After seven long years as a subscription-only MMORPG, one of the industry trailblazers is priming to make their debut as Free-2-Play. After providing 20 “Issues” of new story content over the course of its existence, NCSoft and Paragon Studios have announced that City of Heroes will soon provide a new way for players to experience the game, while customizing how they play. Calling it City of Heroes Freedom, Paragon Studios hopes this will not only bring in new players, but also bring potentially bring back players that have fallen by the wayside.

City of Heroes Freedom is set to release around the same time as the Issue 21: Convergence update, and players will have the choice of three different play experiences: Free, Premium, or VIP. Each option will have its own bonuses and perks, and all will integrate the new “Paragon Points” system, allowing players to purchase costumes, character slots, and story arcs.

Here’s the breakdown for the following tiers, along with the perks for each. See which one works for your style of play and is best for you:

  • Play for Free: Players can create two characters using the eight archetypes, be able to experience their way to level 50 with full access to 45 Hero and Villain zones, and choose the specific pieces of content they want. This tier is severely limited in terms of game chat channels and auction house use and does not have access to in-game e-mail, forum participation, or Mission Architect.  Play for Free players also can’t join or form supergroups, or have access to in-game tech support, among other limitations (which have not been outlined fully yet).
  • Premium: This tier is for current players, or returning players that want to play for free.  Players will retain nearly everything that they have already purchased or unlocked, including Super Boosters, expansions, directly purchased character slots, and Veteran Rewards. Premium players have fewer restrictions than Play for Free players, but still have limited access to chat channels, Mission Architect, and the Inventions System.
  • VIP: The top tier is for players who continue to pay the current $15 monthly subscription fee will receive all of the perks they currently receive plus some new additional awards.  VIP players will earn 400 free “Paragon Points” per month (starting July 1st), which can be used to purchase various items from the new Paragon Market.  VIP players will also get free access to all-new monthly signature character story arcs and have full access to message forums, auction house, Mission Architect, and all other features.

Issue 21: The Convergence will introduce players to the First Ward, a new co-op zone gripped in conflict, the Time Manipulation Power Set, the Underground Incarnate Trial, two full costume sets, the new Seed of Hamidon zone event, and over 60 new missions. All players will be able to enter the First Ward, but only VIP players or those who purchase missions from the Paragon Market will have access to the new content.

City of Heroes Freedom is due to launch later this year. As soon as Paragon Studios and NCSoft announces the official date, we’ll be sure to let you know. For more information about City of Heroes Freedom and Issue 21, click here.

City of Heroes is currently available for the PC and Mac.