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Champions Online

By Shamus
on Thursday Sep 10, 2009
Filed under:
Video Games


John Funk reviews Champions Online. I’d been warned that the team who made Champs was the team who originally worked on City of Heroes, and that CoH wasn’t awesome until those people left. I also have not been inundated with people telling me, “Shamus, you have to play this game!”, which I would have expected if it was any good. On the other hand, John Funk seems to like it without loving it, and I value his opinion pretty highly:

Full review at The Escapist

On the other other hand, it looks pretty dang fun. On the other other other hand, none of my usual gaming buddies are playing, and after having such a good time in Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead with net friends and the guys from my gaming group, I’m sort of off the idea of playing with strangers. On the other4 hand, maybe the game is just too new and more sensible gamers are waiting until the first-month shakedown period is over. I’m sure more than a few are staying away until they’re sure Champions isn’t going to be another Tabula Rasa.

It’s been a while since an MMO appeared that captured my interest. I’m not going to care about another one until Old Republic comes out, and that one doesn’t even have a release date yet.

Any comments from those who have played? How does it hold up against CoH? What’s the community like? How is solo play?

Man, I really want to muck about with the character creator.

Comments (49)

  1. chabuhi says:

    Immediately uninstalled upon feeling that I’ve played this before when it was called … oh, yeah! City of Heroes.

    I never understood why Champs got made. Maybe there’s something new and exciting that I’d get to enjoy if I stuck with it, but … y’know — I’m not going to read Bob Smith’s version of War & Peace if the first 10 chapters are the same as Tolstoy’s.

  2. Meatloaf says:

    Yeah, the character creator was the highlight for me. I spent several hours in there making everything from small, shuffling, angry little cyborg creatures to giant insects with antlers and neckties. It was great fun.

    Didn’t actually play the game too much though.

  3. Stephen says:

    If you really like City of Heroes, you may not like it better. If you really dislike City of Heroes, you may not like it either. If you’re not a fan of superheroes in general, you may not like it.

    So far, however, myself and all of my friends that are comic fans and enjoyed CoH (but aren’t loyal to the death) feel this is, in general, a better game.

    It has a more four-color art style. It has the environment interaction that is largely lacking in CoH (blowing up objects with AoEs, picking up scenery to hit people with, knocking people off buildings actually counting, etc.). Their AI and scripting seems more robust, so there’s more variety in challenges (i.e., a few things that aren’t simple variations on defeat mobs or click glowies). There’s more customization of the powers, and you don’t feel locked into a build and role; even with fewer powers currently available, the combinations and ability to make what you want feels better.

    So far, the teaming is not as good; they tuned it so most of your exp comes from missions, and it’s harder than it should be to share and coordinate missions, such that a group has to make sure they’re not working on a bunch of different quests (but it’s like WoW in that way). There are issues with the open world design (such as the ease of snagging unique quest mobs and npcs out from under a character that’s been waiting for them to respawn and is fighting their guardians). They’ve already nerfed more powers than they’ve buffed (it feels like).

    But the engine itself feels far more robust than CoH’s (as befits one designed from the ground up with the lessons learned in CoH), so it has way more scope to improve. So even if it may not feel that superior to you now, it might be highly competitive within a year or two.

  4. Alex says:

    Ultimate Alliance II is coming out this month and has been getting awesome reviews. There is no character creation but you can still advance you superhero’s through specific skill trees to cater to your favorite type of superpower. I want jubilee to have the most beautifully colored sparkles coming from her hands. J/K I would say Ultimate Allinace II is the way to go.

  5. Fairlyn says:

    I’m hooked

    I found his review lacking. you can block, whick also gets you energy (endurance?). and you can mix and match from the different sets (I got a powerarmor guy with powers from the gadgets and a dark / single blade). did I miss that part of the interview.

    I do agree with him, give it a few months.

  6. Jacob says:

    I’m enjoying it. I disagree with those who think it is the same as City of Heroes. While the cosmetics are similar (if ramped up in interesting ways–like assymetrical costuming), the game-play really isn’t. Yeah, you have powers and you use them to defeat bad-guys, but that mechanic is going to be shared by all MMOs…

    I like that they’ve obviously taken some time to study other MMOs. They’ve taken a couple of good ideas from others (like the Open Quests from Warhammer).

    It is going through a bit of a rough first month shake-out. I don’t think it’s anything that wont work out, though.

    My biggest design critique is that while they expose all the numbers, they aren’t good at explaining their meaning in ways that facilitate building a viable character. For example, powers that are key to survivability (like, say, defensive abilities) aren’t present in every powerset so you can end up gimping your character if you are overly hide-bound. They expect you to be aware of both the need and the presense of the capability in another powerset.

  7. mark says:

    I’m enjoying it, when I’m not lagging to death. Thats the price I must pay for having a crappy DSL connection in the UK, I guess…

    It does lack polish in certain areas (mainly balance, not just in PvP but also in the viability of pure concept builds) and has major lag/framerate issues for some users, but all the things that are currently bugging me are things that are common with new MMOs and are expected to be fixed SOON(tm)…

    edit: one other complaint: theres very little documentation, and players have yet to create in depth guides. As such, some things like the ‘power replace’ items mentioned in the review, or the whole crafting THING, are a tad confusing.

  8. chabuhi says:

    I guess, in the sake of fairness, I should clarify that I did not dislike Champs — I just thought it was too similar to CoH.

    I agree with Stephen, but I will say that (imo) if you never played CoH and superhero/comic games are your bag, you will probably like Champs a lot.

