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The Complete Newcomer's Guide to City of Heroes: Logging In and Character Creation

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I've become pretty well known around here for writing guides at the drop of a hat. But on looking over these guides lately, I realized that most of them tend to assume a certain level of knowledge from having played City of Heroes some already. Which means that they might not necessarily be all that useful to someone who only just started playing the game, because there's a lot to internalize. We veteran players sometimes forget just how overwhelming it can all be when starting out. 


So I'm going to use my amazing tech support empathy powers to try to put myself in the shoes of someone who just got City of Heroes installed for the very first time, and is looking at their screen in puzzlement over what to do. This guide will cover the early steps of logging in and creating a character; I plan to write later guides that will cover other aspects of the early stages of the game.



Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me go over a couple of other great resources for new or puzzled players. For starters, a new wiki specifically dedicated to Homecoming only just launched. It is still in the process of being updated to reflect the changes Homecoming makes from the original "live" version, so it may not be entirely accurate just yet, but volunteers are working on it. If there's something you don't understand, just look it up there and see what it says. 


Homecoming Wiki's content is derived from ParagonWiki. Because it captures how the game was at the time it shut down, ParagonWiki is not completely accurate to the new changes Homecoming has incorporated (most notably, new Archetypes, power sets, and Enhancement sets Homecoming has added; the Incarnate system and other formerly premium or veteran reward items that have been made free; or some badges that have been moved to Echo zones), but it still does a great job covering basic concepts.


(In Googling CoH, you may also run across a "City of Heroes Fandom Wiki." This was a predecessor to ParagonWiki and was no longer updated consistently once ParagonWiki launched, so is even less accurate than ParagonWiki. It may also have some still-accurate information, but it will also have a lot of extraneous detail that is no longer correct and was removed in ParagonWiki. In comparison to the other two sources just mentioned, I can't really recommend the Fandom Wiki.)


Another great resource is these very forums, on which you're reading this guide right now. There are plenty of other guides you can read (including mine!), though you may need a little more experience under your belt before you can fully understand them.


And then there's other players themselves. One of the best things about City of Heroes is that so many of its players are willing and eager to help. You can ask in the /help channel in-game, or go to the Homecoming Discord server and ask questions on #in-game-help or #new-players and plenty of people will be happy to help out. This is also where you can find on-duty GMs (which I'll talk more about later in a future guide).


Now, let's move on to what to do after you've first launched the game.



Assuming you were able to install and launch the game, and get the splash screen, you may be presented with your first major hurdle: you try to log into the game, and it doesn't take your ID and password. This is because the game actually needs its own separate account—it doesn't use the forum account login. If you haven't created one yet, go to the game account creation page and make one. Once you have that, you can go ahead and log into the game with it. Welcome to Paragon City (or the Rogue Isles)!



Once you've successfully logged in, the first screen you'll see will ask you to select a server. Homecoming has five servers: Excelsior, Everlasting, Indomitable, Torchbearer, Reunion. If you were invited by a friend who already plays on one of those servers, then you already know which server you want to choose. If not, read on.


Reunion is hosted on a server in Germany (rEUnion, get it?); the other four are hosted in Canada. If you're in the EU or a compatible time zone, you might be able to find more players awake and active on Reunion at the same time as you are. You probably won't see a difference in play performance regardless of which hosting locale you use; City of Heroes was originally designed to be playable over dial-up Internet, so a high ping won't really matter too much.


Torchbearer was the first Homecoming server to come online; it and Excelsior are the two highest-population servers, if you want to be sure of finding a lot of people to play with. Everlasting is the "unofficial RP server" (like Virtue was back in the days of live). Indomitable is the "unofficial PVP server."


Don't worry too much that you might pick the "wrong" server. You can transfer up to five characters from one server to another at any given time, and you get your five transfer tokens refreshed every three days. Server transfer is usually instantaneous. So if you decide you want to switch to some other server later on, it's really pretty easy. 



After you pick a server, you'll be presented with a screen listing ten empty character slots full of exciting possibility! You can make a new character either by clicking on one of those slots, or by clicking the button with a silhouette and a + sign on it at the top left, right next to "Slots Used: 0/1000". Farther right along the top are buttons to let you move characters to a different server, change a character's name, or delete a character—all grayed out right now because you don't actually have any characters yet.


You can't play the game without a character, so go ahead and make one!


Note that if you should decide you made a mistake at any point during the character creation process, before you've finalized the character and entered the game, you can always click the "back" arrow to go back and change it. Once you've entered the game, however, all your choices for this character are locked in.


