfully slow when running around. Making these powers inherent makes the low level characters a bit more powerful pretty much right away, plus there is also the option to pick three more powers that actually do something tangible and fun.
For Praetorians there is also three zones events that players can participate in, one for each zone in Praetoria. These are events that player can participate on either the Loyalist or the Resistance side; this will also be interesting to check out how it works out, since this seems to be the first zone events that players can participate on multiple sides, but I still assume is not PvP.
New missions have been added in 21-30 level range, plus more missions specifically aimed at players in Rogue and Vigilante alignments.
There also a number of various nice-to-have things, such as unified train, ferry and helicoper systems, new alternate animations for a number of powers, ability to log off to character select screen (not forced to login again), new enemies and maps in Mission Architect for Praetorian content and a few other bits and pieces.
Since I already got re-acquainted with my old max level chararacters, the incarnate system will fit in just fine. It remains to be seen how much and how fast advancement there will be; being an altoholic I generally want to play many different characters, but the advancement system for Incarnates may not encourage spending time with lots of different characters. But time will tell, right now I am just eager to jump into the new content when I get back to Sweden later this week.