Champions Online Updated Hands-On - Player Versus Player

We got our hands on this upcoming superhero-themed massively multiplayer game and chop some other poor costumed fools to ribbons.

In addition to offering a massively multiplayer adaptation of the classic tabletop game Champions, Cryptic Studios' and Atari's upcoming game Champions Online will show what it's like when superheroes collide. Yes, aside from performing many different missions, meeting key characters from Champions' fictional universe, and even doing battle with a custom nemesis of your own creation, you'll also be able to dive into battle against other players in one of three modes: the "Ultimate Tournament of Champions," a safely sanctioned one-on-one duel in a forcefield-enclosed area; "Bash," an unsanctioned free-for-all mode that takes place in a dangerous area where non-player characters and villains may lash out at you while you duke it out with every other hero in the area; and "Apocalypse," a large-scale, five-versus-five mode in which two teams of players battle it out in different scenarios that each potentially signal the end of Millennium City--the game's primary hub area.

You're asking if I have a match? How about my foot and your face?

Interestingly, Cryptic's Bill Roper explains that Apocalypse was partially inspired by the Defense of the Ancients modification for Warcraft III--a mod that lets you control a single hero character on a team of hero characters with the mission of heading toward the opposing team's base and killing off the opposing team's players while also cutting down computer-controlled cannon fodder troopers and trashing any turret guns or buildings along the way. We had a chance to try out Apocalypse for ourselves at a recent press event and have much to report.

The setup at the event had two teams of preset heroes already created and ready to go. We ended up playing a close-range, high-damage character (or as some players might call it, "damage-per-second" or "DPS" character) dressed like a bright orange samurai with a katana blade. This was a high-level character that was pre-created for the event, so the character had already gone well past level five, the level at which each character gains a unique "travel power" (such as flight, superspeed, or in our case, acrobatics, which lets characters run fairly fast and dodge backward or to the side with great speed).

The character was also clearly past level 11, the first level at which you can start player-versus-player battles, though Champions' PVP system will let you occasionally pick up loot (that isn't lost by your fallen foes, but rather, generated anew) and even gain experience points, reminiscent of the career-style PVP of Warhammer Online. After a quick once-over, we got to see our acrobatic, sword-swinging samurai's powers, which primarily consisted of an offensive boost (or "buff") ability; a passive ability that regenerated our character's "endurance" (a limited meter that determines how often you can use your special abilities); and various other close-range, melee attack abilities.

Champions Online will let you join PVP battles at level 11, collecting loot and experience points and, if you care to, spend your hero's entire career fighting other heroes from then on.

As soon as we started to figure out our abilities, the buzzer sounded, and the match was on. We activated our acrobatic travel power and sprinted into action, moving so quickly that at some points, we overshot our targets and had to pivot or retrace our steps to stay on the enemy. This particular match took place in a tight series of hallways with sharp, 90-degree turns, around which enemy cannon fodder and stun-laser turrets lurked on either side. We found ourselves first trying to carefully toggle our acrobatic travel powers on and off--on to sprint down into enemy territory after being killed and respawning and off to engage our foes and not sprint past them--but the action was so fast and furious that we decided to simply keep our acrobatics turned on. Our strategy was simple--find the weakest enemies onscreen (or, failing that, the nearest enemy), run right toward them and begin hammering on them. This strategy worked surprisingly well, but not because of our amazing skill; because even though this was an on-the-fly PVP event with a bunch of other beginners diving in for the first time, most players quickly realized their characters' strengths and weaknesses and figured out whether to hang back and provide ranged support or sally forth and pound on the enemy up close.

