Champions Online Overview (Now The NDA is Gone)

The NDA for Champions Online is down. As such, my opinion of this title:

Conclusion:

– ChampO is a mix of CoH/V, Guild Wars, WoW and WAR and comes out sometimes feeling weird as a result, despite some great ideas. It is definitely a take-it-or-leave-it title.

– Someone on the forums described it as a massively multiplayer beat’em up where you build your own character. That’s about right. Personally, I like this a lot.

– It falls down in teaching players how to play the game – lots of neat parts of this title are hidden / take time to figure out, so that some players might not see the best this title has to offer before they ragequit. Limited game content is going to be an issue at launch. Also, there will be bugs.

Combat:

– Generally pretty fast with few attacks that root and few attacks (at least at the lower levels) with long cool downs.

– Depends on building your Endurance up to a level where you can use your powers, but this can be toggled on against a target making your life easier. Taking specific power combos or certain advanages on powers can made Endurance building very easy.

– Run-and-guy and active blocking are key features; moving out of certain attacks when you see visual cues and blocking the ones you can’t get away from are important to survival.

– Pretty flat power curve (or at least that’s the aim) so that enemies that con grey might still pose a risk in numbers.

Crafting:

– 3 different crafting types (Arms, Science, Mystic) that each have 3 specialisations. You can only be the master of one crafting type and I think you can master all three specialisations within that type but it takes time. Specialisations were implemented very close to open beta.

– You collect the relevant resources from nodes, buy blueprints from vendors and click the button to craft (which uses up the resources but not the blueprint) at crafting tables.

– To gain skill levels in crafting you have to ‘Experiment’ on (i.e. disassemble) items as well as build them. The aim is that this removes trash items from the game since you may as well take it apart.

Character:

– Character customisation is fantastic. Character advancement is pretty quick (although just-prior-to-open-beta patching might have changed this).

– You can choose powers from any framework, although more powerful abilities require either specialisation (to get them sooner) or waiting. Defensive powers took a nerf just before open beta so the wripples of that choice are still being felt.

– There are talents (stat-boosting advantages with an RP flavour), powers, advantages (that are assigned to powers), travel powers and super stats. Good luck in fitting it all together on your first try unless you read a guide first.

– Power replaces let you change the appearance and effect of one power with another. Apart from at the tailor, good luck in finding them.

– Major point: character flexibility sees huge gaps between the gimped and the overpowered due to power selection. If you think one character is gimped, try another character.

Communication:

– System has some nice touches (linked to forum PMs, can be linked to Twitter) but these are mostly fluff.

– The core system is functional but it doesn’t make it easy to communicate to others or to team up. A bit of a weakness.

Content:

– There are only 5 zones at launch. They are biggish zones and they do have instances / team-based sections, but saying “5 zones” is the truth. Especially since there are really only two options in going through them (do I go from the tutorial to Canada or to the Desert?).

– Missions are fairly standard, but their are some nice ideas like missions that come to you or ones that you can discover by clicking on items.

– Public missions are in, while each zone has a crisis mission that is about some kind of disaster in the area.

Collectables:

– There is loot. There are a number of different types of loot to try to make loot more thematically appropriate to a superhero MMO, but if you are just looking at their output you really won’t care if you are using magic loot and science loot and arms loot together.

– Perks are ChampO’s equivalent to CoH/V’s badges.

– There are apparently power replaces you can find outside of the tailor that will change how powers look and what they can do.

Competition:

– PvP is scenario-based. You click on the queue and pop into the area when it is ready. PvP combat is pretty quick but there will be killer builds in short order.

Community:

– Those who wanted CoH/V v2.0 are disappointed. Overall the mood seems very optimistic, but we’ll see.

Contingencies:

– Power Houses are fantastic ideas: they serve as instances where you can buy powers, test them out in a training room then respec them out if you don’t like them.

– There is only one server, but multiple shards you can flip between for each zone map.

– Cryptic appears to have crunched on this title since December 2008. Major changes to systems were still being patched in just prior to open beta.

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