The Let's Play Archive

City of Heroes

by Cleretic

Part 31: The Horror of War - Part Two

The Horror of War
Part: Four

Dark Watcher posted:

We're getting the truth about the Rikti War out any way possible. Incandescent is using every resource of the Herald Division and Dietrich has taken it to the Longbow brass. They're disseminating it all over the city and the country through Freedom Corps. The Nemesis Army is attempting to suppress the information, by any means necessary. One place where they may succeed is in the Rogue Isles. It's tough enough to get any information out through the layers of Arachnos control, but now there's a wave of Nemesis attacks on news agencies and reporters. The people of the Rogue Isles deserve to know the truth and I want you to help make sure they learn it.

You're going to the WSPDR building. The Nemesis Army has cut the main power, but WSPDR has set up 4 back-up generators. You've got to make sure that at least 1 generator survives. We have a few people on the scene to help you, but Arachnos has mobilized against what they see as a Nemesis Army invasion, so it's going to get difficult. Your objectives are to protect at least 1 generator, rescue Amanda Vines, WSPDR's star reporter, and take out the leader of the Arachnos forces. That should give WSPDR enough time and power to transmit.

It might be a good idea to have allies along on this one. Just my advice.

This time, we're taking that advice, and calling in some backup. Both to deal with the problem enemies that are going to come up, and to make this update less boring, I've got a friend of mine in to help.

Our lady on the left is Raine Heartfall, a Dark/Dark Controller. I'll have her explain her own build.

Raine Heartfall is a controller, which as the name suggests is a control heavy archetype. Most controllers don't do shit for damage, though secondaries for the archetype contain good support, be it heals and buffs, or debuffs. The Controller gimmick is called Containment, in which once you have an enemy mezzed, any subsequent damage done to it is increased. It's a relatively flimsy AT, with low hitpoints, and very little in the way of protective powers, until you get into things like epic power pools, which doesn't apply here, as I didn't use them the way many controllers do. In a nutshell you don't do damage much, but you can lock down large groups of enemies and either support your team as they bring them down, or weaken those held enemies so it's easier for your teammates to bring them down.

Raine is Darkness Control, with Darkness Affinity as secondary. Darkness Control is not only a recent set but it's also special in that it's pet heavy, but also control heavy; unlike sets like Plant Control which is control heavy but not pet heavy, or Illusion which is pet heavy but has very little in the way of hard control. It isn't as good as either of those sets, but does contain a bit of that "best of both worlds" feel. All of Darkness Control's attacks contain some measure of -tohit, which makes it harder for enemies to hit you, and its controls include a single target hold, a single target immob, an area of effect hold in which you choose its placement, a cone fear, a cone immob, a point blank aoe stun, and a single target confuse. The confuse is especially great because you can see at a glance if a target is confused, as the silhouette of the enemy will blacken completely, as opposed to the purple bubbles floating over the heads of enemies from controls included in sets like Mind Control. There are two pet powers in Darkness Control, one of them is your standard long lasting controller pet, the Umbra Beast, which is very good for damage, though isn't exactly top of the class. The other pet power, Haunt, is similar to an Illusion power in that you can't cast it without having an enemy to target. This power creates two Shades, which do equal amounts fear, and damage. It's possible for these to solo an even con boss with very little trouble.

Somewhere in that big black mess are all of these mentioned pets. The blue guys are Phantoms, Raine's Lore pets of choice.

Darkness Affinity is better known to most people as Dark Miasma. It is essentially the very same set, but with a few powers replaced. But before I get to that, let's talk about what's actually included in Darkness Affinity. First off is one of the greatest heals in the game, Twilight Grasp, which is a point blank aoe heal that requires a target to initiate, as you're basically draining from your opponents. Tar Patch is another star, a power where you select an area within a certain range of yourself, and then cast a circle of sticky goo that not only slows your mobs, but also lowers their resistance to attacks from any and all teammates; this is a fan favorite power. There's also a toggle, Darkest Night, which is pretty endurance heavy but lowers tohit and damage on the target that the toggle is placed upon. There is a point blank aoe stun in this set that also happens to rez anyone around within a certain distance - a favorite on large groups. Black Hole, I'm not going to talk about because it's shit and I've never taken it and neither should you. Dark Servant is yet another pet, bringing the total pets for this combination of powersets up to four. It's mostly mez/heal based, and is a good contribution. You want your Servant up as often as possible.

