ZAM's City of Heroes Freedom Launch Q&A

City of Heroes Freedom officially launched yesterday, which means all players can now try out the 7-year-old superhero MMO for free. As if that wasn't enough, Paragon Studios also released Issue 21: Convergence at the same time to add a ton of new content to the game.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Executive Producer Brian Clayton to talk about the beginning of a new era for this veteran MMO. Keep reading after the jump to learn all about City of Heroes Freedom and Paragon's ambitious update schedule.

City of Heroes Freedom is Live

City of Heroes Freedom is now live, which officially makes the 7-year-old superhero MMO free-to-play for everyone! All Free players can now reach level 50 at no cost (with some restrictions) and choose to purchase additional items and content from the Paragon Market. You can also become a Premium player by returning to the game or purchasing Paragon Points to get some additional perks. Of course, you can always choose to subscribe to the game to become a VIP player and gain access to everything the MMO has to offer.

The launch of Freedom also brings with it the release of Issue 21: Convergence. This update features a new zone, an Underground Incarnate Trial for up to 28 players, new power sets and costumes, the debut of monthly Signature Story Arcs, new rewards, and a new starting experience.

If you're a new player who's been meaning to check out City of Heroes or a former player who would like to return, now's the perfect time to log into the game. Watch the launch trailer below to see what's in store for you in City of Heroes Freedom.

Paragon Prepares for City of Heroes Freedom Launch

Paragon Studios just announced that it will begin reactivating all inactive City of Heroes/City of Villains accounts this weekend, which will effectively turn them into City of Heroes Freedom Premium accounts! It will take a few days to reactivate all of the accounts, but all of your old characters will be waiting patiently for your return.

If you don't already have a City of Heroes account, Paragon will be opening the doors to new free players next week! Active subscribers have been trying out the free-to-play features and Issue 21: Convergence since the VIP Headstart kicked off on September 13.

City of Heroes Freedom VIP Headstart Begins Soon

NCsoft just announced that the City of Heroes Freedom VIP Headstart Program will start on September 13, giving active subscribers access to the free-to-play update and Issue 21: Convergence weeks before they officially launch!

In addition to trying out all of the new content in advance, players in the VIP Headstart will be able to partake in a variety of additional benefits and activities, including:

  • 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.

NCsoft has not released an official launch date for City of Heroes Freedom, saying only that it will go live "later this year." With the VIP Headstart kicking off next week, it looks like players won't have to wait much longer until they're trying out City of Heroes for free!

City of Heroes Freedom VIP Beta Begins Today

Are you a City of Heroes subscriber who wants to get a hands-on look at the upcoming free-to-play update? Then you'll be interested to know that the City of Heroes Freedom and Issue 21 VIP beta kicks off today, August 9, at 4 p.m. PDT. Here are the features you'll be able to try out:

"Delve into the next evolution of City of Heroes starting from the new Character creator and its myriad of improvements and additions, straight into the brand new combined tutorial and the updated Atlas Park and Mercy Island! And while you're at it, browse through the Paragon Market as well as the brand new Paragon Rewards system that supersedes the Veteran Program!"

Players will also get the opportunity to test out the new Time Manipulation Power Set in the VIP beta. You can take a look behind the themes, aesthetics and mechanics of the set in the design notes.

For more details on the Freedom update, check out the Issue 21 Overview page and the City of Heroes Freedom mini-site.

Paragon Market Details Released

City of Heroes will be adopting a free-to-play hybrid model with the upcoming launch of the Freedom update, which means the superhero MMO needs a store where you can purchase in-game items and services. That store is called the Paragon Market, and the details were unveiled today on the official City of Heroes site.

The Paragon Market will use a new currency called Paragon Points. The anticipated exchange rate will set 400 Paragon Points at $5, but that's subject to change before City of Heroes Freedom launches. VIP players will receive 400 Paragon Points per month as part of their subscription.

The sample prices that were released range from $0.25 for a Wizard Beard to $20 for five character slots. Again, these prices could change. You can view all of the sample prices after the jump.

New in-game items and account services are coming in the Paragon Market, including dual and team inspirations, two more enhancement trays, five more costume slots and 12 more character slots. For more details, check out the Paragon Market overview.

City of Heroes Issue 21 Trailer Released

Paragon Studios has released a trailer for Issue 21: Convergence, which is coming with City of Heroes Freedom. Watch it below to see the new First Wars zone, the Underground Incarnate Trial, the Seed of Hamidon zone event, new costume sets, the Time Manipulation power set and the new Galaxy City tutorial.

City of Heroes will be adopting a hybrid free-to-play model with the launch of Freedom later this year. The team just released details on the Paragon Rewards program that's coming in the update, which will give subscribers tokens that can be used to unlock various rewards.

Paragon Previews City of Heroes' First Ward Zone

NCsoft and Paragon Studios have released a preview of the First Ward zone that's coming to City of Heroes with the launch of the free-to-play Freedom update and Issue 21. The zone certainly has a tragic history. While sonic fencing placed around the city was able to keep Devouring Earth creatures at bay, great tentacles erupted from the steets and destroyed the city from within.

To face the threat, Emperor Cole approved an operation that turned the sonic fencing in on the city, causing a catastrophic frequency loop. While the Devouring Earth attack was stopped, the rest of the city was categorized indefinitely as a disaster area and tens of thousands died or went missing.

For more details on First Ward, check out the preview and view some screenshots in our gallery.

New Tutorial Will Feature a Comic Book

When City of Heroes Freedom launches, it will bring with it a new tutorial that will help introduce new players to the game. In the latest issue of the Intrepid Informer, the Paragon Studios team explains how the tutorial will inject players directly into the destruction of Galaxy City with the help of a five-page comic book that will be shown through loading screens.

The bulk of the article explains the design process behind the comic book tutorial, which was the brain child of Matt "Positron" Miller and Sean "Dr. Aeon" McCann. "A unique aspect of the storytelling is that we incorporate you as players within its pages in the form of first-person views in several panels," they said.

Keep an eye out for the comic and new tutorial when City of Heroes adopts a free-to-play hybrid model later this year.

Positron: Designing Freedom's Hybrid Model

It's been a busy week for City of Heroes. On Tuesday, they announced that the game will soon be adopting a free-to-play hybrid model. On Wednesday, Nate "Second Measure" Birkholz wrote a producer's letter that explains the team's logic behind the switch. And today, Lead Designer Matt "Positron" Miller discussed what went into designing Freedom's business model.

The following quote sums up Miller's entire letter: "One thing that I was making clear to everyone is that we needed to treat our subscribers, past as well as present, with the respect they deserve." That could be Paragon's motto for City of Heroes Freedom.

According to Miller, the team members did everything in their power to ensure this hybrid model actually treats subscriber VIPs as Very Important Persons and gives returning players some perks to honor their previous time with the game. They also looked at other hybrid MMOs to weigh the pros and cons of the model and pick a format that works for City of Heroes.

Want more details? Read Miller's letter after the jump!