April 27, 2012

Champions: On Alert!; Surprising Update

One thing I can say is that I have been pleasantly surprised with the turnaround in Champions Online. Now, this is not to say that everything is going smoothly or perfectly but the direction and the way they are working their designs has been pretty good. They’ve started implementing methods and such for Champions that has over all improved the game, honestly, and looks to be leading towards giving some good overall. It isn't all peaches and cream, but I am going to just discuss what has impressed me.

Now, I know there are people that believe the mod system is a bunch of hooey or some other thing like that, but just taking the new item and gear system into account, the overall improvement just on mid-range mods alone, is a staggering improvement over what we use to have. The vocal minority complaints have basically been coming from those people that can’t farm one critter over and over for the best of the best gear. In short, Cryptic has now given a foundation to keep playing instead of the former log in when the new content releases, complete it then log out for the next several months model that has currently been in the game as it stands. IE, they gave people reasons to play now, and for some odd reason, those vocal people find that a horrible idea. *boggle*

Old systems were removed because, frankly, they weren’t going anywhere. I know some people like to claim that the old crafting system was the “best of the bestest” out there, but really, it was crap. Having a useless system that was worthless from the minute you started messing with it, and even the interesting items only the crafter could actually use was a ridiculous idea to begin with. In short, they removed the mess of useless stacking components and just gave us ways to get the special stuff from vendors. And now can just combine items for the stats we want, and put them in the gear we desire. No more of the random stats that do very little for the character.

The Alerts themselves are actually pretty good, with a few quibbles. Over all though, they provide content and if you are hunting for some costume pieces you always wanted, the bosses can drop particular pieces that can be used or sold by you. In addition to that, each of the types can either help you level, give out a large amount of resources (money in the game) or even provide you with modifications. Then there are the special types which are generally week long variants of the other three but with a special villain or villain group to combat. It’s a good foundation start and I can see Alerts being used to introduce special event content that has more of the super hero flavor to it, such as moving the Undead Hero fights during the Blood Moon to Alerts instead of having them out in the world.

The biggest thing that I am actually interested in that was just announced as a contest that can be found here is create your own villain, which the Grand Prize is your villain will be featured in an EPIC 10 man encounter (ie raids). The game system already is set up to support raids now, you can see it through the team up window, and this actually makes me happy to see that large scale content like this is finally being considered for Champions. It has been needed to help with endgame and the new foundation for loot and such that was created gives the devs a large amount of leeway in creating unique items and upgrades for characters as Champions now pushes forward.

The follow up now is to wait and see when the lair review goes through, which is also supposed to include epic lairs (which are supposed to be very tough 5 man content, IE heroic dungeons basically). The dungeon finder is already in place, as it can be seen in the Instance Queues window with its own tab, but the dungeons themselves have not been hooked in. And after that, there is supposed to be new content with a level cap raise and talk of new zones. I can only hope that this will include increased support for new power sets as well for the game as well as reviewing what’s already out there.

The future is looking bright, and if in gam activity is any proof, this was just the type of thing that Champions needed to get the ball rolling again. Hopefully we will see more in the future.

Edit: Something else I forgot, the number of costume pieces that people have always wanted were also released with this update that you can find as random drops from the NPCs in the world or using new in game type currencies (similar to TOR) you can buy them from special vendors instead. It's a great way to flesh out characters now.