Umbriel's Noob Adventures




All along I had steadfastly maintained (and believed) that I would only play one MMORPG. I had a 65 Cleric on EverQuest - Monual - that I had been playing for three years. I simply had no desire to invest any more time in another game - I had worked hard to get Monual up to 65 and into a high-end raiding guild, and didn't feel like starting all over again in any game. Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars Galaxies, Worlds of Warcraft - not a single one of them interested me. Everquest fulfilled all my MMORPG needs just fine, thank you.

Curiously, I had never even *heard* of City of Heroes until just a few days before it went live. That's when I began to hear the buzz - an online game that allows you to play like a superhero. A superhero!

I have to admit the idea greatly intrigued me - here would be an entirely different concept from EverQuest. I read some online previews and they where unaminously positive.

So, the day after CoH went live, I went and bought the game. I figured what the heck, I could play for a month and then decide.

When I got home, I first logged into EverQuest and participated in our nightly raid, which fortunately ended early. Then I installed CoH, which went without a glitch. Activated my account, which was only an only mildly confusing process.

Then began the next ninety minutes of one of my favorite parts of CoH so far: character creation.

I chose to make a female avatar. But I named her Umbriel; anyone who is mildly literate or cares to plug the name into Google can discover the allusion themselves and decide what my real gender is. =)

To be honest, there are far too many big-chested female superheros in comic books these days, so I made mine as slim as possible. I also made her short, but not super-short - that looked silly. I made her a tad under 5 feet, which is still plenty short.

Since I was used to playing a cleric in EverQuest, I chose a Defender. I considered every origin in turn, and selected Magic for role-playing reasons more than anything else.

The character creation went on and on. It took me a while to figure out how the coloring worked. (Manuals? I don't need no stinking manuals!) I finally got the face, eyeshadow, and skin color that I wanted, then moved on to the body. I went back and forth over various possibilities, trying different combinations. I eventually went for a slightly baggy top, long baggy pants, some lines and circles, a small diamond-shaped star symbol, and soft, gradient colors. I chose long (but not too long) hair, ear covers, and a metal band that follows the line of her lower jaw without covering her lips. It took me a long, long time to get everything set up, but I rather liked what I came up with. Keep in mind I'm not particularly artistic. =)

So, now Umbriel finally connected to the server. I did the beginning quests, which did a fair job of teaching me how to move and fight. I also got to experience what we EQ players called "instanced zones" - an individual, small map that only I could use. I liked it, and liked the fact that the designers decided to go with that from the very beginning. It will help prevent players from fighting over content, which is very important.

After the initial quests that got me up to level 2, I chose to go to Atlas City. I ran through the streets, which looked gorgeous. The whole place was wonderfully detailed. I spent some time playing with screen and font sizes, but in the end stuck with the original settings. I did up the details to 200%; I have a pretty good machine for that.

Ms. Liberty leveled me up. I got a mission from inside City Hall and began running around killing things. Since I was determined to make Umbriel a healer, she didn't have much in the way of offense - she can punch and she can hit mobs with a dark-based attack that hurts them and lowers their accuracy. On the upside, she could heal herself with Healing Aura, although that hardly seemed necessary - I was amazed how quickly her health and endurance was regenerated. Coming from the EverQuest world where much time is spent recovering health and mana, this was a pleasant surprise. I had very little downtime between fights.

In almost no time I was up to level 5. I had to chose new powers and continued along the healing line with Heal Other. Augments I sort of got the feel for and just threw whatever augments I got from mobs into whatever slots I felt best. I was certain as I played more of the game I'd get a better feel for what was truly necessary.

At level 5 my contact told me to kill 10 Circle of Thorns. Alas, I ran all around Atlas City and found not one CoT mob. (EQ term creeping in, and actually originally a MUD term: mob = mobile object, in other words a monster or other bad guy.) I eventually consulted Prima's Guide to CoH (it was half-price with the purchase of the game, so I bought it and subsequently failed to read it at all.) It said Circle o' Thorns folks could be found in Perez Park.

