Graev’s Thoughts on Champions Online

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My Champion
My Champion

Recently I decided to check out Champions Online after viewing my brother’s post and the amount of contention it seemed to generate. I figured that I might as well give my own impressions of the game, which seem to differ a lot from Keen’s. To be fair, he really didn’t seem to like City of Heroes, so there wasn’t much hope that he would enjoy this. I, on the other hand, completely loved City of Heroes and kick myself for not opting to play on after he quit.

Admittedly I’ve only played the game for a several hours, so you can really only judge my impressions on that, but what I saw and experienced was actually very enjoyable. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for superheroes and superhero games (I already have the collector’s edition of Batman: Arkham Asylum pre-ordered, paid for, and ready to pick up Monday night at 12:00), or possibly because Champions seems to play like a console MMO, but I really found no complaints with the game, other than having to play it on my older laptop with fairly low settings.


Character creation is completely awesome and seems just as good as it was in City of Heroes. I chose to make a really burly, yet tiny, demon character and I’m really proud of how he turned out. He looks somewhat original when compared to all of the Ironnn Mannn’s and Baaatmen’s running around out there, but I’m sure he probably resembles something familiar. Actually at this very moment he seems to bare quite a similarity to Zork from Yu-Gi-Oh, which was not intended. Oh well, we’re all copying somebody I suppose.

The combat in the game is actually very interesting. For my power set I chose Supernatural, which really seemed to fit with my character, especially most of the abilities which revolve around using chains. I loved how that seemed to fit right in with my character’s looks. Anyways, I actually like how the combat flows. You have an ability that is an Energy Builder, which as you might have surmised builds up energy, and when activated you constantly pummel the enemy. Or at least in the case of my character’s Bestial Fury ability. Other abilities that you can use will drain your energy bar with each use, but your energy builder just raises it back up. The flow of combat feels very comfortable and I found it to be very enjoyable. At times you may feel like you can mow through enemies, but I think it actually works in the game’s favor. You are a superhero, after all, and it only makes sense that you will be putting down henchman with ease. Where things get tricky is when you fight the Villain type mobs and the Super Villains. Those are tougher and feel rightfully so.

Attacking with chains

Another thing that many people seem to be bothered by is all of the instancing. Honestly, I can’t really seem to understand why. Very rarely in all of the MMO’s that I’ve played have I actually had massive encounters that were above a few dozen people. Being in the instanced zones FEELS no different than any other game I’ve played, and I’m actually pretty glad that there are several instances so that you don’t have to fight over mobs in over-populated areas. I’d venture to guess that most people bothered by the instancing are merely bothered by the fact that it doesn’t FEEL like there are a massive amount of players, but like I said earlier I doubt that they have ever really encountered larger groups of people that weren’t in either a city or some sort of PVP raid.


The questing in the game is really either take it or leave it. If you care at all about the story then you might read it, or you might end up just pressing the accept button. I did my best and read what seemed to be plot important quests, but like all other MMO’s I really stopped caring why some NPC wanted me to kill X of this or collect Y of that. One thing that I did notice was the addition of public quests, which seemed pretty blatantly ripped from Warhammer Online. I forget the terminology that they used, maybe Open Mission or something, but they really are pretty shameless copies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Public quests can be enjoyable and offer up a nice change of pace. It’s pretty funny because I remember talking with Mark Jacobs at E3 when he predicted everybody was going to ripoff the idea.

I really like Champion’s visual style. The whole comic-book style outlining is just great in my book. It seems to be a big improvement over City of Heroes (at least the city of heroes I remembered playing. Haven’t played in a long time), and has lots of nice little touches. When my character learned his flight ability and actually flapped his wings, rather than just lifting off with them in a fixed position, I was positively giddy. I’m sure Keen even heard and audible squeal of joy, that sounded anything but masculine, as I took flight for the first time. I like the atmosphere of the game and the almost cliche way the NPCs talk and deliver things. Kind of reminiscent of Freedom Force.

Anyways, I like the game if you can’t already tell. Perfect? No. Best MMO I’ve ever played? Eh, likely not. However I found it to be very fun and will most definitely pick it up if it ever actually comes to the Xbox 360. I might consider picking up the PC version, but I’m not sure it’s a great PC MMO. I believe it will do great if ever actually released on consoles, but a large portion of the PC MMORPG market, like my brother, will probably just find it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

  • Supernatural seems to be one of the stronger Powersets, for sure, although I wish its energy builder was ranged.

    Public Quests are one of the few things I’d agree Mark Jacobs on and that’s a great quote, because I doubt very much this will be the only game to leverage PQs. Although possibly the most shameless, plunking PQs directly into Champions with barely a change.

