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Hazard Zones are cool, fun, and interesting (if given a chance...) - Tomato's Hazard Zone Proposal


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So this is a suggestion I've been making over multiple different channels of communication for a little while now, figured I'd formalize it and put it here.

 

Just about everyone and their dog in this game has an opinion on speed-levelling as it exists in this game currently (predominantly AE-based). Personally I believe that speed-levelling is an important aspect of the game, due to the build-depth and age of it, but also believe that AE farms are monotonous, boring and honestly? Bad for the game's health.

( But this thread is not for debating that, and I would prefer we do not do so. )

 

It's due to these feelings that I have a suggestion to make regarding a new alternative, quick levelling path for players who are tired of the standard progression. Said path would be (relatively) simple in implementation at a fundamental level, and have tons of opportunity to expand and make more dynamic and interesting. Said path also carries a level of nostalgia for an earlier era of City of Heroes that could, I believe, be recaptured again in the right conditions!

 

So, what is this path? Well, I've already mentioned it in the title: Hazard Zones! (and Trial Zones! Just assume I'm talking about them as well whenever I mention Hazard Zones) (also I'm specifically talking about street sweeping)

 

So all of this fundamentally revolves around one concept: Buffing yields for street sweeping in a group in Hazard Zones in such a way that it would become a fun and engaging alternative way to level characters. Hazard zones as they exist are currently already in a pretty prime place to enable this, as they already are filled with high density packs of decently challenging enemies, and have no lockout for levels, meaning a group can enter, progress through until they're on-par with the strongest enemies in the zone, and then move onto the next Hazard Zones.

 

Those who never did it may not quite understand, but there was a simple charm and quite a bit of fun to getting a group of 8 together and sweeping through the streets of the Hollows, and/or oldschool Sewers, back in the day to get through the early levels. You would find yourself routing around packs of enemies that looked too dangerous for your group, while targeting the ones you thought you could take on, and generally pushing deeper into higher level territory as you progressed, walking the line between 'too hard' and 'killable for best yield'.

 

What do I propose to make this a reality, then? Three important changes:

  1. Buff XP yield for street-sweeping in Hazard Zones. Nice and simple! This could be achieved with a zonewide %-based buff that's applied whenever you enter these zones, perhaps? That would be the easiest method for tweaking this in testing. This could honestly be done on its own and go a long way, but I think would benefit tremendously from the two following additional changes.
  2. Increase the level bands to each Hazard Zone. This is to allow more variety in zone choice for teams moving down this path in the game for their speed-levelling. I appreciate that this is a little more fiddly than the xp yield buff due to the way enemy groups work, but in those situations I may suggest subdividing some of the existing neighborhoods to add new enemy groups that do fit the additional level range. Due to the design of Hazard Zones, they tend to have very large neighborhoods, and as such, dividing them would be legitimately feasible in many examples. For some neighborhoods, the devs could simply replace the enemy groups within, instead, but that's somewhat of a 'case-by-case' decision to make. Either way, increasing the level bands of Hazard Zones is, I think, a decently important aspect.
  3. Arguably far more important than increasing the level bands for Hazard Zones is making them co-op zones! I believe Villains, via a sewer-based hub, could be granted access to the Hazard Zones under the lore context of 'NPC Group brought you in to help them out, Arachnos facilitated transport, and then you got here and decided actually you'd do what you want, but no way you're getting through those Hazard Zone gates'. Giving villains alternatives for levelling is sorely needed, due to how aesthetically one-track-minded their zones are, and how relatively linear their choices are (at least compared with heroes). In some parts of their levelling process, this would effectively double their choices in which zones to level in, maybe even triple.

 

With these changes, I think that Hazard Zones would come into their own as a vital, diverse and greatly appreciated part of the game's progression, far uplifting them from their current, heavily neglected state.

 

In addition to the three core changes, I also have further ideas that could be considered an optional extension to the core premise, which would add variety and moments of interest when playing within the zones.

