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Review: Champions Online

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the are-you-a-hero dept.

Games 203

Champions Online is Cryptic Studios' latest entry into the Superhero MMORPG genre, representing several years of advancement in game design both for Cryptic and for MMOs as a whole. It's no longer a new field, and there are now certain expectations about what an MMO should contain, and how it should play. Two major factors to a new game's success or failure are the standards they embrace and do well, and the ones they reject and do differently. Champions Online succeeds at adapting many established concepts, while still setting themselves apart from the typical swords & sorcery backdrop. Read on for the rest of my thoughts.

  • Title: Champions Online
  • Developer: Cryptic Studios
  • Publisher: Atari
  • System: PC
  • Reviewer: Soulskill
  • Score: 8/10

First, a disclaimer — MMOs are unlike ordinary games because active development never really stops. Bugs and gameplay issues, once identified, are almost always fixed — indeed, one of the traits that distinguishes a good MMO from a bad one is how well and how quickly the development team solves such problems. Thus, this review will not focus on the minor, easily fixable problems other than to identify them and perhaps point out what Cryptic has said about fixing them, where applicable. On to the game itself.

Champions gets off on the right foot with an excellent character creator. The depth and level of detail for all of the customization options exceeds any game I've played, and it's pretty simple to find and select the look that you want. If you're the type who enjoys making your character picture-perfect, you'll love it; matching a costume to whatever vision you have for a character is surprisingly easy. There are enough options that I really don't see any player characters who look alike — or few enough that I don't notice. It also allows the irrepressible creation of characters from other intellectual properties. It's something I've seen less and less as time passes, so I assume Cryptic is clamping down on it (as they should; Marvel already sued them for the same thing in City of Heroes), but it's occasionally hilarious to see Duke Nukem, Dr. McCoy, or a WoW Paladin out killing bad guys.

The customization continues beyond the character creator, too. Throughout the game, you accumulate various powers — these are your skills/spells/abilities, everything from laser beams to giant fiery swords to huge explosions. There are a ton of powers to choose from, and each has its own graphical effect. The nice thing is that you can modify the colors of the effect and the location from which they originate. My character's first ability had him shooting red laser pulses from his fists, which I changed to be blue lasers shooting from his eyes. It's a nice touch that allows even characters with the exact same powers to look different. Beyond that, as you go through the game you can get items that unlock more costume options.

There's a tremendous variety to the powers you can use, to the point where it's almost better to figure out what you want your character to do — drop bombs, sling ice shards, Force-choke — than to look at the abilities and figure out which are the "best." They're divided up amongst 18 different "frameworks," which are collections of similarly-themed powers. For example, the Munitions framework contains powers that involve shooting various guns, dropping mines, throwing grenades, and shooting rockets. The "Unarmed" framework holds different punch and kick attacks, and the "Fire" framework has — you guessed it — fire spells. You're not restricted to a particular framework, which is nice. You can grab all your powers from a single one, or go into a different framework for each power.

It's fun to have so many options, but almost overwhelming if you're trying to min/max your character. My recommendation would be to not worry overmuch about picking the absolute best power. With a few exceptions, they're pretty well balanced — as well as can be expected for a new MMO — and Cryptic is already making refinements. More important is to select powers that have different effects. They're divided up and labeled such that you know which are for close/ranged attacks, area effect attacks, crowd control, healing, summoning, or buffs. In many cases, it's pointless to get two of a particular effect, so you want to diversify. You get a new power every few levels, and they really add to the depth of the combat.

Your character gets stronger in other ways, as well. You get "advantages," which increase the effectiveness of your powers, but you're limited into how much you can strengthen any one ability. It's another level of customization and utility, and they make interesting changes to your powers. You're also heavily dependent on stats. They're somewhat arcane and unintuitive (Strength is obvious enough, but what would you think "Presence" does?), but you'll do fine with the understanding that you should pick two and focus on them almost exclusively, as they'll determine your damage output.

The fighting is done against individual enemies or, more often, small groups. The non-player opponents you typically fight are classified as one of the following, from easiest to hardest: Henchman, Villain, Master Villain, and Super Villain. There are also Cosmic and Legendary Villains, but those are rare, and usually require a team to defeat. A more typical group will have a cluster of Henchmen, or a couple Henchmen and a Villain. The Henchmen die in a matter of seconds, but the Villains take a bit more work. As they get more powerful, you'll have to put some thought into how you want to handle them; there's a lot of content you can solo with some strategy and perseverance. Many of the powers you use complement each other in fun and interesting ways. A lot of them have short recharge periods (cooldowns), which you can fill by using a hold (crowd control) or knocking your opponent back, which delays them for several seconds.

Combat is fairly fast-paced, and it can involve a lot of movement. It feels like a hybrid between an MMO and an action RPG. Most powers can be used while on the move, giving you the opportunity to close with your attacker or maintain range, or perhaps duck out of line-of-sight just after your ability fires. You can also Block attacks. In fact, it's crucial to block some of them. Enemies will sometimes charge up big attacks, advertised by a growing symbol over their heads. When you see this happening, stop what you're doing and block it, or expect to take some serious damage. Blocking adds more depth to the combat, but is slightly hampered by the controls.

Cryptic clearly put a lot of effort into building a good system for game controls and the UI. There are a ton of different options for movement, targeting, and camera styles; you can play it like a typical MMO, or a first-person shooter, or Cryptic's own superhero MMO concoction, and it's well implemented. Unfortunately, there's a fair bit of UI lag. Server lag has been almost non-existent — amazing as that is to say during the launch period of an MMO — but the responsiveness of the controls is probably the game's biggest technical fault right now. It can be frustrating at times to have your abilities not work as you expect because of this. There's enough of a delay after hitting the button that you won't be sure if it actually triggered the ability. Many abilities require a button to be held down, so if you press it again and then the original trigger goes through, you've wasted a cooldown. Pressing Block right after charging up a power will also sometimes clip the end of it, and cause it not to fire. I would attribute the majority of my deaths so far to the UI lag. That said, it's not game-breaking.

Quests in Champions Online are called missions. A lot of it is typical MMO fare, but not all, and the mission system is streamlined and unobtrusive. The game world has several large zones, with quest hubs scattered about them. You'll get your standard "Kill N of X" and "Collect Y of Z" missions. You'll also get quest lines that tell cool stories, if you care to read them. Cryptic has stepped up the convenience factor in a few ways. First, your map is always marked with the area you need to visit to finish the missions. In other words, no more "Head past the Valley of Ambivalence and to the northeast corner of the Forest of Mild Discomfort to slay Ted the Impaler." It's simply displayed on your map (and minimap). Finding new missions is easier, too. You can open the "Crime Computer," which will tell you where various emergencies (i.e. missions) are located, and mark those for you on the map as well.

City of Heroes veterans can rest easy; the missions are a lot better in Champions. Most of them are out in the world. Some are instanced, but there are varying objectives, and I've never been sent into the same building twice, except when it makes sense for the story. Another nice feature is that you'll occasionally stumble across a civilian being accosted by villains out in the street. If you save them, they sometimes give you a mission. You can also find missions just by moving around — as you pass by a bank that's being robbed, you'll be given a quest to stop it, without having to even talk to an NPC. There are several Open Missions in each zone, too. These are missions everybody nearby can participate in, and you get rewarded based on your level of contribution. Cryptic is still working the bugs out in a few of these, but they're fun, and they have an epic feel. You'll see even more impressive missions in dungeons and "crisis zones" — one multi-part mission has you join a team of prison guards attempting to lock down a jailbreak led by a boss with paranormal powers. You fight through levels of the dungeon, struggling to reach him, and it almost feels like playing through a section of F.E.A.R.

The open world zones are few, but large, and they contain content for multiple ranges of levels. They're divided loosely into neighborhoods, which you'll typically explore until you've exhausted all the missions (gaining a couple levels in the process), and move on to a neighborhood in a different zone. The neighborhoods all tend to tell a story, or a few related stories, which tie in to the overarching plot of the game. There are a couple smallish content gaps — early into level 31, I exhausted all available quests and had to grind out the rest of the level — but Cryptic has already acknowledged that they're pinpointing those gaps and working to fill them. My advice would be to take any mission given to you by a random citizen or object; the experience from these adds up quickly, and I probably wouldn't have been stuck if I'd spent a bit more time doing those.

The zones would take a long time to traverse on foot, but early on you're given your choice of travel powers, which make getting from one place to another much faster. The travel powers are actually a lot of fun, in and of themselves. You can get your standard flying power, or ride a sheet of ice, or use rocket boots, but there are more entertaining options as well. You can get Superjump, which lets you literally leap tall buildings in a single bound, or Swing, which lets you shoot a grapple upwards and swing as if from vine to vine. Oftentimes you're just shooting it into the open air, so it doesn't make much sense, but that's more than made up by how fun it is.

