I eagerly awaited the launch of Champions Online
for a variety of reasons. First, I was a huge comic book fan (and still
am) and spent a small fortune on my now-gone comic collection.
I’ve always been a huge fan of superheroes fighting crime and
opposing evil. Second, I had played the Champions
RPG back in the 1980s with my gaming buddies, so I was somewhat
familiar with the setting. Lastly, it was during one of my separations
from City of Heroes
and I was looking for a new comic book MMOG to try out.
I was lucky enough to get into CO’s
beta and continued to play the game thoroughly after the game
officially launched, and I have to admit, I enjoyed playing the game
immensely. There were a few things that I didn’t care for,
design-wise, but overall, I thought CO
was a solid game. Eventually, my vagabond nature took hold after I hit
level 40 and I wandered off to other MMOG pastures. Since
I’ve been gone for over a year, I thought it was time for me
to return to Champions Online
and give it a second look.
Heroes fighting against the
A lot has changed since I left. CO
is now officially Champions Online: Free to
and supports a hybrid
subscription model. You can pay for a subscription which gives you all
the game content plus the ability to create freeform characters. Your
other option is to play for free, but have limited character slots and
have to choose from specific archetypes as opposed to creating truly
unique superheroes. Let’s rundown some of the changes that
has happened to CO
over the past year.
Originally, a player could choose any power set that he wanted in CO
with the limiting factor only being that certain powers could only be
taken after a player had already selected a specific number of powers
within that power set already or had a minimum number of powers
overall. With the game going to free-to-play, players now have to
choose from an archetype if they don’t wish to pay for the
ability to have a freeform character. By choosing an archetype, the
player’s power progression is fixed and they are limited to
specific powers which they gain as they level. If you choose
the Blade archetype (a sword wielding hero), then you’ll be
unable to get a healing ability as that it is not part of the power
progression for that archetype. Currently, there are 8 archetypes for
free and another 8 that can be purchased from CO’s
The Marksman Archetype.
Overall, I don’t have any issues with the archetype system.
The basic types of hero are available for free and, if you want to do
anything special, you’ll have to pay for it. If
you’re a subscriber, then every option is available to you.
The basic archetypes, while not earth-shattering, are pretty solid and
provide a decent number of options from which to choose.
One thing that bugged me about CO
when I originally played was the zone
layout. The first three zones that you play in (Millennium City,
Canadian Wilderness, and Southwest Desert) had a weird level
progression layout. When you finished the tutorial, you had the choice
to go to either the Canadian Wilderness or Southwest Desert. The first
time I played, my reaction was, “Is there a difference? Is
one area better for me than the other?” The result was some
confusion. Then, you spent the majority of your time hopping from one
zone to the other based upon your level. You would spend two levels in
Southwest Desert, then hop over to Millennium City for another level,
then head over to Canadian Wilderness for a level or two and then rinse
You won't be using the jet to
hop from zone to zone like a madman anymore.
The biggest reason for this hopping around was the insanely varying
levels of the enemies you would encounter in each zone. You could be a
level 10 superhero and be fighting level 10 enemies in one section of a
zone. Then you would cross over the hill to a new area (still in the
same zone) and find yourself facing foes that were 5 to 10 levels
higher than you!
Fortunately, that has been toned down quite a bit. Now, after you
finish the tutorial, you go to Millennium City and begin your
adventures there. Later on, you’ll travel to the Southwest
Desert and the Canadian Wilderness, but now those zones are much more
smoothed out threat-level wise. You won’t be hopping around
like a rabbit on a hit tin roof anymore. There is now no longer the
confusion of where do I go next?