Now for the replaced bits, and what they were replaced -with.- Fearsome Stare was included in Darkness Control, and Petrifying Gaze was renamed to Dark Grasp, also in Darkness Control. So this left two power slots open. One was replaced with Fade, a point blank defense buff that lasts a short time but affects both teammates and pets, and has the benefit of actually causing any teammates affected to dim a bit, and gain glowy eyes. If you're looking it's very easy to look and see who is under the effects of Fade. The second is something I've felt that for a power gamer like myself is a little overpowered, Soul Absorption. Those who have played a dominator or blaster with Psionic secondaries will know the glory of a power called Drain Psyche. Drain Psyche is a power that basically drains regeneration from anyone in a certain range, and instead boosts your regeneration recovery and endurance recovery. Soul Absorption is the same thing. But it's team wide. If you and your team drop into a mob of 10-15, and cast this power, everyone gets the benefit. It's a game changer, and honestly something I thought they'd nerf, if this game would've lasted a little longer.

Fade also happens to look amazing.

For Raine, I took a patron power pool for it's defensive toggle, as I defense cap all of my characters. In addition, she took Fighting, Flight, Speed, and Leadership for her powerpools. I consider her to be as min/maxed as a dark/dark controller can be, with many billions of inf dumped into her. I didn't know it wouldn't mean shit in a scant few months.

Controllers are far more complex than your typical burly brute like Clerisy, so I thought it'd be good to get a differing take. Anyway, to the mission at hand!

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WSPDR is the Rogue Isles' only independent news source. Sadly, we don't get to see what qualifies as news in a superpowered crime-ridden hellhole, I imagine it's fascinating. We have three jobs to take care of, and if I'm honest it gets a bit hectic trying to manage them, given that...

[NPC] Tarantula: Lord Recluse doesn't bow to your authority!
[NPC] Mu Striker: Yeah! What he said!
[NPC] Tarantula: I was hoping you'd do that.
[NPC] Gewehr Jaeger: For Lord Nemesis!

Pretty much the entire map is engulfed in a conflict between Nemesis and Arachnos. Arachnos wins almost all the time, but both factions are hostile to the subject of our first of three objectives.

[NPC] Vanguard Sergeant: Clerisy, help! We're under attack!
[NPC] Vanguard Sergeant: Clerisy, help! We've got to protect the generator!

There are four of these generators (not normally transparent, Raine just can't help herself), and we have to keep at least one of them alive. This isn't a hard task; the generators aren't being constantly attacked, if you kill all the Nemesis and Arachnos in the immediate area they'll be safe, and Vanguard allied spawns will hold down the fort pretty well until you can get there. (Not pictured: We barely even had to consider this objective, one of the Vanguard spawns actually fended off Arachnos by itself)

We save even more generators in part due to Raine's willingness to show off her Vorpal Judgement power. Of all the Judgement powers, Vorpal is kind of the oddball - implied to be Dragon Ball Z-level super speed, you vanish and colored silhouettes kick every enemy in a cone in front of you before you reappear. It's a bit unwieldy, but it's useful as both an attack and a panic button, since higher-leveled Vorpal Judgements have some defenses in play while you teleport.

Anyway, for our second objective, we have to fight... ooh boy. Silver Mantis.

Silver Mantis' Bio posted:

Tamura Shirai is fascinated with the smooth, sleek feel of metal. Funding the augmentation of her body to pure metal was an expensive proposition, however, so she turned to crime. During one of her robberies she encountered Black Scorpion, on a job for Lord Recluse. Tamura realized an opportunity when she saw it, and rather than fighting with Arachnos over the ill-gotten loot, formed an alliance that has lasted to this day.

[NPC] Silver Mantis: Why can't Marshal Brass take care of this?
[NPC] Silver Mantis: Oh! Well, hello there, prey!
[NPC] Silver Mantis: I love it when they want to dance.

Silver Mantis is a Spines/Invulnerability Scrapper, with some extra minor little toys. She's widely considered among the hardest 'plain' AVs to fight in the game, up there with Statesman and Lord Recluse themselves if not above them. Reasons for this include: Her Spike Trap power that slows afflicted targets to a crawl and prevents any form of escape, her access to Build Up which temporarily almost doubles her attack power, her -Defense in every power, her inherrent resistances to Smashing and Lethal damage, the fact she gets temporary capped resistances on hitting 25% health...

