The Let's Play Archive

City of Heroes

by Cleretic

Part 25: Welcome to Vanguard - Cleretic

Welcome to Vanguard (Rikti War Zone arc #1)

Click here for the full 1920x1080 image

The Rikti War Zone was revamped in Issue 10 from the Rikti Crash Site; as you might expect, the centerpiece of the zone is this huge-ass flying saucer and the enormous crater it left. This ship, the Rikti Mothership, is also the central
focus of one of the game's few non-instanced 'raid' missions which we may or may not cover.

First though, the Rikti.

The Rikti are an enormous part of the game's lore. Aliens from another dimension, in 2002 they attacked Earth without warning. While the war was worldwide, the main fight took place in Paragon City. After six months of a brutal massacre, only salvaged by the Rikti's weakness to magic, scientists finally pinpointed the Rikti's home dimension, and organized a plan to stop the invasion.

Two teams were organized: The Alpha team led a frontal decoy assault to draw the attention of the Rikti forces, while the Omega Team, lead by the extremely original Hero One, snuck through to the Rikti homeworld and magically destroyed the connection between the dimensions. Five years later, the Rikti overcame this difficulty and invaded again, and the events of the Rikti War Zone start.

In-game, the Rikti are primarily armed with Energy attacks, although some do use Psionics. Fighting almost entirely at range, the Rikti's strength is in numbers; nothing special individually, they have Rikti Monkeys acting as cannon fodder, and Communications Officers capable of opening portals that create Conscripts until destroyed.

But before we get to those, let's meet the character showing us through it: Clerisy.

Clerisy was made in early 2008 and, as you might have put together, gradually became my main character. I'll spare you all the details, but suffice to say he's very close to my heart.

As far as the game goes, there are fourteen Archetypes - think character classes. Each has a different niche to cover, and has access to different primary and secondary powersets. Clerisy is a Brute, a melee DPS AT with high, but not the highest, attack and defense. The Brute is largely built around the gimmick 'Fury', which is almost suspiciously similar to Rage in World of Warcraft - the more damage they deal, and the more damage they take, the higher their Fury bar raises and the more damage they deal. At full fury Brutes can deal five times their base damage. Brutes get a melee DPS primary and armor secondary, and when a fight starts they tend to be the first ones cracking skulls.

Clerisy's powersets are Electric Melee/Electric Armor. Electric Melee is primarily AoE-focused, dealing Energy damage much like the Rikti with a secondary effect of draining enemy endurance, needed to execute powers (an effect of dubious use against high-ranking enemies that have up to four times the normal endurance amount, but can help against groups of minions). Electric Armor is focused on resisting Energy damage, with respectable resistances against everything else and a secondary focus on mitigating endurance reduction. As an end result, Clerisy is incredibly good at fighting a large amount of enemies that primarily deal energy damage, for a prolonged amount of time. He also has super speed from power pools (small themed powers available to all ATs) but that's not important right now.

Clerisy made his name and his fortune fighting Rikti, so it's only fitting that he show us how it's done.

This is our contact for the first two RWZ arcs, Levantera. She never actually fights, but I believe she's shown to have a sword in the comics.

Welcome to Vanguard
Part: One

Levantera posted:

I am glad that you have come to talk to me, Clerisy. I am Levantera, and I am part of the Vanguard. We are the only defense our world has against the Rikti, and we are looking for others with great power to assist us in this, regardless of which side of the law they may be from. We have heard of your power, and thus, on behalf of the Lady Grey, I would like to offer you membership to the Vanguard.

Vanguard membership will provide you with many opportunities. In fact, we think you'll find action with the Vanguard very rewarding.

Let me welcome you to the ranks of the Vanguard. This is a great honor, and a great day. I will now send you to speak with several others, so that you may understand a bit about how the Vanguard works. But first, a word of note. Here, we fight the Rikti, not each other. The Vanguard has no care for where you came from, and no time to waste on internal strife. Hero or Villain, we are all here to defend our Earth.

Now, Borea will wish to speak with you. You can find her just on the other side of this column behind me.

Obviously Borea and Levantera are sisters, and both trained under the same order (their order is unimportant and never mentioned anywhere else).

Borea posted:

Clerisy, right? Good to meet you. I heard you were going to join up. I'm Borea, and I help to coordinate Vanguard activity in the Rikti War Zone. Any time you're looking for something to do, come talk to me and I'll see if there's a mission for you. Hey, you know what? I think I have an easy one for you right now. Defeat 10 Rikti anywhere in the zone, then come back to me. I'll even throw in a little something as a reward when you return.

I'm not even going to show this, it went by so quickly.

