No More Heroes

On Sunday, 1st December at 08:04 UK time, the servers went down, for the last time, on City of Heroes. Heroes around the world gathered to mark the event dubbed ‘sundown’ and I logged on to stand among them.

Despite desperate efforts by the community to engage with NCsoft, the game’s publisher, and get them to reconsider the shutdown or selling of the IP to any of the list of interested parties, the end of days went ahead. The community fought on to the very last moment. And in the last days of the game, the Save CoH Campaign forwarded a proposal to Disney, urging them to buy the rights and swoop down to the rescue.

It would have made a great story, but it all seemed a bit like clutching at straws to me. Disney owns Marvel, and rumours of a Marvel MMO in the pipeline makes regular rumbles on the gaming grapevine. This makes it highly unlikely that Disney would want to take on a rival superhero MMO. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, Disney didn’t save the day or the heroes.

Resigned to the fate of my favourite MMO, I logged in on Friday evening to super jump through familiar city streets and do some last minute clearing of thugs and criminal scum. I have to say, I expected NCsoft to send us off with a bang. I was looking forward to the raising of old foes and a host of world events that would allow the heroes of Paragon City to fight to the end.

The reality was, NC soft pretty much left us to our own devices. There weren’t even any ingame fireworks just before midnight to say goodbye and thanks with a flourish. Instead, I logged in with a new character (my old NCsoft account had been deleted) and did some missions, which got me to around level six. There were no groups going on, so it was just a question of heading to the main square in Atlas Park and communing with my fellow heroes.

Most people were standing around in their level 50 finery, but there were a few like me who hadn’t played CoH in a few years and had just logged on to mark the occasion. Standing around with everyone just brought so many memories flooding back. Someone in the crowd asked, ‘Do you remember the first time you arrived at this spot as a new character?’ and everyone told stories of how amazing it was. And it was. Logging into CoH for the first time was like entering the best theme park ever. Superheroes everywhere, all zipping around using different travel powers, with different visuals. And the costumes. The costume choices were only limited by your imagination and no other MMO can say that.

So we all stood around reminiscing on old times with people firing off their area of effect spells and sending ingame gifts to each other. I received a tarot card reading. Some people danced, other people just stood on the steps holding a flaming torch aloft, whilst others hovered above the crowd. But we all felt a bit sad that it was nearly over.

We were given the 10 minute warning in the global chat channel and people started thanking everyone for all the fun over the years. People started swapping skype contacts and gaming tags before we all blinked out.

The only thing I wanted to do was make sure I saw my old friend Demonika, one last time. We hit it off in the early days because we had similar characters. She was Demonika and I was Seraph and became firm online friends. I still get a birthday text from my pal Demonika, who is actually a guy in Oxford and I think we’ll always be friends, even if we never meet. The good news is, we did meet up on that final morning. And I know that if there’s ever a City of Heroes 2, we’ll meet up and fight crime together again.

It’s so sad to think that the game that broke the MMO mould by giving us something other than high fantasy, is gone. I’d just like to thank the CoH community and the devs for thoroughly lovely time spent playing that game. There will never be another like it. Or will there?

Heroes and Villains ( ) is a new project created by Plan Z, a virtual studio formed of volunteers who want to see something fill the void left by CoH. It’s too early to tell what will become of this game, but I wish them all the luck in the world. There’s one thing you can’t say about the CoH community, and that’s that they’re not proactive or that they take things lying down.

Once a CoH hero always a hero.

This is Seraph, signing out, until the next time…

Most played: Halo 4

Most wanted: The Last of Us

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