Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Shots: Two Games Free, One Only Temporarily

  • There are two events happening almost simultaneously in the MMO space and I find myself pulled between both. On one hand we have Champions Online: Free For All, Cryptic's free-to-play implementation of their great superhero MMO. (That link is to the patch notes, all 23,000 words of them.) On the other hand we have Beta 5 for Rift, the next candidate for fantasy MMO flavor of the month. Since I was home all day Tuesday, I had the time to take a look at both.

  • When I started Champions, I immediately rerolled my new character from the beta test. Not that I played in the beta very much. Unless a game is ready for prime time, I can't deal with it. But I did jump in during the last week after the launch date was announced and had a really good time.

  • Amazona here (I make no claims of originality) is a Might based hero. So many superheroes do all their fighting with their fists that I felt like I was missing out of something with most of my characters. Beating people up is a lot more satisfying than I expected. Might may be just one power framework in a sea of many more flashy choices, but it shouldn't be overlooked. Also, Superjump is way too much fun.

  • I enjoyed playing through the tutorial again. There were a few tweaks, but mostly it was nice to have so many people around. Cryptic added a few new cutscenes which do a good job bridging the tutorial with the rest of the game. And then the new quest line in Millennium City's Westside is off to a fun start. Even the UI got some much needed love. It looks and feels much neater now. I'm not far into it, but I'm enjoying my time with Champions again and I look forward to seeing how far my new character can go.

  • I didn't want to overdo it with CO, so I also jumped over to Rift. My take away so far: all the good stuff and all the bad stuff everyone has said is pretty much true. Funny that. The game does feel really familiar. But heck, it's an MMO. That's what we expect. But for the time being, it is a breath of fresh air. There are place to explore, mechanics to work out, people to meet. How soon that will wear off (see Tipa's recent Daily Blogroll to see what I mean) I can't say. That's why I'm probably not going to play the beta for much longer. I've already made my pre-order and I know that I want to put some time into learning the game. But I'd rather do that after launch instead of now.

  • Now I'm going to point out a couple things that struck me about the game. Any fans should take this with a boulder-sized grain of salt. First, I don't know what it is about the game, but everything looked a little fuzzy to me. Maybe I had the antialiasing up too high, but even the text seemed a little blurry. Not a deal breaker, but it all felt a little too soft. Second, and this would be a deal breaker if it continued, the very first rift even I participated in lagged so bad that it was completely unplayable. I noticed a patch was quickly released to fix performance issues with public groups, so I hope that resolved the issue. But I haven't seen another event to check it out.

  • Even with that, I had a lot of fun just running around and killing stuff. It was very much an MMO, but that's not a bad thing. I actually like MMOs. And there was enough new to discover that I look forward to seeing more.

  • Before I go, you might be interested to check out a new blog about CO, Let's Play Champions Online. I'm curious how the conversion to F2P disrupts his journey. Benjamin has a good handle on the game so give it a read.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. Beta 5 of Rift was indeed extremely laggy on the first day, but by day two almost all my lag had gone gone. I think allowing 25 people to log in from each beta key might have led to a bit more overcrowding than even the previous betas!

    I had loads of lag again today, but that turned out to be my ISP, since I also have it in EQ2 and my web browser. Other than that, I had smooth gameplay in Rift even in huge raids.

  2. I did the Champions F2P and the Rift beta 5 thing simultaneously as well. It was definitely a good week.

    More people play CO than I realized. It was really bizarre to play it after more than a year; it was like being in a brighter, more colorful STO. I picked up where I left off on my old character who's still very low level but past the tutorial, which I was glad for initially (I hate tutorials!) until I realized I'd forgotten everything about how to play :P

  3. @ Bhagpuss - When I went back for a second day, it has all cleared up. It's good to see the development team working so quick. I'm hoping that the live team has enough to be this agile after launch.

    @ MMOGC - F2P really helped Champions a lot. Blue Kae and I are both hoping that the crowds stick around for a while. Glad you had a good time.