In comics, everything is a shade of grey. “It's always been a comic book staple,” says Matt Miller, Going Rogue's senior design lead. “The hero falls from grace or a villain sees the light and redeems himself.” Finally, players will be able to scribble goatees on their heroes and stuff hearts of gold in their villains.
This happens through the new alignment system, which adds Vigilante and Rogue to the current choice of Hero or Villain. A Vigilante is someone like The Punisher or Batman, a gruff-voiced do-gooder who believes the ends justify the means. A Rogue is just a selfish jerk.
Players looking to shift can take quests with forced moral choices that lead them away from their current alignment. In the quest I played, I refused to lay waste to innocent civilians, causing my team to turn on me. I was forced to turn against my former villain pals to stay alive, and then team up with a nearby hero to bash in my former boss's face. And just to prove I'm not a boring goody two-shoes now, I bash in the hero's face when he tries to arrest me afterwards. It's a fun story, joyfully explaining my new outlook on life using comic storytelling tropes.
As a newly minted Rogue, I had access to morally muddled areas, and could eventually choose to complete the transition to Hero, fall back into cruel villainy, or simply stay put. But Going Rogue's gorgeous new starting area is Praetoria, an alternate reality dystopia where the superheroes are vigilante guerrilla fighters and the villains uphold the dictator. Two new power sets – Dual Pistols and Demon Summoning – aid your new found ethical doubt with impressive visual effects.
These collapses into darkness or redemptions from the edge are frequently used storytelling techniques in movies, books and mythology. The City of Heroes community are eager to introduce these drastic twists into their characters' tales.
The same passion for storytelling runs all the way through its developers, too. Jesse Caceres, senior producer at Paragon Studios, bounces around with excitement as he tells me about Firewing, his heroine who has gone full circle from hero to villain to hero in the Going Rogue alpha.
First, Firewing realised that breaking a few rules will allow her to keep the streets safer, so she became a Vigilante. But the slippery slope of Vigilante justice leads her to selling stolen weapon schematics and freeing an imprisoned Rogue, both downright villainous acts. After committing evil for quite some time, Firewing has a change of heart and spares the life of a villain who begs to be destroyed. She even goes one step further than just being a selfish Rogue, protecting a vicious villain who's turning herself in to the cops, completing her moral 360: redeemed and heroic once more.
- Release: 17 August 2010
- Publisher: NCsoft
- Developer: Paragon Studios