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[Column] General: The Top Superhero MMOs of All Time

BillMurphyBillMurphy Former Managing EditorMember LegendaryPosts: 4,565

The superhero, or comic book-based MMO, is a subgenre that simply hasn’t gotten enough love through the years. There are hardly even enough games out there to even populate this list! Still, I thought it would be fun this week to highlight the experiences that are on offer and also talk about my hopes for the future in this area.

Read more of Michael Bitton's Top Superhero MMOs of All Time.


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  • turinmacleodturinmacleod Staff WriterMember UncommonPosts: 166

    What did you think of the Freedom Force games? I have always wondered why no one took the next step with those games, and developed an MMOARPG  out of the IP.



  • AlverantAlverant Member RarePosts: 1,193

    In a way the advancement of technology has made it hard for CoH to come back. The strength of the costume creator and the variety of villains you fought was possible through isometric graphics style. You can't really use that style anymore. It's why you have restrictions in your appearance in other MMOs. If you allowed for the kind of variety you have in CoH in a gear-based game you'll have to make the gear work with every body type which is too expensive to consider.


    Sadly it seems to be "graphics uber alles" when it comes to MMOs these days.


    "mostly due to the fact that it was a game originally built for the MMO genre as it existed in 2004"

    The phrase "not all change is good" comes to mind. I prefer tabbed targeting and the "action combat" has not worked out well for me when I played WildStar.


    Right now I see one big problem with the superhero genre is that all there is to do is combat. Other games have crafting, housing, skills, etc but none of those (so far) in a superhero MMO. In CoH you are your powers, not some gadget you built out of loot (unless that's your origin but I'm talking about game mechanics). Many things people take for granted in other MMOs would have to be extensively retooled to work in a superhero game if not dropped completely and that might turn potential customers away.

  • squishymastersquishymaster Member UncommonPosts: 13
    You must be super excited about City of Titans!?
  • MikeBMikeB Community ManagerAdministrator RarePosts: 6,515
    Originally posted by turinmacleod

    What did you think of the Freedom Force games? I have always wondered why no one took the next step with those games, and developed an MMOARPG  out of the IP.



    Cool game, but not a huge fan of the setting. Too corny/campy. Another reason why Champions Online turns me off.

    Michael "MikeB" Bitton
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    Twitter: @eMikeB

  • MikeBMikeB Community ManagerAdministrator RarePosts: 6,515
    Originally posted by squishymaster
    You must be super excited about City of Titans!?

    Not particularly. Need to see more of it before I get excited.

    Michael "MikeB" Bitton
    Community Manager
    Twitter: @eMikeB

  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 14,209

    COH was indeed the best of the bunch. Whenever I get an itch to play a superhero MMO that's the one I wish I could go back to.


    MH is OK for what it is. But for me, what it is, isn't an MMO.

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  • FoomerangFoomerang Member UncommonPosts: 5,619

    Should rename the title to "Here's all four Superhero MMOs". ;)

  • TyggsTyggs Member UncommonPosts: 456
    I enjoy Marvel Heroes well enough, but CoH is still the only MMO that actually made you feel like a super hero/villain.

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  • kitaradkitarad Member EpicPosts: 5,763
    No contest there it is City of Heroes. God I miss that game.

  • CypruskaCypruska Member UncommonPosts: 45

    What do you mean there's no nº1 game? I hated these games, but, there's gotta be a nº1. 

    Regarding DC, I hated their movement.

  • CypruskaCypruska Member UncommonPosts: 45
    Originally posted by Foomerang

    Should rename the title to "Here's all four Superhero MMOs". ;)



  • RavenLoonRavenLoon Member UncommonPosts: 7

    I really miss City of  Heroes and City of Villains. Both me and my daughter are lost without it.  lol

    I've tried playing the others (Champions Online, Marvel Heroes and DC Universe) but they don't have the same feel.  I loved the graphics, the game play experience and being able to create really unique characters to play with. I've got my fingers crossed something really cool will be in our Super Hero or Villain futures :)


  • Azaron_NightbladeAzaron_Nightblade Member EpicPosts: 4,817
    Originally posted by kitarad
    No contest there it is City of Heroes. God I miss that game.

