From Cryptic Studios, the creators of City of Heroes, comes a new super-hero MMORPG for the PC and Xbox 360. Champions is now out and available for purchase from your local game retailer, as well as Steam.
Champions Online takes the character customization of City of Heroes and turns that dial up to 11. Beyond simply configuring costume pieces and colors, Champions Online gives you full control of your character's height, weight, body proportions, and even their stance and running animations. Want a giant, oversized brute with massive arms who stalks forward with menace? Done. How about a savage beast, who runs on all fours? In Champions Online, it's possible.
In addition to being able to customize the appearance of your individual character, Champions Online also gives you control over the color of your character's powers, and the look and color of your character's weapons (if any). If you want green flames, lavender eye beams, or a gold-plated shotgun, the choice is yours.
But where is Champions Online truly different from other MMORPGs, especially its spiritual predecessor, City of Heroes?
In Champions Online, you have your fairly standard "Green and Blue bars" of Health and Energy. Predictably, your Health is the amount of damage you are able to take, you use your Energy bar to utilize your powers.
But where is this game different? Every hero has a basic attack, whether it's punches or fire blasts or pistol shots or whatever, that actually builds Energy, rather than using it.
The result is that truly, your Energy bar is never really empty for long. Combat is an action-packed game of building up your Energy bar with combos of basic attacks, and then using that Energy to unleash your more potent powers.
Downtime is minimal, combat is fast and very few powers have "cooldowns" or "recharge time".
Additionally, very few attacks "root" your character in place, allowing you to freely move about the battlefield. In many cases, this sort of "run and gun" style not only looks dynamic, it's good tactics, as some enemies sport area of effect attacks and other effects that are going to make you want to move out of the way.
Every character is capable of using a Block function, as well, mitigating incoming damage at the expense of continued attacks. Many of the higher level enemies have "tells", indicators that a large and very damaging or dangerous attack is incoming, and you better block!
The combat system in Champions Online is closer to "beat 'em up" games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance than traditional MMORPGs. There is a bunch of tiny details that collectively different in pronounced ways. For example, much of the objects in the game are destructible and, depending on your strength, can be lifted and thrown at enemies.
A very dynamic combat system, featuring unorthodox power usage, is really important, because the game is very big on...
Create Your Hero, Your Way:
More than just offering visual customization options, Champions Online truly allows for freedom in character design by featuring a classless, powers-based level structure.
That's right, in Champions Online, there are no classes, and few limitations on what powers you are able to select from.
Powers in this game all fit into Frameworks, loose collections of related powers that constitute something of a "set". For example, all the Fire-related powers are in the Fire Control framework, while all of the gun and explosive based powers are in the Munitions Framework.
However, you can choose from any Framework you want, and mix them however you want. If you want a gun-toting half-dragon necromancer who carries an assault rifle and raises the dead and can breath fire, that's your business.
There is, obviously, a reward for specializing in a single Framework: Every power in the game is on a Tier, from 1-3. The higher Tier powers are, obviously, more powerful and unlock at later levels. If, however, you have a multitude of powers from a single Framework, the higher Tiers of that Framework unlock at a lower level for you than for someone who dabbles in multiple Frameworks.
Inevitably, though, all Tiers from all Frameworks are available, and high level characters can really take any power they want.
On top of your attack, defense, support, and utility powers there are also...
These deserve a special mention, because unlike many other MMORPGs Champions Online does not make achieving a method of swift travel around zones into a chore or something you have to earn towards the end of the game.
Travel powers in Champions Online become available at level 5. To give you a sense of perspective, just finishing the tutorial of the game leaves you at level 5-7. So, your character can fly, teleport, swing, or whatever the case may be more or less right from the beginning of their career, no waiting till level 14 or 40.
In Champions Online, you are super-heroes. Super-villains are not, at this time, playable (although see the Nemesis system later for a bit on that).
But, the game still does feature PVP. There are duels (as depicted above) which you can do at any time, any where, with consenting parties.
