Since I’ve spent the past few months casually enjoying Cryptic’s Star Trek Online I thought I’d give their other MMO, Champions Online, a try as well. I had avoided it until now simply because I didn’t care for their previous superhero MMO, City of Heroes and Villains at all. Generally speaking, while I enjoy many superhero movies, and was briefly into reading comics in high school, the MMO-flavored games are so shallow I cannot bring myself to take them serious nor make a significant time commitment to them. Rather than making a bullet-point list, I can sum up my feelings with: Superhero MMOs are not worth $15 per month to me.
However, Champions Online recently switched to a F2P model, which alleviates the psychological burden of "getting my money’s worth" out of an MMO. One of the benefits (in my opinion) of Champions Online‘s Silver (F2P) system is it uses Archetypes (ie. classes) whereas Gold (subscription) players can construct Freeform heroes as they always could. Both Silver and Gold still have all the costume generation during character creation, but Silver players cannot choose Powers, as the Archetypes have preset Power pools. That’s perfect for someone like myself who never liked the character creation in City of Heroes and Villains either. I know for many people that was their favorite part of the game, but at best I have zero patience; usually negative. Why waste my time on a "deep" character creation system then dump me into a shallow beat-em-up game? Just get it over with and let me start beating up bad guys as soon as possible, if not sooner.
Silver players get two character slots to start with, with additional slots available for purchase from the C-Store. I bought Champions Online before it went F2P so I had a low-level melee hero with the super-creative name Nightblade who specialized in dual-wielding swords. After the F2P patch/re-launch my free month was up so when I logged in I was given the option of converting Nightblade over to the Blade Archetype. He was only level 7 at the time and the conversion seemed identical to the limited upgrades I had already made.
Just like I am still very much learning Star Trek Online‘s RPG system, I am very much in Noob Territory with the systems in Champions Online as well, though at first glance it seems much more straightforward and near-traditional. If that turns out to be the case then I only have to learn the terminology and how attributes and abilities synergize. I am fairly unclear on what gear upgrades to get Nightblade but I did notice today when choosing a new Power that certain attributes in the description were highlighted so until I learn for certain I am going to assume that highlighted attributes mean those attributes are considered primary for that Archetype. Once I get a grip on that, choosing gear should be a much easier decision.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, it seems faster-paced than City of Heroes and Villains. I liked getting a Travel Power almost immediately after leaving the Qularr Invasion tutorial, too. I don’t remember if I ever played CoX enough for my hero to get any travel ability, so already this is an improvement. After years of MMO combat where auto-attack is just swinging a sword for bare minimum damage, it still throws me off in Champions Online where the ’1′ key sets off an auto-attack loop using the hero’s basic full attack, but I suppose it does help keep the visual pace of combat fast, if that makes any sense? I don’t normally like melee dps classes but I do enjoy his Thunderbolt Lunge ability, which makes him leap at his target feet first, slam them in the chest, which often knocks them down, and backflips off their chest ready to start with some snickety-snick dual-blade action.
Just like Blue Kae, Tipa and MMO Gamer Chick were my inspiration for trying Star Trek Online, Tipa has inspired me by her occasional adventures in Dungeons & Dragons Online. I think I would like to have an extremely casual, part-time guild in Champions Online where we play under the Silver (F2P) system (except Blue Kae who has a lifetime membership) and may only get together once or twice a month. Nothing to get all serious over, nothing that will detract from our primary MMOs, just something fun for a change of pace every so often. If we get this going, not sure I’ll play Nightblade as I think I would like to play either of the "tank" Archetypes for group activities. The Glacier in particular sounds appealing, being a crowd-control tank, but the Behemoth is also attractive and is apparently the superior tank in its current incarnation.