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Champions Online: Why this Beta Tester won’t be playing

The NDA for Champions Online has been dropped.  I began testing in late March/early April of this year and participated in most of the “playtests” that took place on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as the weekend tests.   I won’t step lightly around the issues and I won’t try to hide my disdain for the game Cryptic created.  I never take pleasure in speaking poorly about games.  A lot of time and effort (hopefully) goes into creating these things.  That said, I give my opinion and impressions about games even when I don’t like them.

I’m not going to write a long comprehensive “review” here.  You’re not going to find references to other games and why they’re better or worse (aside from a brief CoH mention).  I’m going to try and keep it short and to the point, while throwing in my personal style that you’ve come to know.  I’ll give you guys the tl;dr version and then summarize the gist of why I won’t be playing based on my experiences.

Since this is my initial thread of post-NDA thoughts, I’ll be skipping the in-depth mechanic analysis and saving it for another day.  This is a brief overview/first pass (I’ll edit it throughout the day), and enough for me to justify staying away from the game.

The short version:

  • Zones are all redundantly instanced and capped at a low number of players per instance (ex. 24 players).  No “world”.  Disconnected feel.  Not “massively multiplayer”.
  • Mundane combat.  It’s all flash and no substance.  Feels wonky and uncomfortable.  Killing monsters is easy, boring, and excessively repetitive.
  • Content is boring.  Quests are not engaging; worse than the standard “kill x of this”. Story might as well not exist.
  • Zones are cramped.  They feel like mini-modules of force fed content.
  • Gameplay feels like a beat’em up with all the mindless… beating up.
  • Feels like a console port mess that falls short of the quality standard – probably due to losing their original IP.
  • Abilities are rather boring and unimpressive, but the customization is nice.
  • It’s basically a copy of City of Heroes on so many levels, except it loses something along the way that would have made it justifiable.


The Summary:

Instead of servers, Champions Online uses a form of zone instancing that I often refer to as “redundant instancing”.  If you want to enter a zone, instead of zoning into it by crossing an imaginary line you choose from a long list of existing instances of that zone in which you can participate.  Unfortunately, this kills all sense of contiguity.  Being in a zone with approx. 23 other people is not “massive” to me.  The scope of the game ends up being much smaller than a MMORPG should feel.

These zones themselves are also very small.  It takes little more than a minute to cross most of the ones I played in once you have your travel power.  In my opinion, they’re designed to be little modules of content, not zones for part of a world.  Champions is all about throwing content in your face, which should be a good thing, but comes across like I’m being spoon fed with the rubber spoon.  I was turned off by how shallow and unimmersive the game comes across.

Combat is uncomfortable.  At times it is so mundane that I want to just log off to get away from it.  It’s wonky at best for most of the combat types.  I found that being a “spell caster” type was the least wonky, yet the most mundane.  Starting the game off with just a few abilities is normally an okay thing, yet in CO by the time I finish the tutorial I feel like it has been an eternity using the same abilities over, and over, and over.  I’ve been burned out by the time the actual game begins.

That feeling of burn out isn’t only from combat though.  Almost every bit of content that I have tested is downright dull.  The story, quests, and overall feel of the progression is so utterly drab.  Not once did I feel any sort of charm from the content or pick up on a “purpose” – the story might as well not exist.  The questing is the “go there and get that” or “go there, kill 10 of that” – when they’re really trying to shake things up they tell you to “go there, kill this to get that, use it here, then come back”.  Sounds like all MMORPGs these days, except the writing is so “bleh” and the zones are so simplistic and small that it feels like you can throw a rock from the quest giver and it will land in your quest location (and probably kill the quest NPC too).

Character creation is fantastic.  You really would have to try hard to look like someone else.  This is where I had the most fun with the game.  I’ve spent hours (not an exaggeration) creating new and different looking heroes.  I’ve made everything from normal looking people off the street to something that resembles a raid boss in World of Warcraft.  I had the most fun making characters that looked like they didn’t belong using the moves that I created them with.  Enormous hulking guys that look like they should be smashing things instead using bows and arrows or casting little ice bolts is great comic relief.

In many ways this is City of Heroes 2.  It feels like City of Heroes in so many ways, except it lacks CoH’s charm.  Even though I did not stick with CoH for long, I was still able to recognize why people enjoyed it. CO is one step forward, 2 steps back.

It feels like a console ported (there’s a reason the 360 controller makes the game feel more fun) thrown together mess right now.  This was originally going to be a game with another license, and you can tell they scrambled to throw something else together to cover it up – THAT is where a lot of the problems come from.

No long term appeal here.  There was never an urge to log in and play nor can I imagine one popping up down the road.  I played through various level ranges and experienced a good deal of content without once feeling like this could hold my attention longer than a week.

This summer has been one of long reflection on the decisions I’ve made with games and their outcomes.   Champions Online does not meet the standard of quality that I now expect to exist in a game that I would buy and then become a subscriber.  I would not recommend this to my friends and would advise anyone reading this to save your time and your money.  This one will be joining Tabula Rasa soon.

Once I can get this patcher to actually work I will begin taking videos to showcase more of the game and emphasize/explain these points.

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Nissl - August 17, 2009

Well, pretty much what I had expected, especially given the hints you’ve dropped and what you like in games. They of course have held the NDA up until 2 weeks before release, and I have absolutely zero historical examples of that being a good sign. Despite that there were plenty of leaks about to give people a good idea for the game.

Key points I would add that are not in your post are that it *sounds* (I have not played, put no effort into joining beta after getting the general gist) like skill balance has improved but is still really poor, grouping is largely unnecessary even for group quests, pvp is tacked on, and nobody has seen any endgame which is practically a guarantee it will be broken/absent. But again some of these complaints reveal my own preferences in the MMO field.

Do you think an altaholic who played CoH for years and was looking for a new iteration with better power selection and updated graphics would be happy with CO?

Rog - August 17, 2009

The thing is, this is kinda like asking someone who hates Star Wars to review a pre-release copy of Empire Strikes Back. You openly loathed City of Heroes and this is essentially CoH 2.

I’d have been truly shocked if you’d liked it.

Dismantled - August 17, 2009

I still want to try it, but all those things you mentioned would be a deal breaker for me as well.

24 people in a zone at one time??? Horrible. One of the many things that makes CoX so great for this type of MMO is the players coming together and holding costume contests and other social events. Just seeing the lineup of like 50 heroes was always a sight to see. It just oozed community.
Plus I’ve always said the CoX has the absolute best system for finding groups. It’s simple and it works. Most designers need to take from that because all the new games people don’t even use them from being clunky or unintuitive and so everyone just ends up using a chat channel for LFG.

Now my point here is that maybe CO has the same system, but I’m reading there’s no group dynamic at all. So it’s basically an xbox live game? Well, there’s better games for that type of play.

Still waiting on the patcher to try for myself. Thanks for the write-up

Keen
Keen - August 17, 2009

@Nissl: Skill balance is indeed poor, and some abilities makes you question whether or not they were even tested after being implemented. For me though, none of that matters when the game faces these bigger issues.

There is no replayability in Champions Online. I think the CoH altaholics will not enjoy it.

@Rog: While I hated CoH, I still recognize what made it enjoyable for people and why it was a decent game; those things seem to be missing in CO. My problems with Champions go beyond the reasons I disliked CoH, and they should not be summarily dismissed.

@Dismantled: Champions Online lacks that social aspect you mention, which is one of the things lost in translation. In my opinion CO loses a vital aspect of what kept people playing – or even”hanging out” – in CoH for years.

Group dynamics are also missing, but that’s, again,minutia compared to the bigger issues.

moxie - August 17, 2009

As somebody who loved CoH and played it for almost two years, I have to say I agree with pretty much all points of the review. I’ve been in CB as well, and with the (in my opinion) boring combat and dull questlines, plus the sharding, I have no plans to buy this game. Which is sad, I was completely hoping it would something more like a CoH 2.

Longasc - August 17, 2009

The promise is they want to expand the 25 person instances to 100, but well.

You are not the only one who did not like the game, I read several reports so far and already heard a few things from very disgruntled beta testers that did not care for the NDA. I am rather surprised that there are really a few players who really liked it A LOT, on the other hand!

Mahlah - August 17, 2009

There closed beta was already seeing 100+ person instances last week.

I guess I don’t understand a lot of the criticism. Quite frankly, I could never get into CoH, but rather enjoy this experience in comparison. Its not the best MMO I’ve played, but it is definitely more fun than most. The combat actually feels more fluid and dynamic than the standard “stand across from each other and hit each other until one dies”

I mean, I can understand why people don’t like it, but the kind of really harsh language you use here Keen seems unjustified if you ask me. It has a target audience, and maybe I happen to fit into it really well, I don’t know.

KillTrash - August 17, 2009

From the “25 person per instance” comment it just feels like you didn’t play much past the tutorial and first crisis zone, Keen.

The game DOES support 120+ players per instance. Tutorial and the first crisis zone, are really small zones. They can have up to 40-50ish players per instance, but those are not representative to the rest of the game.

You can finish the crisis zone in about 2-5 hours of gaming. Once you resolve the main storyline quests, Canada and the Desert opens up to be more of a standard zone you will find later on. They are HUGE in comparison to tutorial and first part of the zones, permitting 120+ players. Those were the amount of people I saw when I was in beta the last 3 weeks.

Millennium city is a huge huge zone! If you haven’t played past the 2 tutorial instances, I can see where you are coming from.

Sente - August 17, 2009

In many ways this is City of Heroes 2. It feels like City of Heroes in so many ways, except it lacks CoH’s charm. Even though I did not stick with CoH for long, I was still able to recognize why people enjoyed it.

Why do you think people enjoy CoX? Having played CoX for a few years now I do not think I can point to something which would be a common reason why most players enjoy it. It may possibly been a bit more homogenous some years ago, but nowadays I find it a bit more diverse in that regard.

There is one significant reason though, but it has very little to do with the gameplay itself and that is the community.

Andrew - August 17, 2009

@Killtrash:
One of the problems with the “if you didn’t play X far into the game” line of reasoning is that a player’s impressions of a game are formed early on, and if the entry area isn’t a lot of fun, then many people will leave quickly.

KillTrash - August 17, 2009

@Andrew:
Personally I thought the first levels were fun. I didn’t really bother too much to check how many people were in my instance to determine if I was having fun or not. I did see a bunch of other heroes running around fighting bad guys and that made it feel like a multiplayer game to me.

I’m not going to be playing the game either when it is released, but for different reasons. I found the combat, the world and customization to be extremely fun, but the game lacks polish now and the power sets are seriously unbalanced. The last few weeks of beta we saw great improvements from patch to patch. Most of the things that concern me are details, but still, I’ll give them a few months before I give them money.

Argorius - August 17, 2009

The zoning thing instantly killed this game for me (not that I was that excited about it in the first place – just curious).

Who is making these game design decisions that are so obvious to fail? If a bunch of internetz warriors like us can instantly recognize EPIC FAIL in those games why can’t those paid game designers recognize it? Sad…

Xenovore - August 17, 2009

Quote: “…Who is making these game design decisions that are so obvious to fail? If a bunch of internetz warriors like us can instantly recognize EPIC FAIL in those games why can’t those paid game designers recognize it? Sad…”

An excellent question! I see this happen all the time in all game types, not just in MMOs. I can only assume:

A) The designers aren’t really gamers, so they have no experience with what’s actually fun.

B) They are told what’s fun by the suits from their publisher (who rarely actually know what fun is).

C) They are idiots.

D) All of the above.

Dismantled - August 17, 2009

My final answer is D.

Keen
Keen - August 17, 2009

@KillTrash: 24 players was an example. Many of the zones – MANY – are/were capped lower than 100. Even 100 people in a duplicate generated instance/shard is not a “Massively multiplayer” experience.

Canada and the Desert are tiny zones and I would be extremely surprised if they can even handle 120 people.