  9. Ludo says:

    Stephen said it well. I’m a beta veteran from CoH and CO is a welcome change of pace. That’s not the point, but I’m not really happy with the direction CoX is going, and I think CO may have a better future as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m a HUGE story nerd, and it’s a real pleasure to have a world based on an IP I know, the one from Hero Games and the Champions Universe.

    It’s perhaps a bit too much WoW-like for my tastes in the mission types, but there’s always a clean explanation (doesn’t mean it’s always plausible, but hey you’re supposed to wear spandex and solve all your problems with a fist in the face) and I don’t think it’s a real drag – just a minor annoyance.

    I try to keep in mind that the game is reaaaaally young, not the 5 years old behemoth CoH is. So there’ll be more content coming.

    One of the main innovations is the lack of class. You can pick powers from any of the “frameworks”, and try to build a cohesive ensemble. Not an easy task, as few frameworks are based on the same characterictics, but not impossible if you play with the crafting system.

    PvP is definitely much well thought, included in the game at the start and not (laboriously) added more than a year after launch, ensuring balance problems as we’ve seen in CoH.

    One of the best qualities of CoH, at least on the French server (I don’t know about the others) is the awesome community. It’s a bit early to have a definitive feeling for it in CO, seeing as a lot of people is in a “test phase”. It seems quite good, if you ignore the ninja looting mainly caused by a low refesh rate of some quests (but so far, the dev team is quite astonishingly reactive, and such problems are quickly addressed).

    Lastly, grouping is nearly optional. My main is 31 now (of 40) and I have seen only 3 missions which you MUST do in groups (because you have to activate 2 objects simultaneously, for example). A bit more would be a good thing, I hope to see more instances in the future.

    Lastly lastly, the level cap is 40. That’s quite low, so you can quite easily do several builds to test. We are promised lots of high level content, I’m looking forward to that. I can’t fathom you could have to play regularly for months before enjoying your max-level character… I just loathe grinding, it’s so aboslutely anti-story.

    In conclusion (yes, promise) : if you can wait several months, I would be delighted to read what you have to say of the game. You could do it now of course, but I think the paint is still a bit wet.

  10. Maiven7 says:

    It is, in many ways, mechanically superior to City. The character generator has a great deal of potential, and offers more up front freedom. Counterbalancing this is, to my perception, a smaller overall feeling of actual design freedom. In City, I never ran into the problem of not being able to at least fake a concept. In Champions, I do. But, to be fair, City has had five years to expand it’s library of character parts.

    Power customization is an interesting issue, since City announced Issue 16: Power Spectrum and a lot of people feel that ‘suddenly’ seeking to implement the ability to tint ones powers is a bid to stay competitive with Champions. And, to be fair, it is, but it was hardly spurred by Champions alone: That option has been on the Wish List for a long time.

    As a point of comparison, I found Champions’ method of power-color customization to be somewhat counter-intuitive and more limited in scope. City has also implemented a system with more future expandability, since they handle customization of power art as part of your costume which has already allowed them to drop in variable animations.

    In terms of Gameplay…this is where things split pretty hugely, and Champions is still on rocky ground. But that is, in many respects, a matter of taste. It’s a more fast paced, action oriented game and that’s reflected in how much participation is required of you. The Block option isn’t really an option: It’s a life saving tool for the aware combatant which you will either learn to use in response to telegraphed enemy super-attacks or die horrible, humiliating death after horrible, humiliating death. There are passive defensive options, but they are still undergoing some sharp re-balancing (as evidenced by the launch-day nerfs that caused all that kerfuffle). For that matter, the sheer complexity and panoply of options one can build to lend itself to a nightmare balance issue that is still unfolding as people continue to design new and more min-maxed superheroes.

    It also lacks a lot of City’s ability to customize your game experience. Missions are handled largely on the world map, with a handful of instances in a manner reminiscent of World of Warcraft. This lends itself to a faster game inasmuch as you don’t see a lot of loading screens and everything is right there, but it also means you can’t avoid your fellow players in the slightest which can water down the experience a bit. To say nothing of the inevitable, yet traditional, aggravation of arriving a minute too late to the scene of an epic battle against His Mighty Dudeness and having to wait for him to respawn.

    The Nemesis System is an interesting idea that doesn’t seem to have been finished in time for launch. You get to design an arch-enemy for yourself much as you designed your character, and this individual comes with attached missions wherein they will seek to foil you.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to customize them as a character: Champions handles all of their dialog, which gives City’s Mission Architect a bit of a hand up here since I can actually write a nemesis and a series of stories that are relevant to the character I am playing.

    Does any of this make Champions a bad game? No. Does it make it a bad game compared to City of? Not really. There are areas where it shines and demonstrates a lot of enthusiastic New Guy potential. But Jack’s prediction that it would be superior to City in every way fall painfully short in the hype analysis.

    It’s a different game. It’s a shinier game. It’s a game with higher system requirements and the bling mapping to show for it. But it’s not a City killer any more than Runes of Magic is a WoW killer.

    If it’s still around in five years, we’ll see where they’ve gone relative to each other. City certainly shows it’s age in a lot of little ways, but the fact that they’ve kept it going and kept developing says a lot.

    A lot can change between now and Champions Online’s first anniversary. Give it a shot if you’re looking for something a bit different, but don’t go looking for something superior. You’ll only be met with disappointment once the gloss wears off.

