In the last installment of the City of Heroes dev diary , we got a look at the massive monsters of the First Ward zone, which demand a entire super-team of players to take down. But what about the mobs you'll face throughout the area on your own? Here's Gilbert Martinez, CoH's art lead, with the inside scoop on the new villain groups of the First Ward, complete with mutated psychic-tumor women and freaky, masked carnies.
As players experience the all-new zone of First Ward in City of Heroes Freedom, they'll encounter a plethora of new villain groups, each with their own unique look and story to tell. We've chosen four of these factions for a closer look at their role within this zone, and how their visual style developed out of their stories.
The Carnival of Light
The Carnival of Light are a band of mystics whose ultimate goal is to restore the balance of good and evil in the alternate world of Praetoria. Existing City of Heroes players may be more familiar with their darker counterpart on Primal Earth, the Carnival of Shadows. When we designed the Carnival of Light's unique look we made sure to assemble costume pieces that echoed their origins in the Carnival of Shadows, the Midnight Squad, and the Legacy Chain. We chose white as their general color, with gold as an accent, since this echoed the "light" in their name. A set of new custom masks with the "third eye of wisdom" theme were designed for them by Character Artist Eric Chyn. These masks were heavily inspired by French carnival masks, and their complexity indicates the rank of each individual.
Villain groups don't come tougher then the new Direct Urban Strike Team (D.U.S.T.) units in First Ward. The D.U.S.T. use First Ward as a training ground for their new weapons, and to them, First Ward's citizens are merely moving targets. These urban fighters are taken from the best ranks of the Praetorian Police Department, so it was important to us to keep their costumes consistent with that particular group. To reflect their elite status, we added military-style camouflage textures to their costumes. Players may notice that the D.U.S.T. use new, oversized plasma rifles as their weapon of choice. These rifles are actually modified, resized versions of the gigantic Anti-matter drone turrets located in Praetoria.
The Awakened are the result of failures in the Seer creation process, with uncontrollable psychic powers. Although they come in several "flavors" of psychic disturbance, the most distinctive members of this villain group are the Suppressors. These creatures' psychic mutations have manifested themselves in horrific physical form resulting in heads deformed by massive tumors and multiple dangerous tentacles growing from them. Each tentacle was animated separately by Lead Animator Colin Brown. If you're able to get close enough to these creatures, you'll even notice that the slimy skin on their tentacles animates as well, adding an extra level of disturbance to their look. The "psychic abomination" vibe in this villain group was inspired by certain Japanese films such as Akira. Character Artist Jay Doherty also deserves praise for building out the final character designs seen in this villain group.
The Talons of Vengeance
The Talons of Vengeance are the most single-minded of the four factions reviewed here. The Talons serve the Well of Furies, a sentient source of great power in City of Heroes. Their sole purpose is to punish all of those who break their oath to the Well. Who is the target at the top of their list? Emperor Marcus Cole, Tyrant of Praetoria. This villain group was visually designed to echo these themes of vengeance, magic, and the embodiment of the apocalypse. Their bodies have been twisted, turned monstrous and feral with rage. Some have become snake-like, others have developed clawed feet, some have crow-like wings, and still others have maws of pure evil, stretched beyond human recognition. The harpies of Greek mythology were a strong source of inspiration for this villain group. Credit goes to Cheryl Austin on the character art team for bringing these terrifying creatures into existence.
Thanks for taking a moment to learn a little bit more about the exciting new content we'll be revealing in City of Heroes Freedom in the near future. We can't wait to hear what you all think, and be sure to let us know which villain group is your favorite!