ZAM's City of Heroes Freedom Launch Q&A

We sat down with Executive Producer Brian Clayton to discuss the launch of City of Heroes Freedom and beyond.

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.

ZAM: City of Heroes Freedom and Issue 21: Convergence have been in the hands of VIP players for a couple weeks prior to the official launch. How's the reaction been?

Brian Clayton: Our players are loving City of Heroes Freedom and Issue 21: Convergence. There’s something in it for everyone, from new powers, to a new zone, to new end-game raids and our monthly Signature Story Arcs. It’s great when I read our forums or Facebook fan page and I see the rave reviews from our players, who are having a blast with all of the new features we’ve introduced. Keep in mind, we also dramatically improved the quality of our graphics and content, so our former customers who are coming back have been awestruck. They’ve told us it’s like a whole new game.

ZAM: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with Freedom's pricing options, could you give us a quick summary of the three tiers?

Clayton: Sure. The first pricing option is to play completely free. Players can have tons of fun without spending a dime. Free Players get millions of costume and powers options, most of our mission and story content, and can play all the way to max level (50).

Our second “option” is what we call our Premium Players. Basically, if you ever played City of Heroes or City of Villains (excluding free trials), or if you purchase any amount of Paragon Points from the Paragon Market, you will be considered a “Premium Player.” You will have extra privileges, such as more inventory space, access to certain archetypes, and exclusive costume pieces and powers.

And finally we have our VIP Players. All existing subscribers automatically become VIP Players upon launch. Our goal was to offer “indisputable” additional value to VIP subscribers compared to what subscribers received before the launch of Freedom.

VIP Players pay our regular monthly subscription fee ($12 to $15 depending upon multi-month discounts) and receive 400 Paragon Points to use in the Paragon Market, monthly Signature Stories (which cost 400 Paragon Points for non-VIPs) , access to the Going Rogue expansion content, access to the optional VIP Server, Priority queues, and access to exclusive Tier 9 content in our new Paragon Rewards program. Lots of good stuff!

ZAM: You've revamped the New User Experience for Freedom. What can new and returning players expect to find when they create a new character?

Clayton: We have completely overhauled the new user experience in City of Heroes Freedom, starting with registration and download. After a simple registration, players will download our new Quick Downloader, which turns what used to be a many-hour download into a five minutes or less download. Then they can log in and create a character using our brand new character creator while the rest of the game downloads in the background.

After creating their character, players are dropped into a destroyed Galaxy City which is being invaded by aliens. We have tried really hard to create a more guided experience without the walls of text to read, and we focus on the basics like jumping and fighting. It is within that initial experience that players are asked to choose a side…hero or villain! Players then get to battle a giant monster before being transported to Atlas Park or Mercy Isle. After that we let players learn our systems at their own pace through ongoing training missions. We are really proud of this new experience that we’ve created and we hope the players like it!

ZAM: While Freedom will certainly attract new players, City of Heroes has a dedicated VIP player base that's remained loyal to the game for years. What type of content and features do you have planned for them?

Clayton: City of Heroes Freedom was always designed to give a dramatic benefit for our current players. That’s the reason why Issue 21: Convergence is coming out at the same time. So if you’re already a current COH subscriber (also known as a VIP Player), you will get access to First Ward, a new zone in the alternate world of Praetoria, the Time Manipulation Power Set, two new costume sets, hundreds of hours of new missions for players of all levels, and the new Underground Incarnate Trial for our level 50 players.

And that’s just for the first month. We’ve got a lot more planned for the rest of the year, such as new Halloween in-game event, and more Incarnate Trials.

ZAM: The new Signature Story Arcs sound like a great way to give players new content every month. VIP players get them for free, while free players can purchase them for $5. How much gameplay can players expect to receive in each arc?

Clayton: Players can expect the Signature Story Arcs to start slow, and then kick into overdrive right away. Each Signature Story Arc comes with 3 missions for Heroes and 3 missions for Villains, for a total of 6 missions. And these missions are different depending on your alignment. You can play just one side, but if you do, you’ll miss out on the entire storyline. Don’t forget that since this is a 7-part storyline, when it’s all over, you’ll be able to play these missions again, but now you’ll have the complete picture.

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