My next notable foray into the MMO style of game was with one that was a far cry away from anything else I had experienced thus far. Through Asheron's Call and Everquest, my fantasy tastes had been well satisfied (or so I had thought), but NCSoft's City of Heroes reminded me that there was more to my interests than just dwarves, dragons and magic.
It's sleek, blue, near-future design was very appealing. The HUD and menus all made me feel like I was moving through the pages of a Marvel comic book. The characters around me were as varied as those in the comic universe; there were spandex-clad classic superheroes, like my own Ironfist, but there were also cybernetic soldiers, or clunky clockwork robots, or undead heroes, or celestial-born mental masters, or spirits and ghosts and demi-gods and aliens and mutants. Every team I joined had a vastly different composition, and I learned through this game that MMO's meant more than role-playing.
While this game also released in 1999, months before Asheron's Call, I didn't experience it until it's first expansion was released in 2000. My closet gamer was salivating over what this game offered, though, when I finally got around to investigating it. Unlike Asheron's Call, Everquest offered a full world to explore, not just a single continent. While that world was broken into multiple zones, complete with loading screens and everything, the promise of adventure from landmass to landmass was too much for me to ignore. Not only that, but it also gave me the opportunity to explore other races besides Human, and races that I had, up until this point, only read about in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece The Lord of the Rings. Wood Elves, High Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, and more were all available to play, and I couldn't wait.
But what drew me in was the cover art for the first expansion, The Ruins of Kunark. Whoever designed that must have known what captured my attention, because this did immediately as I spied the game box on the shelf at Target so long ago...