  11. Mayhem says:

    I haven’t tried CO yet, but I’ve been in COH since launch. The one thing that made me leery about CO is that it’s made by the original team that made COH. The issue I have with them is the solo-ability aspect. They believed that chars should be able to take on only a small number of foes at once, even mooks, and forced grouping against the big villains, which really kills the “superhero” feel. Only after they left COH did the game move towards a more epic feel of gameplay, as far as feeling “super”. If I wanted a challenge taking on a couple basic enemies, I’d play WOW or any other fantasy game. If I’m playing a superhero game, then I want to feel powerful.

    From what I read on the forums, the power level of the chars is right in line with COH original devs’ view, with chars being able to take on only a couple foes at a time safely. I’m really reluctant to buy and try the game based on that.

  12. Factoid says:

    Please for the love of Zod don’t do any reviews of Old Republic when it comes out. That game has the potential to ruin my life.

    I have scrupulously avoided all contact with the trailers and developer interviews. Once it comes out it will be nigh impossible to avoid the allure of a star wars MMO that doesn’t completely blow ass.

    The only thing that kept me out of Galaxies was the fact that you couldn’t play a jedi without jumping through a hundred hojillion unmarked hoops in the correct order to first become “force sensitive”. Eventually I think that changed but by then it was pretty well known the game was a dud so I dodged a bullet.

    The only thing enabling me to avoid Old Republic coverage is the fact that the first released material had (in my opinion) horrendous art direction and looked nothing like star wars nor in any way resembled KOTOR.

    The last thing I need is for an infinite timesink like an MMO to take over my life.

  13. Joshua says:

    So far, I’m really enjoying Champs… in a lot of ways it’s City of 2.0. Going from the costume editor in Champs to City of (I still play that because of all the friends I have there) is a big let-down, and up til Champs I loved the costume editor. Champs has much more fluid game-play (no rooting you in place every time you activate a power, no locking you out of your controls when a power is queued to prevent you from macroing) and does a much better job of making you feel like you’re saving the world. And you can finally make a superhero with Super Strength who can actually hit things hard (in City of Heroes, you’ll recall, Super Strength was reserved for Tankers, a low damage high defense aggro management archetype) Completing a mission in City gets you maybe some text saying “Thanks, here’s the next mission” in Champs at least some of the time (at the end of each tutorial section) they revamp the zone now that you’ve rescued it from disaster. Plus nothing beats being able to pick up a truck and hurl it at somebody.

    But the teaming tools are definitely lacking so far, it’s too hard to share missions, there’s too little reward for teaming if you don’t have the same mission, and because of the big open nature of the zones it can be a pain in the ass to figure out where your teammates have gotten to and get to them without getting defeated by the mobs who aggro and never give up. CoX has much better teaming; on the other hand, CoX didn’t have sidekicking when it first launched and we’re still waiting five years later for them to relax the restrictions on the Hazard Zones so that your sidekicks can actually enter them to do the mission you got sent on (this will be released in the next issue, hopefully some time this month).

    It can’t hurt to wait a couple months to see how things shake out, but even now I find Champions to be a blast to play.

  14. krellen says:

    Actually, a large chunk of the team responsible for making City of Heroes still works at Paragon Studios (the group that now maintains the game). It was mostly the upper management that went with Cryptic to make Marvel Universe Online which morphed into Champions Online.

    I’ve heard some good things about the Champions character generator, though I don’t find the graphics a huge “wow” over CoX’s graphics. And everything I hear about the gameplay does nothing to entice me; I stopped playing WoW partially because I hated the need for loot, the open-world quests, and the difficulty. I play City of Heroes precisely because it is easy.

    And, for the record, my Super Strength Tanker doesn’t do “low” damage (and Super Strength Brutes would laugh at the very idea of being “low” damage.)

  15. radio_babylon says:

    i got in the beta (dont know how, i dont recall signing up for it)… installed it, made a character, mucked around for 30 minutes, and realized it feels like every other MMO, uninstalled, and never touched it again.

    i dunno, i just think MMOs arent the games for me. im sure there are perfectly fine — great even — MMOs out there, that people in general will love. but i find them so uniformly un-fun, im incapable of recognizing them…

  16. RudeMorgue says:

    I was a little meh on this when I got it (on Launch Day), though I was VERY impressed by how bug-free it is compared even to games that have been around for a year or more (Warhammer Online, I’m looking at you.)

    After playing it for a week, I’m really liking it a lot, though. I never played City of Heroes because my brief experience with it didn’t impress me at all.

    Champions is a ton of fun, though. I can’t wait til I can make my own nemesis and see how that works out.

  17. Von Krieger says:

    I have a review that I wrote up elsewhere, but in short my summation of CO is essentially:

    “It’s basically WoW’s quest system mixed with a CoH-ish power system that makes everything feel pretty much homogeneous, then dipped in cell shading.”

    It’s pretty, and the most fun I had was with the character design. It’s a good dress-up game, but as an MMO it tries be be both City of Heroes and World of Warcraft, and fails at it.

  18. ellindsey says:

    I read your autopsy of Hellgate London shortly after I uninstalled the CO beta, and it struck me that the major flaws you found in that game are also present in CO. Exploration isn’t very rewarding because the scenery is bland and repetitive, and like Hellgate London, CO has maps that look nothing like the real-world locations they’re supposed to be set in. Leveling and advancement is based on guesswork since the powers and abilities aren’t at all documented, and if you do find a power combination that works well the devs will probably nerf it tomorrow. The world of CO is a joke. They bought the Champions IP, but other than names and a few bits of backstory they’re not using it. In-game NPC dialog is made up of in-jokes, pop culture references, and constant fourth-wall breaking. There are few things more immersion-breaking than hearing a villain say he’s going to a different MMO, or complaining that he needs to find a different spawn site. The crafting system in CO seems to be derived from that in Hellgate, and suffers the same problems with lack of documentation or predictability. At least the combat is fun.

