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Game Client

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City of Heroes uses a program which runs on your computer called the Game Client (and its associated game files) to generate the graphics you see and the sounds you hear. It figures out what you have clicked on and it handles the typing you do at your keyboard. The client is constantly sending information to the Server to tell it what powers you activate, what attacks you make, how you move and turn, and the messages you type to other people.

The Server is constantly sending information to your client to tell it what everyone else in your zone or mission are doing. The client shows you their actions based on that information. If something interrupts the flow of that information then everyone else will stop moving on your screen. If the flow of information is interrupted long enough then you are disconnected from the server, typically with the message: "Lost connection to mapserver".

When a new version of the game client is available it has to be downloaded to your computer before you can use it. A program called the NCsoft Launcher checks for and downloads new versions of the client and all its associated files.

The launcher is used to start City of Heroes, or any other NCsoft games that have been installed (including CoH Subscriber Beta).


  • The same game client is used to play both City of Heroes and City of Villains, on both Windows and Mac OS operating systems.
  • All character data is stored on the servers. You can access your account and character data from any computer that has the game client.
    • One caveat: files such as Architect Entertainment save files, Character Select sorting, and Player Ratings, are stored in text files on the player's hard drive and are not accessible from other computers.
  • Patches are installed prior to logon and the latest version is required to play.
  • The client loads in two stages:
    1. The Launcher, which downloads patches and checks the client for the latest version.
    2. The Client, which contains the game itself.
  • There is no CD Key required to install the game client.
  • A Game Installer can downloaded to install the game without requiring any CDs or DVDs.
    • Installing from CD/DVD will include an option for automatically placing a shortcut to the game in the Start Menu.
    • The Game Installer for Windows or Mac OS can be downloaded from Download City of Heroes.
    • Note: A new installation using the installer will download the entire client, and may take a long while. The installer will update older game clients without requiring a completely new installation.
  • Windows users can choose the where the game client is installed at time of installation. After installation, it can only be changed by editing the Registry (registry location: HKCU/Software/Cryptic/Coh )
    • Mac users can move the entire "City of" to another folder
  • It is possible to replace almost any resource (in game map, sound file, etc.) using the data directory, however this action is not supported by NCsoft/Paragon Studios nor their EULA.
    • This does not modify any NCsoft-owned resource/file. This adds a directory which the game client then interprets as replacing the resource once the game is launched. Removal of this change simply means deleting the \data directory. More info below.

Launching the Game


These can be run from the command prompt or entered into your shortcut. You can do the latter by right clicking on your shortcut to the Launcher and selecting properties then adding these to the end of the target box.

NCLauncher.exe (no switches)

  • Launches the Launcher which will check for updates and modify/verify files if needed.

NCLauncher.exe /LaunchGame=CityOfHeroes

  • Launch the Launcher as above, automatically patch if required and then launch the game.

CityOfHeroes.exe -project "coh"

  • NOT SUPPORTED Launches the game client without looking for the launcher, using the North American servers. If any patches have been applied since the last time you used the launcher, you may be able to login, but you will get a version conflict.

CityOfHeroes.exe -project "eucoh"

  • NOT SUPPORTED European Servers version of skipping the launcher.

CityOfHeroes.exe -project "cohtest"

  • NOT SUPPORTED Training Room version of skipping the launcher.

NCLauncher.exe /LaunchGame=COHTest

  • Launches the Launcher, uses registry settings in HKCU/Software/Cryptic/Cohtest instead. Allows access to Training Room.

NCLauncher.exe /LaunchGame=COHBeta

  • Launches the Launcher, uses registry settings in HKCU/Software/Cryptic/Cohbeta instead. Allows access to the Beta Server.

CityOfHeroes.exe -compatiblecursors 1

  • Uses compatible 16-color cursors to solve compatiblity issues with Windows Vista and others. Please note that this has since been integrated into an option in-game.

CityOfHeroes.exe -usetexenvcombine

  • Enables simple rendering path, which may help fix issues with certain video cards and drivers.

