Champions Online is an upcoming super-hero based mmo. Headed by Bill Roper, formerly of City of Heroes. The translation from the classic pen and paper we all grew up with shouldn’t suffer in his hands as he was a fan of the classic game himself. What first jumps out at you about this game are the rich colors and vivid details. I mentioned how impressed I was by the colors and was told that they wanted to have a very vivid storybook style to their game. The level of customization is high, allowing you to change many aspects of your character right down to the mood on their face. For instance, you can play as a demon-like winged villain, complete with perma-sadistic smile on your face.
A feature that is quite impressive about the game is known as role changing. What’s role changing? Well, the game has many kits. For example, you can be a superhero who uses gadgets, as your kit/appearance. Now you can be ranged and high damage dealing (think mage) and shoot a huge photon cannon… and your HP and armor will drop accordingly, or you can equip heavy tech and bash people (think warrior) but your ranged abilities will drop accordingly or you can even use robot drones to attack your enemies while you cripple them with shrink rays and other gadgets (that’s assuming the shrink ray doesn’t overload and backfire), so you should never be short on healers or tanks for a given task and everyone can always have fun without having to reroll their toon.
You can have wings, jet packs, unaided flight and other various forms of travel that fit your character. You can have a character that uses ice and flies around on an ice surfboard. But what if you’re an evil fire person? How about flying around on a evil purple flaming disk or purple disk with black flames, or flaming purple wings… what you choose, you can have! Using your wings as normal flight comes at level 1, but you can also gain advanced and faster modes of travel as you level.
The game has lots of kits that should appeal to many types of gamers as you can make a character that resembles what you like, not just a gimmicky superhero. Making a brash military “street fighting” champion with a huge blonde flat top… I could do that, complete with martial arts kicks that had yellow energy trailing off of it and yellow sonic energy boom waves as a projectile . If you think it, you can create it, customize it and change it. Seeing a character shoot pink ice from her head was rather funny. And not only can you spend hours detailing your champion, you then have to design your nemesis to rival you throughout your gameplay. I mean…. What’s a good hero without a rival? So let’s say I wanted to make a rival that, gee I dunno, threw out blue fireballs from his hands and used Karate and walked around in a white karate Gi with a head band. Yup, I could do that too. And you can even customize the backstory that explains why they hate you so much. No word yet on if they can monologue or say catchphrases every time they come back into your life. You can even pick the type of goons they employ to harass you, and what rivalry would be complete without lots and lots of rival missions to go on, geared toward your never ending fight against them?
The game has a functionality that is built up. So to use the super powers you will need to fight to build up your powers and unleash them (thus draining what you have built), so in theory it’s non stop fighting to keep the action high. In this build, I was able to see snares, knockdowns, knock backs, drains, debuffs and many other types of ailments on your actions. Like said before, this game is highly customizable, and nearly anything you can think of can be created by you for your character.
Because everyone is a champion, PvP will not be a focus in the game. You will, however, be able to use the arena system to battle against others in an instanced knock down drag out type setting. I mean, we are all here to bash the baddies, not tarnish our well designed super hero image! And atem advancements in the current model will not show on your character. Because people spend so much time creating their toons, why change the appearance?
A fortress is where the instanced PvE events will occur in the game. The game will have small fortresses and mega fortress which will be larger and more epic in scale than the small fortress. Small fortresses will be designed for small group and single party. Expect for the small fortresses to be done by a group of friends getting off work/class and just having fun while the mega fortress will be a huge raid for all those who love to bombard boss mobs with 40 people for gear.
When asked if the game would have PC and Xbox players on the same server I was told, “we hope to.” This was in stark contrast to information that was given earlier when it was announced. Many games over the past few years have tried to bridge the gap, lets see if champions can succeed where others have not in this area.
Closed beta is now going on now and fans can go and sign up now at the Champions Online homepage to get into the next phase of beta. With no expected launch date or a time frame, cryptic is taking a page from other games currently on the mmo market that launched in the past year and taking time to make the game right and in the image they want rather than rush a product out that will not be worthy of the champions IP.