Choose My Adventure: The ‘hard mode’ of City of Heroes in Going Rogue

    
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Disaster! Our plucky Praetorian has plunged into a pit of perilous despair! The challenges of this bold new world are mounting, and the pint-sized protector of the people has run in to a steep wall, facing hardships, close battles, and even defeat! Will he bow to the burdens of being a hero in this beleaguered and blighted timeline, or will he arise from the crushing detritus of defeat to take the fight to the nefarious Emperor Cole? Only his fate can be told by you, dear reader, in MOP Hunter-Killer Issue 1: In the Face of Mounting Malice!

Someone in the comments of last week’s article mentioned that the Going Rogue expansion and its concomitant zones were more like a hard mode for the default of City of Heroes. I kind of balked at the thought, if I’m honest. I don’t remember much about this game being challenging, especially at the early levels. Sure, some archetypes or powersets maybe came in to their own later rather than sooner, but hard? Not the word I usually describe this game.

…so naturally this is the week that I find out just what that reader meant.

As per your votes, I’ve pressed forward with the Warden side of the Resistance, taking on several door missions in the story chain as well as the Going Rogue version of radio missions — randomly generated door missions that usually involve a simple sweep-and-clear with perhaps the added “wrinkle” of clicking on a glowy. As things wore on, though, I started to feel… well, not terribly superheroic, if I’m completely honest.

Perhaps it’s because I am astrally aligned to dislike pet classes much like Justin is predisposed to disliking elves, but the Mastermind is just not hitting the right buttons for me so far. Granted, I’ve still got plenty of levels to get up to, and maybe things will become a whole lot more engaging when I have more robot friends stamping around nearby, but I have to say that there’s a lot about the Mastermind that I’m not sure I can recommend.

But is that a problem with the class or is that a problem with Going Rogue? I started to consider what that one reader said, and I think that this starting experience may indeed be the bigger thorn in my current side than an annoying pet wrangler.

First, the good stuff – because damn if I just don’t have that annoying habit of finding the good in even a bad time: Going Rogue absolutely is an illustration of a dev team that was comfortable and confident in its game’s engine and what it could do. Ignore the low (by today’s standards) polygon count and the mitten hands for a moment and really take in how story missions play out here. There’s a delivery and an elegance to them that really showed that the devs at Paragon Studios were breaking new ground back when this expansion was released. Who knows what else they could have done if they were given the time?

Also, the world of Praetorian Earth is absolutely beautiful. The cityscapes have that alluring mixture of modern futuristic sensibility with an art deco style that reminds me of Batman: The Animated Series, but bathed in antisceptic, powerwashed greys and whites instead of cloaked in dark blues and blacks. It visually toes the line between being a comforting place to be while also feeling disarmingly sculpted, like things are a bit too perfect.

With all of that said, however, there’s just some things I’m not sure I can surmount, or things that I’m having more difficulty clearing than I thought. And most of those focus on the game’s missions and how they feel as a Mastermind.

A lot of the enemy types that I find in Going Rogue seem to hit extremely hard and apply damage types that I don’t know I have mitigation for. Most of Time Manipulation is about debuffing and buffing, so I’m relying on the latent defenses of my robots to carry through the day, especially since my only healing skill takes an absolute epoch to reload from cooldown. If I didn’t know any better, then, my robots are made of a material that gleefully soaks up energy damage and crumples at the slightest fierce punch.

My poor little robots get beat up a whole lot, and while summoning more is the right and proper reaction to when things go badly, it still frustrates that so much damage is being meted out against so low a level of archetype. The police enemies lash out with some potent energy strikes. The punk rock foes whose name eludes me burn stuff preternaturally well. And don’t even get me started on the hell that is the Ghouls. I haaaate these things. They tear into my robots like pull apart monkey bread.

So I feel like I’m going in to things half-cocked, bringing a class that just does not have the tools to mitigate the wide swath of things that Going Rogue flings at me. At the same time, though, it is entirely possible that I am just extremely awful at playing Mastermind.

I can blame the miserable AI for running in to melee range even though they’re wielding laser guns. I can blame the damage types coming at me from the enemies in Going Rogue. Heck, I can even blame the abject lack of other people in Praetoria, which would make finding a group of folks to help extremely difficult if not impossible. But if I’m genuinely honest with myself, I’m just not good at corralling my robotic kittens.

I’m sure there’s some finer levels of control one can exert to keep your robots operating at optimal range. I’m sure I should probably lead my pets better so that way they don’t leap in to a giant mob of foes and get overrun. And I most definitely should do more in terms of keeping active in a fight. The simple matter of the fact is, though, that I am mentally checked out of using a pet class. Still, we can’t let our intrepid little MOP robot friend falter, right? Not when I got him a new look and am eager to try to fix things or see this month through. So with that in mind, let’s put it to a vote.

