Updated Fri, Nov 30, 2012 by jeffprime
City of Heroes may be drawing the curtain, with servers going dark this Friday (November 30th), but its impact will remain. City of Heroes broke the mold to show that a non-fantasy game could be commercially successful. Up until its release in 2004, most MMOs were fantasy-based, with a smattering of sci-fi thrown in. City of Heroes brought the vivid four-color world of comic book superheroes to online gaming in a big way. Now you could fight like Wolverine, stalk bad guys like Batman, and fly through the sky like Superman. What gamer didn't love that?
Another aspect of City of Heroes that really hit home was their character creator. For years, no other character creation system even remotely came close to providing the same level of customization (until Champions Online). While most MMOs had the appearance of your character change due to the gear you wore, City of Heroes let you create your own unique look at the very beginning, fulfilling one of the most important aspects of any superhero's identity--his costume. No self-respecting hero wants to grind countless dungeons to get a cool looking pair of boots. Spiderman and Superman didn't change their look (I'm not counting Venom!) over time to reflect the latest loot drop.
Like most other products, MMOs build on what came before. Many aspects of online gaming that we consider standard today (instances, realm-versus-realm, raiding), not to mention the fact that MMOs are big business, came from contributions introduced by earlier games. Which aspects are considered positive or negative depends on each individual gamer's point of view, but you cannot deny the impact that the five games listed above had upon our own little slice of gaming heaven.
Which games do you think have been influential in the MMORPG genre? Login, and share your thoughts in the comments below.