Borea posted:

Aren't you talented? That was an easy one, but a good start. Take this requisition form, show it to Serpent Drummer. He's over by the Armory. He'll get you some Vanguard gear. Remember you can always come back to me if you ever need something to do.

Borea gives infinitely repeatable missions. We aren't going to see them because they don't really add anything.

You might be able to figure it out yourself, but just in case you don't, Serpent Drummer is a martial artist.

Serpent Drummer posted:

Hello, Clerisy. I am the Serpent Drummer. I lead the Gauntlet, the branch of Vanguard charged with carrying battle to the Rikti. Borea said I am to give you access to your first piece of Vanguard gear, and so I will. Here are a pair of Vanguard Gloves. You can equip them at any tailor. Wear them with pride.

We may work together later, but for now, it might be good for you to understand how the divisions within the Vanguard are set up. Talk to Gaussian. He should be able to provide a measure of enlightenment.

The Vanguard Gloves mentioned aren't equipment, but rather costume pieces, parts of the armor Vanguard wear.

They can all be unlocked with Vanguard Merits. Regardless, we now move on to Gaussian.

It's not mentioned, but Gaussian is the Vanguard's chief tactician.

Gaussian posted:

Drummer sent you to talk to me? He's a funny guy. Keeps trying to prove... Well, that's not important. If you want to know how the Vanguard works, let me lay it out for you:

The Vanguard is split into 4 main divisions: The Helm, The Gauntlet, The Shield, and The Herald.

The Herald is our public relations division, run by a heroine named Incandescent. She's not normally on-site, usually too busy working with the UN.

The Shield is our security division. Levantera and Borea share joint leadership of it. They handle security and most defensive roles.

The Gauntlet division under Serpent Drummer is our main offensive branch. Most troops you see taking action against the Rikti are Gauntlet troops.

The Helm is our intelligence division, run by the Dark Watcher. They gather the information we need to keep the Rikti contained.

The Lady Grey is the overall commander of Vanguard. She's powerful, well connected, and has been around at least as long as Recluse. She sets our overall strategy, with the Dark Watcher as her second in command.

Speaking of which, I've been told that the Dark Watcher wants to talk to you.

Dark Watcher actually already existed within the game's lore before his first appearance. He was one of the first members of the Freedom Phalanx, the game's central group of superheroes. He vanished in the 50s, only returning to help lead the Vanguard.

Dark Watcher posted:

Clerisy. I'm glad you've joined us.

I've studied the Rikti for longer than you know. To most people, they are still a mystery. Where are they from? Why did they attack us? The answers are all there, if you know where to look. I'd suggest you keep your eyes open. Many things are about to change. Be ready for it.

That's all I've got to say for now. You best head over to Lady Grey. She's requested an audience with you. You can find her by the trainer.

Lady Grey was never explained. She's known to be very old, never had her powers explained, and in several instances clearly knows far more than she should. But her actual origins were never implied.

Lady Grey posted:

It is our distinct pleasure to welcome you into the Vanguard, Clerisy. We have studied your prior adventures, and know that you shall prove yourself admirably against the Invader's forces. When you are ready, We may have a great undertaking for you, but put it out of mind for the moment. Instead, We suggest you now return to Miss Levantera, so that she can provide you with your first real task against our foe.

Well, it's good we're done with that run-around. We go back to Levantera to return the mission.

Levantera posted:

Well done, Clerisy. As you complete missions for us you will have a chance to receive Vanguard salvage. You can use salvage to make Vanguard items and costume pieces from our salvage machines located in the base.

I've just received a report... Urgent business upstairs... Looks like you picked the right time to sign up.

You've become something of a sensation among our new recruits. Keep it up and you'll go far.

Welcome to Vanguard
Part: Two

Levantera posted:

We've gotten reports that the Rikti are about to raid one of our bunkers. I've already sent two of our heroes, but they're both young and inexperienced. I would like you to be there as well.

The main thing you must do is link up with the other heroes. That should be enough of a threat to draw out the Raid's leader. Once he shows himself, or herself I suppose, I can't tell with the Rikti... Anyway, once the Leader pops up, crush him.

Oh, and there's one other thing. Keep a look out for any intelligence. Shortly after you returned from your last mission, we received a tip about the upcoming attack. We don't know who sent it, but the Rikti might.

Click here for the full 1920x1080 image

Our first real mission! We have three objectives here: To rescue two heroes, and to take down the raid leader. There's a few groups of Vanguard soldiers fighting off the Rikti, mostly with guns and magic attacks. One or two groups succeed with heavy casualties, more out of luck than anything else.

The average size of the groups in this mission. Pretty small for what Clerisy tends to deal with.

