For years there has been an MMO that has captured the imagination of players. An MMO that has filled a void in a genre. That genre was super hero comic books. And that MMO was City of Heroes.
Launched almost a decade ago, City of Heroes went from the single game MMO, to the expansion City of Villains, and finally City of Heroes: Going Rogue, which allowed heroes to go to the villain side and villains to go to the hero side. That being from Paragon to the Rogue Isles.
It was announced a couple of months ago that CoX, as it is more commonly called, was closing down. The servers will be shut down later today. Barring any eleventh hour save that has been pushed by fans. So that leaves many in a void that hasn’t existed for years. Granted, it’s not completely empty. CoX fans will attempt to find a new home, and many aren’t exactly looking to join a fantasy game. Some have already said they’re going to The Secret World, other are moving on completely, and some are going to the other super hero MMOs.
One is DC Comics MMO, which I’ve played but not fully. The other is Champions Online.
Champions is based on the old pen and paper game. The game has made news, and it’s received some rewards. And players from CoX will attempt CO. There’s naturally some pros and cons that come hand in hand with moving from CoX to CO
Those familiar with the CoX character designer will love the Champions character designer. Champions is very much as complex as City of Heroes/Villains. With a small addition. Champions allows players to change stances, manipulate individual shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, bracers, leg attachments and boots, whereas City didn’t allow the differences between left and right side.
Champions game play is a bit more dynamic. Whereas in City, your hero/villain is rooted during an attack. So a gunslinger can flip and move and run while shooting, whereas in City, they remain stationary. Champions is also a lot more free when it comes to power choices. Unless you’re a free to play player, Champions allows the player to start their character, choose an opening power (say Martial Arts) and choose powers from other archetypes (like munitions, gadgets, might, ego blades, sorcery, fire, electricity and more). There is some limitations as to what powers you can take at certain times, but you’ve got a lot of freedom. In City, you are locked into a set of powers based on the archetype you chose, and what power sets you chose. Even when doing a retcon, which is basically going back to level 1 and choosing your powers and enhancement slots over again, you’re locked into your archetype and your power sets. The only exception is the power pools. You aren’t locked into that. In Champions, when you do a retcon, you can choose completely different powers, including different opening powers from a completely different power set (unless you are a free to play player).
Many of the larger team missions, such as Therakiel’s Temple or Shadow Destroyer, are not long, drawn out missions. That was one complaint I had about City, whereas a large task force would take hours to play, and often no one really cared how well we did by the time we got to the last couple of missions. The worst was the opening Task Force, offered by Positron which was also dubbed The Baton Death March. A level 10 Task Force, longest, hardest and most difficult due to lack of powers. Since then, Positron has been split into two task forces, but if you really like long, drawn out slogs (because we’re all a little masochistic at times) Positron’s complete Baton Death March is still available through Oroboros, a time displaced area where characters can go back and do missions they missed and claim badges that were available through missions they may have out leveled.
This is more a knock on Champions than a pro. City had epic powersets at level 41. Based on the character’s archetype, players could give their characters some extra power with these epic powers. They could choose four powers from a set and enhance them as much as they could. This went on until the player reached level 50. Further, players could continue to gain powers by doing some of the extra events that would allow characters to gain further powers through a series of trees that would give them a touch more flavour. The character would still register at level 50, but would seem like level 54 or higher. A lot of these missions to achieve these additional powers, however, while fast, were kind of a grind. It was essentially end game content and a lot of people complained about it’s set up. Champions, there’s just one epic power that a character can get once they hit level 35 and have unlocked the Vibora Bay content. Some of those powers are really kind of meh, and the players can’t level past 40 (though there has been talk of upping the level cap to 45, but that’s been a rumour for over a year now).
Vehicles! Champions has vehicles, City doesn’t. Though, the vehicles are more reminiscent of Star Trek, as they’re all fighter craft and hover tanks at present. There is talk about adding motorcycles and cars at some point. And the vehicles aren’t easy to acquire. Either using real world money to purchase a vehicle from the in game C-Store, or running an opening mission to acquire what’s called Drifter Points to unlock one of the vehicles he sells.
The biggest pro about Champions has to be the leveling curve. It’s not nearly as steep as City and casual players may find that it won’t take long to hit level 40. I did that with Rocket Fox in two weeks.
Regarding PvP, while Champions is like City in that it has specific zones in which players can battle players, players can also challenge other players out in the open. By right clicking on a character and choosing DUEL, the two players can engage in a slug fest in the middle of Millennium City or any other zone in the game (with the exception of Club Caprice or the Minefield, two of Champions social areas).
Unfortunately, Champions has a lot of cons, and quite a few of them don’t really need long comparative descriptions. One of Champions major failings is customer service. I’ve made support notes in both CoX and Champions and found CoX had far superior support. I never waited more than ten minutes before a GM would come to assist me with a problem that I had. In Champions Online, I have yet to interact with a GM to help solve an issue. And issues seem to take months to resolve, making some missions unplayable.
Champions is also plagued by the fact that while the first of Cryptic’s MMOs under it’s new direction (remember, Cryptic started City before NCSoft and Paragon Studios took over), it seems the team of developers for Cryptic is concentrating more on Star Trek Online and Neverwinter Online. The latter two are seen as the major money makers, and thus Champions development has suffered. Aside from vehicles and one new mission, there has been no new content, no new areas, and no new development on the horizon. Players are promised a lot of stuff, but some has taken over a year to complete, or has been completely forgotten.
Another con for Champions is the fact it is developed by Cryptic Studios. A lot of people who played City felt they got shafted by Cryptic. The studio left a huge bad taste in their mouth and anytime a new game would be announced like Star Trek Online or Neverwinter, there was some excitement until readers saw the developer; Cryptic Studios. That made their decision for them to never try the game because they had a bad experience with Cryptic.