I’m leaning towards sticking it out, at least for one more week, just to see if I can snag more levels and even get some more tips on how to be a better Mastermind. That said, I’m 100% OK with rolling up a new character of my choice and trying again. After all, the real endgame of City of Heroes was always creating an army of alts. So what will it be?

Should we stick it out as MOPpie or try something new?

  • Try something new. Masterminding is above you. You hardly qualify as an Apprenticemind (61%, 157 Votes)
  • Stick it out. MOPpie is a good robot who deserve a full and fair shake. Also, you're bad at MM'ing. (39%, 101 Votes)

Total Voters: 258

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Polls will once again close at 1:00 p.m. EDT this Friday, July 19th. Until next week, true readers, here’s hoping I can wrap my head around this archetype and this entire area. I don’t want City of Heroes to suddenly be not fun for me…

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
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Chance Shaka

I’ve had similar experiences with Dominators, but it’s also more fun! I’d love to team up with you!

Reader
Rue Masters

Should you decide to stick with MM, or try one again in the future, the first thing you should do is edit your pet macros for attack and follow from Aggressive mode to Defensive mode. It’s a known issue with MM defaults dating back to Issue 6 that was never fixed. Once you make that tweak, you should find the pets a LOT easier to control. Good Luck!

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Matt Redding

I think there are some serious bugs with Mastermind right now and I was having a hard time getting people to do testing with me. Coupled with Praetoria being yes, a bit harder, it might just be too much for soloing.

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Doubleplusgood

I am in the process of leveling one of each type of MM so I can say I am somewhat of an expert now :)
Everything changes at level 26 when you get your boss robot. then things start dying faster with missiles and explosions blasting them from an army of bots.

Until then, I would suggest lowering the difficulty. I lower mine to -1 which is the lowest setting. then you only fight blues, whites and the occasional yellow enemy. much easier going.

Reader
TheSavageNoble

Experimenting is really worthwhile. You chose the lowest-DPS MM pets (with high support), and one of the subtler support sets. They’d pay off eventually, but they’d be hell to level soloing through the game’s more challenging start.

For a faster MM with more available heals, try Ninjas/Thugs/Demons with Dark/Radiation/Kinetics. I would highly encourage asking around if you’re unsure of a powerset, as the same people that love it will tell you if it’s challenging.

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Denice J. Cook

Try a Brute. You’ll have a much easier time solo. And you can take medicine from the power pools all soon enough to self-heal. If you throw a couple enhancements into it to quicken recharge and cast time, it will do wonders.

That said, I do have a Beast Mastery/Nature Affinity 50 MM, although I wound up teaming her a lot hero-side, and I’m not any crazier about her than you are about yours at that. :P

quark1020
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quark1020

When a CoX character concept isn’t working out, do what i do: MAKE ANOTHER ONE!

I never did care for mastermind either. Handling pets are a hassle and i never felt like they did enough to merit the effort. I prefer defenders: better support abilities and still be able to shoot something at someone in the face.

For soloing Praetoria, though, I’d stick with any of the more offensive archetypes. All of the melee types will do fine: All have fair to high damage with high to fair defenses respectively. If you’re looking for something a bit more skill based, you can roll a blaster or a dominator. Both are squishy, but you can mitigate that with higher damage or CC.

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Bryan Correll

The thing about leveling a mastermind is that you make big jumps in power roughly every six levels (when you get additional henchmen and/or equipment upgrades,) but then plateau out a bit until you get the next big jump. So at level 6 you get the second tier 1 pet and the first upgrade and start feeling pretty powerful. But you aren’t getting the next big thing (your first tier 2 pet) until level 12 and getting through 10 and 11 can feel like a real slog. When you get that Protector bot at 12, though, it’s coming in with defense shields and its own heal and you’ll feel pretty tough again. But then it isn’t until you hit 18 that you get the third tier 1 and level 24 till you get the second tier 2.

Semi=pro tip: Henchmen (including the robotic sort) can, unlike non-controllable pets, use inspirations. The basic method is just to drag and drop the inspiration onto the henchman’s name in the interface.

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MolleaFauss

Just to slap you (friendly) I levelled a ninjas/kinetics mm in Pretoria. I did from the start on x2 reputation. Piece of cake to level 20.
But it should be said I know the game and my main in live was a kinetic defender. Muscle memory about buffing and healing came up so fast.
Also, slot some IOs into the powers as soon as you can, they give a welcome boost.

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Crowe

MMs are challenging… and as in any MMO, pet programming can go haywire. They can shine in teams as you can sic your pets on something and use your secondary to buff/whatever. For an easier mode (and possibly something more fun for you), make a scrapper or a brute or something along those lines.

Savage melee/bio or willpower or invulnerability.