The first hero we rescue is Faultline. Unfortunately, Faultline is slow and stupid, so I don't have any pictures of him in action this update, but he has power over earth and stone in a combination that players can't actually have. Earth attacks do Smashing damage, and tend to have a secondary effect of debuffing defense.

[NPC] Faultline: Thanks for the help! Have you seen Fusionette?

Faultline's Bio posted:

After he rediscovered his heroic roots, young Jim Temblor has been doing all he can to redeem the name of his father: Faultline. Following several intense battles with the Rikti, Faultline and his girlfriend Fusionette have joined the Vanguard to help fight the alien invaders.

Faultline (also the name of a zone) was actually a main character in Issue 8, To Protect and Serve. His story is unimportant outside of it, and will definitely be covered later, but: His father, the original Faultline, was a hero subject to an in-universe retcon to make him a villain. The retcon was flawed, short-sighted and incomplete, and by the end of the storyline Faultline's name was redeemed.

Our second ally is Fusionette, an Energy Blaster also originally introduced in I8. Unlike Faultline, she does keep up, but is shot down relatively quickly.

[NPC] Fusionette: It's always nice to have help! Let's go!

Fusionette's Bio posted:

Fusionette is one of the Nuclear 90; 90 children from around the world all born in one year with an unusual mutation that gives them natural magnetic nuclear fusion reactors for hearts, and the ability to channel energy from their internal reactor for a variety of super powers. Like many of the Nuclear 90, Fusionette has decided to use her powers for the betterment of mankind as a hero. She has recently joined the Vanguard along with her boyfriend Faultline in order to help fight the Rikti.

Fusionette is the only member of the Nuclear 90 the game ever introduces, but counting player characters I think they number somewhere around three hundred.

I wasn't happy with the last picture, so here's another one. The orange on Clerisy's hands is Hasten, a super speed power that increases recharge rate for every power by almost double.

The Raid Leader spawns when Fusionette is rescued, regardless of Faultline's status.

[NPC] Raid Leader: Situation Handling: Personally
[NPC] Raid Leader: Fray: Enter!

By the way, Rikti talk weird. Get used to it.

He goes down so easily I barely remembered to take a picture during the fight.

Levantera posted:

Looks like you signed up just in time, Clerisy. I'd like to say that Bunker raids were uncommon, but here in the War Zone anything's possible.

Welcome to Vanguard
Part: Three

Levantera posted:

As you know, the Vanguard is in charge of containing the Rikti threat. Some are not happy with this. Chief among our critics is Ms. Liberty and her Longbow Troops.

They interfere, they act on their own authority, and cause us no end of problems. But still, we fight for the same end. So, when some of them get in trouble, we take it on ourselves to help them.

Such a situation has happened, and I'd like you to take care of it.

I've had my problems with Longbow in the past, but as a member of the Vanguard, that is behind me.

Even though their current operation is a slap in our faces, they are still allies, and should be helped. A number of their soldiers have gone missing after a scouting expedition. We think we've located them, but they appear to have been captured by the Rikti. Your job is to help them out.

Well, I know you'll do your best.

Longbow, you say?

There's not much to Longbow, really. Over in City of Villains, they're a military organization devoted to combatting the forces of crime. Most of their members use guns that deal Lethal damage, sometimes while wearing jetpacks, and a lot of their higher-ranking members have superpowers. They aren't all that special, but have a couple problem enemy types for some players.

They're led by Ms. Liberty, who's also leader of the Vindicators, a supergroup entirely consisting of the Freedom Phalanx's sidekicks. The Rikti War Zone is the first time heroes ever encountered Longbow, which is noteworthy.

This mission introduces us to I think my favorite map type in the game, the Rikti Caves.

Click here for the full 1920x1080 image

As we enter, something confuses the AI, as the two spawns holding NPCs hostage near the door become alert. They don't attack, they just sound off their 'being attacked' lines.

[NPC] Captain Dietrich: Alien scum.
[NPC] Rikti Captor: Violence: Unnecessary. Your Surrender: Preferable
[NPC] Advanced Drone: Attack: Vanguard!
[NPC] Captain Dietrich: Great. Vanguard.
[NPC] Rikti Captor: Attack: Repulse!
[NPC] Lt. Sefu Tendaji: Invader, you block my path.
[NPC] Captor: Your Mission: Failure
[NPC] Lt. Sefu Tendaji: Clerisy? I heard you were with the Vanguard now.
[NPC] Captor: Annihilate: Intruder!

Tendaji is the first one we come across.

