It’s the cataclysmic showdown
that comic-book gamers have
been waiting for. Which of the three superhero-themed MMOGs rules the
roost? To determine that, we’ll examine of the three
, Champions Online
) in a variety
of categories and see who comes out on top. Now, let’s don
our cape and up, up, and away!
The visual element of a superhero MMOG is vitally important. Comic
books are a visual medium and the creation of our favorite four-color
superheroes served both as entertainment and inspiration to many a
person. Artists like Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, and Todd McFarlane were a
huge influence upon comic-book (and thus, superhero) culture. Thus, the
visual element of a superhero MMOG is as important as graphics are in
While City of Heroes
recently upgraded their visuals and Champions
chose a bold style, the clear winner is DC Universe Online
may not be fair as that DCUO
is the newest hero in town, but the game
is simply gorgeous to look at. From the majestic skyline of Metropolis
to the gritty streets of Gotham to the orbital views from the
Watchtower, the settings, denizens, and foes are all visually striking.
I’ve found myself spending a good deal of time just looking
at the scenes laid out before me, sometimes not realizing that
I’ve gotten to close to an enemy who’s behind me
and I’ve aggroed him! The various power effects as you use
your abilities really add to the epic heroism feel that any superhero
game should look to aspire to.
DC Universe Online
DCUO is stunning, visually.
A superhero has to have things to do to be heroic; he can’t
just stand around weaving a carpet. No, sir! He’s got to have
enemies to fight, crimes to bust up, alien invaders to beat back, and
so on, which means that there has to be a great deal of content for our
hero to partake in. DCUO
has been adding new content since their
has recently beefed up their content with the weekly comic
series, but the clear winner is City of Heroes
has been around for seven years, and NCsoft hasn’t wasted
their time. They’ve put out twenty issues of content for
players to enjoy. With adventures spanning the gamut from time travel
to fending off alien hordes, there is a lot to do in COH
favorite is time travel. Going back in time to a lesser-powered version
of your hero is eye-opening. You quickly realize how much
you’ve gotten used to the higher powers in your power sets,
and you have to adapt to being limited to just your first few starter
powers. In addition to their normal content, COH
really blows their
competitors out of the water with their Mission Architect system, where
players can design adventures of their own and let other players use
them. A rating system helps you wade through the thousands and
thousands of adventures that have been created for all level types. If
you can’t find an adventure in COH
just not trying.
City of Heroes
There are so many
player-created missions to choose from in City of Heroes.
More than any other genre, character creation is key to superhero
MMOGs. Your superhero outfit serves both as a uniform and as your
identity as a hero (or villain!). We know instantly if we’re
looking at Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man based upon their costume.
Thus, it should be the same way in the superhero MMOGs that we play. A
superhero’s look never goes out of style.
set a very high bar with their character creator system with an
almost infinite amount of combinations to create a truly unique hero.
In fact, most new games today don’t has as robust as a
character creator system as COH
disappointed I am with DCUO’s
character creation system. I
know that you can modify the costume as you pick up costume pieces
during your adventures and you can easily choose which options you want
to showcase. In their most recent webcast for Update 4, they also
announced that there will be a greater number of options to character
height, which is a welcome addition. That being said, I want the most
options available to me when I begin my superhero career. Did Superman
modify his costume over time? Has Captain America’s look
changed over the decades? The answer is no. I don’t mind that
there might be some special options only available if I unlock them,
but I want a huge amount of choice when I initially create my hero or
The clear winner in this category is Champions Online
They took what
had done before them and added to it. Being able to modify
practically each body part (length of arms, length of legs, chest size,
muscle mass, bust size) really allows you to customize the hero
themselves before you even get into the costume. With robotic, animal,
alien, demonic, and even zombie options thrown in the mix, the
sky’s the limit on what kind of hero you can create.
In Champions Online, you can
modify more than your basic costume.
How information is presented to you and your interaction with NPCs can
really immerse you into the comic-book universe of a superhero MMOG.
While both COH
have good presentation and COH
has a really good
contact system (where you can just call them after you’ve
done a mission or two with them), DCUO
is the winner here. I absolutely
love getting a mission as that the contact’s image will
appear in your quest log and there’s a full voice-over
describing the mission to you. While not only bringing that contact to
life in the player’s eyes, it also helps to immerse you more
deeply into the game’s setting. Call me a geeky fanboy, but I
still get jazzed when I see, and hear, Superman congratulating me and
giving me details on a follow-up mission. If that’s not
immersion, then I don’t want to know what it is!
DC Universe Online
Superman is talking to me!