After you click the button or slot to start the character creation process, the next screen will present two options for setting at the top, and five options for Origin along the bottom. I'll cover the setting options first.


You have two settings in which you can make a character: "City of Heroes: Freedom" is the basic heroes-or-villains game, in which you create a noble hero or an evil villain. "Going Rogue" was a much later expansion, in which you create a character from the Praetorian "Mirror Universe" who gets their start fighting crime (or the dystopian government) in that setting before moving over to Paragon City at level 20. As a new player, you are strongly advised to choose the "City of Heroes: Freedom" option, not the "Going Rogue" option, for two reasons: First, "Going Rogue" assumes you've had a good deal of experience with the game already, and starts out with a lot tougher enemies and missions to handle. Second, the Praetorian setting is strongly steeped in the storylines and mythology of the basic City of Heroes setting, and the story arcs there won't mean as much to you without having encountered Praetorians from the hero/villain side first.


Which one you actually do choose is, of course, strictly up to you. Apart from starting in different worlds, the only major difference in character creation is that the hero and villain "epic" Archetypes—Peacebringer, Warshade, Arachnos Soldier, and Arachnos Widow—are available in "Freedom," but not in "Going Rogue."


Your character's Origin used to be a lot more important than it is now. In the live version of the game, Origin controlled where you could obtain Enhancements you could use, which stores you needed to unlock, and so on. However, in Homecoming's version of the game, since all types of Origin Enhancement are available at every store, all stores are unlocked, and few people even bother using Origin Enhancements anymore anyway, Origin has very little significance beyond a roleplaying hook. Choose whichever option makes the most sense to your character's backstory and move on. But do remember that you can't change your Origin after you finish character creation; you would have to make a new character to have a different Origin.


And there's one more option down at the bottom of the screen, which you can do either now or in subsequent screens: type your character's name, and click the magnifying glass to see if that name is already taken. If it isn't taken yet, the game will reserve it for you. (Remember not to use the name of an existing character from somewhere else like a comic book or movie; that would violate Homecoming's terms of service. and will probably be reset to a generic name when a GM notices it.)


Once you're finished here, click the "Next" arrow at the bottom right.



The next screen will invite you to choose a character class category. Do you want to tank (that is, be the tough, hard-to-damage one who draws fire away from squishier sorts), deal melee damage, deal ranged damage, handle crowd control, provide buff/debuff/heal support, or work with pets? Choosing one of these categories will narrow down the character class choices you get on the next screen. However, you do not have to pick one of these. If you just click "next" without choosing one, you'll see a list of all available character classes.


The character classes are pretty self-explanatory, thanks to the description and charts that clicking on one brings up, so I won't cover them in any detail. However, I do want to touch on the epic archetypes—Peacebringer and Warshade on the hero side; Arachnos Widow and Arachnos Soldier on the villain side. These classes were originally gated so that only players who had already gotten a character to level 50 could choose them. Then that was dropped to level 20. Now anyone can make one—but I would strongly advise that they not be your first ever character pick. As with "Going Rogue," these classes assume a certain level of experience playing basic characters. Also, since they were originally meant for people who already knew full well how to play the game, they don't get offered the introductory tutorial at the end of the character creation process—and as a brand new player, you definitely do want the tutorial. (And they are also locked into starting as heroes or villains, respectively—though they can immediately change their alignment by visiting a contact in Pocket D afterward if they want.)


Some character classes are more complicated to play than others. If you're just learning the game, you might want to start with one of the sturdier damage-dealing types, like Scrappers, Brutes, Sentinels, or Tankers—or possibly one of the "squishier" damage-dealers like Blasters or Stalkers. These characters are all pretty simple to play, because their powers are aimed mainly at putting enemies flat on the ground while keeping yourself relatively safe. They are also good for playing by yourself, since they don't have powers that rely on having teammates. I recommend soloing at least your first few missions, so you can take your time and learn how the game works without worrying you might be slowing someone else down.


Support and control classes like Defenders, Corruptors, Controllers, Dominators, and Masterminds can be a little more complex, with more complicated powers, and you might want to be sure you have a good handle on how the rest of the game works before you try out one of them. Of course, which class you do choose is entirely up to you, in the end; if you prefer more esoteric playstyles than just hitting or shooting things, you might prefer a support and control class even with that complexity. But again, I'd suggest you make that your second character, after you've gotten the hang of City of Heroes itself from playing a simpler one. 


Once you've made your selection, click "Next" again.



Now you come to a screen where you can choose your character's primary power set and your first power from it. For the primary set, you can choose to start with either the first or the second power from the list. You can add more powers as you level up. Clicking on a power set will let you mouse over  the power names at right and see how they're described.


