Category champions online

Champions Store gets retconned

Somewhere, at some point, someone decided that microtransactions and subscription based game could actually go hand in hand. Champions Online is one of the games that have adopted this philosophy, and one of the justifications that people tend to bring up is that World of Warcraft has been doing something similar for a long time. Blizzard began with server transfers, but these days they offer both complete makeovers and even a faction change for your current characters.

Want to look like this? It costs about $3.12.

Want to look like this? It costs about $3.12.

There is a pretty major difference between World of Warcraft and Champions Online, though. Server transfers, faction changes or makeovers are not really needed in a game that only has one shard, one faction and that lets you change your characters whole appearance more or less at will. The major difference is that Champions Online offers the kind of stuff you are used to see in the item shops of free to play games, like Maple Story or Runes of Magic – new costumes, more character slots (which is also something you can buy extra in for example Guild Wars), emblems and action figures (CO’s version of vanity pets).

When I saw the store the first time, I raised an eyebrow since I didn’t think an item shop had a place in a subscription based game. Extra services, fine. Extra items, no. But the same thing can be said for SOE’s item shops in Vanguard or EverQuest II, and since Champions didn’t include things like XP-potions, I didn’t mind much. I would never pay more for costumes in CO (unless it was really, really, really cool – luckily I think CO’s character design is an atrocity towards good taste, so I doubt that would ever be an issue), and I’m fine with few character slots. The stuff in the Champions store had nothing to do with gameplay, so screw it.

Until now, when the store is suddenly offering full retcons for your characters. In more general MMO-terms, it’s a full respecc for your character. That you can buy, for real money, since a full retcon is incredibly expensive using the regular in-game currency.

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Champions on the line

See what I did there? I’m very proud of myself.

I guess I am becoming increasingly grumpy, but I am really trying to enjoy my time with Champions Online and failing. Everyone else seem to enjoy it, to a degree, but the more I play it the more I realise that I am not having fun. My character looks really cool, wearing a short skirt, a bowler hat and touting two large guns, and I guess that the hover board she’s flying around on is kinda neat, but…it’s not enough. The more I play, the worse it gets.

Let’s get the regular disclaimer out of the way – I am not far into Champions Online. I just dinged level 10, I’m stuck in the dull wilderness of Canada, and still have a long way to go before I can start exploring the world proper and craft my own Nemesis. This is a MMO, I have barely scratched the surface. But the fact remains that I have no real incentive to keep playing. I know I’ll get to Millennium City sooner or later, but do I really want to? If I’m not enjoying the game now, what is there to say that I will in a few levels time?

So, what’s my problem? First of all, the game feels slow. Not frame-rate dropping slow, just slow paced. I am sure the action gets better when you got more powers to play around with and the enemies become trickier, but so far combat is dull. Travelling is also slow and doesn’t flow the way I was hoping for and the graphics leave a lot to wish for even on near-maximum settings. Questing is boring as well, the same old MMO quest grind that we’ve seen thousands of times before – innovation is not Champs Online’s strongest point. Perhaps it’s my power set and chosen travel power that are not fun enough, but if I want to try something completely different I’ll either have to retcon (i.e respecc) my character completely, which I can’t afford, or play through the tutorial area again, which I don’t ever want to do again. Also, I like guns.

I did enjoy PvP for a bit, until I noticed how certain power sets and travel powers made it more or less unplayable for my chosen type of hero. Munitions against crowd control-heavy characters that use teleports? Boom, splat, gone. I know Munitions do have a CC-power, which I’ll try to pick up and see if I can even the odds a bit. I did consider rerolling just for the PvP, but since you don’t get experience points for PvPing (oh, how I miss that from WAR in every game I play these days) it would still force me to play through regular PvE. And creating a new character only for teleports and CC, knowing that the PvP-side of the game probably will fare victim to the usual nerf-fest that Blizzard perfected in the Arena, seems utterly pointless. I will just try to enjoy the PvP as much as I can without that edge, comforted by the thought that no particular power set will stay on top forever.

Yet, I am not sure if I will make it that far. I try to log in and play for longer periods of time, but I keep finding myself bored and log out after a few missions. There’s nothing in the lore that interests me, the world isn’t exciting and the crafting feels like a complete waste of time (that’s what you get after playing too much Vanguard, Ryzom or Everquest II – you get spoiled by interesting crafting systems).

Maybe it’s the setting that puts me off? Perhaps super heroes are not cool enough, or not the type of characters that I want to play when I play MMOs. Perhaps, since no matter how cool my char’s bowler hat is, I don’t feel connected to her at all. With both Fallen Earth and Aion releasing this month (Fallen Earth on my birthday, no less – nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Icarus Studios), I am not sure for how long Champions Online will be able to keep up my already low interest.

I will keep playing, perhaps things will change. I just need to get out of Canada, since that zone is starting to drive me crazy.

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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