Sefu Tendaji, seen here clapping rather than actually helping, is a Longbow Ballista - elite Longbow agents with force fields and energy blasts. The fact they actually have defenses makes them one of the more troublesome enemies, but this guy's on our side.

[NPC] Lt. Sefu Tendaji: I thank you. Now, let us rescue the rest of my squad.

Lt. Sefu Tendaji's Bio posted:

When Sefu Tendaji returned to his native Kenya after the Rikti war, he saw cities under siege by Arachnos-sponsored warlords while humanitarian aid was stolen by flying mercenaries. He swore a vow to set things right, and joined Longbow to fight against chaos and injustice.

He also gives us his two cents on the Vanguard.

Clue posted:

After you rescued him, Lt. Sefu Tendaji thanked you, and offered a tip:

'My thanks to you, friend. I see you are a member of the Vanguard. Despite what some think, I do not see a reason for the rivalry between our groups, as we are all fighting to protect our world. In fact, there was some information we recently gained that could be of use to you, but our resources are too thin to handle it. We have word of a Rikti assault group that has managed to sneak past our defenses. I will give you their last known location.

Oh, and do not mention this to Captain Dietrich. She is an excellent and dedicated leader, but she does not see things between our agencies as I do.'

A Longbow Ballista should be a great ally, but Tendaji goes down fighting the very next spawn, who are protecting Captain Dietrich.

Dietrich has a gun and a jetpack.

[NPC] Captain Dietrich: I did not need your assistance.
[NPC] Captain Dietrich: Come, let us find the others.

Dietrich's Bio posted:

Captain Wilhelmina Marlena Dietrich has proven herself as one of Longbow's top-notch field leaders in several major actions during her career. She has recently been placed in control of Longbow's Anti-Rikti Operations. She has long been a critic of the Vanguard and it's open-door policies.

Clue posted:

After you rescued her, Captain Wilhelmina Dietrich was quite willing to share her opinion of the Vanguard:

'I suppose I should thank you for not bungling this attempted rescue too badly. Other than barging in like horde of vandals and alerting all Rikti to our investigation, I am certain that you meant well. No more could be expected from

undisciplined amateurs. Now, let us see what we can recover from this mess.'

She's also a bitch. Completely unrelated to these two facts, she proceeds to fly into the next spawn and die before I get done copy-pasting her bio.

Click here for the full 1153x758 image

This should give you more of an idea of what Clerisy's missions tend to look like. There's even more around the corner.

[NPC] Guardian: Intention: Take prisoner. Not: Eat you.
[NPC] Longbow P.O.W.: This is it, man! Game over!
[NPC] Guardian: Identity: Clerisy. Affiliation: Vanguard. Imperative: Terminate
[NPC] Longbow P.O.W.: Clerisy? But you're Vanguard!

I admit I didn't actually read this exchange until putting this update together, and I've been playing for years. It's a fun little thing.

It's actually possible, this unnamed Longbow P.O.W. is even worse at staying alive than Tendaji and Dietrich. Lucky we don't actually need to keep these guys alive.

[NPC] Longbow P.O.W.: Okay, man, let's do this!

Unlike his superiors, the P.O.W. doesn't even have an opinion to give us. Regardless, the mission's done and we leave.

Levantera posted:

You've done an excellent job protecting our interests and putting Longbow in their place. I'll have the Helm examine the intelligence from Lt. Tendaji. This could be quite a windfall.

Oh, and don't mind anything Captain Dietrich may have said. She's very vocal in her criticism of us. I'd say many here have a story about W. M. Dietrich.

Welcome to Vanguard
Part: Four

Levantera posted:

The Helm have confirmed the information Lt. Tendaji gave you. We've located a Rikti assault group. It seems they snuck past our defenses. This is an excellent chance to surprise them before they attack us. Your mission will be to take out the assault group as well its leader.

We have a helicopter ready for you up top. It will take you to the area, then you will proceed to the site on your own. There will no doubt be other Rikti around, but your main objective is to take out the Rikti assault group and its leader. Good hunting!

Click here for the full 1920x1080 image

Sometimes City of Heroes doesn't handle distance well, and this is one of them. Take my word for it, we're in a forest with a fire-cleared area in the middle. This mission is ridiculously short; our job is to find and kill the Rikti leader, and nothing else. I find him about a minute after taking this screenshot.

[NPC] Rikti Leader Sal'tar: Surprise Conclusion: Urgent. Vanguard Activity: Likely
[NPC] Rikti Leader Sal'tar: Expression: Exasperation!

This is what most of my screenshots taken mid-fight look like. I'm pretty sure the foot just above me belongs to the Rikti leader, but I really don't know.

