City of Heroes goes free to play with new update

Superhero-themed MMO City of Heroes goes free to play today with the launch of City of Heroes Freedom, which lets players play up to level 50 free of charge, buying content a la carte rather than paying a monthly subscription fee. A new content expansion, Issue 21: Convergence, unveils an entirely new zone and a bevy of new content. NCSoft and Paragon studios also promise monthly "Signature Story Arcs" that let players take part in world events and the ongoing superhero strife that shapes them.

"We aren't just flipping a switch and going 'free-to-play,'" explains executive producer Brian Clayton. "We're embarking on the biggest content and feature update to City of Heroes in its seven-year history."

Existing subscribers will automatically become VIP players and may continue with their subscription plan. In return, they automatically get access to the "Signature Story Arcs" and 400 Paragon points (the in-game currency) for use at the Paragon Market, along with a number of other perks like VIP-only servers.

According to a press release, other parts of this update include:

  • New Zone: First Ward, the training and testing grounds for some of Praetoria's most elite forces

    and sinister weapons, is where players will encounter all new threats, including the massive

    zone-wide event, the Seed of Hamidon.

  • New Epic Challenges: The Underground Incarnate Trial takes place deep below the streets

    of Praetoria, in the secret lair of the Devouring Earth. Those strong enough to break through

    their stronghold may reach the devastating Avatar of Hamidon for a final showdown of epic

    proportions. Up to 28 players can team up to fight new menaces and unlock great rewards.

  • New Power Sets and Costumes: Time Manipulation (free for VIP Players), Beam Rifle, and

    Street Justice represent just the beginning of new powers coming to players with City of

    Heroes Freedom, while the Barbarian and the Circle of Thorns Costume Sets, as well as the

    IDF and Defense Costume Sets(free for VIP Players) add even more options to the millions of

    customization options at a players' fingertips.

  • New Starting Experience: Puts new players right in the middle of the action, giving them access

    to all archetypes with no alignment restriction. During the new starting experience, players

    will have the opportunity determine whether they ally with the forces of good, or harness the

    powers of evil.

  • New Missions: The debut of monthly Signature Story Arcs (free for VIP Players), enables players

    to play a key role in the main storyline as they fight alongside iconic heroes and villains and

    discover which of Paragon City's premier heroes will die!

  • New Rewards: The Paragon Rewards program is our way to thank players for investing City of

    Heroes and provides new and unique in-game rewards designed around each player's unique

    tastes and play style.