Do you require assistance, Cad the Magnificent?” These are the first words spoken to my hero upon arrival in Praetoria, the shiny new zone provided by City of Heroes' latest expansion, Going Rogue. Cad the Magnificent does not require assistance. He requires only a quest marker and a dozen identical mobs, preferably guarding a series of suspiciously identical facilities in which he can unleash a series of tempestuous new abilities. He's in the right place.
To enter Praetoria, you have to create a neutral character and choose to support either the authoritarian forces that maintain the clinical new utopia, or to join the over-zealous Resistance movement. As you become famous, you'll have opportunities to swap sides. Whoever you work for, most missions will take place in one of three types of maze: sewer, warehouse or science base. Aside from some rare and more interesting story missions, objectives tend to range from 'kill the big bad guy' to 'kill all the bad guys' – or, in some cases, 'click on these boxes that belong to the bad guys'.
It's a lot more fun than it should be. City of Heroes still has some of the best MMO combat around, and the four new power sets included here are great additions. Whether you're vanquishing foes with whirling, noisy gun-fu, unleashing electric golems or summoning demons from the netherworld, the game gives you tremendous power within an hour of starting a new adventure. The speed and sense of impact generated by every super-punch should be the envy of the MMO world.
A suite of new 'ultra' settings have been introduced to apply some spit and polish to the ageing streets. They look great in the new city, but fail to reinvigorate the dogged older zones. The good news is that Going Rogue's alignment system will allow your characters to see more of these environments. Completing its missions will blur the lines between good and evil, and give your character the chance to cross sides completely. This is useful if you have one muchloved character, but most City of Heroes veterans are likely to have alter-egos that have already seen the enemy zones. There is a chance to align your characters even more strongly with their favoured path, earning powerful enhancements, but for this alone the expansion is hardly worth the price.
It's hard to know exactly who Going Rogue is aimed at. Seasoned players will be disappointed by the lack of new late game content, and new players will find a pretty new zone full of repetitive quests which you're forced to leave at level 20, with no prospect of return. The awesome new power sets should be enough to entice loyal players to roll alts and explore the new city, but for everyone else it's an underwhelming addition to a great game. What a disappointment.