Getting back into Champions Online: A Review

Wait, a post that is NOT about Warmahordes? Crazyness! Anyway, back in, I want to say, July 2009, I preordered the new Superhero MMOG Champions Online and was excited. I had read about it and it seemed like a solid concept for a game. Total customization! Able to take any powers in any combination! Complete control over how your character looked! And lets not forget the Nemesis system, where you created your own personal arch enemy to face and have a complete Storyline for.

Alas, the game itself was riddled with bugs at launch, and had several leveling gaps where you literally had to grind out against mobs to gain XP. I canceled my free sub and never bothered with it again. Until now.

You see at the same time that I had preordered the game, my friend and fellow City of Heroes player Dan (the same guy who plays Circle) also preordered, and unlike me he has stuck with the game on and off. Apparently, at least according to him, the game had improved. The leveling had been smoothed out and alot of the bugs were fixed. Well I said, I would have to see it to believe it. So Dan went and got me a referral code for a 15 day trial recently. I had left the client installed (mainly at the time for him when he came over to hang out), so I created a new trial account and made a character who looked goofy and went and played.

I got to level 15 in roughly 10 hours. That was FAST. The level cap of this game is 40 just to put that in perspective. Nearly halfway through the leveling curve in no time flat. I realized also that the time had flown by and I had enjoyed it immensely. In fact….I really liked it! 5 months after the game was released and it seemed to have made some huge leaps in the way the game works. So I went ahead, resubscribed after canceling my World of Warcraft account (did that on Friday) and I am already level 20 on my character Enforcer. So what can I say about the game now, the positives and the negatives? Well lets get into that shall we?


Character Creation: This is a huge positive to this game. I can make almost ANYTHING I want. Unlike City of Heroes, I can make asymmetrical designs such as having only 1 glove, or a single shoulder pad, ect. I can also use 2 different things as well. This is an amazing thing. Enforcer for example as one armored glove which is where he has a Shield Generator built in. Yes I have a power that makes sense with that.

Further, you can create ANY power combo you want. Does your super hero have super strength and laser beam eyes? Guess what, totally doable. You want to have an Iron Man like character in powered armor but also want him to have some melee attacks? Go for it. Enforcer, my character, has mostly Munitions (guns and such) but with a dash of the Gadgets set. And because of the way damage is scaled off your stats you will never really be “gimped”. Granted some of the defensive powers scale with different stats but then you can just pick the right passive power to work with.

Lore: This game is based on the Champions RPG system, which is a tabletop gaming system. They did a pretty good recreation, and have kept the lore of the game strong. You get to interact with some of the big names of that world like Defender, Ironclad, and whatnot, and get to explore a few locations. Also your Nemesis gives you your own plot line with your own custom created enemy who is crafted in a similar fashion that you make your own hero.

Combat: The game plays a bit different then a standard MMO. You don’t really have a “mana bar” that you will eventually run out of, but rather Endurance. This blue bar starts a point based on your stats, and fills up as you use your basic auto attack, which is based on either your power framework or whatever you picked based on your concept. Then, as that fills you can unleash attacks that use up the Endurance in a variety of ways. Furthermore, in most cases you can move around while firing thus allowing you a good mobility option. Even FURTHER you can generally attack while your “Travel Power” is active. These are things like Flight and whatnot. Best thing ever if flying above an enemy that generally fights melee and raining ranged death on em. Fun stuff.

Really in the end the biggest draws are going to be the Character Creation and Customization.

Now there are of course negatives to any game, and here are some of the big ones for this game.


Player vs Player: I will be the first to admit I am not a PVP person. If I want player vs player action I play an FPS. However, its hard to ignore the sheer amount of people who are having an issue with PVP balance, which includes my friend Dan. He loves to PvP but has taken to just messing with people as he does not want to build strange power combos. With the ability to use ANY power from any powerset, people have taken to making strange things like Catmen who have chainsaw swords, darkness based holds, and laser guns. Strange combinations that really do not make thematic sense in any normal convention. And given that you CAN in fact level in PvP they pretty much spend all there time there, slowly destroying their enemies. Also since some powers are bugged in PvP most of them exploit that to build uber combos.

Lack of Content: Granted, the game has been out 5 months, but right now there are a total of 5 zones you can visit. There is Canada, the Desert, Millennium City, Monster Island, and Lemuria. That’s it. Granted I have seen some leaked stuff and heard some rumblings about a new zone that’s coming (and I have seen video, no I won’t tell you where) so there is at least things in development. Also there is a single “raid” level boss right now out, and then you have the UNITY mission system to do things at high level, however there are bugs with THOSE missions so sometimes you cannot even get through the full allotment.

Graphical Bugs: This one is my biggest annoyance. I have a monster of a machine now (4 gigs of Ram, 512 MB PCI Express Vid Card, 2.5ghz QUAD CORE Processor, ect) and I cannot run this game at its highest settings because APPARENTLY there is some strange issue between the game and NVIDIA drivers. Now, the test realm supposedly has some fixes installed on it that will let me get my performance up but come on I cannot even turn ANTI ALIASING on without having lag and crap. Its a very strange issue and my friend Dan, whose PC is by his own admittance worse then mine can run it actually BETTER somehow. Drives me nuts.

Lack of Community: The game has a small community, and I think the reason this has occurred is because of 2 things: Difficulty of content and Sharding Servers. The content is for the most part easy which makes soloing a breeze. In fact, most 2 person quests that I have run into at level I have been able to solo with some smart thinking. This makes grouping/teaming less of a focus, and thus you really do not need a guild or supergroup. This is further compounded by the Sharding system. You see, each map is an instance, and it only holds so many people. After a certain cap is reached ANOTHER copy of the map will open up, and people can choose which map to go to. The big city, Millennium, can only hold 100 people to a map. Now, the ZONE Chat works across all shards, but at the same time you can still only hold so many people in a single map. Don’t get me wrong, I love a game that lets me solo (I prefer to solo generally) but sometimes I want to do a dungeon/lair, and I hope when that time comes it won’t be a huge problem. Also apparently the LFG applet that they have in the game doesn’t work quite right. Go figure.

Overall I am really enjoying the game as it suits my preferred playstyle. I am still on the look out for a Supergroup but I might have found one, so hopefully that will let me see the 5 man content and whatnot. If you are a fellow player of the game and want to talk to me about anything here on my blog look me up, my global is @Stomphoof.

I would also recommend that anyone with an interest in comics or super heroes give this game an honest shot. There is a demo of the game that will let you play around, but it won’t let you leave the tutorial area. So you can basically test out the character creation and see how the game plays. Its free, and if I get any Referral codes I can let you all know if you are interested.


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