Saturday, June 26, 2010

Played Lately: Champions Online

  • After reading Blue Kae's post, I couldn't put off trying out the new adventure pack for Champions Online, The Serpent Lantern. So I loaded up my favorite mini-skirted flamecaster and started off to thwart VIPER's latest scheme.

  • Then I stopped again and read zone chat until I found out where I should actually be going. It turns out that there is a guy on the Millennium City landing port who directs you to the new UNTIL building. A recent addition to Ren Center, it's just south of the Champions headquarters. It's also the new location of UNITY's headquarters, which was quite interesting to me because the entrance buttons are amusingly similar.

  • Once finally inside, I obtained the mission, found the transport, was on my way to Africa. The African jungle to be marginally more precise. You could tell it was a jungle because it looked just like a stripped down version of Monster Island. I wasn't super-impressed with the new outdoor zone, but part of that may be that I have to run the game at low graphic settings.

  • The mission starts with a quick tour of the main zone. For a flier like Arcfire, that primarily means darting around the tree canopy and occasionally dropping down to talk to one of the scouts. Once that is out of the way, it's on to the bunkers.

  • Each of the three bunkers is guarded by various outposts that have to be assaulted and cleared before you can try to shut down the generators. Out of the four defeats I faced during the mission, two of them came clearing these posts. It took me a while to figure out that attacking the commander aggros everything in the outpost. Regeneration is good, but it can't compensate for over a dozen henchmen and villains unloading on me. Add in the pressure of impending air support and each camp becomes a tense situation.

  • Once inside the bunkers, the game actually gets easier. The improved VIPER is a greater threat, but I never found myself overwhelmed like I did in the outposts. But while the guards may not have been a huge challenge, the super villains guarding the generators were. The first, VIPER X, was a most standard fight, but every super villain is a challenge for a solo character. The third super villain, Draconis, was quite tough as well, but primarily because of his Personal Force Field power. Since you end up batter that shield so long, you have to make sure he doesn't wear you down.

  • The second super villain, the infamous Freon, was much more challenging. This was where I was defeated my third time. I suspect I would have been defeated much more often if I had not read the boss strategy ahead of time. (Thanks for the heads up, Blue Kae.) That one defeat came from not managing my resources properly. There is a lot to keep track up between maintaining the electricity buffs, avoiding Freon's blinds, blocking properly, and putting out enough damage when you have the opportunity before he wears you down. It is a lot more complicated than anything else I've soloed in the game. I got through pretty well, but I don't know how much of that comes down to studying the strategy, the strength of my character's build, or how much is just because I'm awesome. That last would probably rank fourth after dumb luck.

  • After clearing the bunkers, it was on to the temple to smash VIPER's plans. Clearing the temple was much more difficult than the bunkers primarily because of the many Serpent Mages to defeat. These master villains have their own Personal Force Fields much like Draconis, which makes them very tough opponents.

  • The final two super villains, Viperia and the Spirit Serpent, were tough, but not overly so. Viperia's fight involves collecting gems and using them to activate four pillars throughout the fight. If she did not have specific caps on how much damage she can take during the fight, I thick I could have easily tank-and-spanked her. The Spirit Serpent and his attendant Serpent Mage dealt me my final defeat because of the sheer amount of damage they were doing. On my second attempt, I decided to play it safe and blast them from long distance. That helped enough to see the battle through to its conclusion.

  • Overall, I was happy with the adventure pack. If I had any complaints, its that the story is not as strong here. (Blue Kae compared is unfavorably with the Vibora Bay Crisis and I think he's right.) As well, it was a nice to have a complete adventure to complete in a night, but adding one day of content every two months might feel a little slow. Finally, as everyone else knows, Freon is overtuned. I enjoyed the fight, but making the gimmick more obvious and tweaking some of his frustrating powers will make the challenge more fun.

  • Lead GM Destra from CO Forums put a report up about the recent Play With The Devs session. There was an interesting note stating that Freon might be a little unbalanced. You think?

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. Sounds pretty neat. For some reason today I suddenly had this urge to play a super hero game, and here I thought I might never want to play Champions again.

  2. You were only defeated 4 times? Wow, I'm jealous. Looks like you had the same experieces I did with the bosses, as far as which onces gave you trouble, so that's good.

    Have to agree, overall it was not worth the wait, whereas Vibora was. Hopefully the next AP will be more enjoyable.

  3. Forgot to mention, that when I started the SL pack, I mistakenly when to the Unity HQ and spent five minutes trying to find the mission contact. I need to pay closer attention some times.

    I read the Destra link you included, it's good to hear they're going to take another look at Freon. That fight is a little too unforgiving, and way more difficult than either of the two end bosses.

    @Jaye - you ought to come back and play for a bit Rer and Maeve both pickedit up through the Steam sale so there should be some fun grouping to do at least for the next 30 days or so.

  4. I am itching for my superhero-simulator fix. But Champions Online, if you know me or my blog at all, really ticked me off with the plethora of problems and the sheer lack of polish at launch.

    I mean any game that makes game-changing (read: breaking) changes to the mechanics on LAUNCH DAY, obviously wasn't ready for launch.

    That being said, maybe after LOTRO and Global Agenda moving away from subscription models, CO might follow soon enough, and I can give the game another shot.

    Till then, I am not willing to spend money on it.

  5. @ Jayedub - Hmm. Did I have something to do with that? :)

    @ Blue Kae - Yeah, I put my defeat count in the post just to rub your nose in it. :)

    RE: Unity HQ, I talked to a couple people and flew through the entire building before giving up and leaving again.

    @ Bronte - I wonder what Cryptic will end up doing: F2P, a Sony-style all-game pass, or something. As long as we see them continuing to roll out content, they won't abandon the subscription model.

    If worse comes to worse, you've at least got DCUO to look forward to.

  6. Glad I'm not the only one who went to the wrong office. :)

  7. I have every intention of firing up CO again one day. For the time being I'm still obsessing too hard on DDO to fit it in.

    Another good description of the Adventure pack. If Cryptic keeps putting out content of this quality for free, I'll be subbing up again sooner rather than later.