    There are big negotiating hurdles they will have to get over to bring Champions to the Xbox 360, especially if it’s with full subscriptions + patches. I have no idea how far they’ve started, but I’d hope they have some headway on it with Microsoft.

  • Im glad someone has seen the light, I play MMOs heavily, and I like the change of pace, I can login for short or long periods of time and make progress.

    Game looks good, half these reviews/impressions never go past the tutorial zone, so they end up shitting on the game (looking at you keen)

  • @Rog – nooo, i like bestial fury! (energy builder for Supernatural) =P

    Its actually pretty cool, both Rog and myself are going down the supernatural path, but we have all different powers. Rog is taking all the chain powers and I have taken more of the melee ones.

    @ Graev – Its nice to see someone else who actually likes the comic book outline, i was starting to think i was the only one! Seems like most people are turning it off / don’t like it.

    Personally I don’t like the colored outlines for targets, I find the harsh red outline around mobs too distracting. I Much prefer the good ol’ box. (that way the mobs just keep the black outline and it fits in more with the overall look of the game to me.)

  • Unfortunately I feel the game has one fatal flaw that will keep me from being able to enjoy it and keep me from buying it. The flaw is that there is very little character progression. I reach 20-ish on a character and I feel no urge to level any further because I have all the powers I want already, at least in CoH I really felt I was becoming more and more “Super” as I leveled up. The other problem with being able to pick just about any power is that I feel strongly compelled to only pick certain powers unless I want to be gimped/weak. It’s so easy to be a master of all trades in CO, there is little to no reward for specializing your character, you jut end up as a weakling compared to all the tank-mages running around.

  • I’ll actually try it out, glad you liked it Graev, it certainly does have a heavy single-player arcade feel to it, from what I’ve seen.
    After Keen’s and other beta testers rather negative reviews I wasn’t sure about going into the beta, but I guess a solo junkie like me (I simply can’t dedicate much time to grouping during semester) should find something entertaining in it, at least for a week or two.

  • Well I was playing CO for awhile, until they just nerfed the exp big time. The game was fairly fun and I can see myself enjoying playing a couple different characters. But this exp nerf is HUGE. I was getting 231 exp per level 27 mob at level 27, now I am getting 33 exp for the same level 27 mobs. That is way to big an exp nerf for just an okay game.

    Taking forever to level in a so-so mmorpg isn’t my cup of tea. I can’t see myself grinding for a game that really isn’t ever going to be a huge success.

  • After playing for the last few days I found the game reminding me of a single player console game. It seems to be on rails with absolutely no way to deviate off a set path. no exploration or surprises.It does however seem to have a descent storyline if your into that sort of thing.Myself, I just click through and look at the map to see what to kill/destroy/save and get to it. The character powersets are diverse enough but I think given a month at release their will be a few “uber” builds and the other powers will collect dust not being used. Wont be buying this one unless there is a dry spell with nothing to play. (which somehow happens often with me even with hundreds of titles out there to choose from)
    If its your kind of game go for it! It looks ok for the type of game it is, it just didn’t appeal to me.

  • What kind of a computer do you need to play this game smoothly? Im feeling the need to dip to low settings with a HD4850 and a decent dual core.. :/

    The game feels fun, but that is completely unacceptable. Aion worked like an absolute charm while looking absolutely amazing like this.

  • @juhani

    Even with the best of the best top end machine you will not get consistently high frame rates. They engine they use is just not optimised very well. I know someone with a very nice machine, 8gb of high speed ram, 3.2ghz Core2quad(OCed), SLIed GTX285s with 1gb of ram each also OCed a bit. He still dipped down to 15 FPS at times, he can run crysis warhead at near max settings and have it nicely playable for SP. COs engine just needs work, IMO.

  • Glad to see someone else that doesn’t mind the instancing and zoning so much. I actually think it fits in pretty well with a “modern” earth-based game. I can’t really see how you can have an open world system that spans Nevada to Detroit to the Yukon without it breaking all immersion by making the world seem tiny; it only works in WoW because of the stylised look and the fantasy world.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the other upcoming MMOs in a similar setting handle it e.g. World of Darkness online, Secret World etc.

  • @12

    That’s just too bad. A stable engine is pretty much the biggest pro you can have for your game. That is the sole reason I stopped playing warhammer.. looked like 1998 and played like a 2009 game with a 1998 comp.

  • Yeah the exp changes and the cost for the respec after you leave the powerhouse was a bad move.