    I really enjoyed the tutorial and the first few hours of gameplay, but eventually realized that there was nothing to keep me in CO long-term.

  19. Pickly says:

    Speaking of team fortress 2 in the original post, any chance of getting rtv on both servers, and votescramble installed as well?

  20. TickledBlue says:

    I’ve played both CoV (the better half IMHO) and CO. There’s a lot I could say both in recommendation and condemnation of both, but explaining the reasons in a blog comment is a bit outside my writing abilities (I’ll try but it’ll be long winded and ranty so if easily bored or offended stop reading after the first paragraph). What I have noticed is that when I played CoV I couldn’t go more than a couple of hours before I logged off. When I play CO I loose track of time quite easily, especially when my mates are on and we’re teamed up. I haven’t had that with an MMO since I first started playing them with WoW and a bit later on with D&D Online. Every other MMO quickly bores me and becomes a chore to play. Its been almost 3 weeks of CO and I’m still eagerly logging in every evening and playing till far too late so that I’m tired and bleary eyed at work, only to go home promising myself that ‘Tonight will be different’… till I log in then all bets are off.

    I’m a huge alt-aholic and CO feeds this addiction much better than CoV does. Sure I have less character slots but the combinations of powers and character design keep me headed back to roll a new alt. I love the fact I can save a characters look/costume so when I find one I like but end up wanted a new power set for them, its an easy button click to load the costume and add in the new powers.

    I get my travel powers at level 6, as soon as I get out of the tutorial (I would have preferred to start with them) which kicks CoV to the curb. Part of my frustration with CoV at the lower levels was having to run to the next mission then back to hand it in till you built up enough rep for your contact to give you their contact details so you could just call them.

    The Powerhouse is a great idea (this is where you get your new powers and abilities). It allows you to try before you buy. Get a power – go check it out in one of the attached rooms and see if you like it. If not go back, do retcon and pick the next power you’re interested in. It’s only when you leave the Powerhouse that your abilities get locked in so you have to spend resources to change them later. I think they didn’t take it far enough. I should be able to go straight from costume/character design straight into the powerhouse and be able to play around with powers not only for the 1st level but for all levels to see what my character will be like when they hit mid then high levels. As it stands I don’t know if I’m gonna like the powers that open up at higher levels till I get there, and by that time a choice I made back at level 11 may have been a bad choice.

    I know a lot of people say that they combat is more actiony, and it is, but its nothing that wasn’t already done in D&D online or Conan, and misses the boat when it comes to being action oriented enough for a supers game. I still feel like I’m activating a power in my toolbar and waiting for refresh. I prefer what they’ve done over the standard WoW kick each other in the shins till one of you falls over combat, but it still doesn’t really make me feel in control. I want to feel like a superhero when I launch into combat, I want the combat to be chaotic and insane with property damage and moments of melodrama not to mention overwrought soliloquies. But the Mobs feel like WoW mobs for the most part and I’m still basically standing toe to toe with bad guys (or shooting them from a distance till they run up and then we are standing toe to toe). Sure I can run around, but it doesn’t do any good, there’s still an observably obvious aggro radius and all the immersion breaking tactics you learned in WoW will put you in good stead for CO.

    The character stats and their effects in CO are poorly explained and it takes a few character rerolls to get the hang of it all and understand what impacts what, but by then you’ve made lots of (probably poor) choices when it comes to equipment and stat upgrades that you have no choice but to delete and start a new character.

    The starting tutorial is a nice way of dropping you in the action, but given that you’ll run through it umpteen bazillion times to try out all your new character builds, it gets old fast. And those damn sirens! It was the same with the CoV starting area – whichever developer decided that sirens going continuously was a good idea needs to be subjected to Chinese water torture then banned from gamedev.

    At the end of the day though, the devs played this one a little too safe. They took a great and detailed pen and paper character creation rules set and forced it into a standard MMO level based framework. That is a crime.

    I get very frustrated with the MMO dev community – I understand that these games are huge risky affairs and I also understand that the general gaming populace is filled with mouth breathing fanboi’s who will fill forums with nerd rage if you have the wrong shade of pink in Barbies latest horse adventures, yet will remain embarrassingly silent on issues like gender stereotyping and the slow erosion of human rights (and of course I don’t mean ‘you’ who are reading this right now… you are obviously sensitive and socially conscious) – so *insert deity of choice here* forbid they try something different or even something that’s been done before but is not WoW-esque. The HERO p&p game is NOT level based – it’s a point buy system that focuses on individual skills and abilities. As you gain experience you spend the points to improve individual powers. Why would you force that into a level based framework? Eve Online, Ultima Online and Saga of Ryzom all have proven that skill based systems are perfectly viable (and to my mind better – I also know that not everyone thinks this way and that some believe that D&D is the pinnacle of roleplaying perfection but I figure that’s only because they’ve not played a good game of anything else, they fear change or they’re one of those mouth breathers) ways of showing character development. I think that if one of the core concepts of a game is it’s customisability then it’s a crime to go the leveling route as that locks in so many choices.

