Monday, August 31, 2009

Played Lately: Champions Online

  • Back before the game's launch, I made an epic blunder in reference to the ability to solo in Champions Online. My error got pointed out to me pretty quickly, but that post is still getting hits to this day. Since I have actually played the game now, I thought I should revisit the question. So, Anjin, just how much can you solo Champions?

  • Quite a lot, actually.

  • This is a game that has learned everything World of Warcraft has to teach about solo content. It feels like the best quest design practices from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. There are multiple quests that all direct you to a well-themed area so that you're finishing multiple goals in the environment. For instance, let's look at Burnside, the ghost town in the Southwestern Desert zone. There are quests to destroy several cursed totems, kill four named ghost cowboys, and collect spirit stones from the various ghosts around time. As well you have to can remove a curse from the town's cemetery and find a treasure map that leads to a lost grave. When all that is done, there is an instance with a major villain inside to finish the story. Such instances are tricky to solo, but can be handled with careful planning and quick thinking. And lets not forget the perks for killing hordes of cowboy spirits and the perk for running in all the campfires around town.

  • So far the only things I haven't been able to solo are the Open Missions (CO's version of WAR's public quests) and a single quest that was marked for three players. Even two player quests, while harder, have been soloable.

  • [Aside: As I'm already on the topic of Open Missions, the implementation here is very similar to that of Warhammer Online. These are multiple step quests that you work on just for hanging out in the quest zone, with later steps requiring greater participation from large groups of people. Where CO has improved on the concept is by clearly marking Open Missions on the map, by placing them close to quest hubs, and by not overloading the game with them. What we haven't got is scalability, the Holy Grail for solo players. Whether or not Open Missions become ghost towns like WAR is yet to be seen. But Cryptic has taken a step in the right direction here.]

  • So that's my verdict on soloing so far. If you enjoy the current WoW quest hub model, you'll find a great version of that here. If you're burned out on that style of PvE, the judicious use of spandex probably doesn't mask it well enough. Personally, I've been enjoying myself quite a bit. If the solo game goes pear shaped at some point in the future, I'll be the first one to complain. (Well maybe not first. Those forum people are scary.) But for the time being, good golly this is fun.

  • As a bonus, I have another character for you, this time modeled on the Kate Kane version of Batwoman, as found in the pages of Detective Comics. It is a stunningly effective costume even with such sparing use of color. This main issue I've had is the cowl. In this first version, I went for the iconic red lipstick which normally pops off the page. But without the proper mask, her forehead blunts the effect.

  • I finally did track down the option to put a half mask on her. (Jeez, those drop-down menus are strange.) But as you can see, you lose the option for lipstick with the mask. I go back and forth about which I prefer, so I'm presenting both for your use. Neither has the red lined cloak, but I image that's due to Cryptic rendering capes as a single cloth texture. Asking for differing internal and external pattern might be too much.

  • Not that anyone at Cryptic is reading this but just in case, might I suggest you add makeup options for partially covered faces? Or at least larger masks in the Eye Accessory slot? And two sided capes while you're at it? Pretty please?

© 2009 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Bullet Points, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. The comparison with the WotLK questing model is apt. Indeed, I think the approach to questing is one of the biggest things separating CO from CoH, and incidentally hits CoH in a vulnerable spot, since the missions in CO are way less repetitive than in CoH.

    I'm very curious to hit Millennium City for a sustained stay, to see how that plays out; the 'patrol' aspect of CoH was kind of fun as a sideline, and added to the superhero feel of the game.

  2. I agree, the quests thus far are alot less repetitive. There are even some indoor quests like CoH had which I was happy about, even one underwater in Canada.

  3. @ Ardwulf - The downside of the model, which I didn't go into, is that WoW-alike questing eat up content fast. As I've only hit level... (let me check...) 18, that's not a problem so far. Haven't seen the Nemesis system yet, so I don't know how that's going to help out. I guess I'm hoping Cryptic has more up it's sleeve than endgame raiding. :)

    @ Jayedub - I do have to hand it to Cryptic for mixing the quests up. And the environments. I can't wait to see what else is outside Millennium City. Monster Island sounds cool, but that can't be all, right?

    Okay, forget blogging. I'm getting back in the game.

  4. Monster Island and Lumeria each have a Crisis Zone to unlock their normal versions, and then yep, those are the two top-tier zones for the game at launch.

    I wouldn't worry though. Rumor has it that new zones are already in development, and that Cryptic's goal was to focus on less is more at launch, knowing they have the tools to build stuff quicker than the competition.

    We'll see.

  5. @ Bildo - Thanks for the info. Nice to there's something to look forward to. Keeping my figures crossed in the hopes Cryptic knows what they're doing.