Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bits and Pieces: Champions Online

With the open beta officially shut down and the game going live soon, I thought I'd give my thoughts and reactions. This isn't a review so much as a quick list of points and thoughts. Couple things to note right off the bat:

  • I raced through both character creation and most of the content to try to see as much as possible in the couple of days that I had.
  • For that reason, I wasn't really satisfied with my character, but a buddy from my WAR guild took the same concept and totally nailed it. I think I'm just not used to the depth of options available (what do you mean there's another set of drop down menus for each major costume area?) so more practice and exploration with the character builder should fix that.
  • Also due to my rushed play style, none of the quests really grabbed me. Seemed like lots of the usual for MMOs, which isn't bad. If I do get the game, I'll take a lot slower approach and actually read the quest text, look for extra quests, etc...

With that in mind, on to the reactions!

  • I'm fine with the starter zones. Coming from Guild Wars, I'm familiar with the multi-zone mechanic. If the game is good for it (Champions and GW both are, WAR would never be) it works just fine. The tutorial city is okay, though nothing really grabbed me. The crisis zones are both much better and feel more like "real" zones.
  • PQs (fine, fine "Open Missions") are a great feature and I'm really glad that another game has picked up on them. The one in the tutorial city zone even gets past the "3 waves of enemies" formula, mixing in resource gathering and defend the objective instead.
  • Everything is better with a friend. I leveled 3 toons through the tutorial city. the first and third I did with a guild group, the middle one I did by myself and didn't enjoy near as much. When you're beating down a wave of mobs and each champion has their powers firing off and such, the game just feels more awesome. Individual mobs of my level up to level +2 didn't seem to be much of a threat (I could usually one-shot my level normal mobs), so bring a group and round up the aggro.
  • The multi-role system sounds very interesting to me. I like the idea, but I think it would be highly dependant on the power set and the way you built your character to determine how nice it will be for a given toon. My Might/Force guy could probably switch easily between DPS and tanking. My Sorcery one isn't going to have the Constitution and Endurance for that. Maybe there will be mobs who have primary attacks that are better defended by Ego or Intelligence, in which case it would make more sense to "tank" with my Sorcerer.
  • I love try-before-you-buy abilities. Appeals to my min-maxer nature.
  • Also love the travel powers, all of which struck me as interesting or useful for various concepts. Acrobatics was the surprise fun one for me; I didn't expect just running and jumping to be so entertaining. Ooo! Time to make the Prince of Persia!
  • Mass combat (15+ players against mobs) stinks. Nothing is going to really threaten you unless it's a super villian. So no real challege there. Also, the graphics bogged down trying to display the multitude of power effects getting thrown around. For me, the 6-man group was the perfect size.
  • I dislike the heavy black outlines. And bloom effects. So I turned them off. No biggie.
  • Dualing you're guild buddies is fun. I wish WAR had this feature because I had a blast just pitting myself against other characters and concepts.
  • Button mashing gets old. At level 8, I had 3 powers to use in combat, plus my block and travel power. While it's nice to get a perk or power every level, it felt strange to be so far along and still not really gotten access to much outside of the level 1 powers. It also makes it difficult to define your concept. My sorcerer was supposed to call forth minions taking the form of the enemies worst fears. But I couldn't get enough powers until after the crisis zones, several hours into the character's time played.
So what does this all boil down to? Well, in my mind, an open beta is a trade between the game company and the gamer. They get to test stuff on a large population, and we get to try the game in it's almost-completed state to see if it's something that interests us. For me, it's highly dependent on how many of my guild friends are playing. The social interaction (talking about power sets, checking out character ideas, and running zones together) is more than enough for me to work past the minor gameplay issues that I have.

Final verdict: Wait and see. If 4-6 people from my guild go for it, I'll probably give it a buy. Otherwise, I'll just hang where I'm at with WAR and DDO.

Originally posted at

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