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Blueside Critical Path


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This guide is a 'critical path' document, a quick and pickup-group-friendly way to unlock all the game's key content and all the permanent stat upgrades you can get from accolades.  I'm aiming this guide at a few friends who are new to the game but not to MMOs, but I hope it's useful for anyone else too.


If at any time you're asking yourself "What do I do now?", cross off the lowest level thing on the list you haven't done yet.  You can skip stuff marked 'Optional' if you want.


After Chargen:  Visit Pay 2 Win

Atlas Park


Pay 2 Win offers much of the content that, as of the original shutdown, cost real money...  but for free!  The vendor, herself, is on the west side of the base of the giant Atlas statue you begin the game in front of.  You'll want to pick up:


  • Prestige Enhancement: Prestige Enhancements date from the release of Praetoria (Issue 18).  Choose one.  They give you a powerful enhancement to slot into your first attack power, boosting damage, recharge speed, and giving you a proc (an enhancement that gives your power a percentile chance at a bonus effect) that works until level 20. I'd recommend putting this starter enhancement in your primary attack power (in your power tray, click Enhancements, then Manage, and drag it into the first slot).  I prefer Might of the Empire because a bit of crowd control, but you may have a theme in mind.
  • Prestige Attacks: These attacks were parts of various real-world boosts, and can help out a lot before your "real" powers can kick in.  Pick three of Sands of Mu, Undead Slaying Axe, Nemesis Staff, and Blackwand; the latter two both have versions that get bonus damage if you have a certain Origin.  (You also got a small ranged attack from your origin; you can change it out here for any other origin.)
  • Prestige Travel: You can choose either Beast Run or Ninja Run for horizontal travel, and Jump Pack or Steam Jump for vertical travel.  They're not as fast as a 'real' travel power, but are still deeply fun.
  • Utility:  Inner Inspiration lets you get free inspirations on demand, Mystic Fortune lets you give your friends a random buff, and Secondary Mutation lets you give yourself a random buff.  I really like Secondary Mutation on my melee characters and Inner Inspiration on my control/buff characters, but it's entirely your call.


OPTIONAL:  Cheese Pay 2 Win with influence!


If this is your second character, you can email yourself a lot of influence (use your global @handle - in the Menu, choose Chat Handle (X) to see what it is) and start off with a lot of powers.  Ten to twenty million should be enough for my suggestions:


  • Buffs:  An hour of buffs costs 3000 influence (1000 for each of 3 types of buffs) times your level squared.  This makes it dirt cheap to buy eight hours of buffs (the max) and enjoy blazing through your early levels at effectively half a level above your current level.
  • Inspiration Drops:  I disable Accuracy drops and Small drops entirely.  Make sure to enable Dual, and Team inspirations!
  • Travel: Rocket boards are almost as fast as the Fly power, and really fun to look at.  They also don't have that bothersome recharge period that the jetpacks use.
  • Teleports:  Assemble The Team, Mission Transporter, and the Pocket D VIP Pass are all handy.  Team Teleporter is really important for some Shadow Shard task forces, but none of them are in the critical path.
  • Utility Powers:  It costs 10 million influence, but I think Portable Workbench is worth it just to be able to quickly craft and slot some shiny recipe you found before you forget you found it.  Reveal is handy for all the Oranbegan and Council cave missions you'll be doing in the older task forces.
  • Recipe Drops:  I disable common recipes, as I can get those from my Portable Workbench, saving my recipe inventory for more worthwhile drops.


Levels 1:  Death From Below! (4x)

LFG Queue


Death From Below is an instanced trial, one of many in the game.  You can either join a team where someone else is starting, or you can form your own team.  (Once you've got four to eight heroes, start the queue by clicking LFG in the chat bar, then clicking Death From Below, then clicking Queue.)