The feel of the game does not change. Playing the tutorial or level 30 all feels the same to me.

Romble - August 17, 2009

Keen please dont hold back, i get the sense you dont like the game but im not sure 🙂

Thanks for the write up, I was never planning on playing this so it was all good to hear lol

From what it sounds like this game will challenge for fastest games to close or become free to play!

Couch Gnome - August 17, 2009

Ive enjoyed the closed beta tests so far but I see some of your point Keen. Its definitely not polished at this point and thats not hard to notice when I am playing in the Aion beta at the same time.

I am still thinking about picking it up though. Something that is a bit of concern however is that when I picked up my preorder code at Gamestop, the clerk told me that I was the only person who had preordered…

Andrew - August 17, 2009

@Xenovore:
Disparaging developers is braindead…. if you think that making MMOs is easy work, I’d invite you to find the nearest cliff and take a leap.

Instancing content that we’d consider the “over world” is done primarily to make a game more performant. For example, by breaking the player base into small shards you control how much information you have to send to each user which saves on both network traffic and CPU usage. There are tonnes of other things to keep in mind though and my guess is that CO is very “chatty” in its basic architecture…..

Hudson - August 17, 2009

Keen:

I like you pointed out the zone problems

http://hudshideout.com/blog/?p=2412

I had the EXACT issue with that as well.

Railith - August 17, 2009

I’m glad I didn’t bother preordering this sucker.

gamebunny » Blog Archive » gamebunny’s “World MMO News Tonight” - August 17, 2009

[…] of the NDA for two MMOs; CHAMPIONS ONLINE and FALLEN EARTH (pictured left). Common Sense Gamer and Keen give their impressions of the CHAMPIONS Beta, both somewhat negative. BlackBoxBeta chats about […]

Sornin - August 17, 2009

It is disappointing to hear such a negative reaction, particularly in light of the developer’s previous experience. I do see why the listed points are such a problem, but I am hoping there will be some redeeming qualities.

I am presently trying to just patch the game client in order to play, which is in itself an exercise in frustration.

Gustavef - August 17, 2009

Seems like I am in agreeance with Keen again :). But I did enjoy CoH and recently went back to it and I am having a good time. However, after getting though the first Crisis zone I finally realize why I don’t like WoW. I really dislike that questing system. You get a dozen or so little tasks at once that send you all over the place and you end up with something that will be completely useless in 2 levels.

Personally, I don’t mind the instanced approach, however it was not elegant. Personally, I should just be placed in a zone, I don’t care which copy. Just put me there. It would not take too much logic to do the following:

– Chose zone with team mate
– Chose zone with most “friends”
– Chose least crowded zone

I like hard zones over seamless worlds for your level-loot based game (EQ model over Sandbox model) That way you don’t have lots of wasted space. Although Vanguard was beautiful, a lot of the space was kind of pointless.

IIRC, there is only going to be one server. So you don’t have to worry about merges or growth. The instancing insures that there will always be a populated zone for all levels regardless of the subscriber base. I think this is a design win.

For me PvP seemed to be a bit of a joke. With the open character class system, there will end up one or two viable PvP builds and that is it. If you did not spec “must have power” then you might as well just not show up.

I am going to poke at the open beta. See if the interface is less annoying and clunky.

Russell Gusto - August 17, 2009

Would have to disagree with you here. I’m having a blast playing Champs. I also don’t mind the zones since I always have people to group with, no lag and don’t have to wait for respawns. If I wanted a wide open world I would play Darkfall or WoW or EQ or EQ2 or Vanguard…get the point?

The combat is very fluid and FUN. Did you try the force powers?!

Last but not least the game and the people that I have been playing with are some of the most creative people I have ever played mmo’s with. It amazes me the storys that they invent for their superhero and some of the drawings I have seen are unreal! The only thing that may be better then this is DCUO but until then this suits me just fine 🙂

Farquaad - August 17, 2009

@Argorius:

The zoning thing instantly killed this game for me (not that I was that excited about it in the first place – just curious).

Who is making these game design decisions that are so obvious to fail? If a bunch of internetz warriors like us can instantly recognize EPIC FAIL in those games why can’t those paid game designers recognize it? Sad…

This game was designed at it’s core to be on PC as well as Xbox360 platforms. Xbox Live has some significant constraints when it comes to multiplayer support and for all intents and purposes as of today really can not support a type of multilayer experience that MMO players expect. Considering that Xbox support is definitely a critical direction that Cryptic set on from the very point of the conception of the game, technical limitations certainly played a major role in overall design of the game. I personally think that this game cannot be truly appreciated until played on the console, but we are still ways until then. I think Cryptic is making a serious gamble by not holding off PC release until Xbox version is ready, but then again, if you out of capital “ya gatta do wacha gatta do”.

OstateJay - August 17, 2009

I have to say, you have yet to steer me wrong on reviews. Its kind of disappointing that this game turned out the way it did, as it was hyped pretty high. I will be taking your advice and avoiding the game, since the last time I didn’t take it I wasted money on Age of Conan. Thanks for the heads up.

RJ - August 17, 2009

Meh. Sounds like the OP (after reading their profiles as well) are really into hacking at stuff with swords or axes and casting spells. I don’t think the audience this game is targeted at are disgruntled WoW players who are upset mounts are now open at level 20. It’s more for those that were maybe missing a little something from CoH. But I suppose if you hated CoH and many describe this as CoH2, you’re going to hate it no matter what they do. From reading your profiles and comments, I guess putting on spandex and blasting baddies isn’t for you – swinging swords, casting spells and dancing with gnomes is more your speed.

And that’s okay – but the review just seems biased. You don’t send a movie critic to review a concert and I guess you shouldn’t send folks wearing robin hood hats to review superhero games.

Shinrai - August 17, 2009

It’s not a very good game.

CoH while slow and old still does some things that are quite different from other MMO’s. The enhancement system, level adjustments, scaling instances, flexible class system, city maps with instanced doors and the mission architect all make a lot of sense and work well for a super-hero environment.

Champions wants to be WoW-like but doesn’t even come close.

lawlers - August 17, 2009

yeah, your review is biased.. on top of you didnt make it very far. youve ignored a few arguments from others replying, simply because youre wrong, and on others said “oh, well, its still not right”

Pliskin - August 17, 2009

Ugh, terrible review.

Nearly every one of those bullet points is demonstrably incorrect.

I get the impression the writer never got past the tutorial.

Mark - August 17, 2009

To all the Cryptic fan boys coming here to just bash the blog gtfo unless you want to post constructive information as this is actually a great blog to read so stop crying because someone doesn’t like the game.

To Keen: if you haven’t seen this thread maybe check it out and offer some more opinions.

http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?t=32328

I am still looking forward to playing the game, although right now it will be christmas by the time the patch might download….this has to be the worst day one of an open beta I have ever seen.

Darth_Mueller - August 17, 2009

Ok, i would like to put some random Fanboy Flames in here, but youre last few previews were also right, so there is a good chance that Bill Ropers is engaged in the next epic mmo fail?

Naamah - August 17, 2009

I have to concur with just about everything you wrote Keen. I liked CoH for the most part, but CO is just missing…something. Polish-wise its going to be another MMO release worse than WAR but not as bad as AoC.

‘Tis a shame.

stompfoot - August 18, 2009

When you say ‘Combat is Mundane’ and ‘Content is boring’ are we talking Warhammer level of boring content/combat, or worse? Because I was lead to believe the combat was fast paced.

muthax - August 18, 2009

Hmmm content is boring? Didn’t you post a few months ago a rant on how you longed for ‘the good ole times’ when there were no quests and you would find a mob spawn point and camp it all day with your mates killing the same mobs over and over till your eyes bled? I could be mistaken. But in case I am not… Anyways I haven’t played the game so I don’t know, it could be the biggest piece of crap ever but your review is so filled with hate that cannot be taken seriously and it’s a shame because I usually rely on your opinions/reviews.

Bartlebe - August 18, 2009

This is not a review.

This is not a review.

This is not a review.

Now that i’ve made that perfectly clear,let me point out that these are Keen’s opinions on the game. OF COURSE THEIR BIAS. THEY’RE HIS FREAKING OPINIONS. He’s not writing a thesis or trying to pass a scientific theory into law.

I don’t understand why people get so confused over things like this. Take it or leave it. What do you expect from someones personal blog?

West Karana » Daily Blogroll 8/18: Champions Edition - August 18, 2009

[…] but found the UI hid too many important details and didn’t like the graphics at all. Keen felt the game wasn’t all that massive or original and seemed more tuned for a console a PC. Hudson couldn’t keep his gaming group […]

Kaz - August 18, 2009

When it comes to MMO I always come for this site, I mostly agree with your opinions and thoughs about the game, but I am suprised at what your writing here. I really have no plans on playing this game nor I have the interest in it but seeing how negatively you approch the game and bashing it at the early stage is unfair to the fans as well as the studio developers.

and to others, please dont comment about Aion beta is better, because that games been around in other places and was polised from way back.

muthax - August 18, 2009

@Bartlebe

Sorry but what is a review if not the author’s personal opinions over a subject (a movie, a game, a book, whatever)?

gunn - August 18, 2009

Keen you really should mention how far you played the game. I agree. At first I hate the game and thought it was pretty crappy overall, then my roommate convinced me to make it out of the starting zone, lol. Certainly picked up, they also in the last patch I played cleaned up quite a bit of the models and graphics overall, especially the models, the metal skin I chose for my character actually shined. It was pretty cool.

There is no doubt in my mind that this game is better than CoH which failed on several levels. I definitely believe this game has much to be improved upon. I”m going to be trying the open beta that just started. You can put $5 down at gamespot and get a beta pass :-).

Rog - August 18, 2009

@Mark: I’d totally defend Keen on this against the fanbois trolls, but he’s posted short bits of “awful game” off-topic trolling himself elsewhere, so it kinda pulled them in like a magnet.

I’m hoping that was just a random outburst, because I don’t normally expect Keen to troll for game vs game horse-betting nonsense. =/

kaybek - August 18, 2009

I’m not going to lie, Champions Online was a blast for the first hour or so. I’ve never had more fun creating a character. It was pretty much all down hill from there after I hit “play” though. Keen pretty much nailed my sentiments in his review.

bwast - August 18, 2009

@ Barltebe If it’s not a review, why is the post filed under “reviews”?

I played this game for a bit this morning after pulling my hair out trying to the the damn patch downloaded. I got to Canada and didn’t want to go on. There was substantial lag, which is understandable, but it made it almost unplayable. I will probably try again later on in the week when there are fewer people. Frame rate was pretty sketchy too. Only thing I really liked about my time with the game was making my character.

JohnnyLane - August 18, 2009

Awful write up, really biased. You do not even go into the Nemisis System which is DRIVING mmo’s more towards player created content! I enjoy your thoughts on the mmo genre but think you are WAY OFF on this opinion. I would go so far as to state that you are simply trolling…your hatred for this game is beyond me. Did Cryptic spank you or something? Steal your toy?? This game is a breath of fresh air in the stale fantasy mmo market that exists. Have fun with your Korean game that is the same as all the rest.

Wintermute - August 18, 2009

Keen – your opinion reads like a review. A glossy superficial review. I’d like to credit you for finding some flaws in the game, because lets be honest, there are some flaws in Champions, but the game itself is a good game. I have a hard time putting any faith in your reviews or opinions on games because you tend to wax poetically about games just before release, then drop the game 3 months later then it fails to meet your overblown expectations. Darkfall? Warhammer? Two games you raved about… till you played them extendedly, then dropped and complained about profusely. You are what I like to call a “Game Hopper”. You are always looking for that game that will deliver the penultimate experience. Well… I hate to break this to you. For that game to happen, you need to found your own company, hire your own dev team and provide the direction. Honestly, I expect you to rave on about SW:TOR just before release… play a few months, then start with “Where Bioware when wrong” blog posts. It’s your history man.

