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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] Champions Online: Patrolling Champions Online

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 15663

OP  3/14/13 8:01:35 PM#1

Every good game deserves a plethora of players coming in to tour the game and, hopefully, be sold enough to stay awhile. In today's The Tourist column, we take a look at Champions Online. Check it out and then let us know what you think in the comments.

Getting started in the game was a breeze. The tutorial is standard kill-collect fare but ends with a nice instance inside Champion's headquarters. The game also features full controller support, which is how I played the bulk of my time. Combat is more active than most MMOs and kicking some insectoid backside was a snap (and ooze), but since mobs often come in packs, it's wise to assess the situation before running in. While there is no roll dodge, moving out of the way of melee attacks causes them to miss and blocking is great way of mitigating damage. Mobs also drop colored orbs which replenish HP, Mana, and Defense, and occasionally other stat boosts. When I played the On Alert content, these bobbles were annoyingly well-hoarded.

Read more of Christopher Coke's The Tourist: Patrolling Champions Online.

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Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/05/12
Posts: 3

3/15/13 12:40:23 PM#2
I'd just like to point out that there are jetpacks in the game. If you have a jetpack back piece with your costume the flight power works with it and uses said backpack for flight, changing animation based on each model. The same goes for other travel powers and costume sets. Flight might be Superman, until you throw on a set of wings then they actually flap to give you flight

Novice Member

Joined: 2/26/13
Posts: 103

3/15/13 1:11:19 PM#3
I would give this another chance if pretty much everything wasn't gated behind real money. Sure you can play the game, but the F2P options are very limited. The amount of money that is required to really enjoy and experience the game, to me, is a bit out of hand. Cut most everything in half of what it's currently posted as and I would bet real money that a lot more people woulc flock to check it out.

Novice Member

Joined: 10/25/11
Posts: 292

3/15/13 1:46:55 PM#4
I recommend the teleport option for your first travel power.  You can escape more easily from any bad situation you get into.  I agree about the graphics.  They are severely lacking in detail.

Novice Member

Joined: 10/14/07
Posts: 45

Taking yourself seriously is the easiest way to make me laugh at you.

3/15/13 2:08:40 PM#5
I don't find the experiance to be as deep as City of Heroes but i also remember that CoH wasn't as deep when it started as it finally ended.  I enjoy the game and I recommend it - the free to play version is fine -the pay to play version is more personalized and more fun over all ofr people who like to tweak their characters.

Novice Member

Joined: 10/07/11
Posts: 4

3/15/13 4:19:29 PM#6

Champions has the unfortunate disadvantage of being the first at a lot of things for Cryptic. It was their first game after the CoH split. It was the first of their games to convert to F2P. The result is that it made the stumbles that it's newer games learned from.


That said, there are a lot of aspects that make it a hidded gem. Character customization is very robust. (Even more robust than what is shown to new players.) On top of that there is a metric ton of costume options that are unlocked through in-game play (Check out the recognition vendors for a sample. There are even more unlocked as random drops or through acheviements.) While the free archetypes are fairly restrictive, they usually cover a wide assortment of themes that will at least come close to a super hero option. (If you ant a both powerful/versitile archetype, I recommend the Unleashed as it has strong DPS combined with a number of abilities that allow it to psudo-tank and self heal.)


I definitly recommend you keep playing as there are a few gem areas in the game. The adventure packs/comic series showcase more evolved storytelling that Cryptic grew into. And one of my favorite zones, Vibora Bay, unlocks a few levels before 40. Both these darken the tone of the game at later levels.



Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 14454

3/15/13 5:01:49 PM#7
Originally posted by DJMantiss
I would give this another chance if pretty much everything wasn't gated behind real money. Sure you can play the game, but the F2P options are very limited. The amount of money that is required to really enjoy and experience the game, to me, is a bit out of hand. Cut most everything in half of what it's currently posted as and I would bet real money that a lot more people woulc flock to check it out.

It's a subscription game with a free trial.  And it's a fairly generous free trial, at that, letting you play essentially all of the content.  If $15/month is out of hand, then you're a small step away from arguing that subscription models intrinsically mean that the price is out of hand.



Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 14454

3/15/13 5:07:42 PM#8

"So here’s the deal: Champions isn’t a pretty game. It grows on you, sure, but stepping in is a lot like rewinding PC gaming to 2004."

Umm, no.  That's wildly wrong.  Champions Online is certainly far superior graphically to any MMORPG that was out in 2004.  And it's better than most games in other genres that were available in 2004, too.  It's not 2013's cutting edge, but you don't expect that from a game that launched in 2009.  Or at least, you shouldn't.