One of the really good innovations in Champions is what they call the Powerhouse. This is where you go to buy new powers, increase your stats, and upgrade existing powers — the equivalent of a class trainer in other games. However, the Powerhouse is instanced, and it has a large testing area at the back. You can pick up your new powers, test them, and get rid of them if you don't like them. Changes aren't finalized until you leave the Powerhouse. It's great for trying out new things without worrying that they'll work poorly with your character. The game does have a re-specialization system, appropriately called "retcon," but at current it's ridiculously expensive. Recent power purchases aren't bad to change, but if you want to fix a mistake from early on (when you weren't that familiar with the game), it will likely cost you several times the wealth you've managed to accumulate.

Now, that's definitely a poor decision on Cryptic's part, but it's not as bad as it sounds. First, they've already held a post-launch dev chat, in which they said they're going to revise upward the amount of money you receive from monsters and quests. They also indicated that retcon costs would probably be lowered. What's more, they've already issued one free retcon to all characters, and said they'll likely do that whenever they make significant changes to powers in a patch. One phrase they used was "targeted retcon," which would let players freely change a power that has been modified. While I was initially displeased that I couldn't fix mistakes I made when I didn't know how the game worked, it's good to see that Cryptic is already addressing it, and on multiple fronts. That speaks well toward the long-term health of the game.

An important aspect of the game starts at level 25 when you get to create your Nemesis. This is a super villain whose plans you constantly try to thwart, and who routinely sends his minions to destroy you. It's basically an epic series of missions that happens gradually as you level up. After you tangle with him for the first time, you'll occasionally be ambushed by his henchmen when you're off doing normal missions. Sometimes when you kill the henchmen, they'll drop notes that contain information about your Nemesis' plans, which you go on a mission to disrupt. Other times, the police or NPC superheroes will call on you to stop his latest scheme. It's nicely done, and it really adds to the feel that you're doing heroic deeds and fighting complex battles.

There is less focus on gear in Champions than in most other MMOs. You have nine gear slots, and your typical item will increase your stats and and your defenses. You generally want to focus on the two "Super Stats" you select early in the leveling process, since raising those increases your damage output. There are also items with other effects; some will replace or modify your powers, adding an ancillary effect and perhaps a new graphic. Equip-able items are categorized as Arms, Mysticism, and Science — these are the three professions. Each of them has crafting and gathering aspects. Unlike most MMOs, your profession skill doesn't increase much by making things or harvesting nodes out in the wilderness. Instead, you take items you find and "research" them, breaking them down into their components. This is cool because it gives you a ton of materials to work with, and makes it easy to catch up to where your skill level is supposed to be. You don't have to make two dozen Shoulderpads of the Useless that you immediately vendor. There is virtually no "grind" to the process, which is quite nice, and you can build yourself some basic gear and useful consumables.

There's still work to be done on the game, as with any MMO launch. Pet AI isn't working right, so summoned creatures will frequently run off and attack whatever the heck they want. Several buggy missions have already been fixed, but others are still broken. PvP is dominated by a few annoying abilities; nothing you can't work around with a semi-coordinated team, but a lot of people can't rely on that. There are a few places in the game that look like they're just waiting to be populated with villains and quests; hopefully that'll happen soon to fill out the leveling process. The downside right now is that you'll frequently end up doing quests a couple levels higher than you, which give you rewards you can't use yet. Endgame doesn't have a ton of variety; that's something they'll have to address fairly soon, once a significant number of players reach the level cap.

As it stands, I think Champions Online's success will be determined by where Cryptic takes it from here. The launch is solid, there's a reasonable amount of content, and the combat is a fun break from typical MMOs. When Cryptic actively developed for City of Heroes, they released 10 expansions and City of Villains in a three-and-a-half year period. If they can roll out content on a similar scale for Champions, while staying on top of balance issues and bug fixes, it will certainly find success. As it is, it's piqued my interest. It's no WoW-killer, but it's a fun, distinct game that will carve out a niche for itself.

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203 comments

FIST SPORT (0, Troll)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427641)

Start the game. Voiceover Intro. Some fucker in front of you with an exclamation mark over their head, telling you to speak to some other fucker twenty feet away. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Tired derivative shit. Not worth a cent.

Re:FIST SPORT (2, Interesting)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427795)

I didn't particularly enjoy the tutorial, but once that's out of the way, things improved immensely.

Re:FIST SPORT (5, Interesting)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428201)

It's a tutorial. They need to teach you the basics of the game so that you don't wander around not knowing how to do anything. At least in this game they make it like there's something BIG happening - because you're a super hero already - rather than CoH or WoW's tutorial zones which were pretty much "Oh, hey, dude, great you're here - wanna pick up my drycleaning for me?"

In this tutorial, I:

1) Ran into a burning & invaded building the cops wouldn't to retrieve sensitive data, beating up aliens by ripping a streetlamp out of the ground to use as a weapon
2) Did a lot of "good deeds" - rescued civilians from under giant chunks of debris, rescued a cat for an old lady, fought off invaders to get medical supplies, and helped a tourist get his stuff back
3) Rescued 2 superheroes who had been captured or otherwise incapacitated
4) Fought off an enemy invasion and protected a primary defensive system until it was repaired & ready
5) Personally fought room by room through the Champions' HQ to launch the defenses, defeating a really big boss in the process

(and, of course, learned about the game mechanics)

Contrast that with WoW where I... Brought a hot drink to someone, beat up some boars for scraps, picked some flowers, and generally was treated like a child. Or City of Heroes where I... Beat up 5 people infected with a virus, and then beat up another 10 or so to get the formula for the cure, but really, I didn't need to, because the NPC I rescued seemed more than capable of doing that.

In all those tutorials you learn to play the game, so the only distinguishing things are the game mechanics themselves and the story behind them.

Re:FIST SPORT (5, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428303)

Champions - Where we pretend to do more before 9 a.m. than most people actually do all day!

Re:FIST SPORT (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428679)

Ha, nice :)

But it *is* a role playing game, so pretending is kind of the point. Really, all games now are more or less "press buttons at the right time" so what is there to it other than the pretending?

Re:FIST SPORT (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428943)

Once the game gets to MMO, it's no longer a role playing game, no matter how much you or I would like it to be.
It's a smash fest with a shiny grab with a bunch of assholes.

Re:FIST SPORT (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429387)

So says you. This might shock you, but there are people who experience different things differently.

I generally hang in game with a decent bunch of people, and don't experience much of the assholery. Maybe try finding a different bunch of folks?

Monthly fee? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29427699)

I RTFR but did not notice mentioning of a monthly fee.

Re:Monthly fee? (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427811)

Its an MMO. It costs the same as all the other MMOs: £8.99, or however many shells thats equivalent to in your local money

Re:Monthly fee? (2, Informative)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428109)

Not all MMOs cost the same. Some are (USD) $15-wow, others are $5-runescape. Some are free, some are "microtransactions" (you define what you need monthly).

Re:Monthly fee? (3, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428003)

There is. 15 bucks a month. They offered early 6 month and lifetime (bill roper) subscriptions as well.

Character customization: incredible. Getting to see all the crazy costumes other people have is really need. Oh an you can both buy more costumes and change your own (and you use basically the same creator for your nemesis, unfortunately I cannot figure out how to alter my nemesis, who I accidentally made as a big hulking demon, the size of a gnome).

Soloing: fun - but only if you picked half decent powers. Having played a character similar to my current on in beta I knew what skills to get and what to avoid. This is somewhat problematic.
Grouping: remarkably more difficult than you'd expect while leveling (I'm only 30), since people don't have clearly defined rolls cooperating is a bit harder. You do have 'builds' which are kinda like stances you can set yourself to defence - offence - support styles, which help, but if you've taken all healy skills and go defence build you're screwed.

Quests/leveling. Mostly fun, but somewhat repetitive. Granted there's no easy way around that. There are only so many types of bad guys, and you basically kill one group in one place, go somewhere else, kill another group there. Unfortunately there aren't quite enough quests, and you can end up having to grind to level up a bit. I hit this a couple of times already, most recently about half way through 29 I ran out of soloable quests I could do, and had to grind until I got a nemesis mission.

Server: Single server architecture is wonderful. None of this 'which sever are you on, oh you aren't on my sever' crap when you meet people also playing. I don't mean to criticize people who use a sharded system (basically everything but Eve and champions), but being able to connect with everyone is really nice, it does mean there are 100 copies of popular zones though.

