Cryptic Studios on January 25th changed their pricing model for the superhero MMO Champions Online to a Free to Play system. Since I can’t slap a score on a free game nor have I played enough to evaluate everything. I am making this a Quick Save, a feature where we have a look at a game for an extended period of time where we can’t preview it or review it.
Not unlike any other MMO, the first thing you do is character creation. And what a fine job Cryptic has done. The attention to detail in the options is staggering. I literally spent an hour and a half crafting my character before just settling on something and jumping into the game (it is worth noting you can find a tailor and redesign your costume at any point without penalty). Everything you could think of is probably here in the character creation, especially within the superhero realm. You can even write a back-story for your superhero for others to read when you encounter them. Lastly, you create a name and you’re off*
*One gripe I have, and this goes for a lot of MMO’s and isn’t isolated to Champions Online. I have NO IDEA what to name my character, ever. I want a random generator for characters. I’ll usually pick something from that. I guess I’m lazy or not creative. Either way it should be in there for people like me.
The tutorial starts you off in a dire situation, there’s an invasion in Millennium City and you among other superheroes must stop it. Your character does interact with other superheroes going through the tutorial, but you can’t team-up just yet. You are instanced in that, whatever you kill you get credit for – not for anything anyone nearby does. Soon enough you end the tutorial by defeating your first Supervillain. Once defeated, you are dumped in a newly restored Millennium City free to do as you please and learn more about the world. You’re given a few more “tutorial” missions to learn how Millennium City works and are asked to pick a special power. For myself I picked an immediate power of flight because really, if you don’t have a superhero who can fly – you’re doing it wrong! However, I might create yet another character who can run really fast or find a travel power that is jumping or something different than flying to compare and contrast against.
I have provided screenshots and in detail you can see how wonderfully realistic, yet comic book inspired this game is. It hits all the right notes and makes you feel part of a larger world trying to do good deeds and stop evil. I never played Cryptic’s earlier City of Heroes or the follow-up, City of Villains. I think from what I have seen a lot has been learned and improved upon. The game is Free 2 Play, but there is premium content that you can buy that is either costume accessories or premium powers. Nothing I can see would throw off the balance of the game not having them, but Cryptic does have to make money somehow.