City of Heroes: Freedom, Man

Well, looks like later in the year City of Heroes is going to be free-to-play-until-you-are-overcome-by-hat-greed, according to Paragon Studios and NCSoft. They’re calling it City of Heroes Freedom and it’s set to contain all the content garnered from the 20 expansions to the game thus far. The free account will let you biff and kerpow until level 50 and give you access to all Hero and Villain zones but as ever those willing to subscribe will get “exclusive VIP benefits, content and services.”

Mostly, this seems like a good thing all round. Although free players will face some restrictions, as expected. They will only have two player slots available and can only select from eight different character “archetypes” as opposed to building and customising their character from the ground up.

To make up any lost faith among current subscribers Paragon is also fixing it so that from July 1 paying players (known hereafter as ‘VIP players’) will earn 400 Paragon Points per month until Freedom launches, which can be used to buy items, costumes and the like. But not food. Official: you cannot buy food with Paragon Points.

You can find out more about Freedom here and here.


  1. zafo999 says:

    Officially abbreviated as COHF. Googling “COHF” helps a lot.

  2. DSR says:

    So, this is like poor man’s DC Universe Online or what?
    I know this was released before DCU.

    • Pardoz says:

      It’s something like DCUO, except that it’s older (not only does it predate DCUO, it predates WoW), was designed for computers, not consoles, and isn’t the top contender for “worst licensed MMO ever”.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “and isn’t the top contender for “worst licensed MMO ever”.”

      To be specific, many consider it to be the best superhero MMO ever.

    • gwathdring says:

      Having tried the Beta of one and the Free Trial of the other, I’d say it’s a lot more interesting than DCU.

    • Wulf says:


      Weasel wordy! It’s certainly not the best superhero MMORPG for me, I’d dare say it’s the worst according to my personal opinion.

  3. Dominic White says:

    City of Heroes is absolutely best played with a couple of friends and a sense of humor. Last run I took at it was in City of Villains. My brother and I rolled up a near-identical pair of characters – Contestant Blue and Contestant Red from Smash TV. Just barrelling through the zones, shooting people and shouting ‘BIG MONEY! BIG PRIZES! WE LOVE IT!’ got plenty of laughs and applause from the random passing players.

    Going primarily F2P will allow for even more of that sort of malarkey. This is a good thing.

    • Tei says:

      Thats the only reasonable way to play a MMO.

      You wins one internets!.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Yes, this is something to consider: Not playing those F2P games with a serious attitude in mind but with good ideas for awesome stuff like that. Surely there will be at least as many trolls joining game communities after games go F2P. But man, the possibilities. :D

    • DrGonzo says:

      It may be free but I’d certainly buy that for a dollar!

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, the best way to approach any MMO really is to just go into it looking to have fun, but not planning to commit. It’s cool to be late to the party – more patches and updates are always good. And you don’t HAVE to subscribe either. Only if you’re really having fun after a month.

      I’m planning on giving Star Trek Online a look next month, once the Season 4 update launches. Sounds like they’ve done a massive overhaul of the ground-based gameplay, and feedback from the players makes it sound like it’s a genuine improvement.

      I also got the game out of a bargain bin for a euro, so it really only has to offer about half an hour of enjoyment for it to be good value. Who cares about ‘endgame’ content anyway, if you’re only looking to play for a few weeks at most?

    • oceanclub says:

      I’m looking forward to resurrecting my Bill Hicks-insipired giant man-goat-tank, “Goatboy”.


    • Stephen Granade says:

      Oh, yeah, playing this w/friends and a sense of humor is recommended. Back in the day we had the Command Line heroes group, where everyone was named after Unix commands and wore Tron-inspired costumes. Pity the poor man who came late to the group and had to take ‘awk’ as his name.

    • Tei says:

      sudo would be a even worse name.

      $ sudo make me a sandwitch.

    • dreadguacamole says:

      Me and my wife played everquest 2 as a rat-woman and a cat-man named Itchi and Scratchi (I played Scratchi, since I keep dying all the time in those games.) Good times.
      For some reason, EQ didn’t like Itchy as a character name, hence the weird, dwarf-like spelling.

    • Wulf says:

      Pf. Turret Syndrome. That is all.

  4. Gravidos says:

    If anyone’s looking to play this, I’m Dark Lightning Executioner@Gravidos and Gravidos on steam :)

    edit: Oh god, I’m an idiot. I was referring to Champions Online.

  5. Teddy Leach says:

    Paying for services OO-ER.