Someone posted about how much better the open beta for Aion is… how much more polished it is. Well of course this is true… Aion has been live for a year now in Korea. A year is a fair amount of time to break out the polish and make your game shine. No MMO that I’ve played has rocked at relase. Not EQ, not WoW, not EQ II, not WAR, not AoC. Hell, CoH probably had the most stable release of any game in the last 7-8 years. People want this perfect game delivered and in the case of an MMO it just doesn’t happen. Eventually market factors determine you have to release… ready or not. Blizzard is the only company around that could literally take its own sweet time releasing a new MMO and not go under fiscally.

Instancing in CO is no different than other MMOs. WoW and Vanguard (maybe Darkfall… not 100% sure) are the only two seamless MMOs right now. Even EQII is capped based on the amount of people in a zone. In CO’s case it is how server stability is managed; it is also tided to Xbox issues too. Are seamless worlds great? Of course they are, but they are not 100% necessary for immersion. CO’s sharding is just fine. What they need is a way to provide easy shard movement so you can join your friends as they log on. Considering that you can have up 200 people in a zone, that’s a lot of people running around. I’ve been in beta since the beginning of open and I never once had a problem finding people to group with nor did the zones ever feel devoid of other players.

Mundane combat? As opposed to click and wait combat of WoW or EQ or WAR? CO is fluid and requires movement and reaction. It only feels uncomfortable till you map your keyboard to a system that works for you. I find it odd that you stated that kill monsters is easy boring and excessively repetitive, yet raved about how you’d join grinding parties in EQ so that you could easily kill boring monsters in a repetitive fashion.

Content is boring. Well… this is what MMOs are about. Questing and killing. If you find that boring, then you need to ask if playing MMOs are for you. I suggest EVE or some other sandbox if you want to play a game that does not revolve around questing and killing. I hear that Sony still has SWG up and running. You can always make a castle there. The crux of MMOs is questing and kill. This leads to leveling up. If you don’t enjoy that any longer, then you have alternatives to look at such as FPS or RTS games.

Zones are cramped. Well… I did feel the “crisis” zones were cramped… then I completed the crisis quest lines and opened up the entire zone. Then I was amazed at the expanse of the zones. My only complaint is that I feel there are not enough zones…. Not enough diversity. However, I am sure that will come with time.

Abilities are boring and unimpressive. I’m not sure how to respond to that because you did not give examples. My complaint here is that the blaster classes feel the same till around lvl 15 where some diversity finally creeps in. But that is the same in CoH too. Then again it’s the same in WoW too… wait… it’s the same in most MMOs. You have to build your class by leveling up to gain diversity. Something I don’t think you tried very hard at.

It’s basically a copy of CoH… well… you publically stated how much you hate CoH, so I’m not surprised that you didn’t like CO.

CO is a good game. Here are my opinions:

• It needs 3 more months of extensive beta testing.
• It needs to drop PVP.
• It needs more Zones.
• Crafting needs a bit more early diversity.
• It needs to be subscription OR micro transaction. Not both.

The game is much more polished than Vanguard, WAR, AoC, Darkfall or any other MMO that has been released in the last 5 years. But… and this is a BIG but… CO is a niche game. It is not going to conquer the market nor is Cryptic trying to. They’ve developed a game that appeals to people that like the superhero genre and they’ve done a good job. I feel it is an evolutionary step from CoH in some ways. Is it perfect? No… but it’s a good game. Don’t take my word or Keen’s word. Give the game a try for yourself and see how it plays out.

Curious George - August 18, 2009

Gotta agree with you Keen.

Bartlebe - August 18, 2009

I can see your point.

I saw it more as an unofficial, casual beta impression. One can hardly make a “review” based off what you saw in the beta preview weekends or even really expect a review of a “beta” to hold any water. I’m sure Keen knows that so I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Yarrnath - August 18, 2009

Wintermute,

Wrong, the version of Aion being used in the western “closed beta” is 1.0, NONE of the new additions from the 8+ months or so (not a year since the Korean release, which even a quick check would have shown you was Nov 25th, 2008) have been incorporated into the Aion preview. They’ve just added some English translations. Champions has gone gold, so it is totally fair to compare 1.0 against 1.0, as far as the state of game polish, they are both at initial release quality.

I’m not interested in Champions because I don’t like the underlying game design (what it is about) at all, I’m looking for something totally different in a superhero MMO, not a console arcade game with WoW quests, with everyone wearing spandex, and instanced like crazy. I have zero interest in the “Champions Universe”. And considering two of the main people running things at Cryptic I’d be very leery of anything they are connected to, their past history speaks volumes.

I have online friends that will be playing and for their sake I hope the game turns out okay and they have a fun time. I’ll be waiting for DC Universe and the Marvel MMO, but won’t be getting my hopes up for either of them either.

JohnnyLane - August 18, 2009

Don’t forget Keen also raved about AoC as well then dumped on it. Champions Online, imo, is the most original mmo out atm. The Nemisis System alone is a breakthrough but does not even get mentioned in Keen’s opinion /sigh Aion? WoW in shiny clothes and you will never escape the Koreanish things in it that nag at you…

Keen
Keen - August 18, 2009

Let me make a general address:

This is not a review. Anyone who thinks that this is a review did not read more than a few lines. I clearly stated that I would be listing “the gist of why I won’t be playing based on my experiences”.

The trolls don’t bother me. People are just bitter they payed $200 for this or that the game they’ve waited for is not going to make it. They need a shoulder to cry on, and I’ll gladly offer mine. Hopefully those who are not wounded by this game will read the reviews and realize what they’re potentially get into.

If you’re a follower of the blog, agreed with me about Age of Conan when I was one of the few calling a spade a spade, follow my love and hate relationship with past games, and know (generally) where I come from when I write my opinions then you’ll know whether to take this seriously or with a grain of salt. The choice is yours after you read it, not mine. I certainly don’t force people to read nor do I force anyone to take me seriously.

I will issue a challenge right now for everyone who sees this: Buy the game, subscribe, and play it. Come back and let me know how you feel and we’ll see.

As for the “You didn’t even play it wah wah wah” crying, I won’t summarily dismiss it as desperate fanboy denouncing. You feel backed into a corner and like most wild animals you become more dangerous when threatened, I understand that. I played nearly every Wednesday and Friday and all weekend test sessions since April 1, 2009. I’d like to think I experienced most of the content being tested. I didn’t play the game to advance and see it all. Cryptic sent us emails telling us specifically what to test, so I tested it and sent my feedback. Sorry if I didn’t “beat the game”.

Now I’ll address a few very specific comments. Sorry for the delay, but I have a life.

@Rog: Any comments I’ve made stating or insinuating “awful game” have been on-topic and/or part of larger thought. Anything else should be considered someone impersonating me.

@Stompfoot: The combat, while flashy and quick, is boring. I found it even more boring than WAR. I truly can not even stand it. And yes, I’ve tried to play every type of setup.

@Kaz: Releasing something into the world automatically makes you vulnerable to criticism. It’s my opinion that this game is a stinker. I tried to point out clearly the biggest problems I faced while trying to enjoy the game, and explain why I will not be playing. I didn’t make one of those single line blog entries saying “This game sucks, Keen out!”. If Cryptic can’t take the criticism, they shouldn’t make games.

@Bwast: I file all impressions of betas and thoughts on why I won’t be playing under the Review category. Feel free to browse them for further examples.

@Pliskin: Although it’s my opinion, I challenge anyone to disprove those points after playing as much as I have. If you disagree, then it’s your opinion.

@Muthax: Just stating it how I see it. Call it “full of hate” if you wish. I stand by everything I have written here. The content is boring. I can, and do, like the “old ways” and the “new ways”. I love EQ’s style the most, but I also really like WoW’s. I CAN enjoy any form of “leveling” or “progression”, but if it is just boring – regardless of how it’s done – I’ll have to call it like it is.

@Johnnylane: I’m pretty sure I “dumped” on AoC from the start. 😉 Again, like I’ve said now several times, this is not a “let me talk about the game and fill you guys in” post. It’s a “this is what the game did that was so bad it kept me from having any fun” post. I’m not about to spend time, nor try to feign excitement about the Nemesis system, when I can’t get past the core issues with the game.

Notice: Blatant trolling without constructive discussion of any kind has and will be deleted. You take up valuable space here.

Luk - August 18, 2009

I agree with everything Keen mentioned in his post and comments about CO even though I really really wanted to like this game.

Anyone who tries to discredit the OP by personal attacks is just confirming how true his opinions hit home. One thing i think should be made clear, CO is not COH2 because it is a big step down from COH instead of progression. It is amazing how Cryptic did not learn from COH and made a console game instead of an MMO.

Crackbone - August 18, 2009

Keen,

I’ve disagreed with you on things, but I applaud you for coming out and calling a spade a spade.

I’ll tell you what scares me about reading all of this..

Star Trek Online is going to be the same instanced uninspired trash. Another 2 IPs hit the toilet.

Nobs - August 18, 2009

Considering how often Keen comes off praising a game right before release… if Keen doesn’t like it I fear it is much worse than he lets on. Keen is typically far more forgiving of games than your average gamer, from my experience.

If Keen wont be playing I doubt I will be playing unless Tobold can somehow sway me, and I don’t see that happening.

Pelkor - August 18, 2009

@nobs

my thoughts exactly

Bill - August 18, 2009

A quick question as someone who has just started on the open beta and is playing now to see if I am going to make the purchase.

Many people complained that CoH’s content was boring and repetitious. Do you find the content about the same as CoH? How about the combat system? Do you find it about the same in terms of excitement?

I got that you didn’t care for it, but if you thought it was about the same as CoH it might be the thing for me.

Existential - August 18, 2009

Been playing the open Beta for about a 10 hours now, got to say I disagree with the OP. The starting zones (which like to think of as tutorial zones) are small yes. I think that the first tutorial zone holds 30 max and the two crisis zones hold 50 max.

I breezed through the tutorial zone moderately amused, but the crisis zones were very interesting. You play in a portion of the actual zone (perhaps thats why keen doesn’t think the zones are big enough) and fight off a crisis that threatens the area (unsuperisingly).

Afterwards you arrive in the actual zone (I’d say they’re about 5 or six times bigger than the crisis zones) and continue on with what I would call classic style quests.

Now when I played through I was with a friend 100% of the way and that helped relive some of the cramped ness (we moved quicker than everyone else) but I did see lone players struggling in places.

Over all this game is not without flaws, but also Keen is overexagerating these flaws. I will be buying this game, I suggest people intrigued but not wait a few weeks and look into a free trial. But, most importantly of all, don’t knock it ti’ll you’ve tried it.

Sleepysam - August 18, 2009

@crackbone –

Star Trek is probably doomed, this was the same thing I was thinking –

tricon - August 18, 2009

Well CO has some big problems like team content and overall balance of powers but seeing some arcuments from keen simple make me laugh.

The zones are big enough for a release if you wanna compare them I think the match EQ2 at release. Yeah you could suspend some travel powers like other games do or add them much later or put some penalties on top of them, points to wow/aion. I don’t even think the 200 player per zone matters, you don’t feel alone in there and come on how many players running around in eq2 commonlands before a new instance opens or are in
Hellfire Peninsula in wow.

Saying the combat is mundane is funny. Just put your endurance builder on toggle (aka auto attack). You need around 30min for the tutorial and another 30min for the first crisis, add another 1 hour and you should be at last lvl 11 that mean you have access to 5 powers that on top can have different effects. Some powers are worse then other and we need still a much better balance but still it’s fun enough.

Luk - August 18, 2009

@Bill
I have been playing COH for 3 years so I can say that CO compares poorly to COH in at least 2 categories:
Graphics style and Combat uberness 🙂

Let’s face it CO looks plain ugly when compared to COH, outlining aside, the characters look like plastic dolls with very poorly painted details.