In the end, the choice is up to the player. Already there have been several people who have logged onto Champions who have the tag in their bio that says “CoX refugee”. How long they stay will be another question entirely.
- Farewell to City of Heroes – and What’s Next? (mmomeltingpot.com)
- Requiem for Paragon (facesoftheranger.wordpress.com)
- Saying Goodbye to City of Heroes (andallofthem.wordpress.com)
- Farewell, City of Heroes (bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com)
- ‘Save City of Heroes’ campaign appeals to Disney (incgamers.com)
- Champions Online gets massive vehicle update (destructoid.com)
- City of Heroes Retrospective (geeksunleashed.me)
- Heroes at the End of the World: Living in the Final Days of City of Heroes (mediumdifficulty.com)
- How to Back Up your City of Heroes Characters (lurkingrhythmically.blogspot.com)
- Ten things to do in City of Heroes before it’s gone (massively.joystiq.com)
Before I actually get around to posting up Rocket Fox Chapter Nine (I will, I promise) I’ve had a few things on my mind lately.
Video games and cultural representation
I often hear the cry of how people can’t relate if there’s a person of a different colour on screen than the same old white dude (and yes, it’s almost always a white dude) in a video game. Often, if there is a black/brown/red/yellow person on the screen, they aren’t made as a playable character, and they often have huge stereotypes. Insulting stereotypes as a matter of fact. I don’t include MMOs into this, because in an MMO, you have a costume creator, and you can make your character look however you want. I’m talking single player games, for the most part. But I guess there is that cultural aspect in video games that we don’t get to see different cultures and explore those realms. For instance, any video game I pick up is most likely to take place in the United States. As a Canadian, there is a very rare number of games that have a Canadian city that I know of off hand. Deus Ex Human Revolution does have a futuristic version of Montreal in it, and Champions Online does have a Canadian zone, but that zone happens to be “The Great White North” (in it’s own a stereotype) and even the “native tribes” have been replaced with Sasquatches. And the lone “Native American” in the Champions Online Canadian Zone happens to have a real white name. It goes further than that, mind you, to other cultures. For instance, we see a lot of representation from Asia, but bottom line those nations and culture include only China and Japan. Maybe Korea. There’s quite a few other nations in Asia and include Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam, India and to an extent Pakistan. Go further west, and you find lots of games represented in Europe, from fantasy right up to a plethora of World War II games. But how many are in Africa that doesn’t star a white archaeologist from the United States or a white archaeologist adventurer from England? Not many. By my count, one. Guild Wars: Nightfall was the only game that I know of that created an African style setting in their own world. Even the NPCs were all people of colour. I’d really like to see more of that, but sadly, I’m in the minority on that mark. Maybe that’ll happen more in the future where we get to see video games taking place in a setting with the main hero/heroine being a person from that setting not just a white guy there to save the day.
Na Na Na Na Na Na – COMICS!
There’s been a lot of talk lately (some good, some bad) about the actions and reactions of some of the writers of DC Comics titles. One of whom was Scott Lobdell. I’m not gonna repeat it here, but he said a few rather unflattering things, especially about Native Americans, relating to the back story of Roy Harper/Speedy who is one of the characters in the book Red Hood and the Outlaws. Now, I read RHatO when it first came out, and I found it to be a complete pile of trash. The book didn’t appeal to me, the characters were all one dimensional, Jason Todd’s a douchebag, Starfire has none of the appeal from the old Teen Titans (sort of like they wiped her backstory and replaced it with something that was incredibly misogynistic) and Roy Harper is a dick. Red Hood and the Outlaws is a complete waste of time, but it seems to sell and sell well because the lowest common denominator in readership keeps picking it up. That book, along with Hawkman, Green Arrow and a couple of other titles were reasons why I was very close to just giving DC Comics a big “fuck you” and move on. However, I realized that a personal boycott of DC would be detrimental to other, better books. Don’t get me wrong, me on my own wouldn’t crush DC and make them see the error of their ways, but if there were enough then books like Batwoman, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Animal Man and Demon Knights would all suffer as well. Those books are good books. So my suggestion, keep buying those books. They have really good stories (except for Wonder Woman supposedly now dating Superman -giving you the side eye, DC) with writers who really are good at their craft. The others, not so much. And don’t just wait for collected editions in trade paper back. Buy the single issues, give them to friends and then buy the collections. I did that recently with my Mike Grell and Chuck Dixon Green Arrow books as well as the Kevin Smith run. Same with Spider-Girl from the M2 line and Vampi. All those books are now being enjoyed by someone else, and I have a nifty trade sitting on my bookshelf. Essentially, what I’m trying to say is boycotts don’t always work, because the good stuff has a tendency to suffer more than the crap. Buy the stuff you like, avoid the stuff you hate, and pass on the stuff you like to others.
The leaves, they are a fallin’
With apologies to Bob Dylan for ripping off his song Times They Are A-Changin’, we are officially now into autumn. I, however, have no intention of letting go of summer without a fight. Autumn is wonderful and colourful, but it’s also a stark reminder of just what’s coming; winter. Around here, winter is a harsh mistress. Only the hardiest of people can survive this province with summers that scorch and winters that freeze. Granted, autumn does mean that Halloween is not far away, and I shall hold onto that hope with bated breath. I enjoy Halloween, because it’s filled with mystery and stories. I shouldn’t complain too much about autumn, it is after all, when my writing bug gets bigger and bigger and happens to be the most productive for me, right on up into winter. Which hopefully means that the end of book one of Rocket Fox and most of book two of Rocket Fox should be completed this autumn and winter. Which may mean that sometime in the next year, both book one and book two will be ready for publication.
That’s it, that’s all, ’til next time…
…keep ‘em flyin’!