Champions Online Preview: Grab Your Cape

By Joshua Temblett (Dontkillmydreams), OnRPG Journalist

The Champions Online Open Beta has come and gone and now the game has just taken off, ready to fly around the world and save you from boredom.  In what is one of the most hyped up MMORPGs of 2009, many of you will be asking whether it is worth the excitement.  Luckily, I am here to help you out and provide you with this rather splendiferous look into this new super hero universe.  So put on your capes, pull your under pants up over your tights and get ready for this ultimate preview.

Unique Characters

If you’ve been following the game for a while then you undoubtedly know a lot about the creation process in Champions Online, after all it is one of the game’s main selling points and something the developers are constantly talking about.  What I will say is that you can create the avatar of your dreams, as the amount of options you can use to tweak your super hero are absolutely staggering.  Want to look like Spider Man?  Want to have the appearance of a Kung Fu Master?  Then go for it, anything is absolutely possible.

Champions Online Combat

One small problem with this is that all of these choices can make this process feel somewhat overwhelming at first, however after you’ve created your first man (or woman) in tights you’ll soon get a hand of the menu and you’ll find yourself browsing it with ease when creating a new hero.  There’s even the ability to save your customisations, so that when you do begin to create another hero you can use the template of a previous character you’ve made which makes it much quicker to jump in and get playing with your new toon.

After you’ve made your first character and entered the fantastic world of CO you’ll be greeted by a city under attack.  This first area is your tutorial for the game.  Here you’ll learn the basics such as how to move, blocking, using your powers efficiently and about the various open quests that inhabit the universe.  One of the things that hit me about this area was how cramped and unexciting it felt.  As I got further in, I found that the world felt a bit too overwhelming and I find myself lost with no real sense of direction. 

Despite this towards the end of the tutorial the game flowed much more and that’s when I truly managed to enjoy myself.  I was also introduced to the “Open Quest” concept.  For those who may be unfamiliar, allow me to explain through an example.  In one part of the starting off area, there was a large rocket.  Around this rocket there were enemies and allies alike.  If you enter the region you instantly become a part of the question and are given various instructions about how to complete it.  This means that anyone can pop in at any time and help out without needing to get the quest first.  This also means that you can join the Open Quest just before it ends and still get credited with doing the quest, which was what happened to me.

After completing the Open Quest I went back to a quest giver and got my reward.  I then continued on with my quest to save Millennium City which led me into a story based instance whereby I had to face one or two bosses and help the NPC that was assisting me put the rocket (mentioned earlier) back online. 

Hot Battles

Design and Gameplay

The unique style and look of the graphics add to the interactive story-telling as the use of cel-shading fleshes out many of the world’s characters.  The result is a universe that has individuality and is interesting to explore.  Everything feels perfectly crafted to create an experience that can’t be found anywhere else on the market.

The gameplay also keeps up this reputation of singularity from the genre by keeping things simple yet fun with the battle system.  You start off with two powers.  One of these powers is fairly weak and is used to fill up your energy bar.  Once your energy bar is full, or has enough power in it, you can use the second skill to unleash a more powerful attack.  It’s simplistic and it works, not only that but you quickly gain more new abilities. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting of these new found skills is the ability to fly which of course you can heavily customise.  Want to burst into flames and fly through the air?  Want to teleport somewhere?  Want to have super speed?  You can have any of these travel powers and more.  I spent nearly a whole hour just trying out the different powers and deciding on which travel power I should choose, I eventually went with the hard to control, yet incredibly cool, block of ice.

Heroic Flight

After managing to get a few new powers and exploring a fresh area my preview time was up, which was rather unfortunate as I was just getting into the game.  Although Champions Online starts off slow, it quickly gains pace and becomes more and more exciting.  It’ll be interesting to see how CO evolves as we play through the final build.  I for one can’t wait to see what happens next in this new adventure.

It’s also been interesting to watch the game launch, what with the controversy that’s been surrounding it.  It turns out that on the day that Champions Online launched, a patch was released which increased various enemy stats and reduced the defence of characters.  This patch also left players who had participated in the head start (which you got from pre-ordering the game) with unwanted skill changes.  So in one patch Cryptic managed to change the game completely, which isn’t really a good idea regardless of whether it’s launch day or not.

So as I said before, it’ll be very interesting to examine the game and how it changes throughout the coming months and as always your friendly writers at will be here to update you on all the details.

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