There are fifteen publicly accessible servers and one subscription-only server that run the City of Heroes game. These servers are all physically located in Dallas, Texas, as of November 11th, 2010. Originally, six servers were located in Virginia, five servers and the Training Room were located in California, and four servers (the only servers accessible through the European game client) were located in Germany. The North American servers were combined and moved to Texas in August of 2010, and the European servers were combined in May 2011, thus opening all of the servers up to all players, whether formerly "North American" or "European" alike.
With the launch of City of Heroes Freedom, one subscription-only ('VIP') server - Exalted - was added. The character list can be viewed by Premium or VIP players, but only VIP players can actually log into it.
Additionally, there is a test server called the Training Room (available for both US and EU players) on which patches and other changes are tested before release on the live servers. In addition, the Beta Server (introduced to test Going Rogue without closing down the Training Room server for months) is used for Closed Beta testing, new Issue testing, and other large-patch changes that require an extended testing timeline.
On the server selection screen, the first server listed is the most recent one you have accessed. The remaining servers are listed in increasing order of current load. While the load does not directly mean population, high populations are the largest and most common causes of server load. An account that has never logged in before will not have a "last accessed" server at the top of the list, but instead will show all servers in current-load order.
Please note that if a server starts having technical issues, it will shoot to the top or the bottom of the list, depending on its current load, regardless of how many or how few players are connected to it.
As of the server merge, the only real differences between servers are the hardware requirements (more popular servers have more/better hardware) and the fact that Zukunft and Vigilance are displayed in German and French, respectively. Characters created on Zukunft and Vigilance will retain their language settings when transferred to other servers.
A more "emotional" difference between the servers depends on the community that has built up surrounding each one.
|Low||Referred to by many as the "community server" for its friendly atmosphere and active forums.|
|Defiant||Low||Defiant was one of the four EU servers prior to the global server merge.||Despite their being lower player numbers than Union (the other original English language EU server) the community is thriving. Many of the game-wide speed TF records are held by teams on Defiant (eg ITF 11m36s). Nearly everyone on the server subscribes to the chat channel "Defiant Events EU" so it's easy to talk to (nearly) the whole server population!|
|Exalted||High||Exalted is inaccessible to Free Players; the server is grayed out and unclickable on the server select screen. Premium Players may select the server and access the character list, but no slots can be unlocked; they all state "Unlockable for VIP".||Upon its release, has been jokingly dubbed the "name-griefing server" due to character names and forum poster names being hoarded in a similar fashion to domain-squatting.|
|Freedom||High||Typically the most populated US server. Originally named "Prime" during the beta-test, but was renamed upon release.||It is known to be a favorite server among French-American and French-Canadian players. Freedom is considered by many in the community to be the unofficial PvP server, and has very high levels of zone and arena PVP activity. It is also the server where the original beta-testers of City of Heroes were able to retain their character names from the beta.|
|Guardian||Medium||Historically, Guardian suffered from frequent and allegedly unaddressed downtime that led some in the community to start referring to it as the "red-headed step-child server". However, this no longer seems to be an issue.|
|Infinity||Medium||Considered to have the third largest server population and is the "unofficial arena pvp server."|
|Justice||Medium||During the beta-testing period, Australians coordinated to make this server the "unofficial Australian / New Zealand server." Consequently, Justice commonly sees more players active through until maintenance, as the timezones for New Zealand (UTC+12) and Australia (UTC+10) mean that the maintenance window happens locally around 11:30pm (Sydney time). As such it attracts Australian players for the last 5 hours of activity (6pm-11pm AEST). Because standard maintenance windows are announced by Admin message and a different message is broadcast for Issue and special event releases, Australian players are often the first to experience them.|
|Liberty||Low||Liberty is referred to by many in the community as an "unofficial friendly server", along with Triumph.|
|Pinnacle||Low||Popular "Badge-Hunting" server||Historically, Pinnacle was often perceived to be the last server to come back up after updates, which lead its players to jokingly refer to it as "the drunk server". However, this no longer seems to be an issue.|
|Protector||Low||Though teams and supergroups are not difficult to find on Protector, it is believed by some to have a higher population of solo players than most servers, making it a fairly solo-friendly server. Protector has also earned a reputation as the unofficial Villain server for it's active villain population. In 2005, many Protector players got together and adopted a server mascot, a puma by the name of Cimarron, by donating money to the Cat Tales Zoological Park in Mead, WA (as of May 2010, over $2400 has been raised).|
|Triumph||Low||Formerly a testing server, before being relaunched as a regular one.|| Triumph was actually not one of the originally planned "live" servers. According to Jesse "Ghost Falcon" Caceres during the City of Heroes panel at Comic Con 2009, Triumph was originally an internal testing server that was re-purposed during the launch of City of Heroes to combat overpopulation of other servers. Unfortunately, this left the development team without an internal testing server for several months after launch, requiring several patches and Issue 1 to go to Live without proper QA.
Like Liberty, Triumph has a reputation in the community as "unofficial friendly server". Because of its history of "Speedo Hami Raids", it has also become known as "the pantsless server."
|Union||Low||Union was one of the four original EU servers prior to the global server merge.||It has a reputation in the community as being both one of the unofficial roleplay servers as well as the unofficial PvP server. Union typically has the most player activity among the European servers. Some of the players on the Union server have set up a wiki to record player-driven continuity to the server, entitled The Handbook to the Union Universe|
|Victory||Medium||Victory has as a reputation in the community as "the unofficial Euro server" and "the unofficial GLBT server" because of perceptions that this server has the largest concentration of these two groups. This server was originally "Name Reservation Server" at the end of the original beta test, which was only used to reserve names, until public outcry allowed names used on the active beta server (now Freedom) to be reserved, as well. Unofficial Victory Wiki (Web Archive)|
|Vigilance||Low||This server was intended for French-speaking players and was one of the four original EU Servers prior to the global server merge.|
|Virtue||High||Popular "role-playing" server.||Virtue has typically been the second most populated US server since the launch of City of Villains. This server has a reputation as one of the "unofficial role-playing" servers. As an example of this, some of the players on the Virtue server have set up a wiki to record player-driven continuity to the server, entitled The Unofficial Handbook to the Virtue Universe.|
|Zukunft||Low||This server was intended for German-speaking players and was one of the four original EU Servers prior to the global server merge. (Zukunft is German for "Future".)|
- Servers were formerly divided by region; East Coast (Freedom, Infinity, Liberty, Pinnacle, Triumph, Victory), West Coast (Champion, Guardian, Justice, Protector, Virtue), & European (Defiant, Union, Vigilance, Zukunft).
- The Exalted server was made available for play by VIP players with the release of Issue 21.