    Meh, OK this is disjointed and doesn’t cover a quarter of what I wanted to say and probably comes off more negative than how I actually feel about the game. If you like the superhero genre then you owe it to yourself to check it out – it goes a long way to letting you play the hero you want (just no where near far enough – but further than any other MMO out there). If you think that an MMO isn’t an MMO if it’s not like WoW then avoid this game (and me, as I’ll probably say a lot that we’ll both regret) even though, ironically, this game is a lot more like WoW than it should be – you’ll be pissed off by the small differences and we don’t need you filling the chat channels with your asinine comments on how WoW or CoV is better.

  21. Erm says:

    I beta tested the game for a good six months and honestly I wasn’t impressed. I try not to judge games based on beta testing, but honestly Champions feels exactly like COH, just with a face lift.

  22. The S Ninja says:

    @Factoid: If it makes you feel any better, TOR looks a lot better now then it did in those early screen shots. You should check out this video series. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a8mlxCaRAI

    It’s a complete walkthrough for TOR and shows a LOT of gameplay. I’m personally quite excited for it.

  23. Legal Tender says:

    What about this one:


    I really hope the FPS+RPG combo works as presented in the trailers.

    I also really like the looks of it. Nothing wrong with hyper-realism but this does feel like a breath of fresh air.

    • Shamus says:

      Thank you so much for getting me excited about Borderlands when it still has a month to go.

      No word on DRM yet, either. This is 2KGames, and I consider them to be the most malignant of the bunch, so I’m really trying hard not to give this game too much mental real estate just yet.

  24. Carl says:

    I was a pretty hardcore CoX fan, and I have to say that I like Champions better. Better character creation, better powers and a better variety of powers are what you’ll see off the bat.

    I agree that a lot of the data in the game is not well-explained. It seems to favor folks who’ve played the pencil-and-paper game, and having been a DDO player and listening to the non-D&Ders trying to play that, I can see what they were complaining about. However, now that I’ve managed to get several characters through the tutorial and on into his early 20s, the system is starting to gel for me.

    I also agree that the grouping mechanics need work. There is no incentive outside altruism to group with someone to help them finish their missions. On the other hand, you will need to convince one or two others to help you finish some of your own quests, so the need to pay-it-forward is there. That said, the solo game is fantastic. You could probably level all the way to 40 without grouping with another soul, but I have a way to go before I can state that definitively.

    I suffer from some lag/stuttering issues, but I’m not prepared to blame them entirely upon the game yet. I’m running an older system while waiting for Win7 to release so I can do a “real” upgrade. We’ll see how the game performs on a new machine. For now, it’s acceptable if a little frustrating at times.

    The game-play itself is terrific. Combat is very active and to crib from another poster in this thread, how awesome is it that I can pick up a truck and hit someone with it? I’ll tell you. It’s SO awesome. Two more words, “Laser Sword.” Dude, I’m telling you.

    Finally, the crafting system is pretty freaking nifty. I can make my own enhancements and my own temporary powers. I can sell them or trade them and when I find something I don’t want to use or swap out an older enhancement, I can take it apart and gain crafting skill from it.

    Champions Online is definitely worth a look. As to the community — it is what you make of it. It’s developing and so far, the folks have been pretty cool.

  25. Lanthanide says:

    @ 17 ellindsey:

    Sounds like Champions got Flagshipped by Roper.

  26. Legal Tender says:

    Ahem…sorry about that.

    And thank you for reminding me 2K is behind it. We are even, now. :p

    Jokes aside, man it is so sad that developers have to be at the mercy of these bunch of (insert combination of derogatory terms of your choice here).

    I was so taken with the game’s concept that I really didnt notice the 2K logo even though it was there plain for me to see.

    Also, I wonder if they got Guy Ritchie to make that trailer for the game?

  27. Miral says:

    I played the open beta of CO for about a day and a half (all the time it had left after the download finished). And I have to say that if I had the time to actually play MMOs then I would definitely have bought the game. Probably even a lifetime sub.

    It was a lot of fun, and my initial character (martial arts focus) was great for solo play; I could pretty much clear a whole room single-handed. (Boss fights were a bit trickier, especially the boss + mini-boss fights intended for two characters.)

    In the last couple of hours before the beta ended I tried playing a ranged blaster character instead, out of curiosity. Didn’t have nearly as much fun, although there were definitely some fights that worked out a little better with a ranged attack available.

    But yeah, sadly I don’t really have enough time to play all my offline games, let alone MMOs. But that’s the only reason I let this pass. (Now, if they were selling gameplay hours instead of realtime months, I might have bought it anyway.)

  28. Volatar says:

    On the completely wrong topic, but I don’t know where else to ask:

    When are you going to post another “Whats everyone playing this week?” post? Also, when are you going to post another “This is my list of games I am going to play, review, and make comics about next” post? Its been… too long since the last ones. :)

  29. Maldeus says:

    @Volatar 28: Urgh. Please, no. If we have another one in 2014, it’ll be too soon. Please, give me interpretations of the Path, or reviews of new games, or AI follies, or something else interesting.

    • Shamus says:

      Maldeus: If it makes you feel any better, the open threads and queue listings don’t displace “real” articles. They usually pad out Fridays or Sundays when I wouldn’t post anything anyway.

      Volatar: Thanks for the reminder. We will do that very thing tomorrow afternoon.

  30. JFink says:

    I’ve played CoX for two years now, and I’m trying Champs now. It’s not really my cup of tea. It does somethings better than City, it does somethings worse. I wish I hadn’t broken my “never buy an MMO until at least one month after launch rule” this time.