Champions Online looks better in action than it does in screenshots.  I'm not really sure why.  Maybe it's just that it avoids the choppy animations, wildly incorrect collision detection, and fighting with the camera as much as the mobs that a lot of other games feature.  Depending on your hardware, you may have to mess with graphical settings some to get the game to look good while maintaining a smooth frame rate.  My usual recommendation was to turn off SSAO, depth of field, shadows, and comic outlining, set anti-aliasing to 4x (SSAA through drivers if you have a strong enough video card to handle it), and max everything else.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/26/13
Posts: 103

3/15/13 6:10:32 PM#9
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by DJMantiss
I would give this another chance if pretty much everything wasn't gated behind real money. Sure you can play the game, but the F2P options are very limited. The amount of money that is required to really enjoy and experience the game, to me, is a bit out of hand. Cut most everything in half of what it's currently posted as and I would bet real money that a lot more people woulc flock to check it out.

It's a subscription game with a free trial.  And it's a fairly generous free trial, at that, letting you play essentially all of the content.  If $15/month is out of hand, then you're a small step away from arguing that subscription models intrinsically mean that the price is out of hand.

$15 a month is due to games worthy of a subscription though. Not something CO really can really say. Sure there are a ton of powers and "stuff", but as I've seen time and time again there is no real content being applied. Just look at something that isn't WoW, like Rift and their expansion and the sub makes sense. Look at CO and their entire lack of an expanded world, events, holidays and more since month 3 and you have a very hard time selling that sub.


Could be a nice game, but needs an actual development cycle with true end-game expansions and not just a "patch" but a real expansion. 


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Joined: 2/03/08
Posts: 4

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

3/15/13 7:19:55 PM#10
I subscribed fora couple of years, and it was well worth the money. When I am between other subscriptions, or if they actually release a true expansion, I will probably subscribe again. The difference between the free archetype heroes and the self-designed heroes is vast, and after having played for so long with the ferrform heroes, the archetypes feel very constricted. OTOH, it was playing as an archetype that got me interested in subscribing in the first place.

Cutting edge graphics? No, but they are supposed to look comic-booky. That they manage quite well.

All in all, I think CO is more than a bit overlooked as a fun MMO.

Loisha - when a rational human being won't do.


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Joined: 4/24/10
Posts: 531

3/15/13 8:04:37 PM#11
If the F2P version was not so severely lacking I would give it another try.

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Joined: 6/13/07
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3/15/13 8:08:26 PM#12
Good character creator, but what we really want is the spiritual successor to City of Heroes.

If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/18/04
Posts: 384

3/15/13 8:34:31 PM#13

Yes.  There is nothing in the game that makes it feel like COH.  Nothing.  I know that from a combat standpoint and graphic standpoing CO is way better.....but COH had charm where CO has nothing in the charm department.


I didnt like the Zen aspect of this game, but PWE owns Cryptic and get used to paying real money for everything.


That, and the fact that DCUO is probably a better version of CO, eusures that this game will never be anything other than a "oh, that game is still up and running?" MMO.....and DCUO is not really a great game either, it is just a little bit better in areas it needs to be a little bit better in than CO.


I was in the Beta test of CO, and to be honest what I was looking for was a graphically better version if COH.  Put in a faster combat type of thing and they would have had a smash hit.  Instead they just created a little blob of a MMO that really doesn't appeal to anyone.


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Joined: 9/08/09
Posts: 115

3/15/13 11:51:23 PM#14

@Quizzical: Chris here, and yeah, it is a bit of hyperbole. I really don't think the game is that impressive, though, even on its highest settings (which I ran). It's colorful, I'll give it that, but even for 2009 it wasn't that impressive. They're very low detail in a lot of cases. Maybe that's because they were going for the painterly comic book effect, but it was still hit or miss for me.


In fairness, the game can look quite good. Like I said, it was hit or miss.


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Novice Member

Joined: 8/30/10
Posts: 3

I Game therefore, I Am

3/16/13 4:48:18 AM#15
I've been playing CO since the Beta days and the game has come along way. I bought a Lifetime sub and it was worth every penny. There are things that I wouldlove to see fixed and evolved, but isn't that with every game we play. I like CO alot. I wish they would implement some things from both CoH and DCUO. Sadly though those are just pipe dreams I know. What I find funny is that so many people are down on this game. I personally have yet to find a fantasy MMO that holds my interest. I've played NwN beta and so far its just another WoW. So what I'm really getting at is this: I think it has alot to do with preference, taste, and plain personal loves.

Are only what is Seen, or is the more character to your being


Elite Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 2557

3/16/13 6:25:33 AM#16

Nice column, only I'd like to add some things if you don't mind :)

"Champions isn’t a pretty game." It's cel-shaded for the comic books feel, and while it really is a fairly aged engine, it still looks pretty well when you max out everything. "Worst of all, even on a powerful machine, the game stutters"  that's a bit strange, it ran fine even on my previous gear... but of course maybe I'm just lucky.

