ability to quickly adapt to a given situation is one of the major
things that sets true superheroes apart from the masses of masked
vigilantes and can be the determining factor in whether you send your
enemies off to cool their heels in Stronghold or you wind up taking a
snow nap along the shores of Big Bear Lake in the Canadian wilderness.
As superbeings continue to proliferate on both sides of the morality
fence, the tactics employed to achieve one’s goals has also
seen a dynamic shift.

Unlike traditional MMOGs, characters in href="" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Champions Online
need not conform to rigidly defined classes, or perhaps more
importantly, the standard roles typically associated with a class-based
system. As you progress and unlock new powers, talents and advantages,
you’re free to pick and choose exactly what path your
character will ultimately follow. Want to be an unstoppable melee
machine that shoots lasers out of its eyes? You can do that. Or perhaps
you want to be a supernatural being that dabbles in necromancy but is
also strong enough to pick up tanks and throw them with little effort;
you can do that too. Within the framework of available powers in the
game, the only limit truly is what your imagination can come up with.

Much like power selection, the role you assume in combat can also be
altered through the use of Builds. The system is fairly robust and
allows you to switch between offensive, defensive, balanced or support
roles at the drop of an irradiated hat. Before diving headlong into the
intricacies of what defines a given Build in CO, let’s take a
closer look at Roles.

Roles – The Basics

Roles could best be described as a set of interlocking elements that
help define how effectively you can potentially tackle a given combat
situation. If you’re familiar with the more traditional MMOG
group make-up of tanks, healers, ranged or melee DPS (damage per
second) and CC (crowd control) masters, then you could look at roles in
CO in a very similar way; the main difference being that you can
fulfill each of those archetypes within a single character if you want

You begin the game in a Balanced role, but there are three others that
can be href=""
target="_blank">unlocked via Perks;
Offense, Defense and Support. To do so you’ll need to deal,
receive or heal 5,000 damage respectively. These tend to open up fairly
quickly, and it’s worth noting that the Support role can be
unlocked even if you don’t currently have any healing powers
selected for your character. Watch for the small green orbs, called
Boosts, which drop from fallen villains; the health gained from boosts
factors into your overall total, and is an effective means of unlocking
your support role fairly quickly.

Each of these roles will provide a specific set of benefits while
active, altering how effective certain types of powers are in combat.
Likewise, each role also has some associated disadvantages to help keep
things balanced. For example, you can deal more damage with attack
powers in an offensive role in exchange for a decrease in the
effectiveness of incoming heals, or a defensive role can help you tank
better but at the cost of increased energy decay.

Roles - Advanced

Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits and disadvantages
associated with each role:


  • Standard Damage
  • Standard Bonus Hit Points
  • Potency of Healing powers
    are standard
  • Potency of Hold and Root
    powers are standard
  • Resistance to Hold and Root
    powers are standard
  • Power decays at normal rate
  • Energy generated when
    blocking incoming attacks is standard
  • Standard Threat generation
  • 1 Versatile Passive slot


  • + All damage is increased by
  • - Bonus Hit Points are
    reduced by 50%
  • - Potency of Healing powers
    and effects are reduced by 20%
  • - Potency of Hold and Root
    powers are reduced by 20%
  • - Resistance to Hold and
    Root powers are reduced by 20%
  • + Power decays at 50% normal
  • - No energy generated when
    blocking incoming attacks
  • Standard Threat generation
  • 1 Offensive Passive Slot


  • Standard Damage
  • + Bonus Hit Points are
    increased by 25%
  • Potency of Healing powers
    are standard
  • Potency of Hold and Root
    powers are standard
  • + Resistance to Hold and
    Root powers are increased by 20%.
  • - Power decays at twice
    normal rate
  • + Energy generated when
    blocking incoming attacks is doubled
  • + Bonus to Threat generation
  • 1 Defensive Passive Slot


  • - All damage is reduced by
  • - Bonus Hit Points are
    reduced by 25%
  • + Potency of Healing powers
    are increased by 20%
  • + Potency of Hold and Root
    powers are increased by 20%
  • + Resistance to Hold and
    Root powers are increased by 20%.
  • + Power decays at 50% normal
  • Energy generated when
    blocking incoming attacks is standard
  • Standard Threat generation
  • 1 Support Passive Slot

As you can see in the above lists, each of the four available roles
alters key elements of your character such as hitpoints, threat
generation and what type of Passive powers you can have active. But
what exactly are these passive powers? Read on to find out!