The combat is very similar but lacks the feeling of super ummph that COH powers are so good at. Nothing beats the feeling of hitting someone with a stone mallet or stomping the ground with a super stomp. I have not seen this in CO, because I was too busy building endurance with some crappy blast instead of knocking heads.

JohnnyLane - August 18, 2009

@Bill –

This game is far better then CoH. Keen’s review does it 0 justice. I would continue with the beta and I think you will find you enjoy it. Keen wants to play EQ so no game will work for him unless it’s some clone of that. CO is much to progressive for him, I mean he has not tested 75% of the game yet he bashes it?!

Also Keen if you look back at your AoC “reviews” you will find one were you talk about how much you and Graev are enjoying it and that you will be buying it. Not trying to stir the pot just keeping it honest. I also don’t think people should bash you for your opinons of the game but just understand that many think it’s of little substance and that’s THEIR opinion.

Keen
Keen - August 18, 2009

@JohnnyLane: I disagree with you about it being better than CoH. I didn’t like the direction CoH went, but I at least enjoyed their combat. Luk sums it up well.

As for CO being progressive… you just diminished everything you were trying to say by making a statement like that. Progressive – heh.

As for not testing 75% of the game… my god, imagine if we had to play 75% of a game to decide if it was any good. No offense, but what planet have you been for the past 15 years? I’ve never needed to play 75% of a game to form an opinion.

As for AoC, we paid for PRE-ORDERS and were out a total of $5 each. THAT is what we purchased and decided to make that purchase in order to get beyond 1) Tortage and 2) the preview content we had seen in beta.

We Fly Spitfires - MMORPG Blog - August 18, 2009

Thanks for the info, Keen. I’ve heard a lot of negativity surrounding CO but I’m going to check it out anyway. Just waiting for the bloody beta to finish downloading!!!

Existential - August 18, 2009

Keen thats why the average person does not write game reviews. You can say, the small part of the game I played was not very fun (if you think that). But you cannot say the part of the game I played was not fun, therefore the whole game sucks. Hence why I look towards professional reviewers or my own judgement, not amatures to help me make my descisions. I have doubts about this game flopping because Tabula Rasa was published NC soft a company notorious (now) for dropping anything that does not reach/exceed expectations. Anyone remember Auto Assault? Both of these game brought in profit, but not enough for NC softs wan’ts so they redistributed man power and closed it down.

tricon - August 18, 2009

@Luk Yeah right, remember in CoX where you have endurance problems until you pickup stamina and/or slot your powers with SO/IOs.

Guess what you can modifier your powers in a way that
the generate extra endurance to a lvl that you don’t even
need your endurance builder, just not at lvl 1. 😛

Oh and you can find several powers that have a big ooomph too. However some combination you will not find here like the uberness of a earth/storm controller….. 🙁

Oh and try /comicshading 0 😉

Keen
Keen - August 18, 2009

@Existential: Unless the experiences you have in that small portion of the game expose issues that encompass the entire game in scope. Instancing, boring/repetitive combat and zones, and extreme lack of charm are not things you would say “Oh, that’s probably just an early level thing”. They raise bigger issues. Turn to “professionals” if you wish, but make sure you go check out how they rated some of the stinkers of this decade. 😉 (Not to mention the fact that they are on publisher payrolls)

@We Fly Spitfires: If you can try it out for free, I encourage it. Just don’t waste your money unless you’re absolutely sure. This is one of those games.

Muckbeast - August 18, 2009

Anyone have an open beta key?

You have to pay money to be part of this “open” beta – either via pre-order or a paid subscription to fileplanet.

These guys at Cryptic are some of the sleaziest, most dishonest MMO developers in the business.

http://www.frogdice.com/muckbeast/gaming_industry/sleazy-mmo-marketing-a-growing-disturbing-trend.html

Luk - August 18, 2009

@tricon
You know your COH well, but you also know why unlimited endurance was nerfed in COH after everyone and their grandmother was running regen scrappers.

Things get too easy, people get bored and leave. If CO doesn’t do something about that, people will get bored too.
I am just not sure why you think that pressing the same buttons 10 times in CO is more fun than slotting 1 passive stamina power CoH.

Rog - August 18, 2009

@Keen:

“This patcher is the least of their worries. The game is horrible. Sorry, it just is”

This wasn’t you? That’s not even remotely in context on a post about the patcher problems yesterday.

If you feel the need to troll and trash talk over it, it undermines your credibility for an honest review.

Winde - August 18, 2009

I don’t agree with Keen’s review at all.

Even so, I appreciate that he has given it bullet pointing which where the things that he didn’t like in the game. Having that information I can go through my mind and come to the conclusion that I don’t feel about those things the same way and decide I want to buy the game.

I would suggest to other people that read this review and are undecided to grab the beta if possible and try for themselves, and if that’s not possible to wait for a trial to be available.

What has not much interest is going back and forth on wether the review had enough time behind it or this and that specific point of the review. I would think we had learned from the eurogamer fiasco.

Rog - August 18, 2009

Yeah, here’s me peppering my reactionary um, reactions with a nod to the content of the review itself:

Winde above pretty much sums up my opinion–^

Just as Keen indicated that before anyone pop money down on this game, try it first. Anyone who avoids the game entirely based solely on the opinions here, that’s equally foolish:

Try it yourself. Form your own opinions.

I do appreciate Keen’s reviews, even if I believe this one is a bit premeditated and disingenuous. I don’t expect anyone to take my word for it either. I disagree on some points and I for one would welcome an entire conversation on some of them (Instancing as a whole for starters).

Keen
Keen - August 18, 2009

@Rog: The comment you quoted is on Massively in a post coming from Massively where they, and several comments before mine, spell out the patch problems as being such a huge deal. My comment, while harsh, wasn’t meant to be a drive-by to say the game is horrible. It was meant to be read in the context of the topic where everyone was harping on Cryptic for the patch issues when the big problem, as I see it, is the rest of the game – Which I feel is indeed horrible. The patcher isn’t even an issue at all anymore. It took them, what, at most 24 hours to fix it? I don’t see them fixing the problems I have with the game anytime soon.

As for this being premeditated … duh? I’ve been playing for over 4 months. I’ve been taking notes along the way and forming this post for a long, long time. These opinions were not made over night. They were not made from the “open beta”. They were made playing the low level, mid level, and focused content. They were made from many hours of play – most of them spent trying to like the game.

And again: NOT A REVIEW. It’s a post about what I dislike so much about the game that I can’t possibly see past. If you want a review fluffed up with explanations about the UI, Nemesis system, and an “impressions from beta” then this isn’t the blog for you. I don’t like the game, won’t pretend I like the game, and won’t apologize for speaking my mind.

If you have a problem with me speaking my mind, it’s time to move along. This is one blogger who won’t bow to the pressure. I won’t have people telling me what I can and can’t say here or anywhere else. You take me or you leave me.

Dblade - August 18, 2009

Yeah, this is mostly subjective, and more about why Keen doesn’t like it. I don’t see this as a review because he really doesn’t critique why its bad specifically, it’s just statements like;

“Content is boring. Quests are not engaging; worse than the standard “kill x of this”. Story might as well not exist.”

or

“Mundane combat. It’s all flash and no substance. Feels wonky and uncomfortable. Killing monsters is easy, boring, and excessively repetitive.”

You could probably say the same thing of Aion, because it’s really a subjective, general statement of dislike. You can find a quest unengaging, and the game not be bad, same with the combat being mundane.

It’s useful in giving a warning sign of caution, because Keen usually is good at writing about games, but I could believe him, cautiously try out a beta, and find I like it very much. So not really worth jumping on each other over it, and best for everyone to try a game that seems as heavily split over in public opinion as this one.

Bartlebe - August 18, 2009

“Yeah, this is mostly subjective, and more about why Keen doesn’t like it.”

Its his blog and these are his impressions. Of course its subjective. This isn’t a scientific journal or a thesis paper.

Wickidd - August 18, 2009

“Hence why I look towards professional reviewers or my own judgement, not amatures to help me make my descisions.”

I remember the early reviews of AoC from “professional” reviewers. I trust the people who play the games more than I trust those who make a living reviewing them. I feel the same about movie critics.

I’ll wait and see how Champions is doing a few months down the road. I can’t afford to be reckless with my money in this economy.

Rog - August 18, 2009

@Keen: I apologize for essentially calling you a troll on your own blog. That’s bad form of me, regardless of how I see it.

But I won’t hesitate to call a spade a spade either. I called this article disingenuous for two reasons:

1. An opinion piece with outlined points and an authoritatively stated thumbs up / thumbs down: That’s a review. The disclaimer otherwise just comes across as denying responsibility. That may not have been your intent, but that’s the end result.

I know you’re not really responsible for the sheeple who would cancel their downloads and not try it for themselves, but that’s one reason you should just call a review a review.

2. There’s this misdirection you did, where you gave CoH a nod that I’ve never seen you give previously, so CO would have a bus you could shove it under.

Do you think I could give an appropriate review for Diablo 3 given that I didn’t like Diablo (2 was better but still not my game)? Of course I couldn’t. I could have all the honest insights in the world and it still wouldn’t be an appropriate article for anyone to expect real insights. That’s the implication here: I could be honest, but the review wouldn’t be.

So maybe it’s coming across like I’m attacking your integrity. It may be semantics, but I’m questioning the integrity of this article, although I have no doubt of yours.

I’d love to discuss the finer points of the game’s design, etc. without this muddying compulsion to bury the game as a whole, regardless of whether that’s your conclusion.

Russell Gusto - August 18, 2009

Such vitriol in this one. Bottom line is try it and if you like it then play it! Keen is not going to like everything that you like. I for one LOVE CHAMPS but Keen does not. He sucks j/k 😉 I rolled with Keen and Haven in Darkfall and we both had a blast for awhile but with this game we simply will not. Perhaps another mmo…there will be many more to come 😉 Ever hear of agree to disagree?

People should not be so sensitive and respect this man’s blog and the work he’s put into opening up conversations on the mmo genre of gaming.

Adogg - August 18, 2009

FYI … this is the lvling prgression:

1. Tutorial (lvl 1-5) (Usually around 20 people playing in the map)
2. Desert 1 (lvl 5-?8) (Usually around 25-30 people)
3. Desert 2 (lvl 8-15) (Usually around 150-200 people playing in the map)

It seems like you didn’t like the game so you stopped before you got to the larger scale maps.

Just food for thought for others. I’m at lvl 15 and I’ve made it all the way to Millenium City with about 200 in the map. It took me about one night to get that far too…

Keen
Keen - August 18, 2009

@Rog: 1) A review should include more than reasons why someone doesn’t like a game. It should include more explanation and developed thought. Since this does not have those things, I hesitate to call it a “review” because I do not want people to immediately assume I’m going to be laying it all out there.

2) So if I felt like CoH’s combat was better and that the general direction of the content was better I should just keep quiet? I’m not really sure where you’re coming from here. Should I pretend that CoH doesn’t exist when CO is so obviously made by the same company with many strikingly similar mechanics? C’mon, you and I both know that’s reaching.

You see, the great thing about having a blog where you can write whatever you want is that (shocker) you can write whatever you want. If you want to review D3 after hating D2 – why should I or anything tell you that you shouldn’t? Why even imply that because I didn’t like CoH that I shouldn’t be “reviewing” CO? If anything, that would be a valuable perspective for some people. I think you’re letting your own opinion cloud your ability to rationalize here.

If you think this article, titled “Why this Beta Tester won’t be playing”, is disingenuous (Definition: not straightforward or candid) then I think it’s probably best to stop beating a dead horse and agree to disagree.

@Adogg: I’ve played in most zones available during beta. 20, 30, 100, 150 limited per zone is not massive to me because I can never get over how chopped up and cramped the instanced world feels. Let this be the last time I say that unless you’ve played the beta as much as I have, then I have seen more of the game than you.