    I think the best way to compare the two is City is to Guild Wars with its Instanced Content and Hubs as Champs is to WoW with the Open World Content.

    Some of my gripes with Champs: The costume creator doesn’t seem as robust as City’s. Yes, I know, five years adds a lot to it but why is it I still can not see my character’s weapon in the creator even after today’s patch allows me to change it at creation. The ability to create asymmetrical costumes is nice, I just wish there were more choices to it though.

    The game is painfully unclear on what stats do. I have an Endurance stat, a Recovery stat, and a Constitution stat. I have a hard time remembering which one does what. Same goes with Intelligence, Ego, and Presence.

    The ability to try a power before buying it is great, as well as being able to take powers from other sets. I have a character that uses the Dual-weld Pistols from the Munitions set as well as the Single Blade melee attacks, I love being able to do something like that.

    Getting your travel power after the tutorial level was a wonderful thing, especially considering how big the Second Tutorial (oh yeah, there’s a second part) actually is. I just wish some of the travel powers were better. As is right now, Teleport is far and away the best power, as it not only moves you quickly, you are protected during it. Burrow is almost as good for similar reasons. Super Jump is on the other end of the scale and is pretty bad, you don’t jump high enough or fast enough.

    The loot drop system is ok, but I prefer City’s Inspiration system, where I can have the small buffs and heals and never use them for the same reason I never use my items in any RPGs, over Champs’ power up orbs only dropping after defeating a foe, or in the case of some Supervillains, during the fight. It works a lot like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance in that regard.

    Too long: didn’t read version: I like Champions just fine, but come back in a couple of months when most of the kinks are worked out.

  31. SharpeRifle says:

    Well I like it…but I got a lifetime sub so I could use it to avoid CoX when I was tired of that…In about a week I’m gonna be playing that again for a good stretch cause I’ll be tired of CO.

    Quickie Review.

    Costume Creator: Bad Design workwork…but very extensive.
    CoX’s is easier to use but they were able to include almost every costume piece they had from CoX in it. Yeah they mainly just used the old parts…some very original stuff…sadly most of those are either 60’s style stuff(oooh lightningwings)…or the new mecha armor…and then of course there are the blantant copyright infringements..(insignia pauldron and rocket I’m looking at you)…and of course they failed to include visual weapon customization intially..meh thumbs down for me really…its not bad…but this is the company that gave us CoX’s…I expected better.


    Good nice fast paced. Leveling issues with gaps and wierd junctures. I had one character doing one level up missions in the desert(post second tutorial) and he completed one which sent him to a level correct contact..how does that happen?…and yeah I had gone right by this guy twice with no indication he could give me correct level missions.
    Needs work but now that Mr. Emmert has his (3minion/GDN/ED) nerf out of the way…should come slowly up out of the crater. still plays well…just not very forgiving for pure “concept” builds, mistakes in power choices, or people who never learned to sneak without a sneak power.


    Oh lord…we go basically three ways In-Joke(I rescued ron Mahogony the WCOC Anchorman!…I’ve never even seen the movie!…yay joke I won’t get!)to simplistic (go get bandanas)…to surprisingly interesting (Nemisis mission..well…thats cause she’s MY VILLIAN)..seriosly…its allright…but nothing that really grasped me…mainly go here pound that. No real…choice involved so far.


    I’m just glad I could turn off that annoying horrible thick 3-D destroying BLACK OUTLINE!…seriously that would have kept me away completely.

    Nice graphics but you need the world details turned up to really appreciate them…otherwise your character never looks much better than CoX…the real difference between the two is the damn views you can get from up high…but I don’t like the sunsets as much…go figure…

    Still nice game…I would’nt recommend it though unless you really wanted a hero game of some sort…and if you could still get the lifetime sub…short of that I wouldn’t have got it.

  32. Stephen, as has been said, hit it.

    It’s like CoH, improved in a lot of ways.

    My main beef with it is the same beef I have with more and more MMOs – I never found a reason to group. As a single player game it’s good, but not amazing. CoH rewarded grouping. It was easy, it was fun, it scaled the levels. CO is not instanced to any real degree, so grouping is just more people around you.

    That being said, it’s hella fun for a while. The character creator is deep, the actual builds are awesome, the game is fluid and fun. But my wife is back playing WoW, and DDO is free, so I couldn’t justify spending money on it.

  33. Dane says:

    For the record, no, City of Heroes was still quite good when Cryptic was running it. NCSoft does seem to be putting more money into development than Cryptic was, but the quality of additions is really inconsistent, and I’m skeptical that they’ll keep up this pace. Cryptic had City of Heroes for four-ish years, and it was only towards the end of their run that the updates really started to slow down.

    As for Champions Online, for me it was a huge disappointment when I finally got to try it. I would have been perfectly happy if it’d just been City of Heroes 2.0, with better graphics and more features; instead they decided that what players really wanted was a “faster paced” game, so they produced an arcade-y button masher with no real depth and very little in the way of the team dynamics and character playstyle variety that made City of Heroes so great. It has all the faults of City of Heroes with none of the merits to balance it out.

  34. TSED says:

    I have it.

    I love it.

    I couldn’t get into CoH, never tried CoV though. It felt so slow and boring; in CoH at level 4 or 5 with a dps character fights with mooks could last for what felt like forever. In CO, you actually have to pay attention to the world (GRONDLING SMASH YOU INTO OTHER MUTANTS!), try to position yourself for proper AoEs, etc. It’s very nice.