[NPC] Silver Mantis: I bet you like it like that, don't you?
[NPC] Silver Mantis: You don't have to start slow on my account. I like it rough.
[NPC] Silver Mantis: Yes! You're so... Forceful!
[NPC] Silver Mantis: YES! YES! YES!
[NPC] Silver Mantis: Ooooh... What a fighter...
[NPC] Silver Mantis: See you again sometime.
[NPC] Silver Mantis: Call me...

And that to be completely honest, we don't want to give her the satisfaction.

We get a bit overexcited about getting her to stop. Whoops.

Our third objective is to rescue WSPDR's interpid reporter Amanda Vines. In truth we don't even intentionally do this, she somehow accidentally gets rescued by the massive rolling conflict and finds us.

[NPC] Amanda Vines: Thanks, Raine Heartfall! The truth will win out!

Raine denotes important pictures by spicing them up even further with Instagram filters.

Dark Watcher posted:

I hate to feel like I'm helping Recluse, but it's important that as many people know the truth about Nemesis' involvement in starting the Rikti War as possible. You did excellent work under difficult conditions. But it's not over yet.

The Horror of War
Part: Five

Dark Watcher posted:

We knew that this news would have an impact on the Rikti, but we didn't realize how much of an impact. Our allies in the Traditionalist faction are nearly suicidal. We have psychics riding their mental network trying to keep them calm. We're getting reports of violent purges among the Restructurists, however. A lot of them were humans who bought the Rikti story that they were attacked first. But the most surprising news has come out of the Rikti from their homeworld military. One of their generals has decided that she can no longer pursue this war, and has contacted us about sanctuary for her and her troops. The Rikti Military won't take a desertion like this well. We're going to need someone of your prowess to make sure this happens.

The General is named Bu'Dekka. She's fresh from the Rikti homeworld, and high up in their chain of command. If she and her troops are willing to give up the fight because they found out the truth about the war, it tells us a lot about the state of things both here and on the Rikti homeworld. Your goal is to meet up with General Bu'Dekka and attempt to aid her in her defection.

She carries with her crucial information regarding the Rikti homeworld. We need that information. I dare say it is more important than the General herself. The Rikti will surely send troops after her in an attempt to stop her. Good luck.

I've really gotten tired of missions like this. Fortunately City of Heroes tends to be pretty forgiving about escort missions.

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The mission's set here, a Vanguard base that, if I recall correctly, became the publically accepted gathering location for raids on the Rikti mothership. Our objective is to the north, always, thankfully, spawning on the same cliff.

[NPC] General Bu'Dekka: Imperative Order: Remove Yourself/Obstruction.
[NPC] General Bu'Dekka: Current Location: Troop Rally Point.
[NPC] Homeworld Chief Soldier: Statement Falsity: Apparent. True Objective: Defection.
[NPC] Homeworld Chief Soldier: If Return (Bu'Dekka, Troops) Status: Negative,
[NPC] Homeworld Chief Soldier: Then; Hro'Dtohz Authorization Granted: Execution.
[NPC] General Bu'Dekka: Hro'Dtohz Mental Status: Insane, Anti-RiktiThought!
[NPC] General Bu'Dekka: Earth War Initiation: Mistake! Continued Aggression: Monstrous!
[NPC] Homeworld Chief Soldier: Warfare Morality: Irrelevant. Decision Ownership: Hro'Dtohz.
[NPC] Homeworld Chief Soldier: Choice Remainder: None. Options Remaining: Submit: Lord of Lineage of War; Die.

[NPC] General Bu'Dekka: Clerisy Request: Assistance!
[NPC] Homeworld Chief Soldier: Death Provided: All Enemies!

It's Rikti on Rikti combat! Well, sort of. Bu'Dekka is one of those identical Chief Soldiers, who we do rescue without much issue. Then it's a matter of fighting off three ambushes...

[NPC] General Bu'Dekka: Counter-Attack Initiation: Imminent.
[NPC] Pursuit Soldier Jya'Zon: General Bu'Dekka Submit: Rikti Justice!
[NPC] Headman Gunman: Reinforcements: Attack!

[NPC] Pursuit Priest Zhi'Pyo: Forgiveness Conditional: Immediate Surrender
[NPC] Conscript: Reinforcements: Attack!

Despite the name, the 'Pursuit Priest' is actually a lieutenant-level Mentalist that had no staying power at all.

[NPC] Infantry: Reinforcements: Attack!
[NPC] The Executioner: Termination Authorized: Bu'Dekka, Clerisy

At this point things were getting a bit hectic, since we were dragging in other mobs and were only efficiently taking out the ambush leader itself. But by some miracle, Bu'Dekka was still alive. Some friendly NPC Vanguard joined the fray...

