Upgrades and Devices in Champions Online

Like many other aspects of Champions Online, itemization blends familiar elements from previous MMOGs with a unique take on the concept, custom tailored to suit the...
Like many other aspects of Champions Online, itemization blends familiar elements from previous MMOGs with a unique take on the concept, custom tailored to suit the unparalleled customization options present in the game. To help give you a better understanding of how these items, called Upgrades or Devices, fit into the grand scheme of things we’ve put together a handy guide full of useful information for your super-heroic enjoyment.

Upgrades Pt. 1

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Upgrades are items that your character can gain in a number of different ways, including but not limited to: loot drops, crafting, quest rewards, PvP rewards and Perk rewards. Think of these items as a means of enhancing your character in ways similar to obtaining new gear, only in most cases they won’t affect the visual theme you’ve no doubt painstakingly pieced together at character creation. In other words, you gain the benefits from equipping a new piece of equipment, only you don’t end up looking like a hobo rather than a hero in the process.

So think of upgrades as new elements that you’re adding to your preexisting costume that increase its overall effectiveness in some way without altering the appearance. There are, however, certain upgrades, such as some of the above mentioned PvP rewards, that will ‘unlock’ new costume options. Equipping the upgrade itself won’t automatically alter your appearance, but rather allow you to utilize the new costume piece by visiting your friendly neighborhood tailor.

There are three main categories that Upgrades can fall under:

Offense – This type of upgrade make your attacks more powerful or allow you to alter the way in which your offensive powers work in some way. For example, you might obtain an Offense Upgrade that adds a brief stun component to your attacks, or may even have additional benefits such as increased health or reduced endurance decay.

Defense – This type of upgrade can make your hero tougher and can grant special defensive abilities. An example might be a damage shield that has a chance to activate whenever you become damaged by an attack in combat.

Utility – This type of upgrade will often add a special ability that is not directly related to combat, such as the ability to see enemies on your mini-map or making your hero harder to detect.  

Within these three categories, upgrades will come in one of two distinct flavors which can be slotted in either a Primary or Secondary upgrade slot. To equip an upgrade simply press the “I” key to open your inventory, and then drag the upgrade to its associated slot which by default will be located at the lower right corner of the screen. The UI will intuitively highlight the specific slots that an upgrade can be placed into once you begin to drag the item. Alternatively, you can also right click on an item and select ‘equip’ from the dropdown menu.

Upgrade and Device Slots

In the above image, Primary Upgrades will fill the three leftmost slots along the bottom row, while the two rows immediately above will be used for your Secondary Upgrades. You’ll also notice that the primary upgrade slots are mapped to the 8-0 keys on your keyboard. The main reason for this is that throughout your travels you might come across certain upgrades that can be used similar to your other powers, such as granting a small heal or allowing you to throw smoke bombs that can confuse your enemies.

A last thing to note on the difference between primary and secondary upgrades is simply that secondary upgrades typically grant smaller bonuses to your stats or resistances, and won’t have an active power or benefit associated with them that can be manually triggered via hotkeys.

Upgrades Pt. 2

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Within the Offense, Defense and Utility categories, all upgrades will come in one of three flavors; Arms, Science or Mysticism. This will be indicated on the item’s tooltip in the upper right hand corner, and for all intents and purposes is associated with CO’s crafting system. While crafting itself will be covered in a separate guide, here’s a quick rundown of what these three types of items are all about.

  • The main method for advancing your crafting skill is through conducting ‘research’, or by breaking down upgrades into their individual components.

  • Each crafting skill can only break down upgrades of the associated type. For example, an Arms crafter can only break down upgrades labeled as Arms. To make this process easier, when at the crafting station for your chosen profession, if you open up your inventory by pressing the “I” key, any items you can break down via research will be highlighted for you.

  • Certain quest rewards are an exception to the above rule, as many of the upgrades granted through questing will not be associated with Arms, Science or Mysticism. When broken down via research, these upgrades will typically give you a mix of components from all three crafting professions.

Beyond the basic associations with crafting skills, each type of upgrade will focus on enhancing certain statistics, while not enhancing others at all. Below is a brief outline of which stats are not enhanced, listed by type:


Offense – No Presence
Defense – No Endurance, Ego, Intelligence or Presence
Utility – No Presence


Offense – No Presence
Defense – No Dexterity, Recovery or Strength
Utility – No Presence


Offense – No Constitution
Defense – No Constitution, Dexterity, Recovery or Strength
Utility – No Constitution

Taking the above into account, not only will this help you in selecting which crafting profession to focus on, but it should also give you a general idea of what types of upgrades might best compliment your character’s power set. Keep in mind that there are no arbitrary restrictions on which type of upgrades you equip in your primary or secondary upgrade slots, so if you want to mix and match between types you’re certainly free to do so to find the best combination that works for the type of character you’re playing.

A final thing to be aware of with upgrades is how they relate to Builds and Roles, which become available at level 8. For each build you create, you can also select exactly which upgrades you want associated with that build. For example, you could create a build focused on fulfilling an Offensive Role and equip a set of upgrades focused on Strength and Endurance, or a separate build focused on a Defensive Role with a set of upgrades focused on Dexterity, Constitution and Recovery.


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Devices are items that typically grant you a limited or single use ability which varies depending on how the device was obtained. Most often devices will be gained as loot drops which bear some association with the specific foe you just defeated. For example, you might find a wand that lets you shoot dark magic at your target before running out of charges by defeating members of Demon, while defeating irradiated VIPER agents in the Southwestern Desert might net you a device that grants limited protection from radiation damage.

Certain quests might also require the use of a particular device which will be given to you by the NPC from whom you obtained the quest in most cases. Lastly, some devices can also be crafted by each of the available professions.

To use a device, open your inventory by pressing the “I” key on your keyboard, and simply drag the device into one of the 5 device slots along the bottom right corner of your UI by default. Alternatively you can also right click on a device in your inventory and select ‘equip’ from the drop down menu if you’re not too concerned about which specific device slot the item is placed into.

You’ll notice in the above image that the device key binds will be directly to the right of your primary upgrade slots. To use any of the 5 equipped devices hit the ‘control’ key plus the number 1 through 5 depending on which device you intend to use.

While the concept of devices is pretty straight forward compared to upgrades, they typically won’t drop as commonly and certainly shouldn’t be overlooked as a means of adding some temporary new abilities to your current repertoire. Your equipped devices can also be swapped out with each ‘build’ you create the same as upgrades, so there’s some flexibility to be found there in terms of equipping different devices that enhance a given role you want to fulfill at any given moment.

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