GC 2008: Champions Online Impressions

2K Games and Cryptic Studios show off the latest work-in-progress version of their superhero-themed MMO.

Currently scheduled for release in the spring of 2009, Champions Online is an action-oriented MMO based on a pen-and-paper role-playing game that was first released in 1981. We had an opportunity to check out the PC version of the game at the Games Convention in Leipzig today and, although we didn't get to take the controls on this occasion, we still came away pretty excited by its potential.

One of Champions Online's most noteworthy features is undoubtedly its character creation system, which we're told will give you enough freedom when designing your superhero to ensure that you should never run into any doppelgangers when playing online. Even characters who look very similar will almost certainly have very different skill sets, because the game's "open powers" system lets you add any superpowers that you want to your arsenal every time you level up--regardless of whether or not they're an obvious fit with your existing ones. Specializing in darkness-based spells doesn't mean that you can't learn to employ lightning techniques, for example.

During our demo, two players were exploring an instanced stronghold (read: dungeon) named Teleios Tower. The instance will purportedly support and offer a decent challenge for up to five players in the finished game, but the demo version was clearly designed to be quite easy for just two. The tower belongs to a twisted genetic scientist who has been attempting to create a perfect clone army using material gathered from all manner of creatures, including dinosaurs and aliens. He hasn't succeeded yet, but his failed experiments roam the halls of the tower and don't take kindly to superheroes going after their creator.

Before skipping ahead to a boss battle against a cloning machine with a brain, we got to see the superheroes doing battle with enemies that looked like armored dogs, tech-savvy raptors, and large, translucent worms, to name but a few. It's unfortunate that the demo appeared to offer little challenge for the Cryptic Studios representatives playing the game, because they appeared to spend much of their time simply standing still and hitting a fire button until the enemies surrounding them were all gone before proceeding to the next area. It's true that MMO games aren't known for fast-paced combat, but we definitely got the impression that Champions Online is probably a lot more exciting than it looks when it's being played with some kind of no-damage cheat in effect.

The aforementioned boss battle was more interesting, but that's because of what we were told about it rather than what we saw. Like boss fights in other MMO games, this one will purportedly require every player in attendance to perform a very specific role, whether it be melee damage, ranged damage, or healing others. Interestingly, your character can switch roles on the fly. We're not entirely sure how that works, but it seems that healing abilities, for example, require more power to perform--more power than someone in a damage role could possibly muster, even if they have a healing ability in their repertoire. If you switch to a support role your power bar (think of it as your energy, your mana, or whatever works for you) gets bigger, but your health bar gets smaller.

Other tidbits of information that we picked up during our demo session are that the level cap will initially be set at 50, player-versus-player combat will definitely feature in the game, and it's possible that PC and Xbox 360 players will be able to play together. They already are at Cryptic Studios, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the two versions will be compatible when they ship. For what it's worth, the controls certainly appear to have been designed in such a way that you won't gain any advantage by using either a controller or a mouse and keyboard, but that's a story for another day. We look forward to bringing you more information on Champions Online as soon as it becomes available.

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Discussion

25 comments
looknostamp
looknostamp

Why involve Marvel or DC when the point is creating your own superheroes anyway? I'm still buying it.

smp13
smp13

djr - " "Microsoft and Marvel have decided to discontinue that project," the executive told GameSpot. "It was a mutual decision." " Dont think it was Criptics choice to stop it. I reckon they just took the developing they had been doing for it (engines, creator, etc), redid the story and NPC's, and now we have Chamipons!

djr1118
djr1118

man i remember reading bout this in gameinformer sounds cool..i wonder y cryptic cancelled Marvel universe online??

Djdiddles77
Djdiddles77

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

Djdiddles77
Djdiddles77

Sounds pretty sweet!!!! Can't wait to get more info on this game!!!

illusion121
illusion121

This game is goin to own on the 360! Finally MMORPGS on the 360!!

The_Maitomies
The_Maitomies

I can't wait. Hope they stick to their release date after the latest news. :D

petrovich112
petrovich112

@greater bird you are saying that as if all super heroes have a general theme. look at superman not one of his powers fit in with the others except maybe strength and being near invincible. @Henchman 24 yay Venture Bros

CloudStrife97
CloudStrife97

headbanger, the subscription will be 14.95 a month. Cryptic made half of city of heroes/villains and so they have alot of superhero experience. Not to mention they were working with the marvel team on the now cancelled marvel universe

Henchman-24
Henchman-24

I'm going out of my head waiting for this game!! Can't wait to start! Can't WAIT!!

raugastino
raugastino

I can't wait until it comes out. I've played Champions (table top) probably long before all ya'll were born. I can't wait to re-create my favorite characters. I wonder if they are going to use the point system?

headbanger1186
headbanger1186

i wonder how much the subscription cost will run

sniperhare
sniperhare

This game is going to kick so much ass. I can't wait to make some sweet looking capes.

Lash540
Lash540

The combat in this game is going to be just as boring as wow if its just press 1 , 2 ,3 , 1 , 2 ,3. it looks just like City of Heroes, except a updated game engine and multiplatform. PC and 360.

danny_dm_moore
danny_dm_moore

This might be the first MMO i actually put some effort in with, found wow's combat too boring but this looks pretty sweet...

greater_bird
greater_bird

Won't being able to add any powers regardless of existing ones just result in a million superheroes with no obvious theme... just a grab-bag of assorted superpowers that they liked the look of when they levelled up? Not that MMORPGs have much real role-playing going on, but this doesn't seem like it would add to a credible universe...

surdanis
surdanis

what, no screenshots or video? disappointed, but looking forward to this game.

King_Wii
King_Wii

Zsaber24: I belive you can buy NC cards now at any EB/Gamestop or Target... don't quote me on the Target one but I'm rather confident that EB/Gamestop has them.

Zsaber24
Zsaber24

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

Zsaber24
Zsaber24

i bought city of hero's vs villians but i dont have a credit card so its collecting dust in my room :-(

danopix
danopix

Can't wait. Still playing City of Heroes/Villains. Beefed up graphics would be nice.

LagAssassinVash
LagAssassinVash

City of Heroes/Villains was awesome, seeing that unique idea taken to a whole new level should be quite refreshing compared to the every day sword & magic plethora we have now days.