Frankly, we were a little shocked at how quickly the game seemed to move now, but considering that the game is also planned for release on the Xbox 360 (unfortunately, the publishing plans for the console version haven't been finalized, so Cryptic can't reveal any status updates at this time), it seems to make sense that the game moves this quickly. In fact, because we were playing a close-range character with a speed-enhanced travel power whose abilities required us to position our character carefully--and in a game this fast--we found ourselves with our hands full, trying to simultaneously use the W, A, S, and D keys to move with our left hand, the number keys on our keyboard to activate special abilities with our right hand, and our mouse with our right hand to change the camera. We finally let go of the mouse (the Q and E keys also let you rotate the camera left and right) and stuck with the keyboard, using our enhanced speed wherever possible to close the distance with the nearest solo enemy and slash him to bits. Or when encountering a group of organized heroes, we leapt past the frontliners and went after the weaker support characters. Because the highest number of reward points for PVP is given out for PVP kills (though you can gain other rewards for performing support duties, such as killing off computer-controlled cannon fodder troops or trashing enemy turrets), it pays to go for the kill in Champions. And because we had a damage-focused melee character (and because we were never going to see that character again), we went for the gusto time and time again and ended up taking the top score of kills for our team. Our speedy melee character's greatest weakness was being "held" by a paralysis effect (an ability shared by an archer superhero on the opposing team). Even so, each time we were paralyzed, we had the option of rapidly pressing the "F" key on our keyboard to break free faster, and we did (and we also found that archer and made him pay).

Champions will launch this fall.

While Champions Online seems like a traditional massively multiplayer game at a glance--a game with character customization, skill trees, quests, and PVP, it actually seems to move as fast as any action game at its most action-packed moments, such as high-level team PVP matches. So in addition to offering a huge amount of character customization, this promising, colorful superhero game might just offer enough fast-and-furious action to really set itself apart. The game is scheduled to launch in September for the PC.

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39 comments
Hellknite190
Hellknite190

the game looks great but it is fail of the year to make people download through fileplanet. The download manager is as buggy as hell, and if you dont pay a subscription you have to wait about half an hour to be allowed to download, at which point it will probaly lose connection and make you wait again.

Wolfman104
Wolfman104

I have been 'lucky' enough to play the beta and based on that I can say with conviction that the game is complete dross, kill 3 of X, escort X from A to B, cancelled my pre-order shortly after, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

skyydragonn
skyydragonn

After watching some of the vid's I'm really looking foward to trying this one out, BUT I wonder how its going to work with Xbox vs. PC players...will the controls be overly simplistic for PC users or overly complex for Xbox users? Or perhaps require a mouse/keyboard for Xbox players?

JasonGamer101
JasonGamer101

this game is amazing i cant wait to get it for xbox 360 this is going to be phenomenal

deathismycure
deathismycure

@Viktormon Most Betas go into a phase where you can talk about how it is in beta, and problems but you can't show images, videos or stuff like that.

sonynhater
sonynhater

lol, if you look at the comments in the first preview for this game, it was all negative comments. now its mostly positive. =] cant wait for this game!

Thomasskins
Thomasskins

DARN missed the beta :-( Ohh well looks like a lonwait yet I'll get City of heroes Going Roug expansion while I wait I suppose

Haplo699
Haplo699

I am also in the closed beta and man, it's putting me off buying it. For one I had major problems with the client, had to download it three times before it would install properly. Secondly it's one of those betas that only run for a day at a time and on US hours, living in the UK, I've not even had the chance to try the darn thing yet. Not an inspiring beta, let's hope the game makes more of an impression as I loved the Champions RPG.

natron557
natron557

@ mrcookie44 They have added alot of content to CoH since launch and it was all included in the normal subscription based game. A strong RPG that ran for many years with only one expansion pack is where its at. Can't wait for this, I wonder if we'll be able to use a 360 controller with our PC, would make sense since theres a 360 version in the works.

Merex760
Merex760

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

GIF
GIF

I wonder how MMOGs are going to change when they hit consoles.....

headbound
headbound

i really havent played much of this genre but this looks fun the only reason why i havent is i dont want to pay extra each month like most mmo games.

bloodyrooster
bloodyrooster

This company knows how to make an addictive, incredibly fun game and this already looks amazing. PVP just adds to the greatness.

mrcookie44
mrcookie44

@ spartan-1657 In a lot of MMORPG's out there you can buy special types of cash that lets you purchase costumes. as an example; Maplestory. In Maplestory you can use real money to purchase NX Cash which did nothing to make your character better but you could use it to purchase various outfits and pets for your character. so it is possible that there will be something like this in Champions, but because you've already paid for the game i highly doubt it.

