Champions is an MMORPG, where the player explores a highly stylized comic book inspired super-hero themed world. Champions Online is based on the pen and paper game of the same name. Champions Online introduces high levels of customization through a robust character creator, highly customizable power choices, stat boosts, travel powers, stances, and more. The game is free to play, with optional paid content and subscription options.
Champions Online has a very open way of dealing with classes and archetypes in the game. When creating a character, there are sets of themed powers called Frameworks, such as Electricity, Fire, Supernatural, or Munitions. These frameworks provide a group of related powers that are cosmetically similar and work very well with other powers within the same group. Players are not stuck with these powers though and from the beginning can choose any power from any framework as long as the character has the requisite number of powers. By level 26, all powers from all frameworks are available. The level of your hero is capped at level 40 currently.
Stances affect the characters posture, the way they run, and provide boosts/penalties. There are four total stances: Average, Heroic, Huge, and Bestial. Mood changes the characters facial features allowing for the character to look angry, gloomy, hopeful, or determined. Also, the player, by right-clicking on a power, can bring up a menu that allows them to adjust the hue and emanation point of their powers. Emanation points include, the palm, fist, chest, and head.
At level 25, players can custom design their own nemesis in the same fashion as their own hero, creating an entirely new character with costumes, powers, and a back story. The nemesis will appear throughout their hero's career and by finishing the entire storyline, players can create other nemeses. Each villain comes with their own henchmen that will ambush the players hero in open world areas. The player has the ability to choose from several variation of henchmen.
Champions Online also provides an online store. Cryptic Points can be purchased with real money and subsequently exchanged for a retcon, character slots, costume pieces, action figures, etc.
On March 24, 2010, Cryptic creative director Jack Emmert stated that the once-planned Xbox 360 version of Champions Online was no longer in development,
Free to Play
Beginning January 25, 2011, Champions Online became free-to-play (f2p). The game can be downloaded for free and players can choose to play for free but with restricted features, or pay a monthly subscription for all features. All players can play to the level cap (40), travel to all main areas, and participate in PvP, group missions, auctions, etc, but some features/content are restricted for f2p members (Adventure Packs, certain costume pieces, only 2 character slots for f2p vs 8 for paid, etc.). Presumably, the purpose is to up-sell new players to a full subscription or to increase Cryptic Store sales, as f2p members can purchase features included in a paid membership.
The free-to-play patch also introduced archetypes. Archetypes are themed groups of powers (e.g. Solider, Glacier, Behemoth, Marksmen, etc.) with a fixed level progression; instead of choosing powers at a given level, the player is granted specific powers at specific levels. This reduces the customization of characters but streamlines character development. Archetypes are not designed to be as powerful as a min/max'ed freeform character, but are still designed to be fun, playable, class-like, and all maintain a theme. Non-subscribers can only create archetype characters and most archetypes are available to non-subscribers, with some restricted to subscribers only.
Champions Online is more action-oriented than City of Heroes; most powers do not have a cooldown and do not prevent the character from moving; travel powers can be left on perpetually since they don't consume energy (other powers simply take up more energy while a travel power is active); energy can be quickly restored by using the player's energy builder attack; players outside of combat quickly restore health and energy. This combination makes for lots of fast movement and continual power usage without much rest time between fights.
Most powers require energy. Characters have a maximum energy level and an 'equilibrium' energy level. Players' energy level will slowly decrease/increase to that equilibrium but can be increased beyond equilibrium using some powers, especially the player's Energy Builder attack. This attack restores a percentage of the player's energy on successful hit or heal. Energy can then be spent on more powerful attacks. Many attacks are a tap (causes less damage but is instant and uses less energy), charge (build up the attack for more damage and more energy cost) or maintain (keep doing damage as long as the key is held and there is enough energy).
Upon leveling up, a player is granted one of five awards: a new power (which can be any power in the game, providing that the player has the necessary prerequisite), a travel power (one at level 5 and one at level 35), two Advantage points, a Talent Point or a Super Stat.
Advantage Points are used to improve powers already acquired. They can increase the rank of a power (increasing damage or effectiveness, up to rank 3) or can add new behaviour to the power (e.g. add poison damage, or add a stun, or remove cooldown, etc.). Advantages cost 1-3 points.
Talent Points are used to buy Talents, which provide a stat increase. These boosts can improve 1 or more stats. Talents that increase more stats simultaneously will give more total points but less per stat. For example, the Might talent provides 8 strength but Professional Athlete provides 5 strength, 5 ego for 10 total stat points. Each talent can only be chosen once.
Super Stats are granted twice within a characters career. Each stat within the game grants different advantages. However, the two stats the character designates as Super Stats will henceforth be the only stats to grant a character a base damage bonus in addition to their inherit advantages. For example if a character chooses Strength and Dexterity, then those two stats will be the ones that give a damage boost to any attack, as well as provide the normal bonuses that any character obtains for adding to that stat. Alternatively, a player could choose Constitution as a Super Stat and equip gear to further increase Constitution, thereby obtaining huge amounts of health but also maintaining good DPS. Super Stats grant a greater bonus the higher the character's level.