Bugs and missing features. There are a lot of little things. The retcon thing seems like the cost is just not scaling as you level up (so the price you see are about what you should be seeing at level 40, even though you're level 1). Searching and sorting the AH isn't great, and the UI scaling is kinda broken. Compared to something like Aion the graphics don't look stunning, but they are pretty good. It's fun, and worth playing overall.

Quality vs Appeal (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427719)

There's a tremendous variety to the powers you can use, to the point where it's almost better to figure out what you want your character to do -- drop bombs, sling ice shards, Force-choke -- than to look at the abilities and figure out which are the "best."

With the exception of the RP servers it is always about the best - even on the RP servers. At least with this (according to the article) the best can be remade to look like something else? So far the read sounds good - if they have a demo I will try it (my fiancee will kill me)

------
Scuba Diving [youtube.com]

Re:Quality vs Appeal (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427825)

Its a single global server (with multiple instances of each zone), which works a lot better than I would have expected. But that means there are no RP servers.

Re:Quality vs Appeal (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428557)

The RPers hang around in Club Caprice, so stay outa there lest ye wish to be virtually bummed by some spandex clad nonce.

Re:Quality vs Appeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29427863)

(my fiancee will kill me)

If I was your right hand I'd kill you to.

Re:Quality vs Appeal (3, Interesting)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428055)

The thing about "best" in this game is that it's incredibly subjective and depends so much on playstyle.

For instance, with a melee character, how "active" do you want to have to be in combat? Do you want to move around a lot to line up cone attacks? Do you like sitting in one spot and just AOEing people to death? Do you like to take out foes 1 at a time or all at once? With a ranged character it's similar - are you "ranged, but up close and personal" (meaning: fly in, throw down a minefield, have people die that way, or fight with an up-close gun-kata taken almost directly from Equilibrium?) or do you like to snipe?

I suppose there are some min/max builds out there that let you kill things most effectively, but the thing is that they really require one particular specific playstyle when using them to make them better; if you aren't into that playstyle, the build will be unfun to play, but effective, or not as effective but played the way you like to play.

On the flip-side, it is possible to completely screw yourself over if you pick powers that don't synergize well. If, for example, you are a primarily ranged character (force bolts or something) but you take a melee energy builder attack (the basic attack that powers up your other attacks) you will probably not have much fun because you have to zoom in to build energy, then run away to fight at range. Or, you might make a "glass cannon" build - all offense with no defense. In the first 10 levels or so, you probably won't notice a lack of a passive defensive power, but very quickly after that you'll slam into a brick wall where you are repeatedly killed because mobs scale up under the impression that you will be a bit more well rounded.

The retcon system fixes that, though it is rather expensive. Then again, given you can respec all the way back to level 0, it has to be expensive, because people would just get 1 character to maximum level and then respec to try out everything else easily, which may not be so good for the game's longevity. Personally, I think you should be able to respec your last 5 levels cheaply, but after that it should become incredibly expensive, and that's more or less how they have it now.

Re:Quality vs Appeal (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428353)

The retcon system fixes that, though it is rather expensive.

Someone on the CO forums did the math and with current costs and mob drop rates it would take ~280 days of grinding to buy a full respec.

That's very expensive.

Re:Quality vs Appeal (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428729)

Right, a full, as in "make this character *completely* different in every way, from the ground up" - it's supposed to encourage people to make alts when they want to try new builds.

Also, there's the powerhouse when you pick a power so you can test things out a little (though I think they need to add a "danger room" feature so you can see how it works in actual combat).

If you need to respec backwards more than 5 levels, you either have consistently made really bad choices or you're trying to avoid leveling a character up to try a new spec, or they really nerfed the hell out of something. So far, when they've nerfed anything REALLY badly, they've offered a full respec for free, so I imagine that will continue.

Not that I'm saying the current costs aren't a bit out of line - they should be lowered a bit - but the idea of making completely rebuilding your character a non-trivial expense or effort is a good one.

Re:Quality vs Appeal (1)

God of Lemmings (455435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429519)

Right, a full, as in "make this character *completely* different in every way, from the ground up" - it's supposed to encourage people to make alts when they want to try new builds.

Except that most players only have 8 character slots total. See whats wrong with this thinking.

Echoes of MDK? (1)

boeroboy (1501771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427721)

Am I the only one that sees the resemblance to MDK? No complaints here. A revisit of that series has been a long time coming.

Re:Echoes of MDK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29427885)

Well, no one said they were being original. In fact that reviewer just spent several pages saying they did pretty much everything status quo.

Re:Echoes of MDK? (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429091)

MDK is one of my favourite games ever, and I see pretty much zero resemblance between this MMO and that single player third-person shooter. What correlations did you notice?

Re:Echoes of MDK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29429235)

The third person (behind character) style and cartoonish landscapes. Although MDK wasn't cell shaded, it looks like this was done by the same conceptual artists.

I guess I can't say for sure since I haven't and probably won't ever play this, but the screen caps look at least inspired. Definitely lacking some of the fun exotic features of MDK like the uber cool helmet.

I don't see the appeal for superhero MMOs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29427939)

...neither for fantasy MMOs.

I want cyberpunk MMOs.

Re:I don't see the appeal for superhero MMOs... (1)

pdboddy (620164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428917)

I'd kill for a decent sci-fi mmo, cyberpunk mmo, or a decent Shadowrun one.

Cryptic is working on Star Trek Online, it might classify as a decent sci-fi mmo. We'll see when the beta rolls out.

My own review (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427951)

Well, as a long COH fan myself, my own impression is more like "meh" somehow.

The good is that there are a lot more costume pieces, and, face it, if you were into COH, you like to dress up dolls. Welcome to the club, and remember that there's nothing wrong with that. Now let's sit our dolls together and have a tea party ;) More seriously, I wish more game had this much freedom in coming up with a costume. You can be anything from werewolf to elf to dwarf to orc to Superman to... well, almost anything you can imagine.

Also good is that you no longer have the horrendous waiting for endurance to refill that plagued the teen levels of COH.

The bad is... well, subjective. I can understand why they deviated from COH in some aspects, but I don't have to like it. YMMV.

For a start, yes, combat is fast paced, but it's also actually a lobotomized button masher designed for a gamepad. You only need an attack button and a block button.

Combat is simply an affair of starting your weak-and-often auto-attack, at which point your character will start madly pummelling on the enemy on his/her/its own, albeit not necessarily doing much damage. This however also regenerates your energy, so whenever you have enough of it, you hit your more powerful attack. When you run out of energy again, you let it on auto-attack again. It's really that brain damaged... err... I mean "casual gamer friendly" ;)

Yes, there is a block button too, and, guess what? You _only_ need to use it when you see that charging-up-a-power-attack icon above the enemy's head. It's not even the kind of block and counterattack combos in most action-adventures, it's really like one of those events like in console games where an icon appears on the screen and you have to push a button on the controller quickly. Until you see that icon, you can safely ignore the block button entirely.

What disappoints me more seriously is the reduced customization in the actual powers. It's like the new costume pieces came at the expense of the customization of the actual powers.

E.g., in Champions Online you will never ever have more than one passive power. So you slot a regeneration or dodge buff in it, and that was it. There is no minmaxing, no "do I get Fast Healing too, or stick to Integration", none of the other things that actually made builds unique in COH. In the defense aspect, the characters aren't even uni-dimensional -- which would imply a continuum of possible values, even if in just one variable -- they're zero-dimensional.

Attack too, has been turned from something where I actually had to manage chains of attacks and mixes of cooldowns, to a 1-button masher, essentially.

Yes, it has stats, but not only they're unintuitive in what they do, they're unintuitive even after you figured out what they do. E.g., Strength affects your melee damage, yes, as you'd expect, but actually the effect is capped so brutally and early, that you can pretty much ignore that stat entirely. Counter-intuitively, as a melee character you actually benefit more from dexterity. And even in the "Strength == more melee damage" aspect, it's not as simple as you'd assume. E.g., the ego blades are based on another stat, not on Strength.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "it's crap" or anything of the kind. It just feels... "meh". Believe me, as a bored COH player I was waiting for CO like the fundies await the second cumming of Christ. Maybe that was my mistake.

Re:My own review (2, Interesting)

TikiTDO (759782) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428257)

I think a lot of your issues are a matter of how you build your characters. As a crazy weak glass cannon I find myself blocking more often than not, especially since it also happens to be a good way for me to build up energy. Also, even at level 20, my rotation involves at least 3 abilities, and up to 5 depending on the situation. This is only likely to grow as I get new skills.