CityOfHeroes.exe -renderthread 1

  • Forces the game to run using more than one proccessor/core, rather than using only one. NOTE: Though the game does this by default now, this command is still a valid option.

CityOfHeroes.exe -renderthread 0

  • Forces the game to run using only one processor/core, rather than using two. This may be needed to work around buggy drivers, or on Linux.

CityOfHeroes.exe -maxinactivefps 5

  • Limits the graphic display update to 5 Frames Per Second when COH is not the foreground application. The number can be set to whatever maximum framerate is desired.

CityOfHeroes.exe -stopinactivedisplay 1

  • Freezes the graphic display update when COH is not the foreground application. This can greatly reduce processor utilization when running multiple game clients on the same computer.

CityOfHeroes.exe -fullscreen 1

  • Makes the game launch in full screen, regardless of what options are set in-game. To force the game not to launch in full screen, -fullscreen 0 should be used.

CityOfHeroes.exe -screen x y

  • Makes the game launch in a window with a width equal to x and a height equal to y.

CityOfHeroes.exe -console 1

  • NOT SUPPORTED Launches the game client displaying a console with each element being loaded. Useful if your client is freezing on load, if you want time statistics for how long it takes to load, or to see other debugging info.

CityOfHeroes.exe -exitlaunch [command line]

  • NOT SUPPORTED The game will execute the given command line on close. Used internally for issue preloads, but can be set to execute any program when you finish playing.

CityOfHeroes.exe -project coh -launcher

  • Starts the game as if it had been run from the NCsoft Launcher, unlocking the Wisp Aura.


Main Article: Mac Special Edition

The City of "file" is really just a specialized directory. Attempting any action inside this directory is NOT SUPPORTED.

Mac Client guide posted by CuppaManga

Training Room on Mac

The developers have a separate City of for the training room.

Command Line on Mac

Launching the game with command line switches NOT SUPPORTED

  • Assuming the game is in the /Applications directory, here are some examples that can be ran from
  • /Applications/City\ of\ --use-dos-cwd c:/coh -- C:\\coh\\cohupdater.exe -coh
    Launch updater normally, game client will have blue CoH skin.
  • /Applications/City\ of\ --use-dos-cwd c:/coh -- C:\\coh\\cohupdater.exe -cov
    Launch updater normally, game client with have red CoV skin.
  • /Applications/City\ of\ --use-dos-cwd c:/coh -- c:/coh/cityofheroes.exe -project coh
    Launch game client directly (bypass updater)
  • Note the extra backslashes "\".
    The application uses bash, which uses the backslash as an escape character.
    • Since a space " " usually separates command options (switches/parameters/arguments), we use "\ " to indicate a space in a file name.
    • And since Cider is looking for a Windows(r)(c)™ directory which uses backslashes instead of forward slashes, we have to escape the backslashes as well.
      Although it is possible to use forward slashes instead of double backslash.
  • Also note the double dash "--"
    The cider application can pass arguments to the application, which is any argument/option after double dash.
    • Any arguments before the double dash are options for the cider application.
      cider [options] [--] program_name [arguments]

Installing the Game

There are several methods to installing the game client, they all boil down to having an up-to-date copy of the necessary files.

You do not need your 'CD-Key' to install the game client.
The 'CD-Key' is for the website for the creation/upgrade of your game account. After creating your account, the only time you need your serial code is if you lose access to your account and must provide proof of ownership. (Thus it's not a bad idea to keep your CD key handy, even though it's not necessary to play the game.)

Original CD/DVD

Main Article: Disc Releases

Install as you would any other program. Basically it will extract a copy of the game client as it was when the CD/DVD was created. You will then need to install the NCsoft Launcher and patch to the current version.

Burned CD/DVD

Effectively a second copy step similar to installing the Training Room. One copies the entire City of Heroes directory to multiple CDs or a single DVD. Then one can copy that folder back to his/her computer or give to someone else to copy to their computer. Then install the NCsoft Launcher, run it and point it to the folder on your HD where you copied CoH back to.

