From what Ten Ton Hammer has seen thus far Champions Online is shaping up to be an excellent addition to the super hero MMO genre, and with it's release later this summer you can bet there will be enough spandex and super powers to satisfy even the most particular comic book fan. One of the key elements of any good MMO game is giving players enough options to customize their character to their personal play style, allowing them to feel absolutely unique.
The Ten Ton Hammer staff had the opportunity to get some hands-on time with Champions this weekend, and we're going to provide you a quick look at some of the powers available and how they'll fit together. Without going into too much detail on character creation (which will come in a later article), players are allowed to choose a "framework" for their characters, basically giving them a particular theme, like "Martial Arts: Dual Blades" or "Supernatural." I've grouped the 18 framework types into categories, but if you are a big fan of total control, you can create your own custom framework. Also keep in mind that, as you level up, it's possible to mix and match powers from different frameworks.
Champions has your obvious options for the elements in here including Fire, Ice, and Electricity. Instead of doing things the easy way and making all the powers similar, Cryptic opted to really flesh out each path and added flavor to each. The larger Fire and Electricity attack for example hit multiple targets, while the Ice seems to only affect a single for more damage. Each element will allow players to not only solo effectively, but the also appear to make an amazing support class. With powers like Chain Lightning, Fire Strike, and Ice Blast you can expect this power group to be a player favorite. I also look forward to how many variations of the word "pyro" can be generated by the community for the names of their player characters.
This was my personal favorite and encompassed Archery, Gadgeteering, Munitions, and Power Armor. Archery was pretty self explanatory and makes any amateur Robin Hood into a force to be reckoned with. Gadgeteering looks to be a heavy support role with resurrection abilities, not to mention the ability to summon drones and attack teddy bears complete with pirate hats. Munitions is every vigilantes dream with weapons like the pistol, shotgun, sniper rifle, and hand grenades represented, making it quite a formidable category. Finally Power Armor features cybernetic implants that make you into a walking death machine with abilities like shoulder fired missiles, hand blasters, and even a chest beam. Mixing both ranged and melee abilities you can expect to see some great combos coming out of this category.
What category could make Dr. Strange any prouder than Magic? Sorcery is the most prominent and Cryptic has already provided some video to show a few of the more potent powers. It had many "circles" that apparently bring different benefits to the caster and is probably the closest thing we'll see to a healer in this game. Darkness powers will fit those of you who just can't stand the thought of being a good guy, so now you can bring justice in a dark way. Darkness had one of the most powerful charge up attacks I saw, and it killed almost anything I hit it. On top of all that, Darkness also has a Drain Life ability. Supernatural might not fit this category but that framework was an odd combination of mutant-like abilities such as controlling animals, biting, and a chain lash. It will work well for any melee fan and add variety as a secondary class.
Some super heroes use the powers of the mind, and Champions plans on reminding us of that. An interesting category called Force let me knock targets back using a nifty close range area of effect power to reach out and slap someone. Telepathy was a little less direct but had abilities to confuse and debuff enemies while adding a nasty damage over time effect on top. It certainly won't fair well against melee classes but with a decent travel power, it could perform well. Finally, Telekinesis was a unique mixture of both ranged and melee attacks allowing you to pick and choose your preference. Neither were exceptionally strong but you can't expect flexibility and heavy damage can you? I see these frameworks falling into the support role or augmenting some of the tougher melee classes to make a super strong hero.
The melee class was the final category and includes 4 separate martial arts frameworks and one called Might. I really couldn't tell much difference between the Martial Arts: Dual Blades, Single Blade, Fighting Claws, and Unarmed. They were all different powers but appear to go about things the same way, not that there is anything wrong with that. In the end does it matter if something takes a sword or fist to the head as long as the NPC still goes down? Kicks, fighting stances, and other nuances will separate them, but these seem to be the tanks and melee strikers of the game as everything had a max range of 7 feet. Might was a little different and very much reminded me of the Incredible Hulk. Smashing, throwing, and heavy punches will put this framework in the enemies face and I personally enjoyed the chaos I could create.
So there's your basic breakdown of powers in Champions Online, and can help you get a better feel for your character in the next few months. As you can see, Cryptic is certainly living up to the reputation they created with City of Heroes by allowing a ridiculous number of combinations and customization options. Look for Champions to hit retail your local retail store sometime after July 14th, and then you too can get your very own chest beam.