Champions Online – Gameplay Impressions

So I went to the Toronto FanExpo today and was able to try out the current build of the upcoming MMO, Champions Online.

I played a bit today with two characters; one was a kind of tech dude with a shoulder cannon and variety of palm and chest beams (let’s call him Iron Man), and the other was super-strength (or Might, as they call it). The majority of time I spent on Iron Man.

Iron Man was quite fun to play, but his powers really weren’t set up optimally. Normally, the first two attacks are end-building powers. This guy seemed to only have one (a melee attack), so when I used my ranged attack, it drained end. Once I figured this out, I was okay.

So, first off, the melee attack had a kind of sliding motion to it, so if I hit the button and had a dude targeted far away, it would tell me he was out of range, but still do the attack and I’d slide forward a bit. This became a form of locomotion for me.

Personally, I don’t know if I’ll play it with a keyboard or not. Picking up the controller seemed very natural to me and I’m sure once I learnt what everything does I’d be off to the races. When I put the controller down, I had a bit of a hard time switching gears mentally, but I settled into a groove. In some ways, the keyboard was actually easier, because you can click or tab-target. With the gamepad, you don’t really seem to target as much. On the other hand, you can switch targets much faster by just pointing at them.

I’m sure people will figure out for themselves if they like it.

Anyway, I played it both ways and I can say that I expect it will be perfectly fine both ways, though I would move the block button (which is currently on Ctrl), and the Q and E keys aren’t automatically bound for left/right turning. (E is actually the interaction key, used to pick up loot, use doors, etc.)

Power-wise, Iron Man had to build end with punches. It was maybe two or three hits before the other powers became usable from end gain. I rarely bothered to go to full bar, especially given that I was spamming only one attack to build end.

What’s interesting is that all powers have a tapped and held power execution. For example, if I tapped the 4 key (or Trigger + Y), which was bound to his shoulder cannon, it would fire a short burst at the targeted enemy. If I held it down, it would auto-fire until I ran out of end or release the key. Like I say, all powers seemed to have this, including his chest beam, hand beam, and the PBAoE Force Field push.

The Might character played like you’d expect, really. He had a couple different melee attacks, and a Hurl-type power. The Hurl tore up a chunk of ground and can be used anywhere, like in CoH. I don’t know how it compares to actually picking up an environmental object, sadly, as we were in a zone that hadn’t been completed yet.

Overall, I’d need more time to play the game to get a proper feel for it, but I was already having fun. There was more immediacy in the fight with the boss in the mine. She tended to drop a black hole type power that pulled me in and did damage, then would back away from me when I got close. I would usually hold block and trudge out of the black hole’s range, then ping her a few times. I could see how having a group would be cool, too. She was, perhaps unfortunately, a sack of HP, but that’s probably to be expected. Apparently, however, there are other boss fights where the key to defeating the boss is using the environment. For example, in the super jail, there are power dampeners that are malfunctioning, which you can repair during the fight, which helps you defeat that boss.

Other info:

  • Secret IDs are in the game. Right now, they are a separate costume slot specifically for IDs. He really wanted to say more, and I asked him if there were other gameplay systems associated with Secret IDs and he kinda of thought about it for a second before saying, “I can’t really say right now, but we’re working on some things”.
  • Travel powers are currently teleport, flight, speed and jump. They just recently got these systems, so they’re starting to play with them. He was pretty certain and said a couple times that they intend to do variations on these at the least. I asked him if he just meant different poses but he meant more like (these are my examples, not his) stuff like super speed on a skateboard or whatever. Someone else asked about vehicles and he said not for launch, but probably after.
  • We didn’t really talk about out of combat stuff, but he did say you can craft from the get go. If you saw the picture of the inventory with the space for devices, he explained those are basically powers you make or buy to be used by gadgeteer types.
  • Related to that, he showed my their version of the enhancement systems, which I like. You can slot loot, basically, which has a level (green, blue, … red, purple?) that indicates how powerful it is. There are two types of enhancements, primary and secondary. Primaries tend to have additional effects (the example he gave was Stun), while secondaries just amplify stuff as far as I could understand. The part I like is that, while your enhancements have levels, you can’t outlevel them. If you slot a power at level 5, it will still work when you’re level 50. The difference between a level 5 and 50 enhancement is how powerful they are. A level 5 might be +1% to damage or whatever, while the 50 might be +10%.
  • I briefly spoke to him about missions, but then we got sidetracked talking about instancing. He explained that there will be missions to do throughout the zones. The zone they showed today was a haunted mine where the evil sister of Witchcraft had raised ghosts. Apparently, there’s a mission to capture her. Anyway, unlike other games, you can apparently go anywhere you want, whether you have a mission in there or not. Also, instances are private so there’s no spawn camping, but teams can go in each other’s instances.

The game’s not out until sometime next year, so there’s still lots of time for things to change.  You better believe I’m crossing my fingers for a beta invite.

-Foo

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