Download the Game Installer

You can install the Game by downloading and running the Game Installer. This is a small 'bootstrap' program which, when run, will then download and install the NCsoft Launcher. The NCsoft Launcher will then either create a new installation of the game or update an existing installation.

New Installation: Downloading then running the Game Installer will install the NCsoft Launcher, through which you then download the City of Heroes game client. This will download and install the entire client in stages.

Existing Installation: If you already have City of Heroes installed on your computer, the Game Installer will update your game client so it will be fully compatible with the NCsoft Launcher. You will not need to re-download the full game client. If pointed to an existing install of the game on your computer, this will verify and update the files as required.

Training Room

Main Article: Training Room

The simplest way to install the Training Room involves creating a copy of the live game, to avoid downloading the entire client all over again. Then the NCsoft Launcher can be run using the command NCLauncher.exe /LaunchGame=COHTest to begin the install. Detailed instructions can be found at the Training Room article.

Running the game from a DVD-R

If for some reason you would like to run the game from a DVD-R, or maybe a 4GB flash drive, this is possible. Being a read-only device, a DVD-R will only work as long as you burn the latest version with the current patches. However, if your goal is to play at a Net Cafe during a weekend away from home, this will be more than enough.

The steps are:

  • Click Start, Run, and enter regedit. Navigate the left panel to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Cryptic. Right-click the Cryptic folder and select Export. Save as Settings.reg somewhere.
  • Burn your City of Heroes folder and the Settings.reg file to a DVD-R.
  • Take the DVD to the computer you want to play the game on. Go to the DVD drive and double-click the Settings.reg file. You only need to do this step the first time you run the game on a computer.
  • Click Start, Run, then enter "D:\City of Heroes\CityOfHeroes.exe" -project coh. Replace D: with whatever letter the DVD drive is.
  • Play! You can change the graphics settings on the new computer to whatever you like, and they'll be saved locally.

Registry information

The game stores its configuration information in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Cryptic\Coh; even if you installed City of Villains, the key name is still Coh.

  • If you use the Test server, its configuration is stored in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Cryptic\CohTest.
  • If you use the Beta server, its configuration is stored in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Cryptic\CoHBeta.

The Installation Directory parameter is useful in case you want to move the game client to another directory or partition. Enter the full path to the game's executable.

The VerifyOnNextUpdate parameter is created every time the game crashes. When the game starts, it checks for this flag in order to decide whether to verify all files for corruption before loading the file. Thus, clearing this flag is a good way to avoid the slow verification process.

If you crash often and would like to skip the verification process every time, simply create a text file named NoVerify.reg with the following contents, and double-click it before loading the launcher:




Network information


Your computer needs access to the internet, of course; and to be able communicate with various servers (not just the game servers). Certain ports (see below) may have to be opened.

NCsoft say (Article 884) that all servers "are centrally located in Dallas, Texas, as of July 29, 2010. Connection speed and performance should be the same throughout North America", and also state that the "four servers that used to be part of the Europe or 'EU' territory were merged into a single list on May 10, 2011."

In the event you have a working internet connection, but cannot play City of Heroes, it's possible there may be an issue with the connection between your computer and one of these servers. If this is the case, you can troubleshoot this problem using diagnostic tools, seek assistance from other players on the Official Forums, or lodge a support ticket with NCsoft.

A small NCsoft program called Game Advisor can be downloaded and used to gather information about your computer, including network tests to various servers needed to run City of Heroes. If lodging a ticket with support, the report produced by Game Advisor should be included.

List of related network addresses

Running Game Advisor includes tests to certain network addresses and ports, and more. Some players may wish to run manual tests on these IP addresses and ports using tools such as ping and traceroute. A partial list of the IP addresses and ports tested, as of June 2012, is shown below.

Note: these could change at any time at NCsoft's sole discretion, of course; and that failure on any one test may not be the cause of any issues with running the game.

Game Ports

The game client is somewhat Firewall and NAT friendly. However any issues can be resolved by ensuring the following ports are open:

  • TCP 2104
  • TCP 2106
  • TCP 443
  • UDP 7000-7200

For more information, please see: