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.
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.