"Cryptic never got around to adding an actual jetpack into the game" as others said there arejetpacks in-game :)

"In a day and age where DCUO is available" I like DCUO as well, but they're two totally different games... CO is more like a regular mmo with the combat shifted towards action slightly. DCUO is a console brawler game with some mild and short mmo-ish elements on the top like questing and character tweaking :) (I wouldn't even say developement)


I agree with the rest, character creation is great (and now CO's best part, the free-form is also available to f2p'ers), NPC models are a bit clunky, and voice-over is not always top-notch. On Alert is a nice addition but it indeed killed communication, mostly just "jump in - kill - loot - jump out" in utter silence :) Questionite exchange is quite a new thing, it followed STO's dilly exchange implementation, and just like in STO you need it only for endgame, f2p'ers can play the whole game for free without any purchase.

I admit I rarely play CO nowadays (not enough free time for every game...), but it's a very good game which I keep installed and updated on my disk. With the present media attention on Marvel Heroes I kept wondering how awesome would've been if Cryptic could stick to the original plans and license, and finish CO as an official Marvel mmo... I guess we'll never know.

(and on a side-note, if you don't like superhero comics, there are lot more you can check out, like Parker: The Hunter, or History of Violence comes in mind since you mentioned dark and gritty :) )


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Joined: 9/05/10
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Logic, reason and fact do not supersede human nature. Ignorance reigns without justice.

3/16/13 10:16:37 AM#17


Characters and costumes look incredibly good and have that comic book aesthetic when looking / building them.  Though that's about as far as the graphics go with the game, as the cities and environment look dated and are uninteresting as a whole.  They improved this with Vibora Bay, but as a whole the graphics are nothing when compared to another superhero game such as DCUO.  The sheer compacity to tweek your characters is amazing in this game; you could work on a single build for years and never maximize it's full potential even if you worked at it each night.  Though sadly this is only available to subscribers, as F2P players are given hero templates to choose from.

I originally bought two Lifetime memberships for this game for both myself and my girlfriend, though quickly discarded the game after a time.  It has definitely improved since it's release and I have fun whenever I log in (especially with my monthly stipend).  But as a whole I'd say the game is more worth around 5-10 a month and not the premium 15 as there just isn't enough content or vision for the game (though vision is subjected to the money a game has to spend most of the time).  If it had expansion level updates on the horizon I might be more excited to play it again, but for now it's just something to waste time for me when I feel like playing it.

When faced with strife or discontent, the true nature of a man is brought forth. It is then when we see the character of the individual. It is then we are able to tell if he is mature enough to grin and bare it, or subject his fellow man to his complaints and woes.


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3/16/13 11:18:04 AM#18
I sort of feel like I've sucked everything out of CO that I wanted to get from it, but I still think it's a good game and worth both the time and monetary investment. While several features ARE gated, they aren't intrinsic to the experience, not as people claim, and they're cheap to purchase. If you make it to endgame where you need tons of money for things then let's be honest, you've played on everyone else's dime long enough. Time to man up and drop $10 to support the game you've been playing. It's not a lot to ask.

"Forums aren't for intelligent discussion; they're for blow-hards with unwavering opinions."


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Joined: 9/07/12
Posts: 204

3/16/13 3:33:44 PM#19
I recently started playing CO again since stopping about 1 month after launch. It has come a long way. The fusion and modding system seem to replace crafting which is good. Seen similar implementations in cryptics other games and seems CO was the jumping board. I do think the character power sets are a bit too gimped at start and prices are a bit too much but find myself enjoying the game more than before. For the person who said free form is available for F2P that is true..if you wan to fork over $50.00 for the Zen to buy the unlock. It still limits you in every other way as well. I think a fairer price would be about half that for a free-form with F2p account limitations. The textures are pretty horrendous despite the comic-feel excuse but I've become used to them.

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3/16/13 4:32:12 PM#20
Originally posted by SoulStain
For the person who said free form is available for F2P that is true..if you wan to fork over $50.00 for the Zen to buy the unlock. It still limits you in every other way as well. I think a fairer price would be about half that for a free-form with F2p account limitations. The textures are pretty horrendous despite the comic-feel excuse but I've become used to them.


Yep, I thought maybe I should put there the price, but since there's some discussion at AoC thread about RotG and subscription-locked elements I just decided to go positive and input only the base facts :)

"and now CO's best part, the free-form is also available to f2p'ers"  <- base fact

But then in a bit more details:  Free-form is the core of CO, it was the main advantage from CoH (which also had lots of options, but the powersets were a bit limited). When CO went f2p, they kept free-form to the Gold members (and for Austin Powers :) ), silvers got only AT's. Understandable decision, but ofc they ruled out this way the former players since when they went back, they found all their characters locked (and one of the goals of every f2p switch is to lure back former players). So a few months ago Cryptic made the free-form option available for f2p players. Obviously not for free... (cough* PWE *cough)

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