Building Blocks of Builds

The first part of this guide covered the four specific roles you can
fulfill in combat, but roles are only one of many elements that can
ultimately be associated with a given build. Before giving a complete
breakdown of the other elements associated with builds, let’s
go over some of the basics of what a build is, how they’re
obtained and how they fit into the grand scheme of character
customization within the game.

Much like roles, builds are unlocked through normal gameplay, only in
this case new build slots become available depending on your level
rather than through the completion of Perks. The first additional build
becomes available at level 8, or roughly around the time you reach the
tail end of the Canada or Desert crisis zones. As each new build slot
opens up, a new tab will be added along the top of your main power
tray. To switch between active builds simply click on one of these
tabs, or alternately you can also press the associated keybind on your
keyboard (mapped to the F4-F8 keys by default).

You open up the build screen by pressing the “B”
key. Within this window you’ll see a number of elements that
can be associated with each build as described below:

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Role
    – A dropdown
    menu allows you to select which of the roles you want to associate with
    a given build, as described above. Switching between these roles will
    also add a small graphical element to the left side of your power tray
    depending on whether you’re in an offensive, defensive or
    support role.

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Powers
    – Each
    build allows you to alter the layout of your powers on the power bar.
    To do so, open your power window by pressing “P” on
    your keyboard, and then simply drag and drop your powers in the order
    you’d like associated with a given build.

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Passive Powers

    Unlike most powers, passive powers are associated with specific roles
    which will be indicated by a small icon on the bottom left of the main
    power listing. As the name implies, these are powers that grant some
    form of benefit simply by being slotted, though you can only have one
    of these active per build. Examples of passive powers include things
    like Regeneration, sorcery Auras or martial arts Focus powers.

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Blocking Powers

    As with passive powers, you can also slot one block power per build.
    These greatly enhance the inherent benefits of blocking during combat,
    typically providing additional boosts to resistance of certain damage
    types. Block powers are easy to overlook when purchasing new powers,
    but they can really save your bacon when faced with overwhelming odds
    in both PvE and PvP situations.

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Travel Powers

    While you’ll be using your primary travel power through most
    of the game, a second travel power becomes available at level 35 which
    can then be associated with your various builds.

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Upgrades and Devices
    – You can also select exactly which href=""
    target="_blank">upgrades and devices
    want to use with a given build, which can be handy if you want to shift
    the focus of your stats to better fit with the role you’ve
    selected. To do so, press the “I” key to open your
    inventory and then slot the items you want associated with your build
    as you normally would. This itemization layout will then be associated
    with your new build, but keep in mind that you’ll need to
    keep enough open inventory space for these items to land when switching
    between builds unless you use the same items for each build you create.

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Costume
    – As you
    open up additional costume slots, you can select which of them you want
    to associate with a given build as well. This opens up some pretty cool
    possibilities; for example you might have a defensive build focused on
    Unarmed skills but then decide you want to
    “Hulk-out” (or in this case I suppose that should
    be “Grond-out”) and switch to a Might-focused
    offensive build with a costume change that increases the overall size,
    skin tone or even full costume of your character. There’s
    loads of possibilities for how you can approach this, so be creative!

  • style="font-weight: bold;">Name
    – Now that
    you’ve selected what elements will define your new build, you
    can give it a name which can either be something descriptive, or simply
    something fun; it’s really up to you.

At first glance, putting new builds together might seem like a fairly
complex system, but it also provides an immense amount of flexibility
during combat. Since you can alter any of your previously created
builds any time you like, don’t be afraid to try different
approaches until you find what works best for your character. Altering
your current build is a simple matter of opening the build screen to
make whatever adjustments you’d like, and then the system
will automatically update based on any alterations you make.

A main restriction to keep in mind is that there is a short cooldown
associated with swapping between builds which ultimately helps retain a
certain degree of balance within the system. Otherwise, the sky is the
limit in terms of how you choose to construct each of your available
builds. Whether you choose to create a build that focuses on buffing
certain href=""
resistances or damage types is entirely up to you.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Champions Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.