It’s been a weird and wonderful year for City of Heroes fans. In April of 2019, the expose of a secret City of Heroes private server blew up, prompting the player developer to hand over the code – itself a gift from an elusive former Paragon Studios dev – to the entire community. It’s been over a year now, a year full of drama and toxicity but also a hell of a lot of hard work and friendship, and the result is a whole stack of free City of Heroes servers to play on, in a world where most fans hadn’t been able to go, hunt, and kill skuls in six years.
Last spring, we compiled a list of all the private shards (we call them rogue servers now) we knew of. That list has fallen a bit out of date, and yet we’re still getting requests about it, so we’re going to attempt to tidy it up right here. If you know of a server we don’t have on our list, or have an update or correction, please let us know and we’ll be happy to fix it up and hopefully send some players your way, especially since the pserver voting page has been down for a while. Here we go, in alphabetical order…
Cake Evolution (Discord) – Previously known as We Have Cake, this is one of the newer server groups; it offers perks like instant level 50s and incarnates, plus new powersets, proliferation, and free-form toons. It’s kinda like City of Heroes on speed.
Homecoming (Discord) – The largest of the server groups, Homecoming boasts 160K registered accounts across five shards in NA/EU, running a custom i26+ SCORE build with new archetypes and powersets as well as new story content, experience boosts, and events.
Island of Villains – We’re including this one for completeness’ sake, since this group has three servers running different versions of the game, still alive in May 2020. The dev has told us these servers have plenty of server capacity with no chance of funding being pulled, so they’re a great option “if you want to just have a extra character on a vanilla i24v1/i25/i26 server.”
Project Ouroboros (Discord) – This is a Volume 2 server development team currently led by Chet; it’s focused on stabilizing the code base, although it does boast a QA server to mess around on. (Several of these other servers are based on Ouroboros’ work!)
Rebirth (Discord) – This was the server that sprang out of the CoH Discord group. It was designed to be a clean version of i24 without dramatic changes from Paragon’s original vision. Reborn/Pleiades and Moon Shard merged into Rebirth last year as well. Small, but still very much alive in 2020 – in fact, as we type this, they’re running an anniversary event.
Sanctuary (Discord) – Here’s another newer server, this one also with a respectable number of registered players. Its patch notes show multiple fun changes to the game, including new archetypes and powersets. The devs are promoting a patch dubbed Rise of the Clockwork with a new Clockwork toon and clockwork-themed Masterminds too.
Thunderspy (Discord) – Formerly known as /coxg/ and run by 4chan folks, this server takes a hands-off approach with moderation but offers extensive development past i24. “The server features new and re-balanced powersets, asymmetric costume parts, and extra auras,” the website says. “There are still big plans for the server, such as opt-in open world PvP.
Unity (Discord) – EU-based server led by Tanuk, TheDarkNoise, Bleeze, offering boosted experience rates and live contests and events. They’re still going as of May 2020, and the Discord seems pretty active too.
Victory! (Discord) – Aimed at former Victory players from live (but not restricted to them), this is an intentionally small, friendly i25 server. Still led by Michiyo and IrishGirl (who is awesome) as of May 2020.
Vigilance (Discord) – This is a French-language server run by a future City of Titans guild. It’s a small private shard, but if you read or can fake your way through French, their Discord is a treasure-trove of information about CoH pservers.
We do caution readers that City of Heroes was sunsetted by NCsoft in 2012 and that none of these servers is authorized. However, we understand that a group of servers, led by Homecoming, has been and is still in serious talks with NCsoft to secure some sort of licensing agreement to continue operation, claims bolstered by Homecoming’s obvious moves toward legitimization. We urge you to protect yourself if you choose to play on any rogue server, whether it’s for City of Heroes or other MMOs.
Big thanks to Clowd for helping us refine this list!