You are doing Death From Below four times, picking each power once.  This will get your character level to the teens, and get you four special buffs that will last to level 22:  +To-Hit, +Damage, +Defense, and +Recovery.  (The exact benefit depends on your archetype, but are roughly equivalent to half a SO each.)  Additionally, it will get you a lot of Single-Origin enhancements early, which will help out with levelling (while selling unusable enhancements for early pocket change).


If you played before the shutdown, the LFG queue has more restrictions than it used to.  You can no longer enqueue if your team or league is in multiple zones; it also has issues automatically combining teams or teams and solos.  So form your full team and assemble together before you hit the button.


Level 8: Positron Task Force 1:  The Rule of Three

Forms in Steel Canyon.  11 Merits, 7 missions, part of Task Force Commander.


This is the first Task Force:  a series of missions that tells a major part of the story of City of Heroes, usually pitting you against an archvillain.  Positron actually gives out two task forces...


Level 11: Positron Task Force 2:  Dam Hero

Forms in Steel Canyon.  15 Merits, 7 missions, part of Task Force Commander.


...because in Paragon City, it's usually one dam thing after another.


The two task forces used to be one long, four- to six-hour task force, but they got revamped.  The two both need to be completed to earn the badge necessary for Task Force Commander.


This task force will also get you a temporary 1-hour jetpack power, which will be very useful in going through Fautline and the Faultline Dam.


Level 11: Explore Atlas Park

8 badges, 7 historical plaques


In this guide, I recommend hitting up a zone's exploration badges and historical plaques once you are at the zone's max level plus 5 (with one exception later).  This way, you are too high level for any normal enemy there to be a threat, letting you explore at your leisure.


I only recommend zones that have badges or plaques required for the four Accolade upgrades; however, while not all badges or plaques are necessary, if you stop to grab one, you might as well complete that zone and not have to worry about it ever again.


Atlas Park Exploration Badges at Paragon Wiki


Level 14:  Visit Ouroboros and become Entrusted With The Secret

Ouroboros is the first of many major content areas in the game.  Ouroboros is in control of the Flashback system, through which you can view or alter historical events.  Being one of the major factions in the time travel war, they're also tied into a lot of endgame content as well.


The easiest way to get to Ouroboros is to hitchhike.  Go to Atlas Park and ask (in local!) at Ms. Liberty if you can get a portal to Ouroboros.  Enter the portal, and climb the tower to the top - this will get you the Ouroboros Portal power for yourself.


Level 14: Explore Echo: Galaxy City

8 badges, 5 historical plaques

While still in Ouroboros, go to the opposite end of the circle from the entrance.  You'll find a second Ouroboros 'portal'.  This leads to the Echos:  versions of maps that were destroyed in the 'current' City of Heroes timeline, but which can still be visted for lore, curiousity, nostalgia, and most importantly, badges.


Echo: Galaxy City badges at Paragon Wiki



Level 15: Synapse Task Force: The Fall Of The Clockwork King

Forms in Skyway City.  58 merits (+6 optional merits for fighting Babbage), 15 missions, part of Task Force Commander


The longest single Task Force in this guide - 2 hours at the fastest, 3 or more hours if common - if only because the Clockwork like to rebuild after each defeat and ruin your 'Defeat All' tracking.


This task force will almost certainly get you enough gears for the Gearsmasher badge, part of Freedom Phalanx Reserve.


Level 15: Explore King's Row

8 badges, 5 historical plaques


Kings Row badges at Paragon Wiki


Level 15: Ouroboros mission: Rescue the Mystic from the Circle of Thorns

Part of Atlas Medallion


Use the Ouroboros portal you picked up, then click on the Aspect of the Pillar (one of the smaller crystals in the main building).  Choose 'Access Mission List', then choose Protector of Innocents (Level 10-14), and then choose Rescue the Mystic from the Circle of Thorns.


You are now in a Flashback Mission.  Since this is changing 'your' past, you will be limited to Level 14 (and your powers limited to the ones you picked before Level 19).  Complete the mission, and return to the contact; you will get the Spelunker badge.


OPTIONAL: Level 15:  Drowning In Blood

LFG Queue.


