- Death and Rebirth - One of the biggest recurring plots devices in comics is the death and eventual return of the main character. I would love to see a Nemesis mission or Lair that you can be complete with three to five players, but that also allows you to solo with a super-buffed character. At the end of this mission, the only way to overcome the final villain would be to sacrifice your character. There should be a cutscene funeral attended by all of your other NPCs (from the rest of these suggestions) and the Champions. Then you should be locked out of your character for 30 days! That pill would go down better if you have other alts to play or a protege (again, see below).
But then you would be rewarded with a resurrection. Hopefully this could be tied in with your crafting profession. For instance Mysticism has an magical resurrection, Science has your character emerging from a superhealing medical tank, and Arms has the character return from hiding since they faked their death. Non-crafters would get a standard resurrection sequence.
If the rewards are good enough, you would have players looking forward to their characters dying.
- Love Interests - Where would Spider-Man be without Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy? How about Superman and Lois Lane? Kitty Pride and Colossus? Green Arrow and Black Canary? Do you get where I'm going with this? I can't think of an MMO that has trod this territory outside of the RP community. We're talking Bioware stuff here.
Aside: Speaking of Bioware, I wonder if SWTOR will have a romance subplot. You know they love doing that sort of thing.Anyway, I'd love to see options for love interests: a regular person, a heroic contemporary, or (see the next point) a reformed nemesis. Maybe the person is in love with your character or their secret identity? You know your nemesis has to get involved. Every love interest needs to be kidnapped sometime.
And what's even better than a love interest? Any fan of Janet Evanovich or Stephanie Meyer can tell you the answer. A love triangle. Aw, yeah!
- Nemeses Today, Friends Tomorrow - Black Cat, Catwoman, Emma Frost, the list goes on. There are any number of villains who have become the friends and confidants of their heroic opponents. How about this for a story arc: you are fighting your current nemesis in their lair when another prior nemesis another show up to fight them as well. You grudgingly work together to take down the villain as neither of you can do it alone. Eventually, your hero either comes to a truce with this nemesis (so long as they give up true villainy) or you have them come over to the side of justice fully. Redemption can make a great story. And the occasional lapse would be fun as well.
- Protege - I originally typed sidekick there. But since Champions already uses the term, I thought I should find a good alternative. It's not appropriate for every superhero, but there is a strong tradition of characters either mimicking or wanting to help a main character. Like Batman and Robin or Captain America and Bucky, having a protege can bring something to a character. Of course, when a potential protege shows up, you should get to option to say "Buzz off, kid. This isn't a game." (Of course if you choose to do so, I'd love to see the rejected one come back as a nemesis.)
If they also use the character death idea above, you would get to take direct control of your protege as they step into the shoes of their mentor. Heck, some people might even enjoy using the protege so much that they put off the resurrection plot indefinitely.
Like many of these ideas, any reason to use the character creator again (especially with all of your unlocked costumer pieces) is a good thing.
- Secret Identities - Of all the suggestions I'm making here, this is the one that, although it's the strangest, may be the most comic booky (and therefore most important) of them all. If Cryptic can step up and give our characters the options of having secret identities with plotlines to match, it might take the game into the realm of actual role playing games. How can you not want to weight the difficulty of maintaining a private life while fighting crime on the side? Who won't feel the tension over who to tell and who to keep your secret from? If the developers can give our superheroes something else to worry about beyond which villain to thwart next, then it could elevate Champions Online to a height greater than the MMOs that preceded it.
- Agree, disagree, or make your own suggestions in the comments.