  6. Screwie says:

    Aye this should be a healthy thing for the game. I still enjoy playing it after all these years.

    However Mr Caldwell: Paying players will get 400 Paragon Points per month if they continue to subscribe after Freedom launches, too. For so long as they remain paying players, in fact. Turbine’s DDO has a near-identical subscriber incentive.

  7. Mr Chug says:

    Any idea what’s on offer for long-lapsed subscribers? Last I remember (and this was somewhere around issue 13) I had 5 or 6 character slots, so if I reactivate my account under F2P do I lose most of them?

    • Torgen says:

      Looks like you get 2 + any extra you got as vet rewards. You get to keep all your vet rewards and powers like Sands of Mu and Nemesis staff. The system they’re setting up looks VERY much like Turbine’s (DDO and LOTRO)

  8. Torgen says:

    With all the power choices (they’ve “proliferated” many class-specific powers to other classes) and costume possibilities, it’s almost impossible to NOT dream up some concept and build it. This is basically impossible in most other MMOs. You’re much more rigidly defined by your class, in say, WoW. In CoH, even if you have the same class and powersets as another person, you can look nothing alike. One can be a schoolgirl with a stuffed kitten on her shoulder, and the other can be winged demon, or a lava creature.

    What has kept me playing CoH is building new characters and backstories, and with the Invention System, Incarnates and (for those who purchased Going Rogue) the ability to take hero classes to the Evil side and vice versa AND the new Praetoria zones, there’s several new ways to experience different content.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      How about dem eight archetypes, tho

    • Yuri says:

      I beg to differ, good sir.
      Champions Online has Freeform, which is basically a “build your own class/build/hero/thingie” system.

      Powers are ordered by theme and tiers. You basically pick whatever you like.

      This little community program should let you know what i’m talking about:
      link to
      It simulates the level/skill progression from the Freeform system. It also makes it easier to make blueprints for your concepts and builds before spending any in-game time on them.

    • Torgen says:

      Yuri: “most” does not equal “all”.

      I tried Champions and didn’t care for it at all, though there are those who have been there since Day 1 and are still playing. I like the art style, powers, missions and combat system of CoH more.

  9. QualityJeverage says:

    I’ll give it a go. CoH was my first MMO, way back when it first came out. I was 14 years old at the time, and didn’t quite understand how an MMO worked.

    I just wanted to be a superhero, most of all I wanted to fly. All I remember about the game is forsaking every combat skill or talent (I forget most of the specifics) in favor of improving the horribly slow Hover skill, which was basically a slow version of Flight you could get at a lower level.

  10. pupsikaso says:

    This is a good change. I can try the game and see how it’s changed. I’ve never liked it before… the lack of loot and dull combat, boring quests (and of course… you’re playing a superhero) really put me off the game. Let’s see if it’s got any redeeming qualities now.

    • Torgen says:

      Has loot now, and with the consignment house it’s pretty simple to make cash even at an early level. With the crafting system you can min/max a character into jaw-dropping performance.

      A lot of the lower missions and some lower zones were completely reworked. I just ran some mission arcs in the low 20s range on villain side that I’ve never run before (have always chosen other contacts, or leveled past them while with friends on *their* missions ) and had a blast (stole a cloning factory from another faction and kidnapped scientists to work it for me.)

      Also, if you thought the missions were too easy before you can ramp the difficulty up or down. You can set it from 2 levels below your level, to 4 levels above AND spawn 8 times the number of enemies.

      There is a whole new high-res area to start in called Praetoria. (You have to have Going Rogue to get to them right now.) Mobs are tougher, you can choose hero OR villain archetype to start, and the storylines are basically that both sides are rat bastards.

      (Ok, enough cheerleading today. I’ve been bored. :) )

  11. McDan says:

    Oh Brendan, your tags are brilliant. I especially liked the games as art one. Keep it up! And remember the puns!

  12. Nallen says:

    I doubt EVE will ever be F2P, they put in space trousers and everyone was like “fuck of with your trousers”

  13. Eschatos says:

    Is Champions Online or City of Heroes better?

    • Howl says:

      CoH is in a different league entirely. Champions Online was garbage.

    • Jumwa says:

      And both unfortunately take the silly approach of making it so that the free players have limited character creation options.

      Seriously, how are you supposed to hook us and make us want to pay for your game if you get us started on a basic, crummy character with none of the flair? If I convert to a paid account after I’d have to completely reroll to take advantage of that paid option. That’d be enough to turn me off from ever going the subscription route right there.

      Or trying it for that matter. Champion’s Online turned me off when I realized all my favourite costume parts were pay only.