While not as powerful as the DFB bonuses, the bonuses you get from Drowning In Blood last longer (until level 30).  They also stack with the bonuses from Death From Below.


If by the time you reach this point in the path you are lagging behind in XP, doing a few runs of Drowning In Blood is a good option.  It'll also help you with your Freakshow defeats badge (which you'll need for one of the accolades in this guide).


OPTIONAL: Level 15: Null the Gull

Pocket D


Once you can safely go through King's Row, you can visit Pocket D and talk to Null the Gull.


In addition to unlocking Gull Incarnate (ask for a powerup!), Null can change your alignment from Hero to Vigilante, allowing you to join pickup groups on both sides of the line.  (You can still only start task forces on your side.)  Additionally, Null can disable speed boosts and Group Fly for you, if you need it.  (If you don't do it here, it's on you!)


Level 17: Upgrade - IO time!


Invention Origin Enhancements (IOs) are like the regular enhancements that have been dropping in your travels - except they never expire.  So upgrading as early as is practical is in your interests!  Level 20 IOs can be equipped at level 17.  They are roughly equal to a -3 SO at this level.  Since SOs won't start dropping normally until level 22, and won't drop reliably until level 41, upgrading now will save you lots of hassle.  A lot of people like to do it at Level 22 - when they can get level 25 SOs for the same salvage and negligible influence increase - but there's really no wrong answer.


There are two ways to get IOs:


  • Type in /ah in chat and buy them directly from the player auction house - there are so many players crafting excess recipes for pocket change and for IO-creating badges that the price will be cheap.
  • Go to a University (like the one on the south side of Steel Canyon) and talk to the Admissions Officer.  Go through the missions there, and not only will you get a free IO, you will get to punch some Council on the way there.


Level 19: Explore Perez Park

8 badges, 5 historical plaques


Perez Park badges at Paragon Wiki


Level 20:  Penelope Yin Task Force: A Clamor For The People

Forms in Independence Port.  20 merits, 4 missions, part of Task Force Commander


Note that Penelope Yin is one of the earliest task forces you can really 'farm' for Merit Rewards, since it's only 4 missions long.  So you may get some extremely good people tagging along if you advertise this one.


Also has the advantage of one of the coolest AVs in the game.  Ah, Clamor, not even the council could stop your hard-rock soul.


Your Death From Below upgrades will expire midway through this task force (when you hit 22), so it's important to upgrade to IOs and make certain you have your powers set up the way you want before you start this one.


Level 24:  Explore Boomtown

8 badges, 5 historical plaques


Boomtown badges at Paragon Wiki


This area is not on public transit!  The entrance to Boomtown is on the north side of Steel Canyon.


One of the history markers (Scholar accolade) was moved.  It is now at -1668 0 4523, about halfway between The Fuse marker and the Steel Canyon entrance, near the entrance of a tunnel.


Level 24:  Explore Skyway City

8 badges, 4 historical plaques


Skyway City badges at Paragon Wiki


Level 25:  Citadel Task Force: Citadel's Children

Forms in Talos Island.  40 merits, 11 missions, part of Task Force Commander


This mission is extra long due to the number of Defeat All missions...  in caves!


OPTIONAL: Level 25: Unlock Katie Hannon Task Force


Levels 25 through 30 are a bit of a slow point in the XP curve, so if you don't want to do Drowning In Blood or Penelope Yin incessantly, you can unlock the later KHTF through a series of contacts.  There is a faster way available at level 35, but it offers XP to do it here, so it's up to you.


  • Talk to Gordon Bower, at Croatoa University.
  • After his story arc, he introduces you to Skipper LeGrange.
  • After his story arc, he introduces you to Kelly Nemmers.
  • After her story arc, she introduces you to Buck Salinger.
  • After his Story Arc, you unlock Katie Hannon's Task Force.



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Level 30:  Manticore Task Force: Following Countess Crey

Forms in Brickstown.  32 merits, 10 missions, part of Task Force Commander


If you did Drowning In Blood, your Drowning In Blood upgrades will expire just before you start this task force.


