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Have it your Way - Customization

C.A. Thomas Posted:
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For anyone who is a fan of superheroes, be it through comic books, video games, movies or television, we all have that certain type of hero or power that we're drawn to. It's hard not to put ourselves in their positions, imagining what we'd be like if we had super powers.

While Champions Online isn't the first MMORPG to give us the chance to be our own heroes, it definitely offers an unprecedented level of customization in the genre. Never has the question, "What kind of hero are you?" meant so much. From your costume, to your powers, to the way those powers look and function; if you can imagine it, Champions Online allows you to create it or at least something close.

The first step in creating your ideal Champion is framing the foundation of your powers. There are 18 frameworks you can choose from, ranging from elemental powers like ice and electricity to more weapon-based powers such as gadgets and munitions. Don't want to be tied down to one specific power type? No problem! You're given free range to choose starting powers from whichever sets you feel like, and can continue that open selection any time you're granted a new power. No longer are you committed to a single class type just to gain a certain power; you pick what you want.

The next stage in crafting your superhero is creating your costume. When Cryptic Studios released City of Heroes five years ago, they set the bar for character creation, with the deepest and most varied system to date. Now, they've done it again with Champions Online, with what could be the best character creation system ever seen in a video game. Do you prefer more traditional hero designs from the Golden Age of comics? Maybe you're drawn to something more flashy and modern? Is your superhero a giant monster that runs on all fours, or a powerhouse who uses a suit of armor? If you can think it, you can make it.

Once you enter the game world, you then have the option of customizing the look of your powers at any time. Want blue fire? How about green electricity? Taking it a step further, you're even allowed to choose emanation points for many of your powers, giving you control of not only what they look like, but how they animate. Shoot laser beams from your eyes, hands, or your chest; it's up to you. Each of your powers can have a unique and distinct look to them, so you're free to design your concept hero as you see fit.

Sounds like fun, right? Well, you're just getting started, because the customization goes even deeper. Another thing Champions Online pushes is character advancement. You're not leveling just to gain new abilities; your powers actually change and grow with you over time. With the Ranks and Advantages system, you have the chance to customize how your powers function and the effects they have. Maybe you want a side effect of your power to either stun enemies or slowly drain their health, or have a defensive power reflect some of the damage you take back onto your opponents, or even convert that damage into energy you can then use for other powers. A power you choose at level one can evolve and be completely different by the time you reach the game's level cap of 40. How it changes is up to you.

That level of customization also carries over to weapons as well, with what's known as Power Replacers. These are items you can craft or unlock as you progress through the game that change the way your weapons look and the effects they have. Do you want to coat your swords or bullets in ice and have the ability to slow enemies down? How about electricity, to drain their health and their energy as you attack them? With Power Replacers, you have the opportunity to change the very foundation of your attacks and their effects through your weapons.

Another signature aspect of well known superheroes is their travel power. Spider-Man is known for web-slinging his way through the city, while Superman soars above the skyscrapers among the clouds. The Flash speeds down city streets and Iceman surfs on ramps of ice. This is yet another area where Champions Online shines, offering a widely diverse selection of travel powers, and you'll have no problem choosing something to fit your hero's needs. Literally phase into another dimension with the teleportation power, or burrow underground to get around with tunneling. Rip a chunk out of the ground with earth flight, and swing through the air with a grappling hook. With 13 different travel options to choose from, and the chance to pick two (one at level five and another at level 35), there's no shortage of ways to traverse the large game world.

Champions Online offers us the chance to be the heroes we've always imagined. From every detail in the costumes to fully customizable powers, we're given an unprecedented amount of control over our characters and how they play in the game. So take the plunge and realize your fantasies of taking down bad guys and saving the world - however you want to do it.


C.A. Thomas