    The game’s not perfect – I would prefer the player power level to be a chunk higher, for example – but I really am quite enjoying this game.

    Unfortunately, I am also suffering severe alt-itis. I haven’t had any one make it to level 20 yet.

  35. froogger says:

    Ok, now I know some of the gameplay and characterbuilding elements, but how is the environment? I love the idea that they “reset” a zone after a battle (if I understand correctly). Sounds like this would enhance immersion by breaking the static scenery most MMOs suffer from. But is the scenery as lovely as, say WoW? CoH sure wasn’t. As much as I enjoyed standing on a ledge overlooking the cityscape, there were no particular place that I remember as well-planned and distinct. Could be the colours or the fact that cities are boxes with roads between them, but I have crystal clear memories from scenes in other MMOs years after I ceased playing them.

  36. Rosewire says:

    Hrm… some interesting input so far, so here’s my two cents. I was in on the CO closed and open betas, and I’m currently playing now. I’ve also done CoX fo 3 years, so I feel I can make comparisons fairly.

    So yeah, I’m enjoying the heck out of it. It runs decently on my low end system (better than CoX did), i like the idea of having items to equip to tweak your character, it adds a little more to mission rewards than ‘Oh, some more Influence… yay.’ There is a lot of in-game jokey mission titles, but not really any more so than WoW I feel.

    I enjoy the character creator, i feel its better than CoX had, though CoX currently has more parts available, what with having been doing this for awhile. I really really enjoy being able to mix and match powers, and while I personally feel a good build should have some defenses, if you’re a team player, you actually don’t need them.

    Speaking of teaming… yeah, you don’t HAVE TO team if you don’t want to. Except for when you do have to. But you know what? The people make the game, and I don’t see any reason to want to be an online hermit while playing. Mission sharing is a little twitchy, but its been slowly getting better, even since just the launch. And despite the first day nerf bat on some powers, they’ve since been consistently tweaking in good ways. As well as announcing plans to add another power set within a month or so, which is nice.

    Is it a good game? I think so. Is it better than CoX? In my opinion, I’d say yes, though CoX still has a lot of good stuff to recommend it. I would say give it a month to shake down, then give it a try. I’m hoping they’ll start doing some sort of ‘invite a friend’ incentive plan like WoW and CoH does so I can share out trials to my friends.

  37. Rosewire says:

    Okay, sorry for the double post, but I thought I’d answer Froogger there. The settings are way different. Yeah, there is a city, but it feels like an actual sprawling city, not CoX’s collection of boxes. But if you want interesting terrain, lemme fill you in on the three starting areas.

    You start out in an alien invasion blasted version of the central city for your tutorial. There’s rubble and smashed cars and fires everywhere. You fight your way through the city, doing good deeds along the way to finally strike at the heart of the invasion, making you insturmental in beaking the assault. You get awarded the Key to the City at the end of the tutorial while all the people you’ve rescued stand around and talk about how great you are.

    You then get to pick one of two ‘demi-tutorial’ zones to go to, the Desert, or Canada. The desert was once the site of massive nuclear testing, and now Project Greenskin is under siege by hordes of radioactive mutants bent on killing and subvertin everyone there. You get to roam over mountains and across blasted ruins, as well as helping to fend off the hordes swarming over the Project Headquarters. If you go to Canada, you fly in to assist at the site of a plane crash, felled by an unnatural storm driven by dark magics. You battle ice demons and wretched zombies while rescuing trapped survivors before tackling the dark being driving the storm. That’s the tutorials. After that, things get more involved with conspiracies, evil organizations experimenting on humans, ghost towns, the giant monsters, and all sorts of other craziness. After that, you get to go back to the city, which is rebuilding from the invasion and play in the big leagues.

  38. freykin says:

    I was in the beta, and wasn’t very impressed. Combat wasn’t fun for me, it didn’t feel right to me. It doesn’t help that I don’t like their particular brand of cel-shading, which is too bad because I tend to love it.

  39. Mephane says:

    I am playing it and I love it. Imagine that the really most important part is the character costumization, and by that I mean both the looks and stats, abilities etc. My usual gripe with any kind of RPG/MMORPG game is that you can either looks like a clown or bagger OR try to get a visually appealing character while suffering from sub-par stats and abilities. Now, Champions Online totally seperated these two parts, as you design your hero costume as you can wear it from the very beginning on (and later modify it as needed, unlock alternate costume slots etc.).

    It’s also interesting to see that people suddenly all start making interesting characters with usually quite clear concepts, the same player who in other games have characters that look like crap because they primarily care about the numbers on the items, not whether this pink plate boots really fit to that green leather hat. But as soon as you give those people the ability to design their character looks independently from those numbers, they all start being really creative.

    The few really crappy characters I’ve look like they’re being done to look so on purpose.

  40. Ross Bearman says:

    I was in the closed beta of Champions for several months. I haven’t bought the retail release. I found I agreed whole heartedly with John’s feelings. The game simply feels too overwhelming, everything seemed like a struggle to understand. I also found the interface to be badly designed, but couldn’t quite place why.

  41. lplimac says:

    I couldn’t get over the cheesy graphics (one of the reasons I don’t play WoW) and unintuitive interface, as well as the feeling I’ve been through this all before. I found the starter mission to be more confusing than helpful. I was disappointed. I played the PnP version of Champions where each character was only limited by your imagination and the game didn’t give me the feeling that I was creating a unique character, just another cookie cutter energy blaster (or tank). It wasn’t different enough from CoH to hold my interest… or get me to pay another monthly fee.

