There are fifteen publicly accessible servers that run the City of Heroes game. Eleven of these servers are hosted in the United States and are only accessible when using the US version of the game. The remaining four servers are hosted in Europe and are only available through the EU version of the game. Additionally, there are two test servers called the Training Room (one for US clients and one for EU clients) on which patches and other changes are tested before release on the live servers.
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.
Players using the US version of the game have access to eleven servers that are physically located in the United States. Six of these servers are located on the east coast, and the remaining five are located on the west coast. The US test server is also located on the west coast. Regardless of where the player lives, the US client enables access to all eleven servers.
East Coast Servers
The six east coast servers are physically located in Virginia.
- Freedom is typically the most populated US server. It is known to be a favorite server among French-American and French-Canadian players. Historically, this server was originally named Prime during the beta-test but was renamed upon release. 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.
- Infinity typically has a moderate level of activity in comparison to the other US servers. Also considered to have the third largest server population and is the "unofficial arena pvp server."
- Liberty is referred to by many in the community as an "unofficial friendly server", along with Triumph.
- 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.
- Like Liberty, Triumph has a reputation in the community as "unofficial friendly server". Triumph is typically one of the least populated US servers.
- 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. It is also the server where the original beta-testers of City of Heroes were able to reserve their character names from the beta.
West Coast Servers
The five west coast servers are physically located in California. The training server is located in California as well.
- Referred to by many as the "community server" for its friendly atmosphere and active forums.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. In 2005, many Protector players got together and adopted a server mascot, a puma by the name of Cimarron, by donating money (with one member even donating $600) to the Cat Tales Zoological Park in Mead, WA.
- Virtue has typically been the second most populated US server since the launch of City of Villains. This server has a reputation as the "unofficial role-playing server." 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.
The European servers are physically located in Frankfurt, Germany. Any European City of Heroes player may log into any of the four servers. However, the four servers are generally divided by language.
- Defiant is intended for English-speaking players. Defiant has a very low player population compared to Union, leading to occasional player discussions about the possibility of a server merge on the official forums.
- Union is also intended for English-speaking players. It has a reputation in the community as being both the unofficial roleplay server as well as the unofficial PvP server. Union typically has the most player activity among the European servers.
- This server is intended for French-speaking players. Vigilance has a very low player population.
- This server is intended for German-speaking players. Zukunft has a very low player population. Zukunft is German for "Future".
Within the U.S., the servers are functionally identical. They all have the same maintenance schedule and their server statuses are all listed together.
However, there is one difference that rarely occurs: Changes that are triggered at a specific time are time-zone specific. For example, when the Heart of Light Badge was triggered, players on the East Coast servers received the badge at 12:00 EST and players on the West Coast servers received the badges at 12:00 PST (three hours later).
Changes that are rolled out as part of maintenance patches are not affected by time zones; players all receive these changes as soon as their respective server comes back up.