LET'S TALK ABOUT CITY OF FUCKING HEROES AND HOW IT'S FREE TO PLAY
That's right, everybody, the only good superhero and supervillain MMO is now free-to-play, forever! So, of course, everyone should immediately download it and fuck around with the character creator.
You can make things like this!
And then you can take them into THREE different varieties of sewers or office building! Ha ha! Actually, I kid, they've added a whole LOAD of crap since the last time you've played. Power customization! Doppelgangers! The ability to create your own missions and storylines! An alignment system! New zones! Crafting! An actual endgame! Travel powers at level 4! Inherent fitness! A mirror universe with evil good guys and:
GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS.
Okay, but how does this all work? How do I play this game, for free, and what happens if I've already paid for this shit at some point in the past???
Well, you go to www.cityofheroes.com and follow the big link that says SIGN UP FOR THIS SHIT if you've never ever played this before, and sign up for this shit! Or, you look at the top of the screen, where it says "continue to cityofheroes.com" and click that, and then look for the ncsoft launcher thing, and that will let you download this stuff if you've already got an account.
There are three basic tiers of players in City of Heroes: Freedom. You've got your Free players
, which are the people that have never spent any money on the game. These people get access to most of the game, but are barred from a lot of features (like crafting, access to the mission architect, etc.). They can't join supergroups or, I believe, access the global chat channel, mostly to keep people from spamming the fuck out of everything.
Then you have your Premium
players, people that have either purchased the game in the past or have spent any money at all in the store. A whole hell of a lot opens up just by spending as little as five bucks in the store. There's also a system in place that permanently unlocks content normally reserved for subscribers and increases your inventory, that rewards you based on how long you've maintained a subscription or how much you've spent in the store. For every month you've subsribed you get a Veteran Rewards token, which you can spend on an in-game menu. They are arranged in tiers, each of which you must fill before you can move on to the next. Each token unlocks a badge and various rewards like costume pieces, temporary powers and in-game items. You also gain tokens by spending money in the in-game store on various mission packs and costumes (probably costumes). Both premium and free-to-play accounts are limited to only two character slots, though you can purchase more. Because they desire all of your money. Fuckin' capitalism. And if you've already got more, you get to choose which two you activate (and you may have access to more, depending on what you've purchased in the past.
The third tier is the VIP tier. It's the standard $15 a month subscription fee, and they get access to basically everything, and exclusive access to the Incarnate system (which is the endgame). Certain costume pieces and powersets are only available in the store, however, though VIP players also get 400 "Paragon Points" (what you use to buy shit in the store) every month. If you enjoy the game a bunch, this is still the best option.
There's a more in-depth breakdown of the tiers and vet reward stuff here.
Hell, there's a whole faq in there.
So now I'm in the game? Where does everyone play?
Everyone that matters is on Virtue.
That's where all the PA Forums folks are, anyways. Don't worry about supergroups, because there's a global chat channel that crosses all servers and both factions that everyone can use. To access it, all you have to do is right click any of your chat tabs on your chat window, hit "join channel" and type in "Penny Arcade." You might need to be unsilenced. You can also choose a global handle so you can use your forum name so people will still recognize you in the channel even if you run around as "Captain TightGuns" or something.
A word of warning, if you choose to play on Virtue STAY OUT OF POCKET D unless you really want to see a catgirl wedding. The downside to the character creator is that text animal chat can and will happen, and it mostly happens in the cross faction nightclub. Just stay the fuck away, and you'll be fine.
Anyways, here's a couple more pictures.