Rog - August 18, 2009

@Keen: How many people can fit in a WAR zone. It’s not 200, we both know that from experience when just about 150 or so show up to a zone and it borks.

It’s barely over that for WoW before things start crashing too, unless it’s a city zone with no combat.

Pretty much every MMO, these are already the limitations of zones. The only difference is Cryptic took an honest approach to the problem instead of just opening it up and having players learn not to cluster.

It becomes really obvious when players hold sit-ins to intentionally crash zones and entire servers in protest.

Now ask me, which do I think is more massive? One server, pool players into instances, or divide the game up into a bunch of servers.

Your worshipping an illusion and mocking a reasonable and IMHO much, much, much better solution to the problem.

Anthion - August 19, 2009

All right…I am now going to read these comments and shall return with my thoughts momentarily.

*night turns to day*

Well then! *emits a hearty laugh* You seem to have stirred up the hornet’s nest, Keen! Good heavens, the fog is thick here.

So allow me to elaborate on what a few thoughtful people have already said.

This…is…a…personal…blog. It contains the opinions of the person who writes in it.

We, as readers, come to blogs to read through the opinions of the people behind them. So, it stands to reason that if you have a problem with someone stating their opinions in a blog, perhaps you would be better served in not reading blogs.

Keen gave you all his thoughts on Champions Online after 4 months of Beta testing. They are his personal feelings regarding the game. He never said people couldn’t disagree with him, he never insulted the people who are disagreeing with him now.

He even encouraged some folks to try out the game and decide for themselves. So if you feel differently than he does then by all means, politely discuss your issues. Some of you have done that and bravo, nothing wrong with it.

But if you are just going to whine and accuse Keen of trolling on his own personal blog…please…do yourself a favor and go get some fresh air.

That is all.

JasonRobards - August 19, 2009

Hard to take you seriously when your first point is wrong.

Zones had much higher caps in open beta.

Certainly okay for you not to actually play open beta to see if anything had changed. A lot of the “scathing” reviews of the game I have seen from people are people who apparently stopped playing a long time ago.

Having only played a short time, there are factual errors in most of them..

So I don’t know what to make of it to be honest.

A lot of the other comments seem fairly subjective, and I would disagree with you on the abilities being bland or boring. I would say someone who made it to level 6 would know better than that.

I am curious what level you even got to… seems like you never made it past level 10.

Anthion - August 19, 2009

@JasonRobards: If you bothered reading these comments you would know that Keen played for 4 months and tested low, mid-level, and other focused content.

There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that his zone cap number could be wrong or disagreeing with his opinions. But it helps to read the comments before you leave a comment yourself…it will help us take you seriously. 🙂

Oh, and this is Keen’s personal blog. That’s where you are right now, a blog. Of course his opinion is subjective…it’s his opinion! Opinions, by definition, are subjective. Good lord, someone look out the window tonight and see if it’s a full moon.

Melf_Himself - August 19, 2009

Just thought you might want to read this thread Keen:

http://boards.ign.com/pc_general_board/b5027/183949694/p4/?48

There seem to be some factual inaccuracies in your post (such as, the 24-player only thing).

Chris - August 19, 2009

Well, I finally was able to get the patch downloaded and press start. It CRASHED, so lame I restarted it and it started the download again. The “its beta” argument would be more valid if this was thier first game.

I really don’t care how players they can fit in to this POS. I am steering way clear of this game; I give it 0 out of 5 stars due not getting in for 2 days.

I’m cancelling my preorder today and steering everyone that I know clear of this POS.

Tony - August 19, 2009

I wasn’t a fan of the beta either… not enough to buy it with so much else going on.

Werit - August 19, 2009

@Rog: WAR can have more than 200. I was in a zone with 220+ not a week ago and it was playable. If you are referring to forts, the issue is that many people in a very small area.

Shadow-war - August 19, 2009

Lot of comments, so I didn’t read through them. I just wanted to touch on a few things. I’m not sure if you played past the first crisis zone or not, but the 24 person cap quickly disapears. After the tutorial and the zone immediately after (I did the desert where I had to stop Gigaton and help Project Greenskin), I was put into a desert instance that had what seemed to be 150 peson cap. That’s a lot of people for one zone in game with zero servers.

As to combat and fun, maybe it’s because I played a TK powerset, but I had a blast running around, not having to repeatedly mash the 1 2 3 4 buttons to kill something. I hit 1, it turned on my energy builder, and I’d close the distance and slice them with a mental sword. Later I got a power that could charge up and blow the snot out of an enemy. Early acces to a travel power was just a plus.

I also found plenty of “charm” in the game. The PQ with Ironclad, you can hear him the entire time in the background yelling in anger at the aliens about attacking his “adopted planet” or if you look around in the tutorial, you can find Foxbat trapped under some rubble and rescue him. And the little details in the game are amazing too. In the Desert crisis zone, when you enter the building that is a radiation “clean zone” you go through a decontaminator that sprays you down at the entrance.

The patcher issue on day 1 of open beta was a huge problem, I’ll admit, but I place most of the blame on Fileplanet over Cryptic. Cryptic dropped the ball by not giving the players options.

Okay, that was a long comment. I’ll just say at the end, that while I enjoyed CoH, I found it to be, overall a bit dull, CO seems to have grabbed me.

Rog - August 19, 2009

@Werit: I’ve no doubt they’ve fixed it as a zone-wide problem because the common solution (hell, since UO) is to subdivide the zones into more servers, essentially zones within zones.

The point is, getting players together in one place (viewing distance of one-another), the reasonable upper technical limit is about 200-250. I’d go into detail, but this discussion has gone beyond reasonable itself, hah. =)

This thread itself is demonstrating the nature of large numbers of people. At some point, it needs more structure to manage. That’s instancing in a nutshell.

Mahlah - August 19, 2009

There is a lot of hate for this game going around the internet, and I can understand why this game might not suit a lot of people, but I can’t quite understand the detestation I’ve seen. If you don’t like comic books or super heroes, you won’t like this game. If you can’t deal with the graphics stylization, that might be a hang up too. But for me, the combat is fun, the content is decent (although somewhat light, hopefully more is coming soon), and PvP, while not very balanced, is also a good time right from the beginning.

Its funny, this is a game I thought I wouldn’t like because it does so much I normally hate. PvE focus, “Theme Park” zones, superficial crafting, etc. But at the end of the day, its just plain FUN to play for me. Its not the kind of game I’m going to spend 5 hours a day posting on forums or retelling stories like from EVE or something, but the time when I’m actually logged in, IS generally as much or more fun than I had logged in with EVE, which I generally say is my favorite game of all time.

Maybe being fun to play isn’t enough for an MMO though. (And I mean that sincerely).

muthax - August 19, 2009

Finally played the beta, so far it’s Ok nothing stellar but neither crap. That doesn’t mean that in a week of play I won’t hate it as I just played few hours, but for now it seems a decent game. A note: if you don’t like this game because it’s shallow, you might want to stay clear of Aion too. Played the chinese OB and bought some hours when it went to retail because it really struck me as a polished and atmospheric game but after a while I realised how linear and grindy is. The asian theme didn’t help either but I dunno if the western version has been remade over (eliminating fluffy mobs for example). And the combat turns into keyboard mashing akin to learning a simple tune on the piano….

tricon - August 19, 2009

@ Luk Because you don’t hit the endurance builder 10 times. You go to options and change it to a “toggle never cancels” to turn it into your generic autoattack. Add in you can have items with a 50% power discount and you can use passive that add endurance whenever special events occur. I don’t think its better, just different and more “action” like.

Combat and zone designs are not bad in CO and I prefer a smaller more intensive then lets say a much large zone but without any purporse or life to let the game appear much bigger ala Fallen Earth.

Maybe the problem lay in a other point. He it’s a superhero game from cryptic so yes we expected a CoH V2.0 where the company simple would avoid all the bad designs form CoH and add new cool stuff. But well that did not work in the past
(EQ->EQ2/Vanguard) so did it here. The game feels more of a Child from the Father CoX & the Mother WoW with some Xbox medication. 😛

One point I liked in CoX was the teaming from the release until now. Before purple patch hit us, killing hydra in Perez Park over doing Taskforces to running Missions in AE. In CO it’s my biggest problem so far because its more solo until you run into a quest you can’t solo because of a strong mob so you ask for heal ala WoW lets group a elite mission. Add in extra problems with the UI, balance and content and we have a problem.

I like it and the game is fun for me but on the other hand the game has issues but IMHO some others that keen pointed out. I will play it but more like CoX, play it for some time, come back and check out new Content.

If you are more a hardcore player that need his “fix” for several month, I guess you should better check out Aion.

But in the end only you can say what you like so test it for yourself………………

Pelkor - August 19, 2009

@Keen

I think people expect a “review” because in the past you have supplied us with very good in-depth and “gamer’s perspective” type reviews.

I think you are underestimating your position on the interwebs. You’re not just another loonie screaming his opinion on a forum, you’re somewhat of a bone fide authority on games in a way.

When you post a quick “CO sux lol” post after a couple of shallow beta runs in the tutorial, then the people who disagree with your opinion are going to feel cheated.

Yeah, it’s your blog and yeah you can do whatever you want, but a lot of people here value your opinion and will actually heed your advice on what’s upcoming on the gaming market.

I’m not saying you should rewrite the review, i’m saying that if you do throw out poorly-backed opinions on your blog, don’t be surprised if people react.

Nobs - August 19, 2009

For another intial impression check out Tobold. He didn’t play much but has already come to some of the same conclusions as Keen.

A game should be fun. Bottom line. You should never have to play X amount of time before finding the fun. That is the one thing WAR did well, it was fun straight out of the box.

We all know end game fun tappers off but the first 10 levels should be some of the best content the game has to offer.

Crackbone - August 19, 2009

@ Pelkor

When the damn write up was called ” Why this beta tester won’t be playing, ” how can anyone with a reasonable grasp on the English language jump to “review?”

It doesn’t say review, it’s not positioned as a review.

Bottom line, you’ve got some CO fans here that are hurt by this analysis. That’s ok. It happens.

Keen’s entitled to his opinion, and as others have said, he tends to skew more towards “excited MMO honeymooner” than critical reviewer. That being said, if Keen is telling me this game sucks, I have to believe it really sucks.

Furthermore, it’s not CO I’m really worried about, it’s about Cryptic’s probably borking of STO, which based on this writeup and others, I’d have to think is very likely.

Keen
Keen - August 19, 2009

A lot of people are jumping on me for saying that zones are limited to 24 people only. That was not intended to come across that way.

The blog entry says:

“Zones are all redundantly instanced and capped at a low number of players per instance (ex. 24 players).”

That’s EXAMPLE: 24 Players.

I consider 24, 30, 50, 76, 100, 150 to all be “Low numbers” when a game classifies itself as a MMORPG. When a game world ceases to exist and becomes chopped up into duplicate instances/shards holding capped numbers of people then I feel the “Massive” tag should be removed.

Yes, it’s an illusion and most zones naturally hold that many people anyway (although I strongly believe it’s more, but let me entertain Rog a sec…). Yet the point of what I’m trying to say remains: The illusion matters. The congruity of the game matters to me. Remove the illusion, force feed me modules content, and you’re going to raise attention to the fact that your zones are pop capped and available via a friggin list.

@Rog: I am indeed worshipping an illusion. It matters to me. I do not find CO’s “solution” reasonable at all and I feel it destroys any sense of “world” or connection. It becomes an action game with as much depth as the Diablo series, without the story. That’s not sufficient enough for a MMO.

@Melf: See above where I explain that I never said zones are limited to 24 players.

@Anyone else who wants to use the 24 player example as a reason to poke holes in the validity of my opinion: See above.

