So Champions Online came out this week, and if you're like me, you've been eagerly awaiting Cryptic Studio's newest superhero-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (whew, that's a tongue twister). Well, the wait is over, though as with all MMOs, we want to spend as much time with the game as we can before delivering an official review. In the meanwhile, we wanted to give you a quick taste of Champions Online before then.Let's start with a quick impressions video.
The character creation is likely the best you'll ever see in such a game, even trumping that of City of Heroes/Villains. The creation interface takes a few moments to get used to, but is otherwise slick and easy to use. If you have an idea for a character, chances are, you can build a good approximation of it here. Fresh out of ideas? Let the game randomize a character for you. Some of the random combinations are actually pretty awesome.
Winged Hulkbeast isn't pretty, but he'll get the job done.
The starting area is an extended tutorial, and will give you a good idea of the basic mechanics, as well as your starting powers. You see, when you create your character, you aren't just selecting a costume, but an entire persona. You can select an existing archetype (sorcery, might, dual blades, and so on) or customize your own from a list of available powers. Champions Online offers a great deal of flexibility, so you can follow through on any specific concepts you dream up. This flexibility comes at the cost of effectiveness in some cases, however. There are some obvious balance issues at work, and they seem to be magnified after a release-day patch that altered the entire game's balance. That patch favors specific builds, so you may find that your creativity may not necessarily be rewarded with consistently exuberant questing and player-versus-player battling.
Millenium City: Home of heroes, thugs, and escaped prisoners. Wonder what the property prices are like.
It's worth noting that the patch also broke starting sorcery powers for existing toons, an issue that couldn't be overcome if you were in the initial tutorial area. There are some other bugs I quickly ran into as well--controls that keep getting reset, hotbar keys that stop working, and a few other oddities, like enemies that won't die and keep doing damage, even when their health drops to zero. Lag has cropped up a good bit as well, and an extended downtime just a few days in left a bad taste in many mouths. But now that the bad stuff is out of the way (and it's worth noting that few MMOs launch without issues), let's throw out the good stuff: So far, Champions Online has been fun, both in solo play, and when grouped.
Here's the Canadian wilderness. Canadians note: These virtual Canucks say 'eh?' a lot.
The combat is packed with action. My current character, Taoist Angel, is a sorceress that can summon a white wolf and a ring of electricity-spewing totems, and possesses a few more terrific moves besides. Many powers can be charged up by holding the button down for longer, you can block, and you break free from holds by tapping a button. As a result, combat will keep you busy, as you can tell in the following clip:
Taoist Angel: An Oasis in the desert.
There's a lot more to tell you about Champions Online, but it's time to get back to the game and prepare for the review, which should keep me busy most of the long weekend! We'll have an official review in the next week or two, but in the meanwhile, should you see Taoist Angel online, be sure to wave hello and tell her you like her hair, and her fancy trenchcoat.