The Last Day
For years there has been an MMO that has captured the imagination of players. An MMO that has filled a void in a genre. That genre was super hero comic books. And that MMO was City of Heroes.
Launched almost a decade ago, City of Heroes went from the single game MMO, to the expansion City of Villains, and finally City of Heroes: Going Rogue, which allowed heroes to go to the villain side and villains to go to the hero side. That being from Paragon to the Rogue Isles.
It was announced a couple of months ago that CoX, as it is more commonly called, was closing down. The servers will be shut down later today. Barring any eleventh hour save that has been pushed by fans. So that leaves many in a void that hasn’t existed for years. Granted, it’s not completely empty. CoX fans will attempt to find a new home, and many aren’t exactly looking to join a fantasy game. Some have already said they’re going to The Secret World, other are moving on completely, and some are going to the other super hero MMOs.
One is DC Comics MMO, which I’ve played but not fully. The other is Champions Online.
Champions is based on the old pen and paper game. The game has made news, and it’s received some rewards. And players from CoX will attempt CO. There’s naturally some pros and cons that come hand in hand with moving from CoX to CO
Those familiar with the CoX character designer will love the Champions character designer. Champions is very much as complex as City of Heroes/Villains. With a small addition. Champions allows players to change stances, manipulate individual shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, bracers, leg attachments and boots, whereas City didn’t allow the differences between left and right side.
Champions game play is a bit more dynamic. Whereas in City, your hero/villain is rooted during an attack. So a gunslinger can flip and move and run while shooting, whereas in City, they remain stationary. Champions is also a lot more free when it comes to power choices. Unless you’re a free to play player, Champions allows the player to start their character, choose an opening power (say Martial Arts) and choose powers from other archetypes (like munitions, gadgets, might, ego blades, sorcery, fire, electricity and more). There is some limitations as to what powers you can take at certain times, but you’ve got a lot of freedom. In City, you are locked into a set of powers based on the archetype you chose, and what power sets you chose. Even when doing a retcon, which is basically going back to level 1 and choosing your powers and enhancement slots over again, you’re locked into your archetype and your power sets. The only exception is the power pools. You aren’t locked into that. In Champions, when you do a retcon, you can choose completely different powers, including different opening powers from a completely different power set (unless you are a free to play player).
Many of the larger team missions, such as Therakiel’s Temple or Shadow Destroyer, are not long, drawn out missions. That was one complaint I had about City, whereas a large task force would take hours to play, and often no one really cared how well we did by the time we got to the last couple of missions. The worst was the opening Task Force, offered by Positron which was also dubbed The Baton Death March. A level 10 Task Force, longest, hardest and most difficult due to lack of powers. Since then, Positron has been split into two task forces, but if you really like long, drawn out slogs (because we’re all a little masochistic at times) Positron’s complete Baton Death March is still available through Oroboros, a time displaced area where characters can go back and do missions they missed and claim badges that were available through missions they may have out leveled.
This is more a knock on Champions than a pro. City had epic powersets at level 41. Based on the character’s archetype, players could give their characters some extra power with these epic powers. They could choose four powers from a set and enhance them as much as they could. This went on until the player reached level 50. Further, players could continue to gain powers by doing some of the extra events that would allow characters to gain further powers through a series of trees that would give them a touch more flavour. The character would still register at level 50, but would seem like level 54 or higher. A lot of these missions to achieve these additional powers, however, while fast, were kind of a grind. It was essentially end game content and a lot of people complained about it’s set up. Champions, there’s just one epic power that a character can get once they hit level 35 and have unlocked the Vibora Bay content. Some of those powers are really kind of meh, and the players can’t level past 40 (though there has been talk of upping the level cap to 45, but that’s been a rumour for over a year now).
Vehicles! Champions has vehicles, City doesn’t. Though, the vehicles are more reminiscent of Star Trek, as they’re all fighter craft and hover tanks at present. There is talk about adding motorcycles and cars at some point. And the vehicles aren’t easy to acquire. Either using real world money to purchase a vehicle from the in game C-Store, or running an opening mission to acquire what’s called Drifter Points to unlock one of the vehicles he sells.
The biggest pro about Champions has to be the leveling curve. It’s not nearly as steep as City and casual players may find that it won’t take long to hit level 40. I did that with Rocket Fox in two weeks.
Regarding PvP, while Champions is like City in that it has specific zones in which players can battle players, players can also challenge other players out in the open. By right clicking on a character and choosing DUEL, the two players can engage in a slug fest in the middle of Millennium City or any other zone in the game (with the exception of Club Caprice or the Minefield, two of Champions social areas).
Unfortunately, Champions has a lot of cons, and quite a few of them don’t really need long comparative descriptions. One of Champions major failings is customer service. I’ve made support notes in both CoX and Champions and found CoX had far superior support. I never waited more than ten minutes before a GM would come to assist me with a problem that I had. In Champions Online, I have yet to interact with a GM to help solve an issue. And issues seem to take months to resolve, making some missions unplayable.
Champions is also plagued by the fact that while the first of Cryptic’s MMOs under it’s new direction (remember, Cryptic started City before NCSoft and Paragon Studios took over), it seems the team of developers for Cryptic is concentrating more on Star Trek Online and Neverwinter Online. The latter two are seen as the major money makers, and thus Champions development has suffered. Aside from vehicles and one new mission, there has been no new content, no new areas, and no new development on the horizon. Players are promised a lot of stuff, but some has taken over a year to complete, or has been completely forgotten.
Another con for Champions is the fact it is developed by Cryptic Studios. A lot of people who played City felt they got shafted by Cryptic. The studio left a huge bad taste in their mouth and anytime a new game would be announced like Star Trek Online or Neverwinter, there was some excitement until readers saw the developer; Cryptic Studios. That made their decision for them to never try the game because they had a bad experience with Cryptic.
In the end, the choice is up to the player. Already there have been several people who have logged onto Champions who have the tag in their bio that says “CoX refugee”. How long they stay will be another question entirely.