Perhaps you should try tweaking your build, or even doing a full retcon if you still have it available. From what I read, you might enjoy the game a lot more if you play it differently.

I'm completely with you on the stats though. They really turned out to be a giant pain.

Re:My own review (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428601)

Hmm... 5 attacks by level 20 seems a bit... sub-optimal, compared to just increasing the strength of the existing ones. I can't really imagine that all 5 have been brought to level 3.

Then again, since you're having fun with your build and I don't with mine, I guess that's all that matters.

Still, I dunno, somehow I just don't feel the love, so to speak. It's not just the build.

For example turning from COH's being heavily-based on instanced mission to cramped outdoors zones where 50 players pummel on 30 NPCs... dunno, just doesn't do anything for me. I see the reviewer actually seems to have liked it, but I just fail to get enthusiastic. What for? It didn't even turn the game more social, as it just doesn't have enough surface for all the players to actually be in the same world. So each zone is instanced on the fly into 50 different copies of it. You'll still be separated from the vast majority of people on the server.

But, as I was saying, maybe I've just set my hopes too high.

Re:My own review (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428969)

The posters problem is that it's not like WoW.
Clearly he is trying to play it like it is.

Heh. Now that's a new kind of troll (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429035)

The posters problem is that it's not like WoW.
Clearly he is trying to play it like it is.

Heh. So, I'm complaining about the difference to _COH_, and your conclusion is that it's about it not being like _WOW_? Well, that's certainly a new kind of troll. The kind who can't even read.

Re:My own review (2, Interesting)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428327)

To me, the game feels like City of Heroes 1.5: not a big change, really.

The costume choices for male characters seems much more expansive than those for female characters, unlike City of Heroes, which seems to have similar numbers of costumes for both sexes.

In City of Heroes, ranged attackers were usually balanced by having less defense/hitpoints. They could hit from afar, but depended on others for protection. In Champions Online, I've got a ranged character who is much better in a fight than an unarmed Martial Artist type. It's the equivalent of having Batman being outdone by Halo: it just isn't right. :)

Re:My own review (0, Troll)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428443)

Yes, well, it's the second game done by Statesman. Did you actually expect balance? :P

No disrespect to the guy's creative ideas and all, but balancing COH until he gave up and let Positron do it... let's just say it turned from City of Blasters to City Of Fire Tankers to biggest nerf ever, with a few other extreme swings in between.

Re:My own review (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428939)

Melee characters are trickier to build "right" but when you do, they're virtually unstoppable. They're also annoying to play with m/kb, but I use a 360 controller and that makes melee a LOT more fun for me, and easier to play optimally.

Re:My own review (4, Funny)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428531)

It just feels... "meh". Believe me, as a bored COH player I was waiting for CO like the fundies await the second cumming of Christ.

The mental image of this is just ohh so utterly wrong.

Re:My own review (3, Insightful)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428615)

I think you're really overestimating the idea of "unique" builds in CoH. Seriously, because of the Archetype system, the builds are pretty cookie cutter.

If you're regen, yes, you get fast healing and integration and health. Everyone does this because everyone will, by the time they're level 50, have at last 2 power choices where there's really no better option. But, if you're regeneration, you will *never* be able to pick any of the abilities from invulnerability, or darkness, or any other defensive set. And if your offensive set is martial arts, then you will never be able to pick up a sword or a gun or anything else - nope, it's pretty much all kicks, forever and ever, amen.

One of my characters is a battle-crazed cyber-valkyrie kind of character: She swoops into battle with sword attacks and an energy shield & her fists and feet at times (using power armor powers, dual blade powers, single blade powers, and martial arts attacks), and beats the crap out of her foes. When she's hurt, she'll heal either through her passive (regeneration from the supernatural set) or she'll call out some cyber-drones (gadgets) to fly around and heal her if it gets REALLY bad. Would not be possible to make anything that eclectic in CoH.

Oh, and she can change her build depending on the situation. If lots of pure, brutal damage is needed, she can go into Avenger build and do more damage (but take more). If a balanced mix is needed, Guardian stance, and then Sentinel if she needs to be a tank. Can't change roles like that in CoH.

I'd say that the Advantages in CO and the power enhancers in CoH are about the same kind of thing.

Initial attacks are actually rather different, too. It's not always "start with your energy builder" - because you can change your stats around, they can have a profound effect on the way you attack. For example, another of my characters is a pure munitions character for offense with a little bit of martial arts for defense. Initially she had to run into combat with her energy builder running and then use her other abilities, but I figured out how to make her have more energy right from the start, and can use the tactic of "going into sneak mode, getting into the middle of enemies, and planting a bomb, then mopping up the survivors with a gun-kata" or, if I wouldn't survive the alpha strike, I can snipe people from range, maybe whittle down the crowd and when people run at me hose them down with a machine gun.

With the active block thing - CoH doesn't even have anything like it, and all powers activate the same way: you click and there it is. In CO, active blocks are VERY useful (not just to defend against big charge-ups, ESPECIALLY if you look at the "advantages" you can buy for block replacement powers). And, powers activate differently. Some of them, for example, are "click and then they run for some amount of time" (so, with Power Armor you can have multiple systems firing simultaneously). Others are tap it for one effect, hold it down for a bigger effect that is delayed. Others are hold it down to just keep blazing away, etc. Nothing like that in CoH.

Nothing like stats in CoH - you are what you are. In CO, depending on how you pick your stats, you can have very different experiences with otherwise identical builds, necessitating different ways of playing.

I guess I'm saying that I cannot believe anyone would actually point to the fixed archetype CoH and think it allows more customization than COs system. I'm guessing you might not have played it very far?

Re:My own review (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428839)

I'm not saying that the Archetypes are the apex of free-form character development, but merely that it feels like the CO system is even less.

And no, not everyone in COH took the same powers. I know Regens who skipped the Fitness pool entirely, for example, since you mention that one. Yes, it's not the best min-maxed way to build a character, but it's an option. Even myself I was one of the people who never took the 6-slotted Hasten before ED, because I didn't feel like being a cookie-cutter clone. I had tons of fun without it anyway.

And I've even met such crazy builds in COH like, say, a Scrapper who apparently always wanted to be a healer. He had two attacks and the whole medicine pool and leadership. Not a very efficient build, but there you have it. I've met an Empathy Defender in her 20's who really had two heals and all 4 travel pools full. Yes, she even had the utterly useless group fly and team teleport. Etc.

Your CO Valkyrie has... oh yeah, she has the Regeneration power from Supernatural... and that's it. I'm sure you can do a totally unique build with that one power ;) No offense.

And a mix of attack powers that seem to follow no logical concept other than having one of every type of damage. What, you have unarmed attacks _and_ dual blades? You mean, unlike my dual blades chars on COH which took, say, Air Superiority? ;)

Switching roles? I had temporary powers for just that in COH. I've tanked archvillains as a regen scrapper before, by just toggling on the wedding band and a few other things. Admittedly, though, most of the credit should really go to the defender who kept me alive, but just shows that it can be done with the right people.

Re:My own review (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429359)

You do realize that the uniqueness of the build isn't from my picking regen, right? It's not from the 1 power I picked from a framework, it from the combination of a dozen or so powers I picked from multiple frameworks. Whatever your opinion of the logic of my choices, the fact is that there are more frameworks to draw from in CO than in COH, and with stats more room for customization.

And, I also want to give you back a bit of your smugness: Wow! Gosh! Golly-gee! You made a melee character that's designed to take a beating somehow capable of surviving taking a beating (with a lot of outside healing & temp powers)! I'm impressed. Being serious again, have you made a tank that's capable of healing for a large group? How about a blaster that can tank an AV? If not, then your point about different roles being possible is kind of null. In CO, I can, with a bit of doing, make a healer that can switch to tank mode, a combination I'm not seeing as being possible in COH.

(And, maybe COH has changed, but back when I played it a lot, my regen scrapper could easily solo 2-3 giant monsters at the same time, so really, scrapper tanking is pretty meh)

Re:My own review (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429555)

I gather that must have been in the early days, before Regen was nerfed repeatedly. Mine was after the ED. Yes, it changed a bit in the meantime.

Also, "a melee character that's supposed to take a beating" is only a very approximate description of a scrapper. Yes, you could dump both scrapper and tanker under that vague description, but only in as much as you could lump the WoW Paladin and Rogue under it too. It's not a very useful description at that point.

And the point wasn't to get you impressed (I'm sure there are people who play better than I do), but to make a point that there was some variability built in without a "make me a tank now" and "nah, make me a blaster again" button that you can toggle at will. Yes, CO does let you switch stances like that, negating any need to form a balanced group and essentially replayability too. (I don't really need to play a scrapper _and_ a tank _and_ a blaster, when I can really flip my role around at will.) My point was that nevertheless it results in nothing new or that flexible. It's a simplistic game with a change-role button built in. Whop-de-do.

Yes, you can be a healer that can switch to blaster or tank or melee character. Same as every other cookie-cutter character on the server.

As for the other questions, ok, I'll be serious and answer them too:

- tank that can heal... not main healer, to be sure, but I've been healed by the stone tanker before

- blaster that can tank... doable and done, with the right team

Yes, both need a bit of teamwork for that, but that's kinda the whole point in a Massively Multiplayer Game. Giving everyone a "flip my role around" button doesn't make the game any more complex or flexible, it makes it a herd of cookie-cutter clones where everyone can heal and tank and blast and crowd-control.

Heck, if you want something like that, you can actually do that in COH too. Just make a team of 8 rad defenders :p

Re:My own review (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429087)

You took the words right out of my mouth. Its like CoH, but worse, and in the form of a mindless arcade masher thats kinda sorta like an MMO.

I really think the idea to have it both on the console and on the PC only ends up hurting the PC version. The graphics are worse than CoH, with a cheesy cell shader, and it plays like a mediocre xbox game. In the future I will not be buying games that exist on both the console and the PC. The PC version always suffers from the console limitations.

Re:My own review (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429319)

Hmm... Well, I certainly see your point. Just maybe I wouldn't go as far as to damn _all_ games released for both platforms. Some games are really made to be mindless button mashers, and there's not much anyone can do about it. IMHO. And personally I'm even ok with a button-masher, provided that it's a 10 hour single-player game. I can use a couple of mindless evenings now and then.

It's just that in a MMO I've come to expect a bit more complexity. If something is supposed to keep my interest long enough to justify such claims as that a $200 life-time subscription actually saves you any money, you get the idea, it better be actually varied and interesting enough to actually keep me interested for that long.

I'm an explorer/socializer by Bartle's classification, so I actually need _something_ to explore. Game mechanics included. There better be at least that factor of "what happens if I use power X instead of power Y" or "which of them works best together with power Z". A game with a few small zones and gameplay that boils down to mashing a couple of buttons, doesn't even come close.

But maybe that's just me.

Re:My own review (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29429571)

Uh, this poster has a lot of information wrong:

STR does not mean more melee damage. In fact there is no distinction between melee damage and ranged damage. It's just power/ability damage.

Here's the summary:
STR: Lifting (for throwing cars if you have a lot, park benches if not so much), Knockback resist, Physical root resitss (snare gernates, example). Some defenses scale with it.

DEX: Crit chance. Some defenses scale with it.

CON: Hitpoints. Defenses scale (invuln)

INT: Adjusts power costs of abilities, steath powers, perception of stealthed things

END: Total energy pool

REC: your 'balanced' power level. Higher Recovery will let you 'rest' at 80% of your full energy bar, where lower recover will let you 'rest' at 30 or 40% of your full energy bar. This means that you still need energy boosting attacks

EGO: Used to break non-phsical holds, and is your crit damage multiplier

PRE: Presnce effects heal power, pet health, and threat generation (aggro and de-aggro)

That's a summary, but the astute reader may notice that there's NO damage bonus in any of these stats..which brings me to....

CHARACTER FOCUS:
The character focus stat determines where your damage is comming from. So if you want to be a type of character where you can use powers continuously then you could make your focus REC and END (you get your 1st focus at 5th lvl, 2nd at 13). Each stat will give you a damage bonus. Maybe you want to be a burst damage type of person, so you go DEX/EGO...Or if you want to be a tough dps type of tank guy that throws cars, go with STR/CON....the beauty of the system is that the SAME power framework could pick these different focuses and play COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY.

yes, it's unintuitive, and comming from a WoW/EQ/Every other D&D type of game is that you have a mindset of 'Oh, i'm a range guy, let be pump dex' or 'oh i'm a caster, le tme pump int' or 'oh, i'm a tank, let me pump str'...doing this but then focusing like on CON for all 3 cases will give NONE of the above 3 cases a damage bonus! That's what I think a lot of players early mistakes are which makes the game feel un-heroic (why can't I beat guys below my level?) Once they understand the system and understand the difference between a stat and a focus, things suddenly become better.

The other wrong piece of information is the comment that this is a single attack game. I completely dissagree. At lvl 20, I have 2 melee attacks, a hold, 2 defense powers (one active/one passive) and a range attack (nevermind travel power which you get at lvl 5..that's a freebie) and a smokebomb escape from harm ability. There's plenty of choices in combat, and in some cases your travel power becomes a critical form of how you play. yes, you could play with a gamepad (they have force feedback options in the menus) but I would not say it's required...

The OTHER thing wrong with the OP is the comment about 'never having more than 1 passive power' That's not true, and the poster obviously never found the different roles (guardian, protector, avenger...another)...these roles can grant 1 or 2 passive slots, but usually in the case of the 2 slots, you have to slot a specific type of passive (there are utility/offensive/defensive types) so you really have to think about how you are going to play and what stances you will be using.

Anyways, this wall of text critting you has come to an end. I was really really disappointed in the game at frist (game play issues, performance issues) but after upgrading to a 4850, the perf is better, and now that I understand the game mechanics I am having FUN slicing my foes in twain up close or if they fly away, whipping out dual barettas and blasting them at range...so good.

-Jato

Not HERO system, allowed horrid exploits early on. (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427973)

Last I read is that is was not based on the HERO system so where is the appeal other than making the characters look different?

Also, considering their first week live saw massive exploits of stupid features, think entire groups stun killing everything which conveniently rewarded full experience regardless of player level because of an update not made properly. Throw in that many groups used this to max level nearly instantly before Cryptic shut it off but left all the exploiters with their gains. Apparently they went to the Turbine school of "Exploit Early Exploit Often".

Top it off with FOTM (think mini maxing) character types and if you want to succeed do you have anything but to be the same build as others - all you have is the choice what color your powers/outfit are. If you don't choose right your stuck, retcon is too expensive and that is it, your done. Roll again the spec that works and pray retcon (or whatever they call it) comes soon enough so you can play what you wanted to play.

What I've liked about Champions so far... (1)

pdboddy (620164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427999)

A lot of MMOs don't allow you to have travel "abilities" until you get up there in levels. Champions Online lets you have them at level 5. Basically, once you are done the tutorial, you go and "level up", and bamf, you're flying/skating/hoverboarding/webslinging/etc anywhere you want.

Also, their pre-order offered discounted 6-month subscriptions, and a lifetime (200 bucks) subscription. If Champions lasts more than a year, you've saved yourself a decent pile of money if you're a regular player.

There's no level limit for joining a supergroup (the Champions version of a guild/clan/etc.), you can join one at level 1.

Cryptic has taken their experience in creating City of Heroes/City of Villains and created a highly polished and very playable MMO. Yes, there's the familiar grind and questing, but it is much more player friendly.

IMHO and all other disclaimers apply. :)

Re:What I've liked about Champions so far... (1)

brasscount (805811) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428437)

Sure you can join a supergroup. But first you have to get your folks on the same instance. To me it feels like they traded a convenient way to avoid server changes with a way to make it inconvenient for people to play together.

Re:What I've liked about Champions so far... (1)

pdboddy (620164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428831)

Yes, so instead of having to pay money to switch servers (WoW), you have to click a couple of buttons. Oh my god, so hard.

Re:What I've liked about Champions so far... (1)

brasscount (805811) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429071)

Tell me which one you're on right now. Now, tell me which PVP instance for HERO System? Now, show me the documentation to set it up so that we can get in the same instance on the same team. I can create teams across the world, but I can't get them on the same arena team. If you have information on how to do so, please share, since some of us work instead of playing MMO's all day.

My point is simply that there is no simple means that appears in any of the poorly documented game to help players get together. If we're standing right next to each other its simple. If we're not, then its hard enough that the majority of players haven't figured it out.

No Server Lag? (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428039)

Unfortunately, there's a fair bit of UI lag. Server lag has been almost non-existent â" amazing as that is to say during the launch period of an MMO â" but the responsiveness of the controls is probably the game's biggest technical fault right now. It can be frustrating at times to have your abilities not work as you expect because of this. There's enough of a delay after hitting the button that you won't be sure if it actually triggered the ability. Many abilities require a button to be held down, so if you press it again and then the original trigger goes through, you've wasted a cooldown. Pressing Block right after charging up a power will also sometimes clip the end of it, and cause it not to fire. I would attribute the majority of my deaths so far to the UI lag.

Uhh, sounds like it's server lag where the server authenticates the buttons you press... (It is checking if your cooldown is off before allowing you to do it client side) I've seen this in plenty of MMOs.

Trying to say there is no "server lag", but there is "alternative" lag is a bit misleading to those who don't understand it.

Re:No Server Lag? (1)

Soulskill (1459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428855)

It's hard to describe, and I'll grant that I may be wrong, but there is a difference.

For example, things like moving an item in my inventory -- when I click-hold to drag an item, it often takes close to a second for the item to actually attach to my cursor, but there's no delay when I finally place it in another slot. For all other MMOs I've played, that's been reversed -- dragging is instantaneous, dropping may take a moment. Things like targeting behave slower than I'd expect, too.

In short, I'm not explicitly referring to the use of abilities, which obviously need to be verified by the server. (Though the lag on abilities is what affects gameplay the most, which is why I mentioned it.) The best analogy I can think of would be playing a poorly-optimized console game on an old, slow wireless controller.

First true MMO innovation I've seen in a long time (2, Informative)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428057)

One of the really good innovations in Champions is what they call the Powerhouse. This is where you go to buy new powers, increase your stats, and upgrade existing powers -- the equivalent of a class trainer in other games. However, the Powerhouse is instanced, and it has a large testing area at the back. You can pick up your new powers, test them, and get rid of them if you don't like them. Changes aren't finalized until you leave the Powerhouse. It's great for trying out new things without worrying that they'll work poorly with your character. The game does have a re-specialization system, appropriately called "retcon," but at current it's ridiculously expensive. Recent power purchases aren't bad to change, but if you want to fix a mistake from early on (when you weren't that familiar with the game), it will likely cost you several times the wealth you've managed to accumulate.

This is huge. I remember playing Diablo 2 early on, and everyone was making a sorceress and loading her up with Blizzard, a level 24 spell. It was ridiculously powerful, and poorly balanced, and the first patch which came out a month later nerfed this skill into the stone age. In other words, not only was it less powerful, it was now less useful, because the skill above it, Ice Sphere, became the more powerful and useful spell. So now everyone with Blizzard was not the best Sorceress. this pissed off thousands of players who spent their time building a character they liked. Blizzard called this skill "broken" and passing it off as a a bug fix, trying to contain the outcry, but that of course didn't help. Gamers see thru BS like this, a nerf is a nerf.

Now, You can actually test and work with a power and get to know it and understand it before you commit it to your character. And they are owning up to the fine tradition of nerfing by admitting that they might nerf something, but offering some alternatives so that you don't have to start over from the very beginning. I expect every MMO will be watching this piece of code very closely and will probably immitate it in every MMO from here on out.

You could do this in COH too, actually (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428291)

Actually, COH already had that, sorta. You could copy a character to the test server any time you wished and any number of times you wished. So if you wanted to test your next choice of power or your respec, you already could do just that.

Re:You could do this in COH too, actually (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429265)

By that logic, so did WoW. But copying to the test server, etc. was a chore. Still is.

Re:You could do this in COH too, actually (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429369)

Hmm, you could copy to the test server on WoW whenever you wanted? Interesting. I didn't know that.

Re:First true MMO innovation I've seen in a long t (1)

murdocj (543661) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428621)

They certainly aren't the first nor will they be the last MMO maker to say that rebalancing (which is what nerfing / augmenting is) is going to occur during the lifetime of a game. And they also aren't the first to allow people to change their skills when rebalancing occurs. WoW routinely refunds all of your talent points and gives you a free respec when they do a major change to a character class.

Re:First true MMO innovation I've seen in a long t (1)

Hausenwulf (956554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428795)

You can actually test and work with a power and get to know it and understand it before you commit it to your character.

Kinda.... you can't test all powers unless you get someone else's help. The only powers you can really test on your own are basic damage powers.

Re:First true MMO innovation I've seen in a long t (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429207)

Gamers see thru BS like this, a nerf is a nerf.

No, gamers call anything they perceive as a nerf a nerf. Even if the nerfed thing was obviously spectacularly broken.
 
I remember back when I played UO, the devs released a tame that a) anyone could control, and b) was equivalent in combat power to tames that normally required a fair amount of taming skills (I.E. would normally pretty much require a dedicated tamer). Within hours of the release the devs stated that it was broken and would be fixed - yet, when they did a week later, the cries of 'nerf' were spectacularly loud.

Re:First true MMO innovation I've seen in a long t (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429417)

You know, the whole "nerf" thing isn't just used to piss off gamers, sometimes it is really used to fix broken things. Everything you described about the Blizzard spell sounds like it was broken. Not "broken".

Re:First true MMO innovation I've seen in a long t (1)

thaylin (555395) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429543)

I nerf is anything that changes an aspect to a game in which it lowers its power. Blizzard WAS broken, you stated it yourself: "It was ridiculously powerful". If something is ridiculously powerful then it is more then likely too powerful, hence broken. This is why you think it was a BS nerf. Now the players who did not make the sorceress and had to play PVP against them with more balanced skills see this as a bug fix, because it gave them a better chance. In Champions if they change something in a way you dont like you can retcon, same as respecing in wow, but a lot more expensive.

Re:First true MMO innovation I've seen in a long t (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429615)

And they are owning up to the fine tradition of nerfing by admitting that they might nerf something, but offering some alternatives so that you don't have to start over from the very beginning. I expect every MMO will be watching this piece of code very closely and will probably immitate it in every MMO from here on out.

There have been similar solutions in other MMOs where characters affected by a nerf were offered a limited time opportunity to re-assign skills, powers, etc...Although, in a game like COH, where so many items and enhancements are geared towards certain skills and powers and can only be acquired through play, this remains an imperfect solution. However, those who are affected by a nerf should ask themselves, "Do I really want to play in an unbalanced game where everyone eventually chooses 'the combination' because it is hands-down better than any other possible build"? Ultimately, that is fun for neither those who benefited initially from the unbalanced characters or those who all create new "uber-build" characters with the unbalanced skills and powers.

Sounds cool (0, Flamebait)

greymond (539980) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428103)

I liked CoH, but it didn't have the depth I was looking for in a "pay to play" game. I'd probably try this game out...but I'm an Apple user now with no PC or Windows Partition and that won't change anytime soon...so I guess I'll stick with WoW...

Re:Sounds cool (1)

cookiej (136023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428823)

Yeah. I'd switch, but ... No Mac client? WTF?

Re:Sounds cool (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429411)

Oops, you were referring to Champions, not CoH. Sorry.

I'd love a PPC OS X version of Champions and CoH/V, but luckily I also have a windows machine for games.

BS (4, Informative)

oGMo (379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428135)

there's a reasonable amount of content

There's not even enough content to cover leveling, as you pointed out earlier in the review. Want to make a new character? Forget a different starting area... you're going to be doing all the exact same quests over again just to make your levels. This is not even mentioning the fact the quests are nothing but "go X kill Y collect Z", where the only variation is whether the "kill" or "collect" steps are included. There is no other gameplay. There's nothing else to do. Even the "large" areas are deceptive... maps appear huge, but you quickly find the screen going black and white long before you reach the edges, leaving only about 2/3 of the actual visible area open. Crafting is a joke, PvP is pointless, and the writing is bland. I don't think I'd qualify this as "reasonable" in the content department.

Re:BS (1)

Lunoria (1496339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428645)

there's a reasonable amount of content

This is not even mentioning the fact the quests are nothing but "go X kill Y collect Z", where the only variation is whether the "kill" or "collect" steps are included. There is no other gameplay. There's nothing else to do. Crafting is a joke, PvP is pointless, and the writing is bland.

This is no different than any other MMO.

The entire review is BS (1, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429249)

Read it carefully, remembering things that were said in previous paragraphs and it quickly becomes clear that the reviewer WANTS to be positive. A deadly sin, a reviewer should always be neutral.

Easily fixable bugs are okay? If they are easy to fix, then why haven't they been fixed?

He has to grind between content and as you say, there is a reasonable amount of content? Didn't the reviewer say at the beginning that this ain't the dark ages anymore, MMO's have been around for a long time and dev's should know better now.

CO is Yet Another MMO that doesn't innovate as much as try to chase the twitch/PvP crowd, or worse the console crowd. Others have complained about how simple the game is to play, almost as if designed for a gamepad. No kidding, the game is going to the 360.

As I like MMO's a lot I have spend a lot of time thinking about MMO's and frankly, I think the drive for both twitch and PvP are hopelessly flawed for an MMORPG.

Why? The proof is in other games.

There are TWO games we play often and more importantly for LONG times, long past their graphical lifetime.