And I admit that got pretty excessive.

Clue posted:

As you fought beside her, General Bu'Dekka of the Rikti Homeworld told you some vital information.

'Patience: Requested. Engaging: Mark III Translator:

Ah! The Mark 3 really is much better than the old Mark 2! I can actually understand your barbarous, yet childishly endearing causality statements. Maybe if we'd worked on these before we built the giant fleet of death ships, things would have been different! But that's Hro'Dtohz for you. He's a military genius, but he thinks everything is a military problem. It made him a very boring date.

Anyway, Hro'Dtohz has heard the truth about this war, but he refuses to accept it. If the homeworld learns the truth, it would turn him from a war hero into a war criminal, and he'd have to face all that he's done. So he's planning on one last massive push. They're going to stabilize the conduit and expand it. Hro'Dtohz plans to bring enough troops across to wipe out everything on this Earth. Then the truth can lie forgotten in the ashes of your world.'

The game is... not consistent on if the Rikti: Speech pattern is the result of a bad translator or how the Rikti actually talk. It's not even consistent within the same content; remember that B'Nadek from back in the second arc seemed to develop that speech pattern naturally.

Dark Watcher posted:

Bu'Dekka and her troops are being debriefed and cared for in a hidden location. The information they brought is vitally important, and coincides with energy readings we've been getting from the cavern beneath the Rikti ship. We believe that Hro'Dtohz is about to open and expand the conduit between our world and the Rikti Homeworld to bring through vast numbers of troops. And we're going to have to stop him.

Finally, just straight-up fighting Rikti again!

The Horror of War
Part: Final

Dark Watcher posted:

It's time to save the world, Clerisy. Hro'Dtohz is going to bring over the entire Rikti military from the Homeworld and he has to be stopped. Portal Corp thinks they can jam him for a while, but we need someone who's been in that portal chamber beneath the ship to lead the strike. I'm putting this in your hands. I'd recommend a team, but if you want to go it alone, I'll trust your judgment. The fate of the world is in your hands.

We'll be launching a major assault once you're inside, but that's just a distraction to help you get in. Once you're in the main cavern, there are two things you're going to need to do:

Defeat Hro'Dtohz himself. This will cause him to medi-vac back to the Homeworld and from what Bu'Dekka tells us he'll be busy just trying to keep the rest of the Rikti from discovering the truth about the War to come back and bother us.

Disrupt the Homeworld portal itself, that will make a massive transit too dangerous, also ending the threat for now. If another major threat were to appear, it could throw the Rikti into confusion, causing them to lock the Homeworld down for a time.

Good luck.

Hro'Dtohz may be named after Herodotus, but his methods are awfully modern American.

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We start in a simple cave. And soon enough, almost on cue, we find the simple cave man.

[NPC] Faultline: Haven't you guys heard the news yet? You're fighting for no reason!
[NPC] Homeworld Chief Soldier: Disbelieve: Human Lies!
[NPC] Faultline: Hey, Clerisy! Glad you could make it!

Faultline gets lost almost immediately, surprising exactly no one.

Soon enough, we break into a sewer...

Obliterate a spawn with synchronized Judgements...

[NPC] Psi-Scout Lk'Onik: ... : ...
[NPC] Nik'lux: Imperative Order: SAY SOMETHING!
[NPC] Psi-Scout Lk'Onik: Clerisy. Excellent

And find and subsequently lose another old friend. Fusionette's around too, but we didn't find her.

All the areas in the Rikti War Zone are actually named after the locations of famous battles in wars. Heartbreak Ridge here was the Korean War, Point Du Hoc that's been mentioned a few times is a cliff at Normandy...

And we're heading to what used to be Carentan, another part of the battle of Normandy. It's now the Sunken Road, the no man's land caused by the crashing of the Rikti mothership that Wikipedia tells me is actually named after a crucial part of the Battle of Antietam in the American Civil War.

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Regardless, we leave the sewer though a hole in the wall...

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Enter the main Rikti base...

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And find the main base of operations. The entire map up until this point has been fluff; we have two objectives, and they're both here. First, we take down Hro'Dtohz. Then, the portal generators.