Perez Park was clearly marked in my map (I quickly became addicted to having my map open all the time; it's very handy). Off I ran, found the guards, tried to zone in, only to be told I needed to be level 7 first.

So I began the first of my experience grinds. I just ran around and killed a lot of mobs - I found a nice easy place where level 5 mobs would consistently spawn. I did that for a couple of hours, got to level 7, and then moved to Perez Park.

This was quite a different experience for me. I could see mobs, but instead of groups of three or four they were hanging out in groups of ten or twelve. Way beyond what I was capable of handling with my silly attacks - I had added an Area of Effect disorient which did no damage and didn't last terribly long. Looked neat, though.

I decided it was not time to start grouping - er, excuse me, teaming. For the first time I experiemented with communicating with other players, and eventually used the /request feature to say that I was a level 7 Defender looking for a team.

My first team was a group of five level 7 and 8 characters. We moved into the park itself looking for those elusive Circle of Thorn dudes, but the mobs in the park were much too tough for us. We backed out and contented ourselves with fighting the nearby Hellions.

I was amazed at what a group could do. Everyone had such interesting attacks. They also had different costumes - and to this day, I have yet to see any two costumes even remotely look alike, unless it was done on purpose. The variety is truly staggering.

We killed stuff for a while and now I was level 8. Excited, I ran back to level up. I now had to choose a new skillset. I hemmed and hawed over this one, too - I could hover leading to eventually flying, I could get some better attacks, I could learn to project shields, all sorts of stuff. Eventually, though I went with the body health one which would allow me to run faster, jump higher and, most importantly, eventually allow me to recover endurance more quickly. Again, this was my EverQuest experience speaking; one of a cleric's most important attributes is how quickly they can recover mana for healing. If I can keep my endurance up, I can land lots of heals and be more useful to my team.

Besides, I did want to learn how to run fast. =) Now, one of my characters inherent abilities was "Sprint"; I don't know if this stacks with "Swift" or not. I'll have to find that out eventually. I hope it does or I've wasted a power.

I went back to Perez Park and started doing more and more groups. Again, I cannot underemphasize how different everyone's costumes and abilities were. I kept seeing something new. When I finally found a group capable of beating mobs inside the park, we picked up a level 10 Controller. She led us to some Circle of Thorn guys and would soften them up by having them attack each other for a while, then sending us in to finish them off. That was awesome. I also learned about exploding mages and how important my heals would be. I also experienced how annoying it was to run back from the medical center after dying, and knew that I needed to get Ressurect as soon as possible.

I continued grouping, eventually hitting double-digits and getting that Rez. I wowed some of my teammates when I rezzed folks - and it is an impressive-looking visual, like just about everything else in CoH. The downside is how annoyingly long the recharge is. So far this has been the only time I've had to sit around doing nothing - when two or more of my teammates die, I can rez one, then I have to wait two minutes to rez the other.

I also started doing more mini-maps. One that I did three times was the jewel recovery mission. I loved it; a map all to ourselves, with lots of mobs inside to kill. Got lots of XP without having to run around looking for things to fight. I hope to do more of those kind of missions.

One time, when I was level 11, I joined a full group - eight people, including two other defenders. We went into Perez Park and destroyed everything. These weren't battles, they were slaughters. And with two other defenders, I barely needed to heal. I ended up using my AoE disorient a lot, along with my one ranged attack. After creating a path of devastation Sherman would be proud of, we found ourselves near the lake. Here we slowed down, because we saw groups of level 13-14 mobs. One thing CoH has consistently shown, and that is that mobs just a couple levels above your own are deadly. Still, cautiously we attempted it, and although it wasn't easy - all three Defenders spent a lot of time healing - we were able to kill the lake mobs. We even tried a couple of bosses and took them down too.

Even when we were being cautious, we didn't use much in the way of tactics, and so far this is my only complaint about CoH. Everyone is so powerful that all they need to do is wade in and start fighting and they will win. No one needs to develop any real skill, just start throwing out attacks until you run out of endurance or the mobs fall. Still, I'm certain that as I get higher level and the mobs get tougher, actual tactics will eventually be required. I look forward to that day.

