Sunday, August 26, 2012

Going Back to Champions Online - part 2

I created a new custom character (custom as in powerset) and leveled her up to level 9. A few things from where they were 3 years ago. The game makes the story much more about what YOU are doing. New cutscenes help strengthen that concept.

The Qular invasion intro is much leaner. The positive is that they also bridge the gap between invasion and helping out the city much cleaner and have it make more sense than before. Overall that starting storyline is simply better than it was at launch.

Pre-level 10, the game is very much like the CO of old. You get your powers and what not, but the introduction to gear is done in the powerhouse, with a gift of 3 pieces of primary gear. Even unlocking things with the token system is a better choice (you earn tokens as random drop or as quest rewards).

Tokens allow you to purchase costume pieces, unique travel powers (that can NOT be bought) and gear (if none of the costumes/travel powers interest you). I tried doing a quick search (no more than 30 seconds invested) and I was unable to find images of what the costumes look like. This means that its more of a gamble than the C-store purchase, but I don't believe these are available anywhere else.

Powers also reinforce being used within a single set or origin set (there are crossovers with the elements for example). I built a wind/lightning hybrid, where the idea is that the wind is a natural power and the lightning comes from a special powersuit they have. I ended up picking up a powerform that enhances both crushing (wind) and electric damage, which is great considering the combination I have going.

Coming at 10 is something I experienced with my other character, which is customizing his powers based on what their superstats are. This makes for interesting choices on both the stat level and the role level. You can still customize your powers with things that are particularly good for tanking (it generates more threat), but I wish that ability would change based on your role instead (so that it would do less threat if you were in an offensive position).

But the main issue with the game for many people is how much of it is behind a pay wall. To this point I can agree with the fact that the best parts of the character creator (custom build, travel powers, costume pieces) are not available for free. Despite that, the majority of costumes are free, and there are plenty of travel powers that are free.

I see it like this, you can play the game for free, and if you get to the point where you feel you are having fun and want to invest more in the character, then you are able to do so. Playing the game to completion is not only possible without paying, the only reason to pay is because you feel that the game is something you want.

For those who are now used to this model, getting a custom build for a silver account will cost $50 (this will be a permanent unlock of allowing custom build choices only), most travel powers cost a bit over $5 (becomes available for every character), and most powersets cost about $12 (powersets also are for every character).

I'll be going back and building a character using a powerset to talk more about that and powers in general in the next installment.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Going back to Champions Online - part 1

Champions Online is the MMO that people seem to forget exists, but still has a group of people playing it. I go back every so often to spend my built up gold on shiny costumes and play around with the character editor.

They've revamped quite a few things, and I'm starting to wonder if I can even play the game with my older characters from 3 years ago. They have this thing where they give you a quest that kinda fixes where you are and what you should be doing, especially if you are low level. Whole zones seem to have been retooled, while keeping the same shape. So I have a great deal of exploring to do. I have a bit of an off week from school, having finished some work ahead of time, and I figured, I'd spend it in Champions Online.

Consider this a 3 year progress report.

First impressions from hopping back on to CO, is that they do an excellent job telling you everything you missed from 3 years ago. They have a nice comic book style set of pages that pop up, they tell you to check out the new stuff, and they also tell you that gear has been revamped, and that new stuff you get will wildly outclass your old stuff. And so far, it is slightly better. They redid the gear system, so you have only a primary and secondary slot.

Along with powers you can specialize starting at level 10 (think a talent system) that is actually based on your primary and secondary stats. This means that an Ego hero will have talents that are different from a Strength hero. Overall, quite a bit of depth has been added to the characters.

As a free to play game, I have trouble rating this, so imagine my review is coming from someone who wants to sub into the game (this gives access to all stories and some costumes as well as custom power sets. The thing is that all of this can be "bought" if you want your silver account to have access to certain benefits without having to keep paying a monthly fee.

Where CO seems to really be trying to define itself is with costumes and powersets. Some costumes can ONLY be unlocked by playing the game, and others require money. They also have a billion and a half new movement powers which I greedily bought. Quite a few are to fit specific characters that I have made (in particular the Phoenix Flight).

The game is still fun, and they even have a new system I'll be checking out which is a sort of Dungeon Finder. Except it has different categories with different rewards. I'll get to those later. The main thing is, is that the game is similar but different. It has progressed leaps and bounds in what it can do, and might be worth another look to people who like making characters and running around with super powers.

I've always liked Champions Online, and quite frankly, they've only improved with time. Though some people will say its more of the same, I don't particularly hate this kind of gameplay. Instead I find it a great form of abnegation.

A few other notes, the game can be hard to solo. It is important to pick up defensive powers and to shield the big attacks. Playing with a friend is more fun, but then again, that's always true. I've been wanting to find a friend to play with, but most people are committed to their games already. I'll update later with my experiences rerolling a character from level 1.