As we reported earlier on today, City of Heroes is going free to play later this year. It will also be releasing its issue 21 update, described by producer Brian Clayton as: "Some of the best content we've introduced into the game."
Details and screens of the new areas are within.
Clayton told us: "First off it starts with a new zone called first ward and first ward is sort of the next major progression in the praetorian storyline. It's probably got some of the sexiest graphics and the best content that we've introduced. It's got new villains to go after, new types of seers. I think it's four new villain groups that are introduced with that content, we also introduce a new incarnate trial called the underground which is absolutely phenomenal, we've been beta testing that for, gosh, I think close to a year now. It's by far the most allotted content that our beta testers have seen and loved."
He added "You're not only playing in new environments against new villains but at the end of it you get to go against the Avatar of Hammadon, which is a whole new giant monster that we've introduced with really cool boss mechanics and things like that. Also in the first ward zone we have a new monster called the Seed of Hammadon, which is a huge mothership that was created by Hammadon that launches little fighters out of it's bays and you can fully interact with the giant monster and the fighters and things like that."
In addition, the move to free-to-play will introduce a new tutorial section, Clayton told us: "if you know City of Heroes we took one of the entry zones for the hero side, Galaxy City, and it's been completely destroyed by meteors and we've got some exciting new villains and monsters for our new customers to engage with right away. They'll also be fighting next to signature heroes from the City of Heroes IP. So it's a very seamless, clean and contemporary and just a very fun experience all the way."
Speaking about new items and costume pieces Brand Manager Hosun Lee said: "One of the most popular items is going to be something called an enhancement unslotter. Right now when you do a respect in City of Heroes you have to do the entire character, you can't do one power at a time, we're going to give players the ability to basically do respecs a la carte. We're also granting players new costume parts. It's got some great features players have been asking for once again such as glowing energy wings to make you look more angelic, you can leave a trail of fire behind you when you're running, things like that. As well as other consumables such as double xp boosts, ability summons, temporary pets and a lot more than that."
Finally, following issue 21 Paragon are promising monthly updates for VIP subscribers: "We're adding a new kind of content to the game called signature stories." Producer Brian Clayton detailed "Signature stories are exclusive to VIP customers. What's really cool about that is that you now get to partake in the epic moments of the City of Heroes story unfolding and every month we'll be releasing these new signature stories which will be able to be participated in from both the hero perspective and the villain perspective. So each story arc is anywhere from three to five missions, but you'll be able to participate in it from each side so it'll be anywhere from six to ten missions per month."
More screenshots below.