    Yep! City of Heroes wins big time! At least until MikeB's invisible #1 game sees the light. Here's to hoping that day actually comes!

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  • DarLorkarDarLorkar Member UncommonPosts: 1,082

    COH was good for a while.


    Starting in issue 3-6 they made the game feel like others. Just a grind. Before that i always felt like a superhero when i played.


    Dunno exactly what it was, but was enough to make me give up on it from then on. Just felt different and like playing any other character in any other game.  


    Changes to enhancements and gameplay from then on and i could never like it anymore and i tried, many times.


    Never have liked any of the other hero games much at all. Never got past mid game, if that far. So i am hoping for a good one to come along too. But not real hopeful.

  • niteflynitefly Member Posts: 340

    What were your runner-ups? I'm asking because I honestly don't know any other Superhero MMOs besides the ones you listed.

    I'm in total agreement with your assessment of City of Heroes/Villains being the best there has ever been in the genre. It had a wonderful character builder, enough power sets to be interesting, a simple setup that allowed for a lot of variance due to the large maximum group size, a very decent community and The Hollows where good players still died on occassion :)

    I also miss the various options for the layout changes on the fly and the ability to write command setup files for your keyboard and power setup. That allowed for a lot of versatility and flexibility in the heat of the moment which I have not been able to the same degree in any other MMO I have played before or since.


  • ArakaneArakane Member UncommonPosts: 204


     My all-time favorite is City of Heroes-none better,in my opinion. As to what I would like to see regarding the future of this "genre" is the return of "City of Heroes"  :)


     edit/ps: that includes city of villains with it :)  Heck,they wouldn't even have to make a new one,which would be great,but I would willingly pay a monthly sub fee just to be able to get the game as it was when last available.

  • Nightbringe1Nightbringe1 Member UncommonPosts: 1,335

    I prefer the tab-targeting found in CoH over the more action oriented combat of DCUO or CO. Marvel is not an MMO.

    I am continue to hope for a revival of CoH, with best of wishes for City of Titans.

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  • Xen0phageXen0phage Member Posts: 3
    I think you got it about right though freedom force should have been in there some place , like right after Champions... any way I would love to see a revival of the CoH franchise for a second one, but as far as games in the foreseeable future my hopes are on city of Titans
  • waynejr2waynejr2 Member EpicPosts: 7,768
    CoX for me. Loved the character creator and the skill selection. The special travel powers were fun and very much missed. The ease of grouping and soloing as well as side kicking and exemplaring. They added a slider for content difficulty which was cool. Loved running bank missions and task force missions.

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  • grimalgrimal Member UncommonPosts: 2,914

    I really don't think there has been a great superhero MMO yet.  I've tried all the listed ones and of the bunch, I think Marvel is the best but it's more of an ARPG.

    i never understood the fascination over CoX.  I liked the combat and effects of the time, but the rest (aside from character customization) didn't really appeal to me.

    id like to see a great superhero MMORPG at some time......

  • Po_ggPo_gg Member EpicPosts: 5,160
    Originally posted by Cypruska
    Originally posted by Foomerang

    Should rename the title to "Here's all four Superhero MMOs". ;)



    Or more like three, since marvel herpes is not one :)


    "How would you rank the superhero MMOs out there?"

    CoH = CO > DCUO. And MH is not on the list, that's just a Marvel-skinned diablo clone, and to be honest I loathe diablo more than I am a Marvel fan :)


    DCUO is 3rd, since that's just a console action/brawler game within an mmorpg coat. Don't get me wrong, it's fun, graphics are great, loved the Legends story (the background comics), but also it's short, and after the cap there's only grind and/or pvp, the builds are pretty limited, etc. And, at the core it's still just an action game... with all the advantages and also drawbacks of the combo system.