  42. Ran Kailie says:

    CO… ok so I’ve been playing CoX since the launch of city of Villains. I’ve logged entirely to much time into the game. I still enjoy it, I burn out sometimes but I always come back.

    Why? Its easy.

    And I don’t mean easy as in no challenge I mean easy as in not overly complicated, doesn’t require and excessive amount of my time to be good at (arguably you feel fairly super even at level 1 the first time you play). Loot isn’t required, the loot I do get is fairly straight forward, and I don’t even have to LOOK at numbers if I don’t want to.

    I get enough numbers, planning, and grinding at my day job, when I play a game I just want to drop in and have fun and smash, poke, burn, etc, a bad guy.

    Now with that said, CO is not any of those things.

    Its not easy, its not straight forward, its not quick to pick up, and it requires grinding and dealing with numbers.

    Its very easy to nerf yourself since none of those numbers really make much sense (its not explained). Its also very easy to kill steal and grief given the vast majority of the game is open world.

    Great RP opportunities exist in talking to people while waiting for Widget G to respawn for you. Yes thats sarcasm.

    The travel powers are neat but hokey and kinda weird to control. The targeting system is also annoying (reminds me of those games with auto target but they don’t actually reset your camera while moving to continue watching the target). The trays and the consoles are… unwieldy and confusing and there isn’t much in the way of tool tip popups on these items to explain how to access a tray with the keyboard or what items go there.

    The conning for baddies in the game isn’t too straight forward like in CoX. I’m sure there was a system but it didn’t make much sense to me or it wasn’t incredibly obvious. And the naming conventions were weird. Instead of minion, lt, boss, etc its stuff like Master Villain and Super Villain and villain and henchmen.

    I’m also completely unsure how teaming in that game is even suppose to work. Reminded me alot of Guild Wars with its very obtuse systems. I’m sure I could team but really I found no reason to given it was all open world content. Maybe I should have teamed to avoid the kill stealing and griefing?

    Quests are kinda meh, and the so called “way points” are useless. I had to reference the map to find stuff. It didn’t provide any guidance, like the waypoints in CoX, to where I needed to go.

    Also there were weird animation issues. I played a gunslinger and for whatever reason a lot of times my guns would disappear. And the lag was fairly vicious at points. I also really found myself missing the ability to click on a contact to open a dialogue. And most of the combat, while very fast was very button mashy.

    It also looks like crap. I expect crappy graphics like that on my Wii. I do not expect that on my high end gaming rig. This is compared to CoX which looks (imo) amazing for a five year old game.

    Turning off that horrible black outline helped, and cranking ALL of the settings to max helped, but it still looks like a Wii game. I have screenshots taken on my ancient GeForce 6600 GT in COX that look better then shots on my current rig in CO.

    So thats the 2 cents of a person who plays a lot but has a generally casual gaming attitude. I play for fun, and a challenge, not another job.

  43. FluffyBunny says:

    Ok, for those who wish they could check out the Champions Online character creator before buying the game, I may have a solution!


    What this is, is a contest for people to submit their character ideas to win a car. But assuming this application works for people who have not bought the retail game, you can simply use it to experiment with the creator. (You’ll have to create a Cryptic website account but that shouldn’t be a big deal.) You can also save/load your costumes without actually submitting them, so you can finish them later or base another costume on them.

    Hopefully this does work for those who have not bought the retail game – I have no way of testing this, so I make no guarantees. Somebody try it and post the results?


  44. RudeMorgue says:

    Some of the criticism people have expressed here are valid, but some either stem from beta experience that is no longer applicable or are simply incorrect. It also seems that different people want different things from the game, some of which are mutually incompatible.

    For instance, anyone who wants a simple game is not going to see eye-to-eye with someone who wanted it to be more like the pen-and-paper version of Champions/HERO (with which CO has only a few superficial similarities) — HERO is probably the most complex PnP RPG system in existence.

    I like the game, but it took a while for me to really warm up to it. There are definite balance issues, but some of these (like the differences between travel powers) are obvious choices you make based on whether you want to get around easily (teleportation) or move around in a manner more appropriate to your character concept. The only travel power I’ve used that is just plain unwieldy is Acrobatics. Swinging and Super Jump may aggro more enemies, but they’re just as fast as most other powers once you know how to use them, and they’re way more fun.

    Again, balance is a problem. I have found areas where St. Simian, my holy (single) sword-wielding angelic monkey gets his ass kicked, but Dr. Homunculus can lay waste. I can only assume that balance will get better as time goes by, and I’ll be subscribing for a little while at least, if only to get away from the mind-numbing boredom that is WoW.

  45. DKellis says:

    If I remember correctly, Shamus stopped playing City of Heroes because of stupid teams.

    Thus far in Champions Online, I’ve mostly only seen teams of convenience, to tackle the missions with a “suggested” number of players greater than one. After the mission is done, the team disbands. I’m not sure if this is just launch jitters or observational bias. I’m also not sure if it will be better or worse for Shamus in terms of teaming compared to CoH.

    Personally I pretty much have to solo, because I don’t think any team is willing to put up with my disconnecting from the server every ten minutes or so. This game has some connection issues.

  46. SEGEEK says:

    I really want to love this game, I was in beta for quite some time. Everything that I think a good MMO should have is in there, but for some reason I am just not drawn to it like I am other games.

    Just seemed like the game play got really stale for me with just about any character I tried.

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