@Pelkor: I can appreciate that people expect a review from me, but I disliked the game so much based on these glaring issues that any review I wrote (since I won’t sugar coat anything if I can help it) would have been nit picking and plagued by negativity based on these issues. That, not my negative hating, would have made for a bad review.

I appreciate people thinking I’m an authority on games. I tried to do more than “CO sux lol” (not after a few beta runs in the tutorial, it was after 4+ months of testing all level ranges available) but people only see what they want to see.

Let this stand as an example: If I really don’t like a game, I might do nothing but tell you why I dislike it.

Farquaad - August 19, 2009

@Existential

I disagree. Independent reviews have a huge value because people who write these don’t have any other vested interests other then voicing their opinions. Professional reviewers that write for magazines or commercial sites ALWAYS have to look over their shoulders to make sure that advertisement dollars don’t dry up. A very strong negative review from a commercial site is a true novelty these days and usually happen because (a) the game is a commercial flop and it’s already an established fact, or (b) editor screwed up big time. Remember what happen at euro-gamer? They did do a re-review of the Darkfall, didn’t they? Hinse, my point. I personally always look towards independent reviewers for no sugar coated, straight answers.

Rog - August 19, 2009

@Keen: I’ll agree illusion matters for immersion, absolutely.

I’m talking about the other half of the illusion, where players ask / expect / demand things based on that illusion that are not technically (or logistically) reasonable. An army of thousands of players is never coming over that hill in full glory, not without some huge compromises.

Now I’m not saying Cryptic has done a stellar job with it, but dismissing compromises like instancing out of hand is counterproductive if you ever want to see these games grow.

I’ll also agree the focus on numbers is where this part of the topic went astray, because the numbers aren’t much lower than anywhere else. The appearance of getting the numbers wrong (the whole 24 player thing leads to assumptions) and some of the conclusions also focusing on the numbers. Again this comes back to the illusion, because the big break in immersion with CO is that big list of instances Cryptic pops up every time you zone.

It’s worth noting that those lists are probably temporary. I don’t know if you noticed in the Beta, but the button to manually change instances doesn’t work, so the only way players can switch instances are those zone entry lists. They should automate entry based on your group, guild and friends. Maybe they’ll fix that before Beta ends, maybe after Release, but I doubt it will stay the way it stands. For now, this just illustrates the impressions open betas make, because whether it changes or not, it’s creating flak for Cryptic.

Cryptic is also running zones conservative with the ~150 numbers. I can understand why, it frees them up for some things, like their combat system (probably a small increase in data & latency requirements for those power-up abilities). I bet like City of Heroes, they’ll have less troubles with exploiting players than other MMOs because their server data will match client data a lot closer. There are some strong benefits to instancing.

And finally, first impressions are important. Cryptic fell into a common trap of pushing players through non-epic tutorials. I’m tired of this in any game, MMO or otherwise.

While I value immersion, I chart gameplay higher and that’s more the realm of opinion. I’m personally really enjoying their combat system, the non-class / pseudo-class powersets and the progression of characters. They answered a lot of categories I was complaining about with all of the other carbon-copy MMORPGs.

Dblade - August 19, 2009

Bartlebe-

Uh, no. Usually if you say something sucks, you give actual, specific reasons why. I can say FFXI sucked not because “combat was dull” but of WHY it was dull-at low levels too many people either soloed or used power levels to remove risk.

There’s always going to be some objective reasoning behind it because you base dislike on facts. It can’t just be “It’s mundane.”

Keen
Keen - August 19, 2009

@Dblade: Let me quote what I said. I didn’t just say “It’s mundane”. I said:

“Mundane combat. It’s all flash and no substance. Feels wonky and uncomfortable. Killing monsters is easy, boring, and excessively repetitive.”

Let me expand upon that you for even further.

Let’s take the level 10-15 content as an example. Fights are all flash with no substance. It felt like a beatem’up game. All MMORPG’s, to a certain degree, lack combat depth but CO lacked it more than the norm. It’s repetitive and easy. Abilities lack balance and they feel thrown-in. It’s simplistic to a fault.

@Rog: Gameplay and immersion are equally important to me. That should be abundantly clear to regular readers. I am an immersion whore. If I don’t feel like I’m in a fantasy world (or [insert relative world description here]) then I stop feeling immersed in a Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game. EverQuest’s “You’re in our world now” left a resounding impact on the way I view game worlds.

Without immersion, we’re forced to rely solely on gameplay. That’s acceptable in some cases, although I dislike it. Let’s evaluate the gameplay though – as I’ve gone on to say, it’s less than stellar. It’s beat’em up console-like thrashing and smashing. It doesn’t even feel “super hero” like. It feels wonky.

Please don’t be one of those people who say “it’s beta”. That’s apologist posturing. The game has gone gold. It’s in production now. Open Beta means they are obligated to accept all criticism. If they want their “world” to be described as more than a few modules of content that people can select from a list to be force-fed content in a logistical way for their engine/style of “hero” gameplay, then they better be ready to face the criticism from people like me who do not accept that as an alternative to a connected world.

Help me understand what is is about the combat you like. How about we go from there? What is it about the combat you like? Please go on to explain what you like about progressions of your character. How far have you gotten? What powers did you take?

If all you wanted was “different”, then you got it. I don’t accept “Different” as a synonym for “innovation” and I certainly do not immediately associate a game’s success for me as a player based on it being different.

Russell Gusto - August 19, 2009

I like the combat because my comic character just looks so damn sexy in a cape knocking villains here and there 😉

Also enjoy the active blocking that when timed correctly can be a life saver. Also you can mix and match powers to even further the depth of combat as well as stats to amplifiy your own playstyle, really you can be anything in Champs.

Here is an example to help explain the comabt that I see that just seems so different then your own views Keen:

I played the Arena PvP match the other day and all in a span of 5 minutes I was thrown through the air, frozen, shrunk, shot at, caught on fire, used my acrobatic skills to jump to the top of the cage to unleash some furious fist of anger on some noob, back down to the cage to help a friend in dire need, threw a concrete block at a fly boy in the air sending him to his death, healed myself and also ran like a little girl for a brief time from some insane fish looking creature with leg stockings 🙂

Sounds fun to me but I like fish looking creatures with leg stockings *shrugs*

Mahlah - August 19, 2009

Keen – “It felt like a beatem’up game. ”

I agree, but this is actually a PLUS for a lot of us that like this game. An MMO with beatem-up combat is something a lot of us like.

What I like about the combat – the constant management of endurance, building and using, I that i fight 3-4 guys at a time, can AoE in certain situations, etc. I like the block mechanic, which adds a little more interactivity to the usually MMO formula. I like that I can pick up things from the environment and chuck them at enemies to do damage and knock them flying.

Ive been in beta for a while, never got past the mid levels (20ish). Character progression isn’t as drastic as in some other games, but I like it none the less. On my character OB character (Might based), I went from having a simple end building / user, to having a threat builder that does ok damange, to adding a charge/ root ability mostly for PvP situations to close on ranged characters and keep them stuck, and then just added a frontal cone AoE/knockback. That seems like a pretty decent progression for only 15 levels.

Its not the greatest game I’ve ever played, I’m pretty sure its not the best MMO. It suffers from theme park syndrome, which I generally hate, but for this particular game, it works for me.

MMOWTF?! » Champions Online: Millenium City Tutorial preview - August 19, 2009

[…] general, I disagree with a lot of what other bloggers, such as Keen and Zubon, have written about Champions Online. I feel as though most MMORPG gamers are letting […]

Luk - August 19, 2009

@Mahlah
“beatem’up game” is good for single player arcade or console game, but for MMO? I am not sure how many MMO players would want to use XBox controller just to play this. I admit that the old and repetitive combat systems that most MMOs are using are getting old as well, but “beatem’up game” is even more dated than that.

I stopped playing my Xbox after I got into COH and never looked back. The main lure of CoH was the character creator, cool powers and the ability to play with friends, to be part of a community that wanted to play with you instead of fragging you.

From everything mentioned about CO, it is more of a step back into console single player gaming that lost my interest long time ago. Is this because CO is targeting a different demographic of players than COH? Time will tell.

Rog - August 19, 2009

@Keen: Well I don’t get how “wonky” is descriptive, but sure, I can explain what I like about the combat.

1. It’s honest in its repetition. MMORPG combat is usually banging out the same few buttons on your bars, with the occasional hunt and click of a situational ability. I’ve always argued that complaining about repetition in MMO combat is silly, almost all games have repetitive controls. It’s like arguing that driving games have just this wheel thing you turn. The real nature of combat comes out in the abilities themselves and the mobs / gameplay.

What I’ve never understood is why I invariably have to clutter my entire screen with button bars, when there have got to be better ways to create situational controls.

I appreciate that Cryptic compressed this down so I can occasionally sit on my sofa and escape from my desk (not that I don’t love my mouse, but the 360 controller is a hella nice option). It’s not perfect or situational nirvana, but for me, this is about a 300% improvement.

2. I like the powerup nature of some of the attacks. I was surprised to realize it’s analog in nature: The attack powers up for the length of time I hold it. I can tap for a basic blast, hold it the whole way for a full blast, or let it go partway through. For the first 5 levels, I couldn’t believe how much this lent a lot of variety to just 2 powers. There’s a little bit of satisfaction in letting go just the right amount to finish a mob off.

3. Everything is immediate, at least from what I’ve seen so far. Or rather, any cast times are by choice with the powerup abilities. I’ve found myself at times running around circle-strafing in ways I never could in most of these games. That was exhilerating.

4. Like City of Heroes, the server feels responsive and there’s less click-wait than say, WoW or the slightly more sluggish controls of WAR or LOTRO. I attribute this a bit to the instanced content, it just technically makes sense to me that they’re not pushing the fine-line of data-throughput and latency on each and every client connection to the server.

5. The mobs, while very similar to City of Heroes, have half-decent AI on them. They’re pinning down captives, or wandering in groups with a clear leader. There’s a nice balance between scripted behaviour and procedural. I haven’t seen the Nemesis stuff yet, but that’s going to require more AI, so I’m hoping it works well.

6. I like the holds system with the escape option. I always felt frustrated in WoW at being trapped with little shards of ice and I can’t kick through them? Giving me a button to hammer goes a long way, you can call it repetitive or a gimic, but it ~is~ an improvement over just standing there.

7. Picking up things and throwing them, while gimicky, is also a hoot. Will it entertain forever? Nope, but just like the hold breaking thing, it’ll entertain more than not having it.

I could go on more, especially if I branched out into the visual aspects. Combat covers a bunch of topics really.

Frankly, yes, it IS BETA. Haven’t you learned from harping on issues before that never saw release, that right up to the very day of launch things can get patched? You got all worked up over the memory leaks in AoC and they were patched so you had to call it a “miracle patch” because only an act of God could make your rant obsolete.

I’m not saying give them a complete slide for Beta, but putting a big negative emphasis on aspects that are obviously in progress, there’s always that factor.

While we’re on a words to avoid subject: I don’t respond well to ad hominen attacks like “Apologist”, which is so meaningless and implies nothing more than a defensive position in disagreeing with you. If you’re going to insult me, try something less passive-aggressive to do it.

Keen
Keen - August 19, 2009

The game has gone gold. Anything in the game now no longer gets the “It’s beta so it’s a work in progress” pass. Please don’t insult anyone’s intelligence by giving Cryptic a line of credit for things “in progress”. If it’s in the game right now, then it’s subject to criticism. If it’s in the game now, chances are it’s going to be in launch (especially a major system in the game).

That’s what apologists do, Rog. They defend points within an argument that come under scrutiny and play the semantics game. You recently wrote on your blog about how you think the NDA should not apply to people like me, how we know the game better than the publishers, yet you’re telling me to go easy on something “in progress” that is available to the entire public post-nda drop. It’s not my fault they have parts of their game still “in progress”. That’s Cryptic’s fault – a fault you seem to be asking me to forgive. I can only judge it how it is today.