    • Torgen says:

      Actually, all you’d have to do is go to a tailor shop in-game to change your appearance. You can even re-tint your powers. I do it all the time whenever I buy a booster pack, or haven’t quite worked out a theme. You also can get costume part recipes as loot drops for different wings, rocket boots or piston boots (cosmetic only, doesn’t grant travel powers.)

      I don’t know anything about CoH planning to lock free players out of the majority of the costume parts. This is the first I’ve heard of it, but there are thousands of characters being played using costumes that don’t use vet reward costumes or booster packs.

  14. Enikuo says:

    Stuck between a sub and an archetype : /

  15. PaulOHara says:

    I haven’t played this in ages, and with it being F2P I guess I could give it another try.

  16. Rii says:

    20 expansions? Even The Sims is impressed.

    • malkav11 says:

      Twenty content patches (which, admittedly, have been quite meaty). Two expansions – City of Villains and Going Rogue.

  17. Daikaze says:

    Archetypes are the classes of the game it’s not like the CO archetypes… You’ll probably be missing out on a a couple of the basic archetypes and all of the epic archetypes. Preset power combinations would be awful.

    • Torgen says:

      8 archetypes are ALL the basic archetypes:
      (Hero:) Defender, controller, tank, scrapper.
      (Villain:) Brute, dominator, corruptor, mastermind.
      Free players won’t automatically unlock the epic archetypes when they hit level 50.

      EDIT: I forgot blasters and stalkers, never mind. :P

  18. gwathdring says:

    I liked this when I tried the Free Trial. The only subscription MMO I really wished I had the money for after trying it. I’m not sure how much of that was the awesome costumes though. I really hope it lets me dig up my characters from my trial account … I tried to recreate the better two in Champions Online but it just didn’t work out. I’ll give it a second spin once it comes out and see how I like the free version and what if anything is worth putting down a little cash.

  19. Shaz says:

    I think you might be a bit confused about Archetypes, with this ‘…and can only select from eight different character “archetypes” as opposed to building and customising their character from the ground up’ statement.
    Archetypes are CoH’s ‘classes’. Restricting to only 8 of the basic archetypes simply means that there are a couple (Masterminds and Controllers are the unavailable-to-F2P basics) that are VIP only. You can play a Blaster, just like a VIP can, and you can build and customize that Blaster with the same skills a VIP can (or at least, nothing has been stated otherwise).

    • malkav11 says:

      Oh, are those the ones? Drat it. That’s what I was afraid of – they’re my favorites.

    • Devenger says:

      Oh! Thanks for clarifying this – the idea of not having enough options really put me off, but I’m very tempted to jump in again (I last played during CoH’s closed beta, lots of fun, never bought the game though in the end) and play a Defender again. (Assuming those still exist and work the same way? Healing is cool.)

  20. geldonyetich says:

    Funny they call it “freedom” when it seems likely to have a very negative impact on my free time. I spent 1600+ hours in this game before deciding I’d played it out too much for it to be worth a subscription and now they’re pullin me back in!

    Maybe. There are a few little issues that could prove problematic:

    * 8 architypes. There’s 14, so which do we get? The base ten minus two, I would assume. Looking it up, apparently no pet archtypes because they’re worried about pet spam. That’s… pretty pathetic to cater to whining veterans like that. Also, if you’re going to let f2p get dominators you should give them controlllers because the pet spam is equal. Personally, I like the LOTRO approach of letting us buy class unlocks permanently – this whole idea of locking certain classes behind a monthly subscription has never worked.

    * RPS article here says the archtypes are “pre-made.” If that means you don’t get to choose primary/secondary power sets, I sure won’t care to play. Same goes for it meaning I have not as much choice while leveling up.

    * As a returning veteran player, 2 slots plus veteran rewards probably won’t cut it. I’ve several servers chock full of characters and being unable to access some vital character or another because of the ones in the way would suck.

  21. verily says:

    Super groups not available? No ingame mail? Read-only forum access? No whispers?
    Also, limited auction house use, whatever that means, and “First Ward Zone Access” but no “First Ward Missions”.

    You know what, I think I’ll stay in Champions.

    • malkav11 says:

      The first two and whispers cease to be an issue if you spend any money at all on the game (or played previous to free-to-play), as this converts you to a Premium account that has access to those. As for the First Ward, that’s being introduced by the next major content update, and while those have been free to subscribers, apparently they don’t want to just hand over all their new content completely for free, which seems reasonable enough to -me-. You’ll still be able to one-time purchase it.