This second and final entry of my Champions Online open beta diary has been a long time coming. My apologies! Check out entry one here!
August 21 – 24
A Two-Four Of Justice
After a brief helicopter ride our hero finds herself in a military base in the Canadian wilderness. Considering the urgency with which she was called into action, Sad Robot Girl expects to find total chaos and evil run rampant upon her arrival. Surprisingly, there are just a few zombies roaming about and a massive snowstorm encircling the base; nothing a good Canadian boy can’t handle with a stiff back and a sturdy snow shovel. But the first order of business is a trip to Powerhouse, the superhero training facility.
Now, Champions handles character development in an interesting way. Each time your character levels up, you earn points than can be spent at the trainers’ to learn new powers, add new effects to old ones or increase your stats. The prerequisites for skills are very flexible, usually you must have x number of skills of the same power set or slightly greater than x number of any other kind of skills. It really allows players to customize their heroes’ power sets according to strategy or preference. Here, the ability to change the colour of your powers helps to make divergent types of abilities look more cohesive. You won’t look as silly as you could zapping someone with lightening one moment then burning them with fire the next.
There’s a pretty good selection of abilities including a number of travel powers. Travel powers are auxiliary skills meant to help you traverse the landscape. These range from the typical, like flight or super speed, to the more unusual, like burrowing or teleportation. But other then being really useful to get around they’re great simply for the fact that you get one almost immediately after the tutorial, which makes life much easier. Powerhouse’s other nice feature is that it allows you to try skills before permanently buying them.
After perusing the selection of skills, I chose an area-of-effect darkness attack and jet boots flight for a travel power. A few mission in, it turns out the whole undead-blizzard mess was caused by one of Dr. Destroy’s head henchies sent to make a deal with some powerful other-worldly demon. A short inter-dimensional trip later, SRG narrowly defeats her second major opponent and the sun shines again above the Canadian wilds.
Most of the other missions in the Canadian Wilderness were standard MMO fare but presented with a bit of humour. I found myself thwarting paramilitary gangs and freeing sasquatches at the behest of Lt. Robert and Douglas McKenzie (funny eh?). At first, there were a few “broken” quests that couldn’t be finished because of NPC spawning problems but, to Cryptic’s credit, these issues were fixed by the next day. With only a few quests left undone, it was time to head back to Millennium City.
You Don’t Talk About Hero Fight Club
Returning to the city after the tutorial was a major shock. No longer penned into a small area, you realize it’s huge. Close to the helipad you arrive at is a large central plaza ringed by towering skyscrapers. There you’ll find a bank to store items in, places to learn item crafting and various vendors. As well, nearby, was a counter where you can trade in points earned in PVP battles for costumes and goodies. While you don’t have to physically go there to participate in PVP battles, as you can jump into a queue anytime by simply clicking the icon on the HUD, it felt appropriate to visit before my first match.
A brief wait later SRG was teleported to what looked like a shady underground fighting arena. Apparently, heroes like to throw-down in the crummiest of dives. The match was a chaotic 5-on-5 mêlée of 10 randomly assigned players. These super powered rumbles were fun but the random match-ups sometimes resulted in some highly unbalanced fights. My first match, a not-so-shabby 6:1 kills/deaths ratio! But before I got to explore the rest of Millennium City, giant robots intent on annihilating everything appeared bringing the beta to a close.
Champions Online was developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Atari. It is currently available on PC for $49.99 USD. 1, 3 and 6-month subscriptions cost $14.99 USD, $41.97 USD, and $77.94 USD respectively.