Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That's a Good Look

In my previous post, I said I wanted to try to keep updates coming out every two weeks. I can see how well that went. I’m still going to shoot for that goal, but also insert short posts in between. I realize that not every post needs to be 700-1000 words. Sometimes ideas only need to be planted and left alone to grow, rather than being groomed. With that being said, today’s post will be more of a longer one, but its something shakes my ideas on what gameplay can be.

Over the last couple of months, World of Warcraft has become less interesting to me. This is a combination of knowing no new content will be released until the pre-Cataclysm 4.0 patch, and the fatigue my guild was suffering. Because of these factors, I began to play through a back-catalogue of games that I glossed over. One of these, which came out a year ago, was Champions Online. Champions Online is a MMORPG based on the 1980s pen and paper game Champions. Cryptic, who originally developed City of Heroes before it was bought by NCsoft, created Champions Online as a means to reform their super-hero MMO idea. What I’ve found, is that it works, but not in the way normal MMOs do.

Let’s first get a couple of things on the table. Champions Online is not as deep, complex, or expansive as other Triple-A MMOs (ie. Everquest 2, World of Warcraft, etc.). The endgame is severely lacking, and gear has no standards by which to follow. Simple bugs and gameplay flaws are prevalent (why is there a level requirement on backpacks?). However, with all of that considered, it is so fun to play.

The character creator is the most vast and robust in any game, period. You can recreate almost any character from your favorite show, movie, or comic book with near pinpoint accuracy (though naming restrictions will limit your creation due to copyright issues). Have a concept in you mind of what you want your hero to look like? You can make it here. Want a hero with a shark head, cape, shoots fire from his palms and runs at superspeed like the Flash? Sure thing!

Champions Online takes the comic book theme to its visuals, allowing for thick outlines around characters, making the world feel like a mix between the 2D style of a comic book and the 3D expansiveness of MMOs. The game engine also allows a few other tricks I have not seen in other MMOs. Physics play a part in the game as well, letting you pick up crates, cars, signs, and throwing them at your enemies. Bottles can fall over when you run over them. This creates an atmosphere where using your environment around you is sometimes advantageous. If enemies are standing near explosives on a cliff, blow them up. The explosion will knock your enemies over the cliff and they’ll take falling damage and die, netting you rewards and experience.

Imagine if you were able to mix abilities from the Rogue class with those of the Hunter class in World of Warcraft? This is how the powers system works in Champions Online. There is a total of 19 different power sets to choose from: Fire, Ice, Electricity, Force, Archery, Gadgeteering, Munitions, Power Armor, Single Blade, Dual Blades, Fighting Claws, Martial Arts, Telepathy, Telekinesis, Might, Darkness, Sorcery, Supernatural, and Celestial. Mixing and matching abilities from each of these powersets allows for unique combinations and synergies that fit together nicely. Rather than classes, Champions Online offers roles, which are effectively the tank, healer, and damage trinity, though the lines between them are not as defined as other games. Most powersets feature some sort of healing ability, whether it is a lifedrain type or a straight-out heal that can target yourself or others. Each hero also has the ability to block. Think of block in a fighting game, and essentially that is what it is. You’ll reduce damage taken, though not completely. Effectively, this blends the lines between the holy trinity to where fights are free-for-alls, blocking when you pull threat or healing yourself. This method makes supervillain encounters more “actiony” and creates opportunities for unique challenges. It definitely has the zerg element, but it feels right in this genre of the MMO.

Starting today, Champions Online is having its 1 year anniversary. They are celebrating by offering a free week of play. You can go to to sign up, download the client, and try it out.

Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is this weekend as well, so you can be sure there will be lots of new information coming out of Seattle. I’m excited to see what each company has in store.

Look for a new post around the 18th of August. Below are the links for most recent articles I’ve written.

NBA Jam Coming to Xbox 360 and PS3, With a Catch

Transformers MMO Coming to Asia and Africa in 2011

Activision has sold over 20 Million Map Packs for Call of Duty

Mass Effect 2 Firepower Pack Now Available

Medal of Honor Limited Edition, with Battlefield 3 Beta

1 comment:

  1. I want to play but I don't! Maybe once I get used to not working 40 hours/ week and adjust to my classes I will play with it.