A good friend of mine suggested trying City of Heroes since their policy had changed and it is now “free to play.” Cool! I remember when the game first came out. I loved the idea of the game. (There are some great hero-based RPGs out there that I have many fond memories playing.) City of Heroes used to be subscription based, so I had never played. Free client? Sure, I’ll try it. I grabbed the Mac client and installed the basic game.
My friend sent me an IM this evening that she was logging on. I told her I would “be right there,” thinking the game was already installed.
Problem number 1
Over 5 GB of patches to download. If you do not install the patches, you can’t play. Okay, fine. The last 2.2 GB patch file stopped downloading at 79% and had to be restarted. Luckily the patch client remembers which files were downloaded and then only downloads the needed files. Of course, it was the largest file that had to restart instead of resuming where it had left off.
One and a half hours after my friend messaged me, I was finally able to load the game. Created a character, got through the introductory scenario, and then tried to send my friend a message. I added her character as a friend, right-clicked on her name, and selected “Chat.” Typed a message and pressed enter. The command failed with an error message that I needed to be in the Rewards Program level 2 or the VIP program. I read the online help file: /tell @charname, Message. Easy enough. The command failed with the same error message.
Problem number 2
You cannot send another player a message using the tell command or an in-game email if you are a free player with a new character. These features unlock at reward level 2 or VIP. These are paid features. Free players are severely limited in what they can do. There have to be reasons you’ll pay for a subscription. Not being able to send a tell? Come on! That’s a lame restriction, especially for a game whose graphics are closer to Doom 2.
None of the in-game help mentions anything about chat channel limitations.
And sure enough, on the City of Heroes web site under Player Choices, there is a side-by-side comparison of features available to free players, premium players, and VIP players (see section circled in purple):
My friend had mentioned that she liked the game mechanic that City of Heroes uses: when you use a power, you are shown the percentages for hitting and damage. It does mimic a tabletop game. That was kinda neat.
City of Heroes completely pissed me off. If you can’t message your friends, how are you supposed to locate them and party? Saying “Hey, Dudette, is that you?” on a public channel is rather impolite. No private messages? How basic do you get?
Right now, I’m angry enough with the game and they won’t get a dime from me, even if a dozen of my best friends played.