Pre-Free: City Of Heroes Freedom Trialling

How much will a microtransaction for a pair of red briefs be?

City of Heroes will be NCsoft’s first major foray into the strange, wild land that is free to play MMOs. There is, though, the little matter of what the superhero game’s current subscriber base will make of this. Well, they can find out right now, more or less. The free to play reboot, City of Heroes Freedom, won’t launch fully until later this year, but any and all current active subscribers can jump right in as of yesterday. There are prizes and live events and shopping and all that funfair-sounding stuff to be seen and had. Useful bulletpoints await below. Oh, and apparently if you reactivate your old account now-ish, you’ll also get to try out the headstart.


– All new Paragon Market
– New co-op zone, First Ward.
– Costume Contests, judged by the development team, with a variety of prizes.
– Participate in the all new Death From Below and Underground Incarnate Trials with members of the Community team.
– Fend off massive Live Invasions by the forces of Praetoria and Hamidon across multiple servers.
– Exclusive sales bundles and promotions available only during the VIP Headstart.

If you’re a CoH subscriber, that’s all yours until the full launch later this year. At which point it’s free for everyone.

More details here.


  1. NeilYoung says:

    “City of Heroes will be NCsoft’s first major foray into the strange, wild land that is free to play MMOs.”

    Dungeon runners?

    • Dana says:

      Dungeon Runners, Dragonica, Trickster Online, Punch Monster.

      I think he meant the “Strange, wild land of pay 2 play MMOs that went free 2 play” :D

    • Alec Meer says:

      I also very deliberately used the word ‘major.’ But I suppose that’s an entirely debatable descriptor.

    • pizzapicante27 says:

      Wasnt Guild Wars 1 from NCSoft? thats kind of as free as MMOs get.

    • Grey_Ghost says:


      Last I checked you still had to buy GuildWars before you can play it.

  2. mjig says:

    I’m very interested in this. I always enjoyed the CoH trial but for various reasons never made the leap.

    All the fond memories I hear about the game make me wish I had gotten in a few years ago.

    Edit: It looks like you can go to the website and upgrade to the VIP level now for $15, without having to buy the box. Guess I’ll start early.

  3. UTL says:

    I’ve played a bit of Champions Online, are there any major differences between the two?

    • mjig says:

      Champions Online is probably the most clunky feeling game I’ve ever played, this isn’t.

    • -Spooky- says:

      CoX (City of Heroes / Villains) is miles away from this “crappy” CO. Give it a try .. I21 will bring two more powersets, can´t wait. ;)

    • Choca says:

      Champions Online’s world is dull as hell.

      City of Heroes gameplay is dull as hell.

      Take your pick.

    • DK says:

      You can have a proper pet-class in City of Heroes. As in proper. 6+ minions all with unique abilities and there’s atleast as many variants again. Soldiers with medics and spec ops to gangbangers throwing molotovs and gangster firing uzis.

    • Miodrag Kovachevic says:

      @DK: You can have a proper pet class in CO, too. With pets as healers, support and offensive roles. Although you can make it only with freeform builds, which are only available to subscribers.

    • Choca says:

      @DK : “As in proper. 6+ minions all with unique abilities”

      You can easily summon about three times that number of pets in CO.

    • Wulf says:

      Champions Online has a clever, vibrant world, but some people don’t read, so what can you do? The various factions are entertaining if you have even the faintest idea of what a sense of humour is, and it’s a step up from the traditional crap.

      It has blocking, the combat is very kinetic, and it’s the closest thing to Guild Wars 2 until GW2 arrives. And if you subscribe you can completely freeform build a character by picking from lots of things, you could put together almost any kind of character you could imagine. I have some varied and wonderfully insane characters. I’ve even recently done space marines. Just because all the powers are there to create a convincing space marine. (Hack, Slash, Crash, & Burn from Bisclavret’s W.U.L.F. Corps, all with matching armour.)

      It has some of the best lines I’ve seen in any game (look up the Demon Key on Youtube), it’s got a nice sense of variety between all the different art assets – from raiding the living interiors of sentient bug aliens, to dungeons, to labs, to high tech complexes, to crypts, and what have you. And there are just so many touches around for explorers to find.

      Yes, it’s very silly. If you’re so incredibly friggin’ serious about everything like I suspect one or two of the above people are, then you won’t appreciate it. But if you can stop taking yourself so amazingly seriously for a moment, just to have a laugh, then there’s stuff you’ll like. It all depends on whether you can actually laugh or not.

      One of my favourite instances of this are the Qularr. See, there are crashed Qularr ships everywhere, Qularr are insectoid aliens, I mentioned them back a bit there. Now I’d seen a bunch of crashed ships and originally assumed that the Qularr are just very poor pilots. Apparently, the thing is, is that there are certain signals (not just the ones in the tutorial, but radio signals, and many other sorts) that make the Qularr suicidally home in on things. They could be passing a planet, and an alluring signal might call out to them, at which point they’ll start bombing that planet with their own ships.