 

  • Elite Bosses! I would like to see special Elite Bosses in the zones. Whether a rare spawn in groups of enemies or a roaming, patrolling threat, I believe they would be kinda like the 'chocolate chip' in the cookie, something you'd be excited to see when you encountered them (since you're likely in a group of 4-8, and EBs give better yields than your average enemy). Of course, they would likely be level-locked to the maximum level of the zone, meaning groups just starting in a zone would find them an exciting threat to navigate around. They'd bring the 'Hazard' into 'Hazard Zone' quite a bit, I think!
  • Zone Events! You know 'em, you love 'em, you probably think they're generally quite unrewarding! But I'd say that usually that's because they feel more like something to be done when already running around within the zone - something unlikely to be done when bouncing between contacts and missions. Perhaps tying existing GM spawns within Hazard zones to associated zone events that appear on a timer would be a fun thing too? Naturally these zone events would also benefit from the zone-wide XP buff, meaning players may end up additionally motivated to contribute, especially if the events are using 'levelless' enemies, much like the GMs themselves. Naturally, not all Hazard/Trial zones have GMs currently, and I don't think that necessarily has to change, but I think that they could still benefit from zone events as well for the same reason! As usual with zone events, they could simply grant a temporary power of some kind, but some other interesting reward alternatives could be a Attuned Universal Enhance set (think SBB's Overwhelming Force set as an example) or patrol XP for every contribution! I think the zone events would likely be best implemented on a grouped timer, with a random event spawning every 20-80 minutes or so.
  • Story Arcs! As we all know, the Hazard Zones are famously lacking in Contacts and Story Arcs, as a deliberate design choice. I'm always happy for more Story Arcs, and there is certainly plenty of ground to cover in the majority of these zones narratively, especially when factoring in which particular groups could be 'hiring' the villain players in each zone. Of anything, I recognize this would be easily the most time-consuming aspect of these changes to these zones to implement, and am also the least in need of them. After all, we have plenty of mission content in the game, and very little street sweeping for the sake of street sweeping!

 

Anyways, that's my ideas! Thank you for reading, if you made it this far, and I'm excited to hear your thoughts. I believe that street sweeping can be quite an enjoyable activity in the right circumstances, alongside a group, and really captures that MMO feeling when you see other groups sweeping the same zone as you. It's a shame that it's fallen to the wayside as anything other than a completion criteria for missions and badges. I think this would revitalize it!

 

Disclaimer: As always, I fully acknowledge the spaghetti of CoH's code, and recognize that literally anything I've described here as being potentially 'simple' could actually, in reality, be a total dev nightmare lmao - I'm so sorry devs ❤️

 

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Bring back Hazard Zones

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Awesome idea.

You could also work in a periodic timed event: like the mobs in hazard zones will spawn faster like a Nemisis or Rikti invasion or Zombie Apocalypse. So the thinking behind it is it's a necessary maintenance job of heroes to make sure the buggers don't spill out to the other zones. The event notice might be something like a city-wide advisory warning that Trolls/Hellions/whatever have been seen amassing in Perez Park.

And during these timed events, you can check in with the security peeps to get some sort of temp buff (like in PvP zones) to help you help them deal with the situation.

Maybe Red side could have hazard zones of its own. While it would be nice to have new zones for such, it's safe to assume it's as good as a pipe dream at this point (but who knows, hope springs and all). Redside could designate sections of the existing isles instead... like the Gutter part of GV to be overrun by Arachnoids, or a Carnival Convention gone mad near the tents in St. Martial, a Family-Mook full-on turf war to the North of Oakes, Corallax swarming near the sinking oil tanker, etc.

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I have to disagree with making (most) hazard zones co-op zones. It's already annoyingly "weird" to have Arachnos operating *in Atlas Park and Faultline,* (and, the flip side, Longbow taking over Mercy.) It's an invasion (or at least attack) by a hostile power.  Plus, frankly, I agree with six-six, redside should have its own stuff instead of Blueside's seconds and table scraps. Plus, even if you say "well, it's not an Arachnos invasion (sorry VEATs,) just "independent contractors," there's the old argument - if I'm on SuperHeroicDude and I see EvilGuy running around to get to their mission, *why can't I stop them?* I don't think there'd be much, if any, support for opening up PVP in the zones, and if they just can't see each other... what would be the point?

 

Not sure how I feel about extending the hazard zone level ranges. They align nicely with regular zone ranges right now, and extending would just give overlap that's not really needed.

