Champions Online PvP: Keep on Fighting Till the End

Thanks to the incredibly popular Queen ballad, the term “champion” often evokes thoughts of grueling athletic events or epic world-spanning battles. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Thanks to the incredibly popular Queen ballad, the term “champion” often evokes thoughts of grueling athletic events or epic world-spanning battles. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary offers one definition of champion as “a winner of first prize or first place in competition.” Champions are fighters, warriors, and competitors; they strive to be the best of the best.

So when news of the super hero-themed Champions Online hit the Internet almost two years ago, I was thrilled. The veteran team at Cryptic Studios was going to open up the world of super powered individuals again, but this time they could go back and fix anything they should have done better in the original City of Heroes. Chief among my personal complaints about the original game: Lack of super villain support from the initial release.

Certain that Cryptic wouldn’t make the same mistake, I followed every piece of news that trickled out of Cryptic’s San Francisco headquarter, until it was announced that super villain would again be put on the backburner for the initial Champions release. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement, but I actually understood why Cryptic would make this sort of move. Many games have been released over the years that only support a one-sided sort of environment, and by focusing on just one side of the constant battle, Cryptic could make the lives of would-be super heroes that much more in-depth.

So I fumed and let the feeling pass. Eventually, I felt a bit of relief when PvP in Champions began to be readily discussed, because one of the main reasons I wanted to play as a super villain was to get my daily dose of PvP out of my system. In their “Meet the Team” interview with Combat Systems Designer Geoff Tuffli, the developer talks about his excitement surrounding the PvP aspects of CO:

PvP, on the other hand, when designed correctly offers constantly changing and evolving gameplay that can provide some incredibly memorable encounters. There are PvP encounters I still remember five years or more after the fact. What I like about Cryptic's approach to PvP in Champions Online is that instead of being afraid of it, we're leveraging it where it makes sense to make a better game for those who choose to participate in it.

And we heard more about the PvP system going into Champions Online at this year’s New York Comic-Con from Executive Producer Bill Roper. In this video, Bill talks about “The Arena” where players can go in and join an “underground movement” where players will receive specific items and abilities for facing off against each other. He also briefly mentions rankings and the whole concept becoming a “sports setting.”

It’s this last comment that truly has me excited about the PvP in Champions Online. I hope – and I strongly emphasize the world *hope* - that Cryptic doesn’t take the lazy way out and simply design the Champions “Arena” to function like another famous “Arena” setting in another well-populated MMO. To truly make the PvP pop in CO, the developers are going to need to offer players a variety of formats to compete in such as 1v1, 2v2, 4v4, and 6v6, along with some other formats that play up to the strengths of the Champions Online combat system. Each of these formats should have its own “titles” to hand out to the top ten monthly combatants along with prizes and other rewards for individuals that put some major time into their Arena system.

Speaking of top ten combatants, leaderboards should be included in the official release of these PvP arenas. Every twenty-four hours, players should be able to go online and check out where their current ranking is compared to the overall server, the entire game, and their friends list. Rankings should include other things besides just matches won and lost. Damage inflicted and taken should certainly be on the list, as well as “die hard” type lists that show players that have the best death-to-kill ratio.

In general, the Cryptic developers simply need to make sure that if they’re truly going to do PvP, they need to do it right. PvP combatants want to know exactly how the stack up in a competition against their friends and rivals. Guilds should be able to emerge around the concept of “being the best PvP team” on a particular server. Even without super villains, heroes should be able to compete – and despise – one another if their rankings are disrupted by an opposing team. After all, players in Champions Online truly want to be champions, after all.

And you certainly have a chance to be a champion in Cryptic's game. If you haven't already, go head over to their website and sign up for the beta test. That way at least you can voice your opinions on PvP to the developers.

What ideas do you have to make Champions an excellent PvP game? How can they make their arena system really stand out compared to PvP in other games? Let us know on the forums, then make sure you come back next week for another issue of In the Trenches.

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