I get this feeling like you’re on a crusade to come here and change my, or others’, opinion about the game. You’ve just listed 7 things you like about the combat. I disagree with all of them. Difference is, I’m not going to try and dig in to tell you that you can’t possibly like those things because of this and that or that you can’t possibly think that way based on X, Y, Z. I recognize you like the game. I don’t. That in and of itself should be enough for us to say “Let’s agree to disagree” – something I’ve already asked us to do here.

I saw this with Age of Conan and I expect to see it again. People get all up in arms about an opinion and bring in the emotions. A month later my inbox is full of “I should have listened” or “I see what you mean now” or “while I still disagree on some things, I shouldn’t have been so quick to defend them”.

Let me reiterate my challenge: Come back a few weeks after launch and let’s talk.

Intruder313 - August 19, 2009

I’ve seen several respected opinions (like this one) and reviews (not like this) and they are overwhelmingly negative.

There’s a tiny minority trying to defend the game but the writing is on the wall for CO.

Rog - August 19, 2009

@Keen: ad hominem attack: “argument to the man”. I clearly am not universally defending Cryptic, there are points about the game I agree with and disagree with. If you’re going to argue, do so intelligently.

Did you seriously, just ask me to explain what I liked about the combat, then used that post to claim I’m on a crusade? Yes, I liked the combat. How’s that a crusade to make everyone like the game? You asked me Seriously, what an assholish thing to do.

Keen
Keen - August 19, 2009

@Rog: I was referring to your abundance of comments on the defensive which are argumentative in nature that so far hadn’t said anything except, basically, “I disagree”. I asked you to list what you liked because I wanted to see if we could find any common ground (like I mentioned in the e-mails we exchanged) or any mechanics worth analyzing, but you listed things that are either too subjective or that i found conflicted with my own experiences. That would have led to more arguments over opinion.

You’ve just crossed over to the ‘out of control’ side Rog, and I’m sorry you let yourself go there. You’ve become emotional here and it shows with your jabs at my intelligence and the vulgar trash talking. I wish you would could have left it at just a heated discussion instead. If you decide you want your comment removed, let me know.

Hopefully it sinks in this time: You like the game, but I don’t. We disagree on fundamental elements of the game. Let’s agree to disagree.

Rog - August 19, 2009

No, I’m sorry, you’d already crossed it Keen. I regret taking back the troll comment, because the fact is, you have been trolling about this, it has little to do with the game itself. You just did a cute wraparound of events again, just like the earlier trolling.

We’d even exchanged email about it and you indicated you wanted more input here.

You baited me. I feel embarrassed for falling for it, because yeah I probably look like a lunatic posting a bunch with you encouraging me along and asking me to expand more.

I’m stating this publicly because I’d already tried to sort it out privately.

Bartlebe - August 19, 2009

@Rog

Ok. Good job.

Rog - August 19, 2009

@Bartlebe: Honestly, I know you trust Keen and if I didn’t know better I’d be wondering who’s taken over his blog and forum accounts this week.

He implicitly asked me twice to keep posting. Once in email and again here:

“Help me understand what is is about the combat you like. How about we go from there? What is it about the combat you like? Please go on to explain what you like about progressions of your character. How far have you gotten? What powers did you take?”

Maybe he was being sarcastic and I missed it, but I was honestly thinking he wanted to actually to see someone say something positive about the game to counterbalance this whole thing and bring it back to a sane topic.

I thought, hey we’re finally getting past the BS and to the game itself. I didn’t appreciate the apologist insult, but apparently my balking at it was vulgar. I thought I was clear, I don’t think ad hominen attacks have any place in any intelligent discussion. Is that an indirect attack on Keen’s intelligence? Wasn’t meant to be, but geez then he just went ahead and baited me again by using it twice.

“I get this feeling like you’re on a crusade”

“I was referring to your abundance of comments on the defensive”

Again, in email and here, I was asked to post some more. Now maybe he intentionally baited me, or maybe he just decided he just wanted to look good by cutting me down before ending the conversation, I don’t know. Either way, it was a cheap shot.

I’m quite aware that defending yourself reasonably and with full explanation, in a comment post, is seen… oddly, as unreasonable. Most people don’t bother reading, they see the text and it’s funny farm time. I’m quite sane, I’m on no big agenda. I’m quite happy with people who actually read to see what I’m expressing.

Keen, you can go ahead and delete my posts on this topic and if you do so please go ahead and delete your own replies in reference.

Keen
Keen - August 19, 2009

@Rog: You’ve completely misunderstood just about everything. Not only has it derailed the comments but it has knotted up arguments based on arguments. At this point I’ll end our correspondence here (and respond to your snarky email you just sent) in order to salvage what’s left of this train wreck.

Anyone else wishing to reply here, please don’t argue opinions. Let’s talk about specific aspects of the game (Like I asked Rog to do), and not talk about why or why not someone is wrong for having an opinion for or against something. I’ll likely delete anything else.

Thanks!

Bartlebe - August 19, 2009

“@Bartlebe: Honestly, I know you trust Keen and if I didn’t know better I’d be wondering who’s taken over his blog and forum accounts this week.”

You keep making more and more sense, the longer you go. Your rhetoric is truly flawless.

+1

Keen
Keen - August 19, 2009

This is too long to read. I need an abridged version.

Bartlebe - August 19, 2009

@Graev

I’ll write you a short synopsis.

-Keen: “Man, I’m really not a fan of Champions Online. I played it and don’t care for it at all. I’m going to write on my blog about it!”

-Rog: “I LOOVVVE Champions Online! How could you not like it?! You must be nub to not like it because I LOVE IT. You’re dumb for not loving it!! Look how much I love it!!!”

-Keen: “Ok. Here are some reasons why I don’t like it.”

-Rog: “YOU STILL DON’T LOVE IT?? GOD WHAT A NUB. LOOK AT MY REASONS. YOU’VE GOT TO LOVE IT NOW. I HAVE REASONS TOO.”

Pretty much that for about 100 posts.

Bill from Norco - August 19, 2009

@Bartlebe: Yeah thats what I got out of it too.

@Keen: Please don’t Delete Rog’s posts. In the future if anyone ever asks what Nerd Rage is I would love to have this as an example.

Man im haveing flash backs to Age of Conan. I will never understand why people get so worked up over what you/others think about a game.

Thanks for your thoughts on the game.

Naamah - August 20, 2009

This argument is going in circles and is not productive in the least, though it is funny to read. Despite all that Keen says and Rog argues the game is going to end up the same way. Many people will try it, despite Keen’s warnings, and will find that he is correct in most of his impressions.

Those same people will leave the game in droves, despite Rog’s arguments that the game is really good, and CO will be left with a population that is exactly what a game of this caliber deserves.

A very small ‘niche’ game. Nothing more, nothing less. A few people will play it, because they love super heroes or are tired of fantasy based MMOs but the vast majority will leave and go on to actual good games.

Rog - August 20, 2009

You know, if people would actually read what I’ve written, I’m not throwing glowing praise onto CO. There are critical points aplenty. Saying I like the game and balking at being insulted for that, well hey.

What I was upset about was being painted as the convenient scapegoat. The apologist. The crazy fan. And I felt baited into doing so because I was directly requested to keep posting. Whether that was intentional on Keen’s part or not, that’s just how it went.

But hey, easier to keep scapegoating eh? Reading is a tough skill.

Bill from Norco - August 20, 2009

@Rog: Hey don’t “troll”. “what an assholish thing to do”

Jason - August 20, 2009

Keen I would really like to know what level you achieved in beta on your highest character. Because some things you are mentioning really sound like info coming from low level characters. I had 8 powersets above level 35 (before the last wipe) and the combat is FAR from boring. Using 1 or 2 keys would be ok for a lvl 5 character. Have you actually tried any of the high end group content/missions? It’s far from easy.

ShadowWar - August 20, 2009

I’ve read through a bit more of these posts (definitely not the full thing) and I’m left wondering also, what SPECIFICS you disliked about the combat? My time in the game has shown me a few things related to combat across two different builds to the level 10-13 range.

Combat is diverse. It’s more than just mashing the 1, 2, 4, 3, key. Your auto attack and and abilities keep your power pool in a constant state of flux, requiring management and attention.

Charge abilities are one of the best ideas I’ve seen come to MMOs in a long time. Having an ability that lets you choose your cast time and relative cost is an amazing idea.

Blocking brought to an MMO. This is an action MMO, and this seems to lend to that playstyle. I love that it defense requires more ACTIVE participation than just getting a gear with modifer “x”, or turning one this power instead of the other one. Clear, visual clues that the player has to respond to in combat creates depth and variation. You can throw breaking out of holds into the same pool as this in terms of why it’s fun. It allows for active participation.

Environment destructability, and useability. Being able to look at the world around you, and know that you can pick up that mailbox, or that bench, and throw it at the enemy increases not only complexity to combat, but also immersion. That telephone pole you just ripped out of the ground isn’t just some scenery placed there to make you understand you’re in a city. It’s ACTUALLY there as an object to interact with, which that alien bug will fully understand as you pound him over the head with it.

Fluidity. This game has some of the best polish I’ve ever seen in a true new game (Aion America beta != true new). I’m seriously impressed at how clean and bug free it is so far. This goes to how reactive the powers are, and how responsive the UI is. There are slight hiccups and problems at times, but usually nothing more than me having to press a button a second time over.

As to the instancing, this is a matter that we obviously have different opinions on. I’m willing to trade the possability to have 200+ plus in one small area, for the freedoms that it allows me. It’s a tradeoff, and one that I see completely okay. Once you reach a certain limit of partcipators, does it really matter if there is a cap. Whether it’s arbitrarily placed numberical value, or a cap that is discovered when failure occurs, all MMOs have a population limit.

Are there problems with the game? Certainly. I hate how problematic grouping seems to be, with everyone having the @blahblah. But I’ve noticed that the command propmpt has started to auto-fill people’s names, so I’m sure this will become more refined as time goes on. I’m worried about end-game content. Eventually. I will hit the cap, and I’ll want something to do other than roll another character.

The main differences I’m seeing in the opinions between people like Keen and Rog, are that one enjoys action-based combat, full of dynamic choices and interactions outside of a hotbar, the other likes the tactical aspect of traditional MMO interface. Both are fine opinions, it’s just better when people actually explain their reasoning behind it.

I’d also like to hear the details of what you disliked Keen. You said, “Mundane combat. It’s all flash and no substance. Feels wonky and uncomfortable. Killing monsters is easy, boring, and excessively repetitive.”

How exactly is it mundane? What makes it common and everyday? Where is the difference in the substance behind the combat of this game, and say, Aion (or any other MMO)? How did the combat feel shaky or unsteady. Where the powers not responsive? Was targeting a problem? Was the interface difficult to manage or counter-intuitive? Did powers not perform as expected? In what modern MMO is killing enemy monsters NOT easy, boring, and excessively repetitive. My experience with CO so far, is that henchmen are incredibly easy, and are meant to be fought in droves at a time, and it goes up from there in terms of difficulty (just as EQ2 had a similar system).

I’m not trying to change your view or your opinion on the matter. What you like, you like, and what you dislike you dislike. You seem to want a discussion on opinions with specifics behind our opinions, so I gave them. I’d like to hear yours as well.

Spidubic - August 20, 2009

Rather than type out a long comment and get a finger cramp I will just agree with what ShadowWar says about CO combat.

Initial Review « Shadow-war - August 20, 2009

[…] I recently made a response on one of Keen’sposts, that made me realize that I think I can speak with enough specifics […]

Keen
Keen - August 20, 2009

@Jason: Without level boosting, 24’ish to Wilderness and parts of Southern Desert. With level boosting I tested the content they wanted tested. I’ve seen the full spectrum of the game they wanted tested. I could easily solo all “group” content I came across. I didn’t test “end-game” group content. Aside from coming across someone who wanted to group just to have someone to play with, grouping was never necessary for me.