[NPC] Infantry: Hro'Dtohz Orders: Crazy! Portal: Unstable! Conduit: Unstable!
[NPC] Lord of War: Hro'Dtohz: More Power: Broaden Conduit!
[NPC] Lord of War: Hro'Dtohz: If (Vanguard Fool) Seeks: Painful Termination; Painful Termination: Willingly Provided!
[NPC] Lord of War: Hro'Dtohz: Now Facing: True Fury: Lord of the Lineage of War!
[NPC] Lord of War: Hro'Dtohz: Your efforts: Pointless, Hopeless, Pathetic.

A distinct advantage of having someone else also taking screenshots is that I can finally get a good shot of one of Clerisy's key powers. Lightningrod is the final power in Electric Melee, and actually teleports you by way of a bolt of lightning, dealing significant damage to everything nearby when you reappear. The teleport just ruins camera positioning, so I couldn't get a shot of it before now.

Hro'Dtohz is exactly the same as he was in Serpent Drummer's arc. Not very dangerous, but happens to be fought in extraordinary circumstances. Last time it was ambushes, but this time...

[NPC] Lord of War: Hro'Dtohz: What: The?

[NPC] Nemesis: I'm afraid that I cannot allow you to win, Clerisy!
[NPC] Nemesis: Not when I'm on the cusp of a victory you can barely even conceive!
[NPC] Nemesis: With my role revealed, it's time to activate my secondary plan.
[NPC] Nemesis: You see, I'm going to upload a copy of my superior intellect into the Rikti's mental network.
[NPC] Nemesis: Soon I shall be distributed across 2 billion minds.
[NPC] Nemesis: An immortal will with innumerable legions for a body!
[NPC] Nemesis: You may now applaud my audacity.
[NPC] Nemesis: But I cannot let you stop me!

I'm sorry, I have to interject here.

Uhm, sure. Just, before you do...


[NPC] Lord of War: Hro'Dtohz: Defeat..: Impossible...

[NPC] Nemesis: Attack! My Nemesis Army! For my glory!

I've tried to respect you for quite some time. Nemesis.

[NPC] Nemesis: Ah, you would bring the battle to me?
[NPC] Nemesis: Foolish, but brave.

You seem to at least understand the initial concept of steampunk better than most, even if you do it because you're a senile old man who refuses to keep with the times.

[NPC] Nemesis: My, my, my! Such delightful impertinence!
[NPC] Nemesis: A pity you'll have to die.

But you've made a mistake I quite simply cannot leave unpunished.

[NPC] Infantry: Hro'Dtohz Orders: More Power!
[NPC] Infantry: Defend: Portal!

[NPC] Nemesis: I do not say this to many, but you have gotten my dander up!
[NPC] Nemesis: I commend your puissance, but I cannot let you stop me!

You quite simply cannot say something is 'innumerable', SPECIFICALLY after assigning it a number! That's contradictory and blatantly obvious!

[NPC] Nemesis: Your victory is hollow...
[NPC] Nemesis: I am Nemesis!
[NPC] Nemesis: I am...
[NPC] Nemesis: Eternal..!

You're not eternal, you're an imbecile!

We done?


We're done. Raine already took care of the first two generators during that fight, so all that's left...

Is yes, that. After the generators are destroyed, the portal shuts down, and the second Rikti War is, depending on your point fo view, either stopped, averted or significantly shortened.

Dark Watcher posted:

The series of events that occurred in that cavern have set off a firestorm among the Rikti. The eventual end-point may be a long way off, but already we're hearing rumors that Hro'Dtohz is fighting to suppress the truth both on the Homeworld and among his troops on Earth. He's weakened, his life-line to the Homeworld is unstable, and his confidence has taken a beating. But from what we know, he still has enough political clout, troops, and supplies to carry on fighting for some time. If he decides to do so, the Vanguard will be here to fight him and his army. We've been given another chance to protect our world, and it's all because of you. Thank you, Clerisy.

So, that's that. At this point the Rikti War Zone might not be particularly compelling content. But for when it was made, and what it is, I just can't fault it. It's big, it's grand, it covers a lot of ground, introduces almost every major player yet still stays mostly self-contained... and god damnit, it's still fun, even if at times it's a little harsh.

Technically speaking, this isn't all that the Second Rikti War entailed. There is still the Lady Grey Task Force. But I might have to sit out trying to LP that; as S.D. can testify, trying to get discernible screenshots from a full team's worth of action is fucking hard.

I'd like to give a special thankyou to Raine's player, @Perfy in-game/Perfidus on SA, for making this update actually interesting to put together and hopefully read. She also made Clerisy's original build for me years back, that I've been modifying to fit with game changes since, so she also deserves thanks for that.