    CoH / CoV was great, that game brought me back to the mmorpg genre in '04, Cryptic made plenty of great systems and mechanics into it. Played it until the breakup, then I moved along with Cryptic (but a few years later I started to play CoH again till the closure). Put it on shared first place, because it had more content, had the Architect, and a better community than CO. On the other hand it was clunky at some places, wasn't that free and open as CO, and age really started to show towards the end.


    CO... awesome game, though a bit mis-managed imo. "The Champions IP is just too generic and campy" I agree... if only Marvel stayed with them, that'd have been the best game, hands down. Not to mention that crappy MH wouldn't be on the market today :)

    Beyond the average IP (and lately PWE and the monetisation) it was indeed, as you wrote "an interesting attempt by to drive the subgenre forward." It was so much more than CoH... more cosmetic options, more movement and combat options, and Freeform, which alone tipped the scale for me, against the Powersets of CoH. The graphics were cooler too, not just the cel-shade, but the artstyle as well.

    Easily a first place candidate, but (as above mentioned) CoH had the Architect too, and a lot more like mentoring, the difficulty change, the Villain part with an own storyline, dayjobs, etc. So, it's a shared first place between them. At least for me :)

  • tordurbartordurbar Member UncommonPosts: 421

    Agree with the statement that "except for combat there is not much to do in  super heroes game". However, I did like COH crafting more than any of the others mentioned in this article.


    I also am with the tab targeting crowd. Certainly action-combat is more suited to super hero games but I am hoping that developers point to the lack of success of Wildstar, Tera and others to infer that action-combat is NOT going to make a super popular game.

  • AlverantAlverant Member RarePosts: 1,193
    Originally posted by tordurbar

    Agree with the statement that "except for combat there is not much to do in  super heroes game". However, I did like COH crafting more than any of the others mentioned in this article.

    I'm kind of iffy on CoH crafting. What would have improved it would be little notifications that let you know how much your enhancements were helping. Like if you got a damage buff you'd see 500 +40 instead of 540 over the target when you hit them. Then have a similar message over your character to reflect the endurance cost.

    Another thing that would have helped is the ability to shuffle around your enhancements for free however often you wanted.

    As much as I love CoH and wish it would come back, I'm not blind to its faults. The problem is I can't think of ways to fix the inherant weaknesses in the genre (crafting, skills, etc). One idea I had was that in addition to salvage some enemies dropped clues and you get enough different clues (say 6), you'd put them together to reveal a short mission to stop a plot by that group. You could get a Deduction skill to lower that number.

    I'd have to play more MMOs to figure out what sort of skills would work in a superhero MMO. But the closing of CoH and the disappointment that is WildStar has driven me away from MMOs for now (and maybe for good).

  • KonfessKonfess Member RarePosts: 1,667

    I never tried the run & gymnastics travel forms.  As a healer I always hovered over the combat.  Anyways I expect the gymnastics looked a lot like the super jump in the Matrix Online (MxO).  The real hold up is fear of being sued for copyright infringement.  You do know that both DC and Marvel hold copyrights over the term “superhero.”  Can’t be used commercially without them.

    I can sit here and brainstorm the list of features that if implemented could lead to infringement.  No character creator can allow a muscle bound green (gray, red, blue) fellow in purple stretchy pants for one.

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  • ApollosWillApollosWill Member UncommonPosts: 82
    I loved city of heroes for the world and community.
    I really like champions for the customization of powers.
    I find the DCO have a nice character creator, and like you can find newo items you can equip visuel or not. The pvp is also the best in that game.
    I have never felt more powerful as a superhero than in the game "infamous", because of the animation and how you could effect your surroundings and found the puzzle in "arkham asylum" challenging.
    I liked the small and random events in "ultimate spiderman", such as car running nuts, people close to fall of buildings etc.
    I want the above ingrediences mixed and put in no. 1 superhero mmorpg.
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