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City of Villains is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG, it is also often referred to as a MMO Role Playing Game, or MMORPG). It was released on October 31, 2005, and has 11 servers in North America and 5 in Europe in English, French and German. Developed by Cryptic Studios and published by NCSoft, CoV is an "expanshalone" (a neologism derived from the terms expansion and stand-alone) to City of Heroes, based on the genre of comic books popularized by Marvel, DC, Wildstorm, Image, and so on. Players take on the role of a supervillain in The Rogue Isles, fighting to gain personal power, money, and rank in the Aracnhos organization.
City of Villains Overview
City of Heroes starts with a player building their villain from the ground up. First, a player chooses one of 5 Archetypes, or 'AT's : the Corrupter, Stalker, Dominator, Brute, or Mastermind. Each AT has a selection of Primary and Secondary Power Sets, each with 9 powers. These powers can be unlocked as a character levels up, starting at level 1 a character can choose one of their first two powers from their chosen Primary, and also receive the first power from their Secondary. Generally, secondaries unlock later than primaries, and are less powerful than primary versions that may be available to other ATs. You also choose an origin, which is mainly used to determine which enhancement types your character can use.
Then, they choose the design of their character. Unlike many other MMOs, appearances such as armor or lack of it has no effect on player statistics. CoV character customization is perhaps the most flexible in almost any game, and almost certainly within the MMO field, with a virtually infinite number of possible costumes, even without taking into count color variations. Players can choose a basic female, basic male, or 'Huge' male frame to start with, and go off from there. Then, it's time to choose a name, write an origin story (if you choose), think of a battle cry (optional), and hit the tutorial.
City of Villains Story
City of Heroes/Villains has a rich backstory, with a story bible said to be several hundred pages including dozens of hero and villain organizations. Obviously this is too much to cover here, but the basics are:
The Rogue Isles is an island chain in the Atlantic off the American coast. A former colony, the Rogue Isles has a sordid history of piracy, demons, corruption and bloodshed. In more recent history Lord Recluse, leader of the Arachnos organization, took control of the islands and began using them as a base against his nemesis Statesman, and his beloved Paragon City. In fall of 2005, the Fortunata Kalinda had a vision that foretold that someone in Paragon's prison, the Zigguraut, was destined to lead Arachnos to its ultimate victory. So, in Operation: Destiny, Recluse broke out every superpowered villain held in the Zig, brought them to Mercy Island, and began to allow survival of the fittest to show which was the Destined One. Are you strong enough to rise above the competition? Or shall you make your own destiny in the Rogue Isles?
The style of gameplay varies depending on which of the several Archetypes is being played. Each has its own focus, strengths, and weaknesses, and while all are intended to be soloable to some extent, some are more group-focused than others.
The Corrupter has two main roles: lang range damage, and buff/debuffing. While CoH is not as healer-focused as some MMOs, CoV has even less - the Corrupter is the closest you'll find and even they are mostly damage-focused. Their Primary power sets are: Assault Rifle, Dark Blast, Energy Blast, Fire Blast, Ice Blast, Radiation Blast and Sonic Blast. Secondaries include: Cold Domination, Dark Miasma, Kinetics, Radiation Emission, Sonic Resonance, Thermal Radiation and Traps. Their inherent power, "Scourge", causes them to do more damage to enemies as their health drops. Comic book examples include Mr. Freeze or Silver Banshee of DC.
The Dominator plays a similar role to CoH's Controllers; being the mez-heavy AT. However, unlike controllers they have a stronger damage capacity rather than buff/debuffs. Their primaries are: Fire Control, Gravity Control, Ice Control, Mind Control and Plant Control. Secondaries are: Energy Assault, Fiery Assault, Icy Assault, Psionic Assault, and Thorny Assault. Their inherent power is "Domination", when charged and activated it doubles damage and mez effects, and refills the players endurance. Comic book examples include Poison Ivy of DC or Dark Phoenix of Marvel.
The Stalker is somewhat like CoH's Blasters in that it is something of a "glass cannon", only they fight in melee rather than at range. All stalkers are stealthy, and can use "Assassination" attacks which cause them to do more damage when attacking from stealth. However, once this assassination strike has been used stalkers can become vulnerable and do not generally fare well in an extended fight. Their primaries are: Claws, Energy Melee, Martial Arts, Ninja Blade, and Spines. Secondaries are: Energy Aura, Ninjutsu, Regeneration, and Super Reflexes. Comic book examples include Slade from DC or Sabertooth from Marvel.