The first are the multiplayer FPS. I have long since grown past it, but you didn't play Quake for the pretty graphics, you played it for the instant hard action. But these games all have one thing in common. You are equal. Think about it, everything about multiplayer FPS games, tries to balance the players to extreme, often by simply making them exactly the same, or by playing both sides of the battle in turns.

Why is the RTS Starcraft so loved? Because the sides are superbly balanced.

But this goes against the heart of a (western) RPG, to build your own character, different from others. In a game like Neverwinter Nights, you get to choose from several classes and it is very clear that not all are equal in combat. Dungeon and Dragons Online even warns for this. Some classes are harder to play then others. How do you balance completly different classes with totally different roles? You can't.

This is like starting a game of counterstrike, and one side is given pistols and the other machine guns. Ouch! But an MMO never forces you to switch side and the session never ends. In multiplayer FPS/RTS any advantage you do take, ends at the end of the session.

There are however other games we play for long times, but these games tend to be more about strategy, development. Slow process where we carefully plan our actions. Wether that is an empire building game or the sims or a strategy or a (civilian) flightsimulator, in these games we have a set of skills/capabilities and the game is to learn them and how to use them best. Wether that is sorting our what sims need to do what to get all the stuff done and still advance, or plot the course of an aircraft, or direct a battle doesn't matter. These games are NOT about twitch, they are about tactics, stategy and thinking.

WoW and EQ and all similar games are like this. You have a character, you learn its skills and then you use these skills. It ain't about twisting and turning but using the right skills at the right time. Twitch is NOT what is needed here, it only distracts.

The proof is in Champions Online "block" skills. As another poster has explained, it has nothing to do with blocking, let alone predicting when an enemy has to be blocked. A meter is displayed, when it is full you should have pressed a button or you take a massive amount of damage. Bugs (mentioned in the review) or design mean your actual skills are interrupted while this is going on. Gone all your plans, all your tactics. And it goes on constantly. The combat quickly ends up as nothing more then pressing your cheap attack, power attack when you got power and BLOCK whenever the light comes on.

But isn't that fine for dozens if not hundreds of console action games? Yes, but those games ain't player for hundred of hours. Action games come and go very quickly.

MMO's shouldn't. They are very expensive to develop so a publisher needs the kind of audience that sticks around.

I am getting more and more convinced that twitch and PvP are goals blindly followed by MMO developers without realizing that countless games have tried and none so far have had long term success. Warhammer is grasping for air as the initial rush died off and players returned back to WoW. AoC, game and went. Smaller games never even managed to get WoW players to cancel for the first month of their launch.

EQ and Ultima Online, the oldies are still there, with their own user base. WoW is still absolute king and only Lotro (a game unashamedly old-fashioned) is doing well enough.

Every other is dying or near death and none of made good on their promise "We are totally different from WoW, so everyone will love us".

WoW took EQ and perfected it, but didn't break what it was. I have looked really hard at CO but frankly apart from the nice customers, the game will only appeal to those who can't handle/don't want to handle more complex games. It will quickly be overrun by min-maxers chasing whatever will be the build of the hour and PvP will be dominated by those people trying to pick on any who dares to build something different.

If that is you game, then have fun, but if you LIKED games like WoW or EQ or Lotro but want something new, then this ain't it. It would be like taking a break from Quake to play Duck Hunt. Some might enjoy it, but I have a hard time believing that real Quake players would be satisfied with this.

It is looking more and more like the only company that could do to WoW what WoW did to EQ, is blizzard. Other just don't seem to get that you don't have to break the design to improve on it.

Re:BS (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429449)

I have found a mild hole around 13-14. For me this is no big deal now that they have the Prison Breakout quest public quest fixed. I'm quite happy to make up the level or so doing the public quest over a few times. You could instead go back and to the latter quests in the alternate starter area until you hit 15. That's what I did when the PQ was broken. For the most part, I have more trouble getting my quest log full (20ish quests I think) and not being able to take the spontanious missions.

As for crafting, this is actually the first MMORPG ever that I haven't totally bailed on crafting after leveling the first few toons. It is particularly important for weapon-using toons, as it is a very important source of alternate weapon looks. For instance, if you want to use axes (or clubs, or longswords, etc) rather than kitanas in single blade or dual-blade builds, your only sure way to get them is by carfully picking the right crafting discipline. Ditto if you want old-timey guns for your munitions toon, or knives instead of "claws" for your stealthy claws toon.

PvP I can't comment on (it is pointless in most games, folks still like it. Go figure). However, the writing is anything but bland. I'm constantly chuckling and calling the wife over to look at some clever bit of text on a mission or item. Make sure to read all your item descriptions. Some of them are hilarious.

Customizable? (1)

pauls2272 (580109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428183)

Is the UI customizable (like WOW) or fixed (like COH)? Wow spoiled me for MMOs - I want to be able to customize it as I want it.

Does it follow the Champions ruleset or completey dumbed down (like COH which was also supposedly based on Champions)?

Re:Customizable? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428359)

I wouldn't say dumb down. I wuld say different, and in logical ways.
The game isn't turn based, so some rules and mechanics need to change to reflect that.
You have some control over your stats, but in increments.

I would see if you can find someone that has it to check it out before plopping down 50 bucks for 30 days.

On the plus side, they went to a lot of effort to make you feel like your a hero, and have an effect on the world. The non-heor graphics drive me up the wall, so I stopped playing.

Re:Customizable? (1)

Soulskill (1459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429145)

Is the UI customizable (like WOW) or fixed (like COH)? Wow spoiled me for MMOs - I want to be able to customize it as I want it.

You can do a little customization, but nothing extensive. You can move around your frames and re-size them quite easily, and do some neat things with targeting.

It doesn't measure up to WoW's UI, though. You'll definitely miss some simple things, like focus, target-of-target, health totals, and buff timers.

my character (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29428259)

will shoot sonic shockwaves from his butt, along with an area of effect incapacitating cloud.

8 out of 10 my ass (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428307)

More like a strong 6.

I wanted to like the game, I really enjoy the Champions role playing game.

While there is some nive costume making, and some of the visually effects of the powers are extremely cool.
The game becomes boring pretty fast, and the 'comic book' effect on the art is just plain irritating.

I could play it for longer then two weeks. I was just bored.

"expectations...MMO should contain" Really? (2, Interesting)

Snotman (767894) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428343)

I would never hire this guy. The industry is barely a decade old and according to this guy there are paradigms that have been established that hold forever. Apparently, this guy has not heard of creativity and innovation. Why is there something rather than nothing? Those that know the answer are the ones that will create new paradigms. Too bad some people can't see farther than their nose and make so bold and naive claims.

Re:"expectations...MMO should contain" Really? (1)

Soulskill (1459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429015)

The industry is barely a decade old and according to this guy there are paradigms that have been established that hold forever.

There are certainly some well-established paradigms, though I don't believe they'll hold forever.

Think back to Everquest and Ultima Online -- both great games for their time, but there's not much interest anymore besides nostalgia. This is because the industry matured and realized that people didn't want to spend hours and hours beating on a practice dummy or struggling to solo rats five levels below them. With modern games, developers are expected to give enough quest-related content for players to reach the level cap by themselves without that level of monotony.

And really, it's fine to break that rule if you offer compelling enough gameplay that people don't care. (See This Is The Only Level [armorgames.com] .) You just need to have more of something than the early games had if you want a successful game.

"Apparently, this guy has not heard of creativity and innovation."

Quite the opposite -- I'd say those are two of the "expected" quantities in a new MMO. :)

Its allright except for RETCON! (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428357)

If anything wanted me to quit the game it would be the way they handle retcon simply because you can hose a character fairly easy when choosing skills.

They give you out a testing room (which is nice) but its just a bunch of high level dummies which in no way show how the skills will turn out in real game play.

So now you need 20 gp to revoke all the skills you took after that and thats usually way more than you will ever see in 6 months of game play and now you have to redesign your gameplay around the mechanics when you feel like it might be worth re-rolling the same damn character.

Heck... Re-rolling is often faster.

Book based RPG (1)

geek2k5 (882748) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428361)

Does anyone know how closely this MMO corresponds to the book based RPGs by the same name? I seem to recall that the character power creation scheme was interesting.

Re:Book based RPG (1)

Hausenwulf (956554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428891)

It would be like comparing DDO with D&D. It has a little of the original's flavor, but can't compare with the pencil and paper game played with a bunch of your friends. I know. I gm'd a big game of Champions through my college years and beyond. Nothing beats that experience.

Re:Book based RPG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29429305)

Does anyone know how closely this MMO corresponds to the book based RPGs by the same name? I seem to recall that the character power creation scheme was interesting.