I hit level 12 and had by that time accumulated 11K in influence. I promptly spent it all on level 15 augments. I was actually disappointed that level 15 run speed increases didn't make me move like a blur, although I did have fun out-running cars.

I also had to choose a new power. I hemmed and hawed - I really should chose the ability to remove detrimental spell effects from my teammates, or enhance their armor, or even get myself a better attack/debuff. But in the end, I couldn't resist taking Hurdle. I wanted to jump over obstacles that stood in my way. Since I wasn't planning on learning how to fly, I'd need to run and jump a lot. Besides, jumping was *fun*. =)

I tried soloing level 12 mobs, and found I could do it, although not quickly. While doing this, I got a drive-by invite into a team. I shrugged and took it. It was a group of six people, all at my level or below, doing another team mission, this time to take out Unlucky Pete and his helpers inside a warehouse.

The warehouse was across the city, and I took off for it, easily outrunning my teammates. I was quite glad that I enhanced my run speed, as I kept blowing past mobs that would hit me for large amounts of damage. I was also glad that Healing Aura could be cast without having to stop and stand still. A couple of times I got extremely low on health, and had to rely on running quickly out of range and healing myself.

I beat everyone to the warehouse, and quickly went inside. I ended up waiting for a few minutes as everyone else was having similar difficulties getting to the warehouse. Eventually one person teleported the rest. In the meantime I experimented with emotes, using warm-up, yoga, and my favorite, newspaper. I was reading a newspaper when everyone finally made it inside.

This was the first group that actually used something approaching tactics. There was another level 12 Defender in the group, but he had gone in a completely different direction. He hovered and cast little force fields around us. Another guy made us all invisible. And when we were invisible, we could fight one mob and not alert all the nearby mobs at the same time. And with a Controller casting an AE hold and with other people casting spells that did lots of AE damage, people were barely getting hit. I ended up fighting a lot, using my AE disorient as well. This was great, watching people have a plan and execute it. I hope to see more of it.

After that team broke up, I went exploring. I went to Boomtown for the first time; gosh, that zone looks neat. All the mobs are around my level, too. I hope to go back there and find a team, much like I did in Perez Park.

And that's where Umbriel stands; 20% of the way into level 12 after that mission. Already getting people on her friends list. Defenders seem to be in high demand, so I usually don't have to wait long to get a team. I've also had people ask if I want to join their Supergroup. I've declined, for three reasons: first, it's a little early for me to be thinking about a supergroup. Still a lot I want to learn about the game. Second, I belong to an EverQuest guild, and it's still that game I want to devote most of my time too; I only play CoH to have fun and I'm afraid I wouldn't contribute much to a supergroup. And lastly, the manual says that when you join a supergroup, you immediately adopt their colors. Man, I spent a long time deciding Umbriel's colors, I don't want no one to mess with them! I'll stick with my purplish costume for now, thankyouverymuch. =)

Will I continue to play CoH when the "free" month is up? Don't know yet. But I am having a *lot* of fun. This game looks and plays great. Sure, there are problems - I was in one group where two teammates got stuck hovering in a tree and couldn't get out; a GM had to come to their rescue. Task Force Missions are apparently screwed up, as constant GM announcements reminded us. And, again, so far the game requires little in the way of tactics other than "Get them!"; that doesn't really appeal to me in the long term.

Other than that, though, it's been a blast. I'll continue to play more of the game, exploring and goofing around (I found that while I can't fly, through creative physics I can jump to the top of certain buildings). And fighting, of course; if you need a low-level Defender and you play on the Protector server, send me a tell. =)


12 Defender on Protector



Welcome to Paragon! A little note about supergroups:

And lastly, the manual says that when you join a supergroup, you immediately adopt their colors.

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That's can switch between your supergroup colors and character colors at will. A supergroup may require its members to be "in uniform" at all times, but you don't lose your character colors.