 

(Side note, I don't think there *are* any "trial zones" in the game. Faultline was the only one I can think of, and that trial never made it into the game - it was designed for a full SG, as I recall in the 15-20 range needing a league's worth of people. I'd have to check my old Prima guide. It's now a story zone. The concept seemed to get dropped early.)

 

Story arcs? Yes. There's a little rebuilding in Boomtown now, there's *got* to be something going on in Crey's Folly - especially with it being so close to the RWZ (and Crey's is probably the only place where, to me, "independent contractors" (villains) coming in make sense with the bleedover from the RWZ - no Arachnos, though - but it runs into the same "but why can't I stop them?" question.)

 

Events? Something *other* than GMs that can be soloed without "A build?" Sure. The only real ones we have blueside are the ghost ship, hellion fires and troll raves that aren't GM-centric. They seem like another idea that was just abandoned on live. So more and more variety... yeah.

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Primarily on Everlasting. Squid afficionado. Former creator of Copypastas. General smartalec.

 

I tried to combine Circle and DE, but all I got were garden variety evil mages.

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19 minutes ago, Greycat said:

I have to disagree with making (most) hazard zones co-op zones. It's already annoyingly "weird" to have Arachnos operating *in Atlas Park and Faultline,* (and, the flip side, Longbow taking over Mercy.) It's an invasion (or at least attack) by a hostile power.  Plus, frankly, I agree with six-six, redside should have its own stuff instead of Blueside's seconds and table scraps. Plus, even if you say "well, it's not an Arachnos invasion (sorry VEATs,) just "independent contractors," there's the old argument - if I'm on SuperHeroicDude and I see EvilGuy running around to get to their mission, *why can't I stop them?* I don't think there'd be much, if any, support for opening up PVP in the zones, and if they just can't see each other... what would be the point?

 I understand and don't entirely disagree with what you're saying (and Six as well) - in a perfect world, I'd agree entirely. With a bustling villain playerbase and far more dev resources, I'd absolutely be pushing for a set of Hazard Zones unique to redside instead. Unfortunately that's outright unfeasible with the team's limited resources, at least unless they want to put all hands on deck for something like that for many builds- which I don't think they would.

 

21 minutes ago, Greycat said:

Not sure how I feel about extending the hazard zone level ranges. They align nicely with regular zone ranges right now, and extending would just give overlap that's not really needed.

The purpose would essentially be to allow street-sweeping groups to 'graduate' to the next zone at a level that they are comfortable with. For example, if a group is super successful, they may want to graduate early. If not, they may be taking it slow, and want to graduate later. It also allows room for player preference. If there's overlap, and the next zone is less favored by a group of players, they could opt to minimize their time spent there.

 

23 minutes ago, Greycat said:

(Side note, I don't think there *are* any "trial zones" in the game. Faultline was the only one I can think of, and that trial never made it into the game - it was designed for a full SG, as I recall in the 15-20 range needing a league's worth of people. I'd have to check my old Prima guide. It's now a story zone. The concept seemed to get dropped early.)

The zones that are considered Trial Zones, according to HCWiki, are:

  • Terra Volta
  • Eden
  • Sewer Network
  • Abandoned Sewer Network
  • Rikti War Zone
  • Cimerora
  • Dark Astoria
  • The Hive/The Abyss

Personally I wouldn't count those last four as applying to what I'm pitching (they have plenty of purpose as-is, and being level-capped at 50+, would likely lead to high concentrations of powerlevelling relegated exclusively to those zones) but I listed them on the technicality.

 

28 minutes ago, Greycat said:

Events? Something *other* than GMs that can be soloed without "A build?" Sure. The only real ones we have blueside are the ghost ship, hellion fires and troll raves that aren't GM-centric. They seem like another idea that was just abandoned on live. So more and more variety... yeah.

What I'm aiming to go for when it comes to events is a variety. Some would be more solo-friendly, others definitely far more pitched towards groups organically forming around it or taking a break from street-sweeping to do it. The fundamental point of the events would be to add some spice to the routine of cleaning through the zone in your group (or solo) with a nice reward to boot. Worth acknowledging though, events and story arcs being suggested are fully ancillary to the core pitch, which is the return of street sweeping in Hazard/Trial Zones as a leveling alternative.