OPTIONAL: Level 30:  Katie Hannon Task Force

Forms in Croatoa.  26 merits, 4 missions


While you normally have to unlock Katie Hannon through a series of linked Contacts, Katie Hannon's task force is short AND easy to stealth, meaning there are almost constantly pickup groups running it.  It also gains you the temporary power Amy's Ward, which is a temporary healer ally summon that you'll see here and there from now until level 50.


Level 32: Upgrade:  IO Time II!


Level 35 IOs are roughly equal to a +3 SO at this level, so you should make certain to replace any SOs you have left.  SOs from here on out are just temporary buffs until you can be bothered crafting an IO, or petty cash.


Level 32: Explore Talos Island

8 badges, 5 historical plaques


Talos Island badges at Paragon Wiki


Level 34: Explore Independence Port

8 badges, 4 historical plaques


Independence Port badges at Paragon Wiki


Level 34: Explore Echo: Dark Astoria

8 badges, 4 historical plaques


Echo: Dark Astoria badges at Paragon Wiki


Remember, Echo zones can only be accessed through Ouroboros.


Level 34: Explore Terra Volta

8 badges, 4 historical plaques


Terra Volta badges at Paragon Wiki


Terra Volta is a zone in the middle of Indepedence Port.


Level 35: Numina Task Force: Soul of the Woodsman

Forms in Founder's Falls.  36 merits, 5 missions plus 16 hunts, part of Task Force Commander


Because of the number of hunts, a coordinated group can knock this task force out in almost half an hour, making this task force a common farm.


Level 35: Levantera Story Arc: Welcome to Vanguard

Starts in Rikti War Zone. 9 reward merits, 7 missions, unlocks Vanguard merits


Levantera is an entry point to the Rikti War Zone story arcs.  But most importantly, Levantera's story arc unlocks Vanguard Merits. Vanguard Merits are one of the easiest ways to earn Merit Rewards, are not subject to Merit Reward diminishing returns, and also unlock unique rewards like extra inventory space and temporary Vanguard heavy summons.


Level 35: Join the Midnighter Club


The original method of joining the Midnighter Club involved a nine-mission Story Arc, several of which were in Oranbegan caves.


Joining the Midnighter Club the Praetorian way is much faster. Take the TUNNEL (one entrance of which is right by the Atlas Park monorail) to Night Ward.  Look to your northwest; above the hedge maze, you'll see a mansion on a pillar.  Step inside the mansion; you'll get the House Hunter badge, which automatically grants entry into the Midnighter Club.  The Midnighter Club unlocks Cimerora, another major story area in the game.


This step is absolutely reqired before the Imperious Task Force, below.


(If it's just an exploration badge, why don't I recommend it at level 14, even level 1?  Because there's a mob of Animus Animata that like to wander around near the TUNNEL, and who may knock you out.  The Night Ward hospital run at level 1 is no fun.)


Level 35: OPTIONAL: Imperious Task Force: Time's Arrow

Forms in Cimerora. 26 merits, 4 missions


Do you dream of hunting down some Nazis through time and space and taking their stuff?  Who DOESN'T?


Imperious's task force is fast (groups have got it down to 10 minutes) and gets lots of salvage thanks to its many Elite Bosses and Archvillains.  The task force scales all the way up to level 50, as well, so you'll find people running it at all hours; only diminishing returns (reduced rewards for multiple completions within a 24 hour time frame) keeps people from running it continually.


Level 35: OPTIONAL: Unlock Katie Hannon


If you did this the long way at level 25, or are able to wait on pick-up groups, you can skip this one.


Go back to Ouroboros and do the level 30-34 story arc Crossing Over from Buck Salinger.  This six-mission story arc unlocks Katie Hannon (and her rapid merits).