Powerhouse and Retcon
After characters level up, they must go to a Powerhouse to spend their awarded points. Here, they can also spend the game's currency ("resources") to undo an already purchased power, advantage, talent, or super stat. As players level up, the cost per undo increases. The game also keeps track of the order these awards were purchased and to undo an award, the player must undo all purchases made after that award. Powers picked early on will effectively become extremely expensive to undo.
After spending the awards, players can go into a Danger Room-like simulation to test out the build. There are dummies, holographic enemies and an open area for testing travel powers. Players can then tweak powers again until satisfied; any powers changed in the current visit to the Powerhouse can be altered without cost. Leaving the Powerhouse locks the current build and any subsequent retcon will again cost resources.
Death is similar to City of Heroes, where a player may choose to be revived by a teammate or respawn at a neutral site, except respawning does not accrue experience debt. Instead, heroes will loose a 'hero point'. Hero points add a damage and healing boost, and the player can earn up to five at a time. Two points represents a hero without any stat debuffs/buffs. Going below two points will apply a debuff, and having more than two points applies a buff, with a max of five points. Hero points can be earned by defeating enemies and completing missions.
Players can craft various items such as equipment, consumables, power-replace devices, bags, etc. There are 3 schools of crafting, each with 3 specialties. The schools (Arms, Science, Mysticism) focus on different stat bonuses. For example, Mysticism items typically provide Intelligence, Recovery, and Endurance benefits so is more suitable for energy-intensive character builds. The different specialties simply provide different flavor text to the various items. Characters increase in skill within the school by decomposing items from that school, creating items, or searching treasure chests. Only 1 school / specialty may be active at a time and changing either school or specialty will reset all earned skills.
As characters progress, they will be awarded build slots. Each build slot allows the player to choose powers from those already earned, change costume almost entirely, stance, name, mood, etc. Players can swap between builds at any time, though there is a long cooldown for swaps during combat. This allows players to easily switch into theirsupergroup's colours or switch between offensive/defensive/instance/etc-focused roles depending on the situation.
Champions Online currently encompasses five large zones for the player to explore.
- Millennium City - DC Comics have Metropolis and Champions Online has Millennium City. The player encounters the city in a state of chaos, rival gangs, invading alien and demonic forces and to top it all off a prison break!
- Canada - Far from a snowy wonderland, heroes have to contend with the undead, an endless army of clones, and an evil organization called VIPER
- Burning Sands Desert - An area packed with rampaging mutants, robots on revolt, a town of ghost cowboys, an even more dangerous prison break, and a giant creature named Grond that leaps around the whole zone wreaking havoc.
- Monster Island - The island of the terrible Dr. Moreau. As his name may suggest, he has created an army of superpowered animal human hybrids. A small group of them have refused his life of violence and brutality, and heroes are part of an aid mission to stop Dr. Moreau and his new partners in crime.
- Lemuria - An underwater world that has come under attack by a mysterious force!
- Vibora Bay - a Southern city steeped in Jazz and Voodoo, under siege by werewolves, vampires, and the half-angel/half-demon Therakiel.
Although Champions Online does not work on a rigid class based system, the powers the player can choose from are divided into 22 power sets. These power sets are as follows:
- Heavy Weapons (released Apr 22, 2011)
- Power Armour
- Dual Blades
- Fighting Claws
- Single Blades
- Sorcery (Arcane, Ebon, Primal, or Radiant)
- Supernatural (now split into Bestial Supernatural and Infernal Supernatural)
- Celestial (mostly heals, added as part of the Halloween'09 "Blood Moon" content Update)
While choosing powers strictly from a single power set will create a decent, fun, and consistently-themed character, there are some cross-framework powers that work very well with each other. For example, the Munitions power set has the power Killer Instinct, which procs on critical hits from Munitions attacks. Force of the Unleashed Tempest from the Martial Arts framework procs on all critical hits, so it is also taken by many Munitions players.
Minimum System Requirements
- OS: Windows XP / Vista
- CPU: 2.5GHz Single Core or 1.8GHz Dual Core
- Memory: 1GB RAM
- Video: NVIDIA GeForce 7800 / ATI Radeon X700 or HD / Intel Graphics with Dual Core
- Sound: DirectX Compatible Soundcard
- HDD: 5GB Free Disk Space
- Network: ADSL / Cable Modem
- Driver: DirectX 9.0c
Recommended System Requirements
- OS: Windows XP / Vista
- CPU: 2GHz Dual Core or Better
- Memory: 2GB RAM or Better
- Video: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 or Better / ATI Radeon HD 3850 or Better
- Sound: DirectX Compatible Soundcard
- HDD: 5GB Free Disk Space
- Network: ADSL / Cable Modem or Better
- Driver: DirectX 9.0c