Bring back Hazard Zones

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8 hours ago, kelika2 said:

And become City of Hazard Zones?

It'd be no more City of Hazard Zones than it's currently City of AE - arguably less so, as I'm not suggesting we make max level hazard/trial zones better, so people will outlevel them at points, and they don't award merits so TFs and arcs would still see plenty of value.

Bring back Hazard Zones

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I think the hazard zones represent a great opportunity for experimentation. E.g. Changing Boomtown a little bit wouldn't ruffle many feathers. And if it doesn't work they can undo it.

 

I don't think they need to be co-op, despite being all on the blue side... that is what the rogue alignment is for. 

 

But let's say you auto-level every player in Boomtown up (but not down) to level 20: facing those big piles of dudes in the 18-24 range could present a fun alternate way to team up and gain levels. Eventually everyone outlevels it and moves on to something else. (I personally love the idea because it reminds me of the really old days.) 

 

Seems like a simple way to revitalize a handful of zones, and get more use out of content currently limited to an incredibly narrow level range, without changing much of anything. Before DFB we used to do sewers; wouldn't it be cool to just hoof your new character over to Perez Park and start killin' skuls on a big team?

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I like the Boomtown idea. Additionally, most cities have designated level districts indicated by their zoning colours. each zoning could have a level cap or certain level range to avoid having 40s mingle with 20s.

And I don't think having purple con+ spawns wandering about should be too much of a problem. It helps to keep you on your toes so you don't waltz around the city like you own the place. It's there to remind you that there are stronger entities than you... there are things you can ignore, and things you should watch out for, and you don't know which one it is hanging around the corner. much like flying around in the Ward might end up bumping into Hami.

There could also be another benefit for proliferating this in certain zones for certain spawns... and that is to help with the "kill X number of Y enemies" for badges and accolades.

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Very happy to be seeing the support and ideas for this! With Boomtown's interesting situation with the War Walkers in the corner and very large neighbourhoods in the northern end of the zone, I think it'd certainly be a great place to experiment with this before rolling it out for other Hazard Zones.

Bring back Hazard Zones

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On 9/21/2022 at 12:07 AM, Rudra said:

*cringes at the thought of all the missions that send you into the hazard zones, and having to dodge even higher level spawns than currently have to in order to reach them*

Done right and it wouldn't be too different than how it is now. Boomtown is 11-19 currently. Let's say instead it automatically levels you up to 15 and the spawns could be 14-20. In the south part of the map you'd see easier spawns and in the north part you'd be in danger until you've out levelled the zone. Something like that?

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I'm not going to provide input on how to make it work. It sounds like turning hazard zones into PvP zones, just without the PvP. Back on Live, hazard zones were already used to level. There would be routine calls for teams to just go into Perez Park and street sweep until the mobs became too easy, then Boomtown or Faultline, then Dark Astoria. Except for Dark Astoria, which can have Terra Volta substituted, that can still be done*. AE is about when all that stopped.

 

*Edit: Or hit up the Echo versions of Faultline and Dark Astoria.

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Revamping hazard zones is definitely one of my pie-in-the-sky hopes for CoX, though honestly I think I'd rather we start converting them into story zones (like Faultline or Dark Astoria) rather than just emphasize the street-sweeping.  But I also have literally never done an AE farm, either, so I don't think I'm the kind of person who you are trying to entice with this idea.

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On 9/30/2022 at 1:12 AM, TalynDerre said:

Revamping hazard zones is definitely one of my pie-in-the-sky hopes for CoX, though honestly I think I'd rather we start converting them into story zones (like Faultline or Dark Astoria) rather than just emphasize the street-sweeping.  But I also have literally never done an AE farm, either, so I don't think I'm the kind of person who you are trying to entice with this idea.

Yeah, the main audience for this is people who feel like they have to/should be doing farming in AE but find it too boring to justify (or worse, do it anyway despite it being boring, simply as a means to an end)

 

That said, I'm definitely in full support of more story in these zones! I'd frankly be happy for any amount of love heading their way.

 

Edit: The other main audience here is people who simply have played through the core game enough times that the simply want a faster means of progression (and don't love AE farming enough to justify playing it if another alternative is out there)

Edited by TomatoPhalanges
Edit for additional audience context

Bring back Hazard Zones

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