    Just a side note. Today ends the open beta so you have a chance to autolevel to 40 today (speak to the npc near the helipad in millenium city) and check out whatever CO
    offers as endgame content………

    Event starts today to fight the evil Dr. Destroyer, except we blow up the server today. ;P

    event picture:

  • Looks like the exp changes are being rolled back.

    From Awen @ Cryptic: …”this was a test. This is most likely not going to be the end result. However we needed these large scale numbers to determine what the best metric would be. Please be patient with us during this time. We don’t want you to spend your time grinding rather than having fun and in order to make sure that doesn’t happen, a few tweaks need to be made”…

    I’d take that with a grain of salt of course, CoH had a steep exp curve when it was released.

  • I’m not a comic fan at all and have zero desire to play this game, yet the second point of view was a nice read.

  • I’m generally not into console games but I love CO. It’s a nice change of pace from the standard mmorpg and is simply fun to play. Playing the Aion beta made me want to fall asleep whereas playing CO made me feel excited about the genre again.

    @juhani – I run high settings on a Q6600 8800GT 4GB RAM machine. No AA though. FPS is usually steady at about 35fps. During the ‘end of open beta’ event I was pleased with the performance given how many players and effects were going on in such a small area.

  • I guess its just the basic ATI radeon treatment then or the game needs a huge processor ._.

    Even at low settings it went very choppy during super run..

  • “I’d venture to guess that most people bothered by the instancing are merely bothered by the fact that it doesn’t FEEL like there are a massive amount of players, but like I said earlier I doubt that they have ever really encountered larger groups of people that weren’t in either a city or some sort of PVP raid.” – Graev

    You sir, have obviously never played Dark Age of Camelot! How about battles between 100’s of players? It was the most awesome feeling ever to be a part of those battles. I’m hoping to experience some of those sensations in Aion.

    The enjoyment I have most in mmo’s isn’t between 8, 20, or even 50 players. I find it the most fun with an amazing number of players that most mmo’s don’t seem to supply. DaoC, when I played for it for a year, supplied this and got me addicted really. The only reason why I quit DaoC was because when everyone leaves an mmo that used to supply large numbers of characters and HUGE fights and then everyone leaves for other mmo’s, it isn’t exactly the same game anymore.

    There isn’t really an mmo out there right now that successfully has 100’s of people fighting on a daily basis. Warhammer came close, but I really believe they screwed up by not working on the game for another 8 months or so and adding a 3rd realm. Perfection and a 3rd faction would have benefited a game that was supposed to be about war immensely.

    Aion doesn’t really have a 3rd realm, but its the closest mechanic for PvP to DaoC out there right now with what will be numerous players. If those fights become 100’s, I implore you to come out and join Keen in Aion to experience those fights so you can see what a truly massive player game is like!

  • Wow, funny how people talk about pvp and big fights but never experienced one of the best games that ever did both correctly? Lineage 2! Ever been in a fight with over 300 people multiple times during the course of a weekend? And During the battle u run to town and u see over 50 people shopping in one of the smallest towns? And then while all of this is going on, swim down to a catacomb and see 35+ people? And then run to the major town and see 1000 shops (Granted half are bots)? And then get into a spat with someone over a drop and they kill u (probably ganked) and then you call all your clansmates and next thing u know in the matter of 10 minutes there’s an all out clan war of 200 people and that’s just your clansmates? That game was massive, that game was open, that game was hardcore to the bone, although that game was full of bots :(… And they did all of that, with stunning graphics, great mechanics, and great responsiveness. Take away the bots and the forever grind and it was one of the greatest games, to me. Alot of games U cant make memorable characters because in 10 days your already max level and that’s not even a hardcore gamers playlength for CO. Dont get me wrong i actually enjoyed CO, And if things get slow in aion i may purchase it, but I really did not feel the massive in it :*(

  • Sorry for this double post but i really wish blogs had an edit to it, i meant to paragraph that up, but hit submit too soon. 🙁

  • DaoC had close to that massive feeling, but I played when the population was already dwindling at a high rate. I wish I had played it sooner when it was actually popular with 200k subs. The action I experienced was with only 3k people from 3 servers on and we still had those 200/300 ppl fights. I can’t even imagine what it was like when DaoC actually had a good number of subs…

  • @Steeldragoon

    I actually have played DAoC, but if you reread what I said it states that I doubt people encounter larger groups of people that weren’t either in a city or some sort of >>>>PVP RAID<<<<

  • @Graev
    Ah, thanks for clarifying.

    Sorry for jumping on your case. I suppose I just miss Daoc is all. :-\