Battling through time, Minotaurs, and casino safes in City of Heroes' new movie-themed event


I love seasonal content in MMOs--it's usually a bit tongue-in-cheek and focused on fun, rather than serious progression. The next wave of seasonal content coming to City of Heroes is just that, sending players to battle in a time-traveling gladiator arena and pull off a casino heist.

Players start in a movie theater where you can purchase goodies from the clockwork concession stand workers or laugh at the nerds dressed in warrior garb lined outside the door for the Time Gladiators movie. Of course, being a nerd myself, I opted to cut in line and jump right into the movie theater--and that's when things got interesting.

Time Gladiators

The bulk of the Summer Blockbuster Event's content take place inside of these movies: mini-adventures that you and three others play through for some sweet prizes and a change of pace from the usual tasks facing super heroes and villains. As soon as we entered the Time Gladiators, a giant minotaur was chasing us down while some callous romans cheered from the stands above. We were able to dispatch the upright bully pretty quickly, and suddenly the crowd wasn't so callous.

The arena has a great "favor" mechanic that rewards you for doing cool things like downing bosses, scoring big crits and battling waves of ninjas. Oh did I forget to mention that immediately following the Minotaur fight, we were assaulted by countless ninjas pouring from the gates around the arena?

If you can take out 75 ninjas before the next phase, your group will earn crazy amounts of favor from the crowd, which—if raised high enough—unlocks a secret boss and bonus rewards. We weren't quite up to the challenge, although Lead Designer Matt Miller consoled us by assuring us that no one on the dev team has been able to take down all 75 without cheating.

While we bashed ninjas, a wild west gunslinger named Frank "Hunnerd Yard" McCain snuck up behind us and started blasting us away with his dual pistols while his dogs used our spandex-covered appendages as chew toys. Despite Miller's pleas to not kill the dogs, someone on our team did, causing a huge wolf named Killer to burst into the arena and maul us liberally. The fight was never very challenging, but it was fun.

Just in case your knowledge of history is a little shaky and you see no problem with Minotaurs, wild west outlaws and ninjas fighting side by side, the final boss is a series of giant robots programmed for your destruction. They had a few clever mechanics that kept me on my toes, but the fights are not designed to be a challenge to high-level players. Tn fact, Time Gladiators is designed to be completed by characters between levels 15 and 50 in under ten minutes. That's a huge level range and couldn't have been easy to balance, but makes it wonderful mindless fun for the summer.

Casino Heist

The second movie feature you play through is Casino Heist, which Miller refers to as Ocean's Four. Players start the adventure by picking one of the four roles on the posters outside the theater--Grifter, Hacker, Thief, and Hitter. This one was even easier than Time Gladiators--each player is shipped into a separate part of the casino and given explicit instructions about their jobs. As the Thief, I was tossed up in the owner's office to search for valuables while the Grifter stalled him on the floor below and the Hitter intercepted his phone call (between bat swings on thugs) to confirm the Grifters supposed identity.

After that, you're sent to your crew's warehouse where you have to battle goons swarming in, the number of which is dependent on how well you did on the first phase of the mission. If you stumbled in front of cameras or didn't convince the owner that you were clean, you're going to have a lot more thugs knocking down your door.

Then it flashes back to the operation again. This time, I was tasked with sneaking through ventilation shafts and navigating laser security fields on my way to the big vault. I got lost in the vents and ended up almost messing up the whole job, but Miller helped me navigate over voice chat and make my way to the vault. I was freaking out--I didn't want to be "that guy" for my team--but it ends up that there's really no way to fail this mission. No matter what you do, your team will progress--you'll just have more thugs to fight in the warehouse.

After taking down a couple bosses in the warehouse, including a secretary that turned out to be a ninja and a lounge singer with violent tendencies, we collected our loot and called it a day. Both adventures were simple and clearly meant to be a change of pace for players more than anything else. And the new set gear, Overwhelming Force, is a nice perk for running the event multiple times while it's live. There's no lockout or cooldown timer on the content--you can run it as often as you like.

The Summer BlockBuster Event will be hitting City of Heroes' live servers on July 10, but you can play through it now on the test server . You can also watch my livestreams of Time Gladiators and Casino Heist if you're too lazy to download it yourself.