First 10 Levels in CoH: Why They’re All Messed Up

After playing through the first 10 levels in City of Heroes, two things (pertaining to leveling) have made themselves incredibly clear, and they aren’t good.

The first thing that really caught my attention when I started was the sewers system. Having been quite a while since I played these games, I can’t remember whether I had just forgotten about them, or whether the were added/changed since I last played, but this is THE way to level from 1-10. I had seen an endless number of messages in chat for “LFT Sewers” but I never really gave them much thought at first. I thought it was a lower level quest that I would eventually get to. Eventually I realized that this was not the case, but rather this was the primary way of leveling, and that anything else was a waste of time. I had spent probably 5-6 hours leveling with missions, which I was fine with because I had enjoyed myself. After I asked about them, I realized you just got together with a team of players and headed in. I joined up with a team and after about an hour, level one players were leaving as level 6 or 7 players. The mobs are in huge groups, but if you have a full group, they easily go down and as you level along the way, the mobs gradually get harder to match your level and give more experience.

This leaves me with one question: If you can reach level 10 in about two hours in the sewer system, then why on earth would you even bother with missions before that? I basically felt tricked when I realized that I had spent all of this time working on missions when I could have leveled two or three times faster in the sewers. I hadn’t gotten the memo. Either you need to direct players towards the sewer system to let them know that it should be used for the first 8-10 levels, or you need to give players some incentive to use missions to level instead, otherwise, all of those missions were a waste of time (unless you’re someone like me who ran them because they didn’t know better.)

The second problem that I noticed was with the missions after level 5 or so, when you start going between Atlas Park, Galaxy City, and King’s Row. The problem is that the missions have no indication of what level they are geared for. I was given a mission to go find a contact in a place called The Hollows, a zone that I knew nothing about, but I decided to go check it out. When I got there, I realized that I was in way over my head. He gave me a mission to kill a bunch of the mobs out there, but I knew there was no way that I could do it alone. A few of the mobs were my level, but they were in huge groups. I asked for help, and when I told them what level I was, they laughed (they were nice enough to point me in the right direction, however.)

Feeling a little confused and frustrated, I found my contact in all three of the zones stated above, who all gave me missions, but another problem emerged here. The missions are spread all throughout these zones. With a low-level player who doesn’t have much experience with the game, you should never point them in the direction of a new zone through quests/missions unless you are sending them there as part of the natural progression for the game. Don’t try to intermix a collection of zones. If you try to get them to balance three zones at the same time, they are going to feel completely bewildered, or at least I, a nine-year veteran of MMO’s, did. If you do decide that this is the route you want to go, at least make sure that you provide EXCELLENT directions within the mission so the player knows exactly where to go. Yes, there is a compass that will direct you to where you need to go for many missions, but this doesn’t mean you should slack off on directions.  Not every mission has one specific location either, so if they don’t have a detailed description for their location, then this can be rather annoying.  One of my missions involved killing a group of mobs called The Lost and getting blood samples from them. The mission provided me with a zone, but that was it. After looking all around for them, I asked a few players about it, and they told me that they were found in the sewers. Great. I’ve wasted 15-20 minutes looking around a zone, only to find that I hadn’t been able to find them due to poor directions. It’s one thing for a player to misread directions and waste time due to their own error, but if you misdirect or provide poor directions, they will quickly become frustrated, and won’t put up with it for long.

To recap: Missions through level 10 are basically a waste of time, and the missions after level five are extremely confusing and time-intensive with all of the running between zones. I understand that you (Cryptic/NCSoft) aren’t really too concerned about lower level missions since your current players know all of these ins and outs, and you already have a relatively strong player base with yet another super-hero game on the way, but get it together. Your first 10 levels (from a strictly leveling standpoint) are executed terribly, and in an arena with the likes of WoW, a game that revolutionized the ease of the newbie experience, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot if you confuse or upset players before they even have the chance to make a proper decision on whether to continue playing your game or not. I’d love to offer some suggestions to fix these problems if you want to hire me 🙂

~Kanthalos

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5 comments so far

  1. Glazius on

    They really need to do something about the thing you didn’t mention at all: Safeguard missions.

    As soon as you stepped into Kings Row there should have been a detective contact up on your HUD with a terrible Dragnet pun for a name. Talking to him gives you a police radio, letting you pick up on instant missions in Kings Row and beyond, and after a few of those you go back to the contact, run a special mission in an instanced version of (in this case) Atlas Park, and get a jetpack for your troubles.

    Then do it again in Steel or Skyway at level 10 for a jump pack. Every 5 levels you can save a different neighborhood for a different bonus, but those first two are really game-changing.

  2. kanthalos on

    I’m sure I did contact this person, because I ended up getting a raptor pack. I just think that if you can reach level 8-10 within 1-2 hours in the sewers, what’s the point of having missions at all for those levels? Also, you shouldn’t be spread out between 3-4 zones within the first 10-15 levels. It’s simply too confusing trying to balance all that out while you’re still trying to learn how the game works in general. If I did indeed miss something important that would have made things easier then my point is still proven in that there should have been no question who I was supposed to go talk to and where they were.

  3. Greylin on

    The incentive for following the missions is the story arc. If you’re just playing the game to level up as quickly as possible (perfectly valid attitude), then by all means skip the missions find a mob and go hang out in the sewers to level quickly. If you go through the missions in order, you’re more likely to earn the badges associated with special missions later. (Though you can go back later to fix those once you have access to Ouroboros and are a sufficient level).

    As to going to zones above your current level – it can be done and survived if you practice a bit of subtlety instead of just wading in and hoping you don’t die. If you do survive, you’ll gain better xp and level up more quickly.

    As to the defeat groups not being where they say they are – they are, you just have to look for them. Does that mean they aren’t elsewhere as well? No. Sometimes they ARE easier to find somewhere else and sometimes they’re easier to pick off elsewhere. The zones listed at the low levels are simply suggestions and should be treated as such.

    So… I guess from my point of view it is less about them messing up the first 10 levels and more about the attitude you take gong in.

  4. wayde on

    Solo players might prefer the missions. (I know that some people might not want to consider solo players.)

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