The Brute is the stalker's opposite, with heavier focuses on defenses, and their "Fury" ability causes them to do more damage the longer a fight lasts. They are the toughest of the CoV ATs, although CoH's Tanks still reign supreme in that field. Their primary power sets are: Dark Melee, Energy Melee, Fiery Melee, Stone Melee and Super Strength. Secondaries are: Dark Armor, Energy Aura, Fiery Aura, Invulnerability and Stone Armor. Comic book examples include Marvel's Hulk, or DC's Grundy.
The Mastermind is the most unique of the ATs. Masterminds do little fighting themselves, and instead command various minions to fight for them. They they back up their minions and teams with buffs and debuffs. Their inherent power is "Supremacy" which gives damage and accuracy buffs to their minions as long as they are near by. Primaries are: Mercenaries, Necromancy, Ninjas and Robots. Secondaries are: Dark Miasma, Force Field, Poison, Traps and Trick Arrow. Comic book examples would be Doctor Doom or Lex Luthor.
CoV follows MMO tradition with the use of level-based combat. There are 40 levels in Cov (soon to be extended to match CoH's 50), and the experience points required to level up increases as you proceed (although the number of minions you need to defeat remains constant starting around level 39). Players have higher damage and accuracy, and longer duration of effects against lower-leveled opponents, and the opposite against those of a higher level. CoV also uses a classification system for different types of PvE opponents: Underlings, Minions, Lieutenants, Bosses, Elite Bosses, Heroes/Arch-Villains and Giant Monsters. CoH was balanced around one player being roughly the equal of 3 even-level minions, 1.5 lieutenants, or 2/3rds of a boss. This holds up for roughly the first twenty levels, however as players gain access to better enhancements and more powers Heroes may find themselves capable of taking on large numbers of even-level foes, and will need to attack higher levels to find a challenge. Underlings are typically cannon-fodder, while Elite Bosses may take 2-3 players to defeat (or an excellent strategy and use of inspirations). Heroes and Arch-Villains, or AVs, usually require 3-5 players to defeat. Giant Monsters have no level and are a threat to any level player, and can require from 4-20 players to defeat. In PvP, all players are considered to be of an equal level, although those with a true higher level will usually still have an advantage.
There are two bars for players to keep track of during combat, their Health and Endurance. Should a player be reduced to zero Health, they are defeated, and must either call on the emergency Mediport system, wait for resurrection by an ally, use a self-resurrection power (if they have one), or a self-resurrection 'Awaken' inspiration. Players receive 'XP Debt' for being defeated, until the debt is paid off they only receive half the normal experience point gains. Since launch, many cutbacks have been made to when you receive debt, currently you do not receive debt until level 10, and only receive half debt while in an instanced mission. The other bar is Endurance, and is the energy required to activate powers. Unlike Health, your total amount of Endurance ('end') does not increase as you level up, so as more powers are gained the player must use Endurance Reduction enhancements or powers like Stamina to keep from running dry during a fight.
Unlike many MMOs, 'loot' is virtually non-existent in CoV. The rewards that can be gained by defeating enemies or completing missions are: Enhancements, Inspirations, Infamy, Salvage, Prestige, and Badges. Enhancments take the place of loot, and are used to improve a character's powers. When leveling up players receive either a new power or a number of Enhancement Slots, a power starts with 1 slot and can have up to six. There are almost thirty kinds of enhancements which do things like increase damage,.accuracy, duration of effects, speed of travel powers, and so on. There are also three basic classes of enhancments: Trainings, Dual Origins and Single Origins. Trainings can be used by any origin character and are generally used from levels 1 to 15. Dual Origins are twice as effective as Trainings, but can only be used by 2 of the 5 origins. Around level 25 players can purchase Single Origins, which are twice as effective as 'DO's but can only be used by a single origin.
Inspirations are more commonly dropped, and much, much cheaper to buy. They are short-term powerups that increase damage, return health, break mez effects, and so on. As a player levels up they can hold more, up to a maximum of 20. Infamy is the currency of CoV and is a numerical valuation of how much people fear respect you. Infamy is mostly used for purchasing enhancements, or changing a characters costume. Salvage is a new form of loot used for Supergroup bases, and is used to construct certain items, like teleporters or power generators. Although there are dozens of kinds of salvage dropped by the various villain groups, they are refined into a limited number of mystical or technological components, making it easy for a SG to combine them into something useful. Prestige is a new form of currency used only for SG bases and is used to increase the base plot size, or to place items - even items built with salvage still require prestige to place. After level 34 players can either earn influence or prestige, but not both simultaneously. Badges are a mostly decorative item used to show to other players what that player has accomplished, and they are rewarded for a variety of different actions. Accolade badges typically have a gameplay benefit, such as a HP or End percentage increase, or the ability to 'respec' powers.