Into the Super-verse: Catching up with the big superhero MMOs

    
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With the weirdness of the quarantine and how it’s been impacting game development, I thought it might be a good time to take a tour around all of the different superhero MMOs (both live and in the making) to see what’s going on in the genre. After all, if there were ever a time that we needed to feel powerful and heroic, now is it.

I'm not him! I don't even look like him!

Champions Online

I’m just as surprised as you all are to see Champions grabbing headlines during this crisis, but Cryptic’s made a smart move here by giving away a freeform slot to everyone. This was unexpectedly generous (although, in my opinion, this should be standard for all F2P accounts), but it also gives homebound players great incentive to return to this long-running MMO and have fun without character build restrictions. With the new story arcs that have helped to infuse the title with relevancy, it may be that Champions is positioning itself as a hidden gem in the MMO landscape — and not the butt of jokes that it has been.

Probably without the album that slaps, too.

DC Universe Online

Daybreak’s move in January to spin DCUO off into its own substudio hasn’t seemed to change anything about the game’s operation or development. At least, Jack Emmert claims that the superhero MMO is still doing pretty well and is considering an upgrade to Unreal Engine 4. This spring’s tie-in to the Birds of Prey movie seems to have fizzled due to the film underperforming, but I’m sure some players are happy to go on adventures with DC’s bad girls. Me? I’m dying to know what secret game Emmert’s team is also making right now — and if it will follow in the capes-and-spandex tradition of DCUO.

I am very glad to see the developers giving quarantined players something to do with an extension of open episodes, which are now running through May 11th. Again, it’s both generous and self-serving.

City of Heroes

We’re all still waiting on that rumored official announcement from NCsoft about the legality of rogue City of Heroes servers, which has been a little longer in coming than most folks probably anticipated, but even so, the various community teams have been doing some pretty amazing things to expand the resurrected game. I think we were all pleased to see that the Homecoming team’s April 1st patch wasn’t a joke┬ábut in fact added asymmetrical costume parts, Experimentation origin powers, and the Electrical Affinity support powerset. That was a huge gift to let players mix-and-match looks and powers to their hearts’ delight. Now, let’s just get a big green light from NCsoft, and we can make these servers our home for good!

Ship of Heroes

I still am tremendously impressed and excited about the progress of this indie MMO. Not only did the team recently show off Ship of Heroes’ Martial Arts and Street Fighting powersets, but it ran a “surprise beta test” for quarantined fans. This got a lot of eyeballs on the project and ended up being a rather successful promotion all around. A lot of us here at Massively OP say that this is definitely an MMO to watch, and I can’t wait to see how it’ll transform in the next couple of years into a full-featured operational game.

Sometimes it's about tweaking the right people.

SEGS

I really thought that last year’s resurrection of City of Heroes would’ve killed off the SEGS reverse engineering project, but nope, it’s still going ahead with its mission. And more power to the team! The project did switch to Issue 2 assets last month, which should help players find the needed files to play it. I have no idea how close the team is to making this emulator work, but getting it out the door this year would be much better than next, considering how much is coming down the line.

How near, how far.

Valiance Online

I guess the best we can say about Valiance right now is that it’s… continuing. There was a small set of development notes a month ago, but these sporadic line items do little to project a game that’s barreling through development toward release. Instead, I get the impression that it’s a very small project with people doing what they can with limited resources. I wish them well, but I’m not holding my breath to see anything playable in the next few years.

Rebuild. Rise.

City of Titans

Finally, the City of Titans team continues to tweak its avatar builder and construct the key city of Alexander. It’s cool to see the personality of the game start to emerge through these projects, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that City of Titans’ development hasn’t gone as fast as once promised. We’re still a long ways out from a truly viable game, from the impressions the team is giving, although I am more optimistic about this than Valiance.

So that’s it for a cruise around the Super-verse! Are you playing a hero in any of these games? Let us know about your adventures in the comments — and screenshots are a must!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Eliot Lefebvre and Justin Olivetti covering superhero MMORPGs, past, present, and future! Come along on patrol as Into the Super-verse avenges the night and saves the world… one column at a time.
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