After you make your selection, click "Next" and you'll get to pick your secondary power set. This screen works just the same way as the primary, but you will automatically start with the first power from this set, whatever it is.


Note that once you've finished creating your character, you cannot change your primary or secondary power set if you respec (that is, respecify your power choices, which you'll be given chances to do later in the game)—those sets are locked in. A character respec can only change which powers you take, in what order, how you slot them up, and what power pools or epic pool you choose later on. But don't agonize too much over your choices—remember, you've got a thousand character slots available, so if this one doesn't work out, you can always just make another.



Once you've chosen your powers, you're introduced to the costume designer. I won't cover this in detail, because it's pretty self-explanatory—it's easy to see what things do just by clicking on them. First you choose your character's body type: male, female, or "huge" (male). (There's no huge female type, alas.) You can adjust sliders or use one of the presets to adjust your character's body shape. Then clicking "next" takes you into the costume designer itself, where you can play paper dolls with your character to your heart's content.


It's not at all unusual to spend hours fiddling with the costume designer before you ever start playing the game. When the game was first launched, City of Heroes's costume designer was renowned for the amazing number of possibilities it offered, and it's still pretty darned impressive even now—especially since all the costume options that used to be locked or limited to the paid expansions are now unlocked and freely available. And after you design your costume and auras, you get to customize how your powers look.


A few key points: first, no matter how tempting it is, don't make an exact carbon-copy of some existing superhero you're fond of. That would violate the game's terms of service. When a gamemaster sees it (or some player sees it and reports it to the gamemasters), it will probably be reset to a generic outfit.


Second, you can save your costume and power customization choices at any time to files in your game installation directory, which can then be loaded into other characters or extra costume slots. Your character will start out with a number of costume slots unlocked, and costume changes are free until your character reaches level 10. So if you want to go ahead and design several different outfits for your character, you can talk to a trainer and load those files into your spare slots as soon as you enter the game.



After you've finished designing your character's costume and powers (and how long did it take you?), clicking "Next" brings you to a screen where you enter some information about your character. There are two fields you can fill out: your character's battle cry, and the description. Don't worry about making a mistake here; you can always come back and change these at any time from within the game.


The battle cry is some inspiring or evocative catchphrase your character is prone to shout out at odd moments, like "It's clobberin' time!" or "Spooooon!" from the comic books. You'll be able to hit the F10 key any time you feel like it to shout that phrase out in chat.


The description is your character's backstory and biography, which other players will be able to view when they meet your character in-game. Alas, you only get 1023 characters in which to cover your character's life history, but that doesn't mean you can't make a go of it anyway. (This field is, of course, completely optional; the vast majority of characters you'll run into in the game don't have anything written here. However, it's a great chance for people who enjoy roleplaying to give a sketch of what their character is like and otherwise show off their creativity.)


The text editor for the description field is kind of limited, and trying to go back and change or add to early parts of a long description can make it act oddly. I would recommend writing up your bio in text via Notepad or some other text editor, then copying and pasting it into the description field when you're done.



After you're finished with this card, clicking "next" brings up a question box, asking if you would like to play the tutorial. As a new, first-time player, I highly recommend you click "Yes". If you do, you will be given a choice of three tutorials: "Outbreak" is the game's original tutorial for beginning heroes, and selecting it will set your character's alignment to "Hero." "Breakout" is the original tutorial for beginning villains, and will set your character to "Villain." "Galaxy City" is a new beginning tutorial implemented late in the game, which will ask your character to make the moral choice to become a hero or villain along the way. If you selected "no," the game will then ask if your character is a hero or villain. (If you chose one of the epic archetypes, then clicking "next" will just skip right to the "are you ready to complete the character creation process" question.)


I would personally recommend selecting the Outbreak or Breakout tutorial for your first character, because those tutorials provide a better introduction to and grounding in the way the game works in general. You can try the "Galaxy City" tutorial with another character, if you want. But definitely pick one of them, regardless, because as a new player they will be very helpful in explaining the basic mechanics of the game. 


After you answer these questions, the game will ask if you want to complete the character creation process and enter the game. If you say "no," it will put you back on the character card screen, and you can click the "back" arrow to go back and revisit earlier choices. If you say "yes," then away into the tutorial you go. See you in Paragon City or the Rogue Isles!



I hope this guide has helped you get through the process of creating and designing your first City of Heroes or Villains character.  Let's move on to some basic terminology and concepts before we kick off your first day in the big City.

Edited by Robotech_Master
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If you liked what I had to say, please check out my City of Heroes guides!

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