SlayerX13
SlayerX13

This game rocks. Most customizable characters ever. Can't wait for launch.

Spartan-1657
Spartan-1657

Game is shaping out to look great so far.. looking forward to the launch. But, Elikal, what do you mean we have to pay extra for some of the costumes? I don't know where you got that info from but that would be disappointing. Anyone know if this holds true? Or a reference?

alixkid
alixkid

I Can't wait for this game to come out. it just keeps looking better and better.

solatron
solatron

MasterTheHero: Well, there are some things we can pass out our final judgments without having to wait for the finished product.

Titch-X
Titch-X

Really can't wait for this love the unique art style of the game.

MasterTheHero
MasterTheHero

Saying the powers are imbalanced when the game is in BETA is not the most intelligent thing to say. A game in beta means that the balance passes and the adjustments to powers haven't been made just yet! Monthly fees and microtransactions are chearper than buying 3 60 dollar games within 3 months. So wait until the game is actually out before passing final judgment.

Elikal
Elikal

Given the fact the powers are unbelievably imbalanced and 50% of the powers are traps (= useless on purpose) the PVP is gonna be a gamble more than anything else. Oh, and did you know it's going to have monthly free AND microtransactions? Just thought I mention. So if you wanna have those REALLY cool costume parts, it's CASH extra. Have fun.

Viktormon
Viktormon

Elrax: Yes, it's cross-platform, but they haven't announced when the XBOX360 version comes out. Hopefully they work hard so none of the platforms play better than the other. Jazilla: Don't the Beta testers have some sort of "non-talking-agreement"? But as I've heard, the gameplay greatly differs from what kind of character you play.

Faephoenix_Eyes
Faephoenix_Eyes

yea free mmos usually sell weapons for money so if you want free mmo's theres alot of people that will always be stronger than you cause they bought their stuff. Plus the fact that if you pay for a mmo then that means everyone will always have an equal chance of gettin stuff and no one will be stronger than you just cause they paid for something that you wouldnt pay for. Overall i think free mmo's are good to mess around in tho.

Gruug
Gruug

It won't be "free". In fact, all so-called "free" games are not free at all. Someone is paying. And if you want to actually play all the game, you have to pay. So, free is not free. (A little birdie tells me this will be subscription base like most MMO's)

wslstomper
wslstomper

hey just to let u guys know i went on the champions website and in the FAQ one of em was if there would be a monthly fee and they said they arent talking about that yet cross your fingers for free play!

wslstomper
wslstomper

i signed up for the beta but they never let me in :(

Hayabashi
Hayabashi

Elrax it's called Final Fantasy 11 check it out.

jazilla
jazilla

this is totally traditional RPG combat. i am in the closed beta and it really isn't doing anything to differentiate itself from the competition. you can say its superheroes and it is set in the present day, but it's all window dressing really. I do love the depth of the character customization though. It is as deep, if not the deepest I have ever seen.

Elrax
Elrax

Uhm.. Just to clarify, is this coming out for PC&Xbox360? It says 360 on the top, just under the box picture. But at the bottom of the article it also states its coming out for the PC. So.. Now I'm confused.. Oh, will it have cross-platform play? I always thought that would be a good idea for an MMO.

NearlyPrescient
NearlyPrescient

@ punkdsk8erdude pretty sure it's real time. and I do agree that this game looks really cool.

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

this game looks really cool. is it turn based action or real time combat? i love real time combat :]

King-Tigre
King-Tigre

Lol....I'm glad they added pvp, I was starting to worry.

Korialstrazs
Korialstrazs

The game is fast, but it's really sluggish. Add in any amount of lag and you'll consistently have trouble moving the way you want to.

blazey09
blazey09

this really doesnt look very good but it wont stop me for at least giving it a shot.

kakotan
kakotan

I really cant wait to play this, i am gonna enjoy every part even the pvp it sounds and i never pvp lol

King_Wii
King_Wii

Well I hope it goes well when it launches, I know I'll give it a shot.

Viktormon
Viktormon

Sounds like some PVP even I would like to play! Great read! ^__^