      This is both intriguing and amusing. The game has a lot of that.

      And the art assets are brilliant, too, simply brilliant. There’s some genuinely weird stuff in there, and frankly some of the most interesting vampires and werewolves I’ve seen in anything. There’s an underwater zone, too, a massive underwater zone which is really quite impressive, look up Lemuria on Youtube. Then there’s Vibora Bay, which is New Orleans crossed with a B-Movie, look up that, too. It has oodles of atmosphere.

      But yeah, the NPCs all have info if you right click and read them, there are intelligence reports and bits of information scattered around, and all of it is funny. It’s simply beautiful. And the animations on the powers are fantastic, too. I’ve been having a blast with this one character I have which is a mix of Bestial, Might, and Heavy Weapons.

      The choices available for what you want to do are amazing, too. Pick Heavy Weapons and you’ll have a bunch of costume options to choose from for just that weapon. The aforementioned character I mentioned has an Earth Magicks thing going on, so he flies around on a giant chunk of ground (plucked specifically from whatever type of ground type he’s standing on at the time), and he wields an axe that looks like it’d been plucked straight from a volcano.

      If all that isn’t enough, it’s very grind lite. You won’t have to pay for XP scrolls or anything, and in a couple of hours you can feel like you’ve made genuine progression.

      But again, how much you’ll enjoy this depends on whether you actually have a sense of humour or not. If you want everything to be ultra grimdark then Champions isn’t for you, it’s the opposite of that, it’s cheesy, silly, and funny. It lightens my day. I’m kind of sick of games taking themselves so seriously to be honest, and I wish more were like this. Some might think WoW is ‘funny’ with its pop culture references, but it’s a bloody poser compared to Champions Online.

      My friends and I whom are currently playing it have often mused over whether they have a person whose job it is to pick ridiculous accents for characters, and to write the tremendous puns which pop up in the game every other minute. It might be too much for some, but me… eh, I like laughing. :P

      (I feel compelled to add as a final note that you’ll find many people on the Internet who’ll consider any non-traditional MMO to be ‘clunky.’ City of Heroes is very much in the traditional mould, whereas Champions Online is far, far closer to Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2.)

      @Miodrag Kovachevic

      Not so! The Inventor archetype has both offensive and defensive pets which can be customised. (Support Drones and either Munitions Bots or ‘Attack Toys!!!’.)

  4. Vexing Vision says:

    Very very much looking forward to CoH going F2P.

    Can’t wait to fly around with my Illusionist/Kinetic Controller again – such a good time was had.

  5. Miodrag Kovachevic says:

    I think it’s cool they’re going F2P, I’m only skeptical about the VIP-only servers. That seems like a very bad call.

    I don’t think I’ll be playing it. Still having fun with Champions Online.

    • Commisar says:

      me too, i actually like Champions Online, started playing in April and I have been having alot of fun. Is it super polished/ the MMO to kill all other MMOs,NO, but it is alot of fun

    • Wulf says:

      Having played both for a period longer than a year, I can honestly say that Champions Online is the superior game in just about every conceivable way. It’s just that City of Heroes is the more serious, more traditional game. City of Heroes feels like a very po-faced take on the golden age of comics, whereas Champions Online is very much all the craziness of the silver age.

      There’s a lot more that’s just out of left field in Champions Online. In City of Heroes I never went on a mission that had me become a Godzilla-sized person traipsing through a toy city, at the whimsy of a madman. Champions Online had me doing that. In City of Heroes I never got the chance to become enthralled by and end up being the embodiment of evil (the Kings of Edom, specifically, massively powerful buggers that they are), only to get the opportunity to smack down the most powerful heroes of the land. Champions Online let me do that, too. I’ve never travelled to alternate noir dimensions in City of Heroes, nor have I fought massive mechanical dinosaurs. In Champions Online I did these things.

      Champions Online has fun. City of Heroes has tradition and grind. Take your pick.

    • mjig says:

      Yeah. but Champions Online feels awful. The combat is clunky, like it was designed for a gamepad. The animations make your character look like he’s moving extremely slowly.

      The only good thing about CO is the character creator, and CoX’s is just as good if not better.

  6. Arathain says:

    This is just lovely. City of Heroes mostly ruined me for other MMOs. Excellent, kinetic, pyrotechnic combat that works hard to make you feel powerful. Excellent character classes with tons of scope to make very different characters even in the same class.

    It’s an interesting thing, really- what other folk call grind, I call playing the game. I think of it as one of the least grindy MMOs, because if you just want to level you can actually do that really quite quickly. There’s a real pleasure to taking your time, seeking out the cooler story arcs, learning your character, seeing how far up you can turn the difficulty level, and teaming when you feel like it.

    It’s also the most teaming-friendly game out there. Your level scales to the team leaders, so no worries about playing with friends who level at different rates. Teams of just about any composition can work and work well, although when you get a good team and are just steamrolling hordes of bads its a blast like few others.