Level 40: OPTIONAL: Kallisti Wharf Task Force: Market Crash

Forms in Kallisti Wharf.  20 Reward Merits, free purple IO on first completion, 3 missions


In addition to the free PVP IO the first time you complete it, Market Crash is 20 Reward Merits for just 3 missions.  Additionally, the sheer number of Freakshow Tanks you fight are handy for the Tank Buster badge, which is necessary for the Freedom Phalanx Reserve medal.


Level 40: Punch Nemesis In His Pretty Brass Face


The Unveiler badge requires defeating 100 Fake Nemesis, and it's required for Freedom Phalanx Reserve.  There's several ways to grind it.  From easier to harder, they are:


Streetsweeping:  Forming a pickup group in Peregrine Island and clearing out the docks repeatedly for about 80 minutes.  Nemesis-hunting groups form frequently in PI, so listen to the broadcast channel there and /lfg.


Pandora's Box:  The other involves 3 to 4 runs of the first mission of the fifth chapter of the Signature Story Arc, Pandora's Box.  The contact for this Story Arc, Heldenjaeger, is in Steel Chanyon.  He's highlighted on your minimap; it's the red 'book' icon on the north side of Steel Canyon.  Be sure to bring along a lot of protection inspirations, because Nemesis troops love their stuns and knockbacks.  For people coming back from live, this story arc has major spoilers, so you may want to do the non-spoiler-y way by teaming up in Peregrine instead.


Ouroboros:  The Level 40-49 story arc 'Nemesis Weather Control' can get you a lot of Fake Nemesis.  Be certain to form a large group, to maximize the number of bosses that spawn.


Task Force:  The Sara Moore task force - against a rogue Nemesis general - involves a lot of rogue Nemesis forces and several streetsweeps in the Nemesis-rich neighborhoods of THe Chantry.  Despite being 'rogue' in story, they all count as fake Nemesis for this badge.


Level 40: Tina Macintyre story arc: The Anti-Matter Colission / The Instant Army

Forms in Peregrine Island. 21 reward merits, 11 missions, part of Portal Jockey


Tina's initial story arc is a pseudo-Task Force, in that it ends in a major battle against a major archvillain, Anti-Matter.


Like Katie Hannon, Tina Macintyre must be unlocked. Click the Contact tab in your targeting recticle, then click through to see if Tina is one of the options you are given.  Otherwise:


  • If you have Gordon Stacy, Madeline Casey, Maxwell Christopher, Indigo, Janet Kellum, or Angus McQueen as options, do their missions until they introduce Tina.
  • Do three 'radio' missions.  This gives you a Safeguard mission from Detective Selnum, which in turn may reward Tina as a contact.
  • If you get the chance to join a Tina pickup-group, you can just fight Antimatter and that's it.
  • You can wait until you're an Incarnate, and do a Keyes Island Reactor trial.  However, that is a long wait.


You may also do this as a Flashback in Ouroboros at level 24, but an 11 mission Flashback is a bit unwieldly, since it has to be completed as a task force (hours with no adding members from your team), so it's far more convenient to complete it along the way if possible.


Level 40: Tina Macintyre story arc: The Hydra Dimension

Forms in Peregrine Island. 3 missions, part of Portal Jockey


This story arc can also be done as a Flashback in Ouroboros at level 45.  The badge it unlocks, Multidimensional, can also be unlocked by the Hydra missions given out by the level 45-50 contact Unai Kemen.


Level 43: Explore Brickstown

8 badges, 2 historical plaques


Brickstown badges at Paragon Wiki


Level 45: Explore Founders' Falls

8 badges, 2 historical plaques


Founders' Falls badges at Paragon Wiki


Level 45: Maria Jenkins story arc: A Hero's Epic

Forms in Peregrine Island.  21 merits, 13 missions, 3 talks, part of Portal Jockey


Really, Tina and Maria should be made into task forces...


Level 45: Maria Jenkins story arc: Take Down Nightstar and Take down the Warworks


After completing the story arc, keep doing Maria Jenkins missions until you get the above.  This will let you fight Nightstar and Siege, the two last components of the Dimensional Warder badge (needed for the accolade Portal Jockey).


