Saturday, November 6, 2010

Played Lately: Champions Online

  • It took me a while, but I finally got back into Champions Online to try out the new adventure pack, Demonflame. Since those of you contemplating a silver membership would have to pay for access to this content, you might be interested to hear what it's like. I wish I had read about it ahead of time. I usually like to go into a new challenge cold, but I might have saved myself a lot of frustration.

  • And when I say frustration, I mean the PC equivalent of throwing your controller: I punched my keyboard. But let's get ahead of ourselves. There is a story to tell and a proper way to tell it.

  • The adventure pack begins, just like the previous one, in UNTIL Headquarters. Standing off to the right side of the base is Major Violette Boudreau. Like her colleague from Project Snakecharmer, Major Kwame, Boudreau has a single mission for you: stop Luther Black from completing the Demonflame ritual and assuming the powers of the Kings of Edom. Of course it doesn't start out that way. Like any good mission in Champions, you are first tasked to investigate supernatural occurrences in a warehouse. Ah warehouses, the staple of any good superhero adventure.

  • Luckily (maybe not for the world, but definitely for the spirit of drama) you discover that DEMON (the organization, not an abbreviation) is invading the Qliphothic Realm. You fight your way to the portal in the Magic Lantern Bookstore and enter the realm along with Witchcraft and a squad of UNTIL soldiers. That mission is at least a little more interesting than the first, but now is when the adventure pack really takes off.

  • When you arrive in the demonic world, you discover that Black has captured the avatars of the Kings of Edom and is siphoning off their power. It release them, Witchcraft conjures a quite sarcastic Demon Key (who is probably one of the best parts of the adventure park) to aid you. You travel to the various towers (actually you teleport between them, you don't really see a lot of the zone), fight the guardians, and free the imprisoned beings.

  • A lot of the battles have some very different mechanics that I'm not used to in Champions. In the first tower, the enemy constantly transports you into what seems to be an asylum where the mind of the insane attack you. In another, you are constantly attacked by the super villain Jack Fool before he finally takes you on. In another, the villains cast a spell that puts everything in slow motion. The picture above is of my fight with the Left Hand, a towering super villain with nasty powerful attacks.

  • Jack Fool took me out a couple times, but I was able to survive most of the other fights. But even though I didn't die too often, I thought the difficulty was just right. I was constantly under pressure and felt like I had to perform well to succeed. At least that's how I felt until I reached the final battle.

  • This is were the previously mentioned keyboard punching occurred. The Luther Black fight is not about killing the bad guy, per se. Instead, you must keep his and his minions attentions focused on you while the Demon Key releases the avatars' powers from five chests scattered around the room. On the forums, they refer to it as an aggro fight which is quite accurate. You need to put out threat, not damage to win the fight. Only, it seemed to me that this was impossible. I tried the fight five times but couldn't complete it before the timer ran out. I couldn't keep the bad guys' attention so they constantly attacked the Key who always turns to defend himself instead opening chests. I was so frustrated that I took it out on my keyboard.

  • I went away for a day to cool down and think about what I could do different. I know very little about the aggro mechanics because I'm pretty much a solo player. But one thing came to mind: the roles. I usually stay in Guardian role because it is standard all around. But there is a dedicated tanking role, the Protector. When I logged into the game again switched to Protector and tried again. This time I completed the fight with over a minute to spare. I was able to keep aggro almost constantly and the Key could run around and open chests freely. The reason is that since Arcfire has 200 Presence, her threat was minus forty percent in Guardian. When she switched to Protector, she had plus twenty percent threat. That's a swing of sixty percent between the two roles. No wonder I was having so much trouble. All the Presence was actively pushing the villains away!

  • So after a little frustration, I won the adventure and saved the world. Again. Demonflame was definitely a better pack than The Serpent Lantern. Primarily it comes down to the story and how it was told through the game. I'm looking forward to trying it again as well as seeing what else Cryptic has up their sleeves. Just keep the aggro mechanics in mind when you try it yourself.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. Sounds like fun.

    My worst incident of keyboard proxy venting led to me taking my keyboard outside and destroying it the middle of a street. I'm not at all proud, but in retrospect the effect that it must have had on my neighbor's view of my sanity amuses. I had to walk to a PC store and buy a new one the next day.

    I have since learned to walk away when i start to get really tweaked.

  2. @ Yeebo - Ha ha! That is awesome. I hope that your new keyboard learned something from the fate of its predecessor.

  3. Oh indeed, it has been quite well behaved ;-)

  4. Thanks for the heads up on the Luther Black fight, I'll probably do a little preemptive power changing to prepare so I don't have a repeat of the Freon fight. :)

    As far as gaming rage, fighting games on the console have always been the most common sources for me. The worst incident was when I broke the footrest on my lazyboy recliner by repeatedly kicking it after a string of very frustrating Tekken fights vs. the CPU. I actually split the board inside the upholstery in half. :O

    I'm much more zen about it now like Yeebo though, and walk away before things escalate to controller throwing or furniture destruction.

  5. Despite my angst with CO and the lack of polish, it wasn't a BAD game by a long shot, and this new adventure pack sounds like a lot of fun.

    You come close Anjin, but you won't convince me to give it another shot, at least not before the F2P model comes out!

  6. @ Blue Kae - Glad to be of help. It's pretty amazing to me how much swapping roles helped out. I didn't even have to retcon.

    I've never actually thrown a controller. Those things are way to expensive. Keyboards, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. I have several around the house that would be happy to take this one's place. Maybe I should invest in something nicer so that I'm not tempted to take my frustrations out on in anymore.

    @ Bronte - Darn it! I keep trying. :)

    Honestly, at this point you might as well wait for the F2P rollover. Only paying for options and getting 1-40 for free seems like the right price for you. We don't know how much the APs will cost, but I'm hoping Cryptic doesn't go all crazytime with them.

  7. Apparently I still have an active account, which doesn't make any sense cause I was given the game and three months free for review. What's frustrating is I could have been playing this whole time! Unless that is I ended up resubbing and forgot and haven't noticed the monthly charge on ye old bank statement.