There is also the Hero Games, a sort of in-universe professional fighting league for superhumans, which features multi-hero bouts and even cage matches.
Finally, a rather unique feature of Champions Online is the...
In Champions Online, high level heroes have more concerns than villain groups like VIPER or the machinations of Doctor Destroyer.
As you advance in the game, you eventually get the opportunity to create your own Nemesis, a foil and opponent for your hero who will have an entire series of story arcs tailored just for you. You design your Nemesis using the same extremely versatile and creative character design tools available to player characters, and set aspects of their personality and powers for the game to use to generate missions for you.
Your Nemesis will ambush you, send their minions after you, and engage in diabolical plots you will have to stop. You can recruit friends to help you fight your Nemesis, but beware... they may have Nemeses of their own!
Champions does not use a class system, but instead uses a mix and match system based on the concept of frameworks. Each framework is backed by a power pool, and they are as follows:
All frameworks have four tiers of powers, 0 through 3. Each tier requires a progressively larger set of pre-requisites to purchase. The pre-requisite table is as follows:
Tier 0 - No requirements
Tier 1 - Requires 1 power from the framework or 2 non energy building powers from any framework
Tier 2 - Requires 3 powers from the framework or 5 non energy building powers from any framework
Tier 3 - Requires 5 powers from the framework or 8 non energy building powers from any framework
You are completely free to mix and match powers from various frameworks within those rules.
The stat system in Champions uses eight statistics to represent your character. Each statistic governs a particular bonus to your character. What statistics you use are up to you and there are tons of possible builds. During the course of the game you will get to "Super Stat" two of these stats. That will be covered more in the Character Advancement section below. In addition, you can raise these statistics with equipment and talents (also covered in Character Advancement).
The following list shows the name of the statistic as well as what it effects for your character.
Strength - Knockback, Knockback Resistance, Tangible Hold Breakfree
Dexterity - Critical Chance, Stealth Range
Constitution – Maximum Health
Intellect - Reduced Energy Cost, Reduced Recharge, Stealth Detection
Ego - Critical Severity, Intangible Hold Breakfree
Presence - Threat Generation
Recovery – Energy Equilibrium, Energy Generation
Endurance – Maximum Energy
As you level up in Champions, you will gain three types of points as you level:
Power points - These are used to buy new powers
Talent points - These are used to buy talents (stat modifiers)
Advantage points - These are used to rank up powers and buy power advantages
Each level, you will receive either one power point, one talent point, or two advantage points. The progression of advancement is:
Level 1; End Builder, Starter Power
Level 5; Super Stat, Power Point, Travel Power
Level 6; Talent Point
Level 7; Advantage Points
Level 8; Power Point
Level 9; Talent Point
Level 10; Advantage Points
Level 11; Power Point
Level 12; Talent Point
Level 13; Super Stat
Level 14; Power Point
Level 15; Talent Point
Level 16; Advantage Points
Level 17; Power Point
Level 18; Talent Point
Level 19; Advantage Points
Level 20; Power Point
Level 21; Talent Point, Advantage Points
Level 22; Advantage Points
Level 23; Power Point
Level 24; Advantage Points
Level 25; Advantage Points
Level 26; Power Point
Level 27; Advantage Points
Level 28; Advantage Points
Level 29; Power Points
Level 30; Advantage Points
Level 31; Advantage Points
Level 32; Power Points
Level 33; Advantage Points
Level 34; Advantage Points
Level 35; Power Point, Travel Power
Level 36; Advantage Points
Level 37; Advantage Points
Level 38; Power Point
Level 39; Advantage Points
Level 40; Advantage Points
Talents allow you to modify various stats for your character. The following talents are available:
In addition at levels 5 and 13 you will get to choose a super stat. You can choose one of the eight stats, but you may only choose a stat once. "Super stating" a stat will cause that stat to greatly increase as you level.
Note: Your super stats are what determines your damage scaling. Whichever super stats you choose will add damage to all your powers. See the Super Stat guide linked in Useful Links for more info.