At level 50, you can optionally do a Behavioral Adjustment Facility trial in order to get these two badges.  However, you can earn the credit for defeating these archvillains early.


Level 50:  Mender Ramiel story arc: Power Overwhelming

Forms in Ouroboros.  5 merits, 5 missions + ~5 talks, unlocks Incarnate


The last major content unlock is the Incarnate system, a series of trials that helps you save not only the world, and time, but reality itself.


You could, of course, just sit around and grind until enough random XP unlocks the slot for you...  but where's the fun in that?


So is this the absolute fastest way to 50?


The fastest way to 50 is still tagging along with a high-level group as a lowbie.  However, this method is pickup-group friendly (no dependency on dedicated farmers running dedicated builds in dedicated maps), results in all 4 major permanent upgrade accolades (Atlas Medallion, Freedom Phalanx Reserve, Portal Jockey, Task Force Commander), and unlocks access or story content in all locked major content areas (Cimerora, Incarnate, Midnight Club, Ouroboros, Rikti War Zone).  Simply getting farmed won't unlock any of the above, and you'll just wind up having to go through these tasks anyways.


Where do I go from here?




You are now level 50, have a full set of upgraded powers, and have unlocked all the gated story content area.  You can join in any mission in any heroside zone of the game.  Go exploring!

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  • 1 month later

Such a helpful guide!  Whenever I'm stuck for something to do, this has given me great ideas!  To get those Accolades, got to run the actual content that give merits, so there's no sense in farming any part of the game and burn out in the process!

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One thing, you can get all 5 starter enhancements free from the P2W vendor.  They're good until around 21 I think when they stop proc'ing and should be replaced.  Don't limit yourself to just one of them, they come in handy for DFB.

Guardian Survivor, occasional tanker and player of most AT's.

Guides: Invulnerability Tankers, The first 20 levels.  Invulnerability Tankers Soft Cap defense





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1 hour ago, Call Me Awesome said:

One thing, you can get all 5 starter enhancements free from the P2W vendor.  They're good until around 21 I think when they stop proc'ing and should be replaced.  Don't limit yourself to just one of them, they come in handy for DFB.

I get all 10 of them...2 of each.  If I accidentally place another enhancement over one, I can just replace it right away

"The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." - Niels Bohr


Global Handle: @JusticeBeliever ... Home servers on Live: Guardian ... Playing on: Everlasting

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I'm not absolutely sure on this, but I'd avoid Market Crash until level 50.  If you complete it then you get a purple enhancement (very rare) the first time, this is worth at least 10 million inf, probably more.  I've heard some people say they got it as low as 47, but not at 40.  

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Disabling Common recipes is a huge lose in INF - Each common recipe is worth 100k + per recipe to the vendor.
Keep them until you get close to full - sell them. - Personally I disable uncommons on most of my toons and just leave common(for money) and rare and very rare.
I find that in end game - when you are building your final IO's the cost of an Uncommon IO and the cost of building it yourself are roughly the same if you include the cost of the components.  Rares and Purples, it's 100% cheaper to build it yourself for 85% of rares and 100% of purples if you have the recipe already.
Though I do have an SG base whose only purpose is to hold 20 of every common, uncommon, and rare ingredient.   So when I do want to craft I have what I need for every recipe in game.   Any more than 20 of each ends up being overkill and you run out of room fast.  Could probably get away with 10 or 15 really.

Pro Tip - you can right click on a stack of recipes and "see that highlighted letter in sell stack?"  Usually E I think - hit that letter or click the words Sell Stack so you can quickly clear them out.

Regarding Teleports: The Pocket D one is given to you automatically for spending 30 min of in game time inside pocket D - so go do a few AE missions or go do some skiing runs around the the slopes while you wait.  Easy to kill time there>
There is also a pay to win vendor, a regular vendor, a trainer(war witch) and there is also a gladiator arena where you can challenge people to gladiator fights.

Edited by Tamorand
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