The game and setting material appear to be based on somewhat failed experiment of Champions: Millennium Edition using the Fuzion system. Fuzion was an attempt to mish-mash R. Talsorian's Interlock system with Hero and it failed in various ways, not the least of which was public opinion.

Differentiators? (1)

Scraps232 (1379677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428507)

In order for an online game to thrive it needs to fill a niche and fill it well to retain customers, revenue and developers. It sounds like it is 99% the exact same game as City of Heroes, and will have the same problems as CoH as well. How is it different from other MMOs? How is it better? This review is very fluffy and is afraid, unwilling or unaware to answer the most important question:

Why should someone play this game?

I don't mean to nitpick (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428529)

Does it seem to anyone else that the graphics engine in this game already seems extremely aged?

I understand that MMOs have a longer development lifespan than most other kinds of games, but it seems like they started off with a crappy engine, threw some cell shading onto it, and then said "Ok, that looks decent enough, on to the rest!" It may also be an issue of not seeing the graphics in motion or something, but by and large, from the screenshots I've seen, it just seems like some crappy texture work with lines around every outlying polygon.

Again, I don't mean to nitpick, but you'd think that in today's cut-throat next-gen MMO development environment, they would have put a higher emphasis on better graphics.

Re:I don't mean to nitpick (1)

hodagacz (948570) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428751)

You can turn off the black outlining in the advanced graphics options. I think it looks really good with outlining off.

Re:I don't mean to nitpick (1)

pdboddy (620164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428957)

Eeh, you can only get so realistic before you start to choke the average computer. MMOs appeal to a wider crowd than just the "hard core" gamers. And this came up recently in an article somewhere, can't find the link currently, about how fun or a good story beat graphics.

And as mentioned, the outlining can be turned off. I left it on for a reason... it gives a comic book feel to the game.

Good to see I'm not the only one (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429001)

Actually, it's good to see I'm not the only one.

And I don't think it's just the engine.

When I put the biker vest (as a random example) on a character in the old COH, I can really see the wrinkles and whatnot on it. In CO it just looks a lot more bland and smoothed out, in between those cel shading lines.

Re:I don't mean to nitpick (1)

jitterman (987991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429581)

I don't play MMOs so I wasn't going to voice an opinion, but since you ask, why yes, I *do* think the graphics kinda suck, at least in still-frame. I don't think you're nitpicking at all.

Re:I don't mean to nitpick (1)

God of Lemmings (455435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429583)

First of all, the cell shading can be turned off, but I do have to agree that they could have quite easily put better quality textures in it.

Unanswered questions (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428931)

How many different characters can you create? Where do you get the lifetime subscription? (I don't see it on the website.) Is this a game even an 8-year old can enjoy? And most importantly, how large can you make the female Champion's breasts?

Re:Unanswered questions (1)

pdboddy (620164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429161)

There are sixteen slots for characters.

The lifetime subscription was for pre-orders only, and ended around Sept. 1st.

The 8-yo could enjoy the game, yes, if they like MMOs.

About this [googlepages.com] big.

Re:Unanswered questions (1)

zogre (1080899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429501)

How many different characters can you create?

8 to start with, eventually they plan to offer additional character slots for a small fee. However, in-game each character can have multiple costumes that are completely different from your original (even down to changing body size and proportions) so it's not quite as inflexible as the 8-character limit initially seems.

Where do you get the lifetime subscription? (I don't see it on the website.)

AFAIK, the lifetime subscriptions were only offered up until the official release - so unless you participated in the Beta or the "early start" offered to certain pre-order customers, it wasn't really an option.

Is this a game even an 8-year old can enjoy?

There's lots of bang-boom, the controls are fairly simple, an 8-year old that enjoys comics and has the computer skills required to operate the game could enjoy it. I would not let the child play unsupervised, though.

And most importantly, how large can you make the female Champion's breasts?

Quite large, but not disturbingly so. There really isn't any 'boob physics' to speak of, like you'd see in a fighting game. They just sort of poke out there like a pair of bulbous road cones.

I get much more amusement out of making characters that have disproportionate bodies - huge gangly arms with short legs, gigantic melon head, etc.

Rookie reviewer? (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428947)

Contradictions and free passes galore. I've worked as a game reviewer and this has all the hallmarks of a rookie trying to cover a massive title like an MMO. Major UI lag, poor quest structuring, lack of starting areas, etc. yet all is forgiven each time and the game still pulls away an 8/10? 7/10 maybe would be a truer reflection based on the text given here, max. Some of the issues raised can be fixed fairly easily via patches, some may be more laborious, but once they have been addressed then maybe an 8/10 is more in order.

People underestimate the time required for even modest length titles, and MMOs often take weeks of play - not levelling or playing for fun, but dedicated review work where many characters are created and every nook/cranny/feature is tested - and obviously if the reviewer is sitting on a lvl 31 none of this was done. Slashdot has always failed miserably on game reviews and I think it is one of those things better left to the places that do them best.

Seems like Just a Console Title (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429123)

The whole look and feel of CO makes it seem like a title designed to be played on a console, not a PC. I was severely disappointed in this title, despite being a big fan of COH/V, because it felt like nothing more than a simplistic console product, aimed at the ADHD crowd. You never seem to stop fighting, everything is a distaster happening now, the whole world is full of a new criminal every 20 feet etc. The simple UI for attacks and blocks was also unimpressive.
I am not a console player, I like complex games and I like the control to be had from a mouse and a PC-oriented UI. This game seemed to lack that in spades. It felt like I ought to be using a console controller and I just couldn't shake that.

Now I admit I have a bias against consoles. I have played a lot of them and always lost interest in short order. As a result I lost interest in this game as well, without ever making it out of the tutorial.

I would give it a 3/10 personally. COH was brilliant and I will likely return to playing it at some point, but this simply failed to make the grade.

No grouping (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429169)

I'm enjoying the game immensely, but I've seen no mention of the game's most glaring ommision, if not what might actually kill it: Total lack of LFG support.

Getting out and meeting other players is what MMORPGs are all about. To support this, modern games all come with some kind of built in interface to help players looking for groups and groups looking for more players meet up. Champions has...nothing.

In a way, it is actually worse than you might imagine. At least in most games you can fall back to spamming global chat with "LFG" messages. However, Champions' shard design means that any such message will only go to the 40 or so players who happen to be on your shard. There could well be 20 people sitting around waiting at the entrance to some group quest and spamming zone chat for teammates, but they will never meet up if the game happened to put them all on different shards. What this means in practice is that groups are very rare. I have seen a few supergroup-tagged heroes running around, but they are a minority. If you want to find a good group, you will probably have to find some offline way to meet up with them. The flip side of this is that once you do find some friends to play with, meeting up with them couldn't be eaiser. Since there are no servers, you don't have the situation where friends get stuck with mains on different servers, or have to develop chars (perhaps the same char!) on different servers so they can play with friends and with their guild.

You also don't have to do silly things like write down your friend's alt names of a slip of paper to keep track of them all, and add all 30 of them to your friends list. Characters are designed using a "Toon name@account name" format, and adding the account name as a friend (or guildmate) is sufficient to get all of their alts, now and forever. Chats work the same way. You don't have to care about servers or alts; if a friend is playing the game, you can find out and chat with them.

Re:No grouping (1)

God of Lemmings (455435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429685)

I have to agree. The developers really do not understand how big a problem this really is. Unless they fix this, the game will die a slow death, or at least sputter along until they do add it. I figure i'll play it now for a couple months. Then give up if they don't fix LFG. Maybe in a year I'll check back if its still around.

No Props for HERO Games and Steve Long? (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429373)

C'mon. I'm sure the MMO is nice and all, but give credit where credit's due. Champions and the HERO system games are very good RPGs. I still have a huge collection of d6's from that... Who doesn't love the uber-villain with a 300-point VPP who puts it all into 8d6K+AP+IKB, ... am I wrong?

Actually, from what I can tell, they mostly borrowed the name and a concept or two from Champions and that's about it. Not much of the ACTUAL Champions game is found in the MMOG

What do former Champions players think? (1)

robkill (259732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29429587)

I'd be curious to hear what players of the old pen and paper RPG version of Champions think. The best part of the game was the separation of game mechanics from character type. It sounds like CO got that part right. The differences between normal, killing, no normal defense, and ego/psi attacks also made for interesting character variety. Combat in the original RPG was somewhat tedious and arithmetic-intensive. The review mentions "killing" henchmen. One of the hallmarks of the RPG were characters with "Code Vs. Killing" psychological limitations. What world would accept superheroes who casually walk into a fight and kill their enemies?

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