@ShadowWar: Fair questions. I’ll make a video to address most of them where I play my open beta character and show the reasons why combat bothers me. Combat feels the same from levels 10’ish and on. You -do- get more abilities, and combat doesn’t always remain “build up, expend, build up, expend”, but it’s still very repetitive and lacking depth – which is one of the reasons why I feel grouping is awkward (or beat’em up) aside from it being pointless since you can just solo everything without a worry in the world.

I definitely disagree about fluidity though. Even at level 2 you can see it lacks fluidity in combat. It’s fast pace, sure, but lacks polish in many ways. That’s one of the biggest gripes floating around right now.

Look for the video where I expand upon “mundane”.

Snafzg - August 21, 2009

“I’ll make a video to address most of them where I play my open beta character…”

After all the effort spent on this post and in the comment, I find your persistence in backing up your opinions admirable. I’m surprised you’re actually still playing open beta after all this!? Talk about dedication! Hehe.

I’m not here to argue the merits for or against CO (personally, I disliked my closed beta experience and won’t touch the game at release). I am, however, curious as to your opinions on the heavy use of instancing in Aion. Don’t they also make you pick your instances from a list in that game? Is it just that the instances seem to hold more people?

I ask because you stated your extreme dislike for this setup above because it strips away all illusions of an MMO experience.

Werit - August 21, 2009

@snafzg: I never even realized Aion used instances.

Snafzg - August 21, 2009

I’m pretty sure that they have multiple instances for each of their open-world PvE zones. I’m not too sure about the Abyss though.

Keen
Keen - August 21, 2009

@Snafzg: I suppose it’s one of my idiosyncrasies. Even if I dislike a game (and in this case really dislike a game) I still play it (while it’s free, at least) to get as much out of it as I can. I like to study and dissect what it is that I dislike. Often I find it easiest to describe it as just “a feeling”, and that really bothers me because I want to be able to express why I don’t like something, other than it just being a feeling.

To answer your Aion question now: Aion uses a similar system only for the 1-20 content, which amounts to the tutorial area and the 10-20 zone. Any area beyond that is not instanced (as in redundant instancing, there are still instanced dungeons like WoW has). I read somewhere that they did this to avoid overcrowding newbies. I dislike its use here just as much in principle – however it helps that it’s limited to 10 of the same place with only a few servers so that you’re still surrounded everywhere you look by other players. Regardless, I don’t like it in Aion either.

ShadowWar - August 21, 2009

Aion does indeed use instances for zones. Each zone that I partook of (up through level 14 or 15) was broken into 10 seperate instances, called “Channels”. You can freely switch between them by a drop down menu through a brach menu on the UI. However, I don’t recall any hard limit put onto the different channels, at least, not stated explicitly. It does however, automatically put you in the least populated instance when you zone. Perhaps Keens distaste is for the way in which CO handles the instancing and the interface. I’m not sure, but I would like to hear his thoughts on Aion instancing.

Naamah - August 21, 2009

The Abyss is 100% non-instanced. As is most of the content after level 20-25 or so. Even the early instanced content is hidden much better in Aion than in Champions Online. Many people went through the first 20 levels and never realized that there were other instanced versions of the zone they were in. Its much more seamless and thus able to project the illusion of an open world better.

Champions instancing is jarring in its implementation. Its quite obvious everything is instanced and the instancing is very inelegantly done.

ShadowWar - August 21, 2009

Or he can answer it while I type out my post 😉

ShadowWar - August 21, 2009

(seems everyones here right now)

@Naamah

What you call inelegant, I call information and providing options. One of the first things I noticed when I played Aion beta was the instancing. The WAR destro guild I was playing with was rolling new characters togetehr and trying to group up. I was immediately forced to figure out why we were all on the same sever, same zone, but not the same map. I then had to hunt through the UI to find out how to switch.

*shrug*

Both implemntations have their advantages and disadvantages.

Keen
Keen - August 21, 2009

Hehe, sorry bout that ShadowWar.

@Naamah: It’s funny, because I’m one of those people. I had no idea it was instanced until someone told me. It felt completely seamless and the world was populated. I like the way you describe CO’s instancing as “jarring”. That sums it up nicely.

Regardless, if Aion removed their channels for the 1-20 play I would be much happier. Not a fan of it in any form, but it bothers me less the way Aion does it.

Snafzg - August 21, 2009

Unwarranted speculation: Aion channels only serve to appease and encourage the goldfarmers!!!!!!!oneone!!!one!

😉

Then again, I guess if it’s only the 1-20 stuff, it won’t really be that rewarding for them.

Naamah - August 21, 2009

@shadow war

Yeah, Aion’s way is a bit confusing at first but after you figure it out, its easy.

Thats the thing, once you figure out Aion’s channels you can use them with no problem and after level 20 they go away anyway for the most part.

Champs, on the other hand, will be jarring throughout the game, from level 1-level cap. The entire game is channel instanced. Entering a zone, only to find I have to pick from a list, is akin to entering a chat room for me. It kills all sense of immersion. I hate that so many games are going this route.

Haven’t developers noticed that the majority do not like this? Haven’t they noticed that most of us want an open world, preferably seamless? My biggest gripe about Aion is that the world doesn’t seem seamless, at least until higher levels where it opens up. This zone crap sucked in WAR, not as bad in Aion but still not seamless and is absolutely, mind-boggingly horrible in CO. Zoned and heavily instanced is not a recipe for MMO success, in my opinion.

Rog - August 21, 2009

As of yesterday’s patch, the zone lists in CO are optional and if you choose not to have them toggled you are automatically sent to the instance where your group / supergroup / friends are.

It’d be better if the lists were off by default. I think we’d all agree that the lists are jarring. I’m hoping they change that and hide the lists by default.

The limits have also been raised in some zones. They seem to be still tweaking this.

IMHO any sane game should limit how many players are in any given area to what their capacity is. I’d rather have instances than crashing zones.

Keen
Keen - August 21, 2009

That’s a good change. The lists were quite ridiculous. If they can significantly raise the number of players per shard, decrease the number of shards so that a new one is only needed when they fill up (I saw too many that were 10/30 when some where 15-20/30, or out of 40-50, etc in Canda/Desert) then they’ll be moving in a better direction.

The next step would be the hardest. They need to fix their content. Right now the game starts off throwing you into the fray of “zomg alien invasion!” then you instantly jump to “s#!t$ goin down in Canada man!”. You get there and there’s little sense to be had from the plane crashes or the content they try to throw you out into.

Fixing the content and the presentation of the content via zones will be good enough fixes to let them take some good time to fix their “pew pew lasers” combat.

Naamah - August 21, 2009

@Rog

“IMHO any sane game should limit how many players are in any given area to what their capacity is. I’d rather have instances than crashing zones.”

Yes, because the nearly seamless world of WoW and LotRO clearly does not work and no one liked it….

Argue all you want but people prefer seamless worlds. Take instancing out of it and just look at zoned worlds and the same is true. One of people’s biggest gripes with WAR early on was zoning and the fact that the world wasn’t seamless. Add in redundant instancing and people like it even less. People hated it in Age of Conan, they hated it in CoH and they are going to hate it in Champions just as much.

Now look at seamless worlds. Ever hear anyone say: “I would love this game, if only the world was not seamless! Zoned worlds with instancing is the way to go!!!”? Ever hear anyone say that?

I thought not.

Rog - August 21, 2009

@Keen: Well I still like the combat, so I’d prefer they didn’t mess with it much. Hell, I’m buying a wireless 360 controller for it.

The tutorial / crisis intros should be completely tossed.

Overly sheltering new players is probably a bad idea on its own, but when most of your players are already familar with the basics of questing, etc. then ugh, at least give them alternatives.

Naamah - August 21, 2009

@Rog

Yeah the tutorials are horrible. I think most of the game after the tutorials is mediocre at best, but the tutorials are absolute junk. It really leaves a bad impression and a game like Champs can not afford bad first impressions, they are going to have a hard enough time surviving as it is.

ShadowWar - August 21, 2009

“The next step would be the hardest. They need to fix their content. Right now the game starts off throwing you into the fray of “zomg alien invasion!” then you instantly jump to “s#!t$ goin down in Canada man!”. You get there and there’s little sense to be had from the plane crashes or the content they try to throw you out into.”

I guess I don’t get at what you’re driving at here. The content from the tutorial is pretty standard fare, but not bad because of it. It’s going to suck, just like all tutorials do in any game, after having done it 10 times. And the jump to the crisis zones (southwest desert or Canada) makes sense with the story presented, and it’s clear that shit is going down. Zombies roaming around in one, Grond rampaging in the other, disrupting the projects of the organizations out there.

The biggest issue I had content wise, was around level 13 after finishing the quest chains, being told to now go to the other zone (Canada or desert) OR go to the city. Neither felt level appropriate, the city to high in level and the others too low. It was only a level or two difference, which isn’t much to overcome, but it was there.

Winde - August 21, 2009

Just got this on my facebook:

“Open beta is now OPEN to everyone! Go to FilePlanet to grab a key and download the client! See you there!”

Lost - August 22, 2009

Talking about tatorials Age of Conan had a great one imho!
Cant think of any other MMO where I think they had a good Tutorial. Most of them is standard “Here is a quest to kill something” And pop up’s with a lot of info that you did not care to read because there was so many of them.
Age of Conan had those pop ups too, but at least the start of the game was interresting.

Skurm - August 23, 2009

Agree with every point Keen made. Hate the instancing. Feels too cheesy. Doesn’t feel very epic. Combat way too simple and boring. No story, at least none I care about. Quests are terribad. And probably the biggest gamekiller, my character doesn’t advance or progress aesthetically. The costume he wears at lvl 1 is the costume he’ll be wearing at level 40 or w/e. For me, hunting that next tier piece so I look less likea hobo and more like an epic powerhouse is a huge draw in MMO’s.
Is there really a market for ultra-casual mmo’s? Because that’s the market it seems like ChO’s targeting.

Matt - August 23, 2009

Interesting to see people think that the ‘seamless’ worlds like WOW have no issue. How is Wintergrasp going on most servers? Oh thats right you are now in an ‘instance’ of Wintergrasp. Go into the ‘seamless’ world of the Argent Tournament during primetime and welcome to a slideshow and unplayable lag for jousting.

WAR was most jarring for this, as it encourgaed large groups of people to be in the same place at once, and lagged horribly for it. From my experiences of MMO’s (only from WOW Beta on) in the ‘seamless’ MMO’s you would be lucky to see more than 20 ppl in any one zone, other than current content quest hubs and trading zones, and in those areas there is bad load lag and fps issues.

I much prefer a Tabula Rasa type instancing of content to share server load, but seem to be in the minority.

Krussian - August 24, 2009

Is the game simple? Yes. But is it fun? HELL YES! The instancing doesn’t bother me. In fact I prefer it because it reduces lag and actually helps with quests. Shard too laggy? Switch. Not enough people to complete public quest? Switch. Too many people getting in your way? Switch. Seamless usually means large spaces of empty. I’d rather have smaller spaces full of content. No long term appeal? No urge to log in and play? Ug! Just the opposite. It’s a rush to play and I wish I could play more. Happy lifetime membership purchaser.

Shadow War - September 3, 2009

@Keen

Wondering if you ever got around to making that video to more accurately highlight your reasoning on this situation.

Keen
Keen - September 3, 2009

Just couldn’t find the time (spent too much time outside) to finish it before losing access to the beta. 🙁 I had some footage of level 1-15 that I played during OB but ended up getting busy and didn’t level more – 1-15 is hardly worth showing in a video.

In the end, I think that most people got the gist of what I was trying to say. You either completely disagreed because you didn’t see what I meant at all, or you agreed because you shared the same opinion.

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