[NPC] Rikti Leader Sal'tar: Conclusion: Even With: Advanced Intelligence: No Plan Survives Contact!

Clue posted:

These strange clear documents were in a sealed container carried by the leader of the Rikti assault group. They look important. Levantera will want to see them.

Levantera posted:

So that intelligence from Tendaji was correct? Interesting. What's more interesting are those documents. Those look like an attack plan. We'll get this to the Helm, they should be able to decipher it. In the meantime, something's come up.

Welcome to Vanguard
Part: Five

Levantera posted:

The Rikti have performed a mass-transport into a section of the Rogue Isles. We don't know why, but we suspect that they're planting explosive devices. Your mission will be to destroy their bombs, and to evacuate any civilians still trapped in the area.

I know the Rogue Isles doesn't seem like a place worth saving, but it is, if only for the fact that the Rikti want to attack it.

The Vanguard's mission is to stop the Rikti any where, any time. So, If you thought you signed up for something else, I'm sorry. You should have joined Longbow instead.

You'll have 2 different things to do here. First off, there's the bombs. You need to destroy those. More importantly, there are a number of civilians trapped in the area. Rescuing them will help to make us look good. Or be the right thing to do, I suppose.

Click here for the full 1920x1080 image

Welcome to the Rogue Isles, the main locale for City of Villains. Specifically, we're at the PTS in Cap Au Diable, the world's premiere demon-powered power plant. This is one of the not-secrets the game has: Technically speaking the PTS being demon-powered is a secret, but everyone knows anyway so it's not really worth spoiling.

The main objective is these bombs. They turn from red, to yellow, to blue as they take damage, and then eventually explode, doing a decent chunk of damage to everyone in the radius.

We also rescue some civilians. One of them has something interesting to say (and a unique model, but I forgot to take a picture of it)

[NPC] Arnold Decker: You aren't gonna believe this, but the most amazing thing just happened!

Clue posted:

One of the civilians you rescued, a young man named Arnold Decker, had a strange story to tell:

'It was the weirdest thing. They were rounding us up, I think to keep us away from those things they brought. Never can tell what people can do in this town, you know? Anyway, one of them saw me, and just stopped in his tracks. He pulled me out of the crowd, just lifted me up, and he was looking at me real intense. I thought I was dead for sure, but he set me down again, took off his helmet, and kneeled down to look me in the eye. Then, he said my name. I could barely understand it, their voices are so weird, but he was trying to tell me something. He said, 'Arnold, take care of Mom.' Then he tried to help me run away, but one of the commanders froze him in his tracks with one of those mind-bolts.

I don't know what it all means. How could he have known about my Mom? She's been in a bad way ever since my older brother Ben was lost in the Rikti War.'

Well I'm sure that won't be relevant to anything in the future at all! The other two civilians we rescue are somewhat less forthcoming with surely unimportant information.

[NPC] Leah Washingtom: At least it wasn't the Vahzilok!
[NPC] Ronald King: I thought we were going to die!

The Vahzilok are an early-level group of Frankensteins and Frankenstein's Monsters. Nobody likes them because of their high amount of Toxic damage, defenses against which are rare.

Levantera posted:

You handled that situation well. Which is good. Because we've translated the information you've captured. And there's trouble coming our way.

Welcome to Vanguard
Part: Finale

Levantera posted:

The Rikti are assaulting the base. We need your help now.

There's no time to waste. You've got to get up there and defend the Vanguard base. Others are joining in the fight as well, but we really need your help on this.

Click here for the full 1920x1080 image

This is what the Vanguard central base looks like from the outside. Well, when it's being attacked by Rikti, which is fairly often. We can see Fusionette down there, so we rescue her immediately. Faultline's in the mission too. In fact this mission is almost a carbon copy of the first mission with them in it, just on a different map.

[NPC] Fusionette: We have to stop meeting like this, people will talk.
[NPC] Faultline: Thanks again, Clerisy.

Some pictures of Energy Blast as used by Fusionette. Energy Blast of course primarily does Energy damage (same as Clerisy's electricity and Rikti weaponry) and its main secondary feature is knockback. Players generally aren't a big fan, because knockback just ruins positioning.

[NPC] Raid Leader: Leader Status: Entering Battlefield
[NPC] Raid Leader: Intention: Assure Victory. Method: Personal!

Levantera posted:

Once again, you do not dissapoint.

The information you recovered should prove valuable, if my theory is correct. You see, that warning about the raid? It was sent to us by someone who identified themself as a man who's been missing in action since the Rikti War. An American soldier named Benjamin A. Decker. Now isn't that interesting?

I don't know what you're getting at.

Next: The Strange Case of Benjamin A. Decker