… and we’ll keep on fighting, till the end…

Well, I’m back from my business trip to Malaysia, and have had some more time to play Champions Online.  I’ll sort my thoughts into categories today, since otherwise I don’t think they’ll flow all that well.

Of Evil Twins

The Nemesis system in Champions Online is pretty well implemented by and large.  There are however a few areas where it can be improved.  At level 25, I’m told one gets a piece of mail indicating one should head to the police station.  I didn’t receive this mail, but had read about the system, so headed there myself.  The contact there directed me to log into the crime database and tell them about a criminal I’ve recently heard about… in other words, I was to create my Nemesis.

Character creation was similar to that I underwent to create my heroes, at least on the cosmetic side.  Sadly, there aren’t many options for henchmen, either cosmetic or mechanical, meaning your Nemesis’ henchmen won’t be all that unique.  I’d really like to see this changed on both counts, giving us options to fully design their look and also to have more input into their powers.  I understand that players shouldn’t have full control over their nemesis’ powers or those of their henchmen, since we’d end up with Nemeses that were far too powerful or far too weak.  Still, more control here would be greatly desirable.

Having said that, once the Nemesis is designed, the missions I’ve seen are great fun.  My character, Faefire, has a romantic rival named Frostmourne, who’s gradually turned into a lifetime foe.  Her grand entrance was suitably impressive, and I appreciated how she dovetailed into the plot that was already going.  The ongoing presence of my Nemesis has spiced up a lot of missions thus far; I don’t want to spoil the quests here so will just say that a) your Nemesis’ minions will appear from time to time and hassle you while you’re doing other things, and b) if you happen to move around a lot, very fast, it’s easily possible to bail as the Nemesis minions spawn, meaning they instantly despawn.  Several times now I’ve killed something, bailed rapidly (as is my wont), then as I flew away, saw some Nemesis minions running towards where I just was… as I tried to return to fight them (cause, hey, it’s my Nemesis!) I wasn’t fast enough, and they despawned into oblivion.  “Ha ha”, I cried, “witness the awe-inspiring majesty of my disintegration power!”  But then I stopped, cause that’s really more a supervillain sorta thing.  Heroes aren’t supposed to disintegrate people, it seems… antiheroes can, but they’re a wholly different issue.

Hero Games

I’ve played a fair number of Hero Games matches thus far (maybe 55 or so games) and by and large it’s a lot of fun.  The PvP comes in two flavours, to this point anyhow: team based and free-for-all.  The team based matches are 5v5, and are terribly, horribly susceptible to abuse from pre-formed teams, who use actual *teamwork* to fight opponents, even exploiting by focussing fire.  I know, can you believe it?

OK, all right, clearly there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I applaud it.  What little teamwork I’ve seen has definitely made a huge difference in game outcome, as it should – one cannot argue that it isn’t all about the skill.

Well, skill, and taser arrows, and teleport, of course.  Cause nothing says “I deeply respect you as a player and want to show my appreciation for your time and effort” like chain-holding a player for 15+ seconds.  Nothing, that is, except for teleporting away, untouchable and unhurtable, whenever disaster looms.  I can honestly say that my character has been defeated around 35 times in all, both PvE and PvP combined.  And easily 20+ of those deaths have been at the hands of players abusing taser arrow.  I don’t use teleport, nor taser arrow, so have to rely on my non-flavour-of-the-month build.

How well does that work?  Heh.  My superhero is HEROIC, all caps most assuredly warranted.  Faefire can wade into a group of 5+ enemies at 3 levels above her and laugh at them while burning them to a collective crisp.  PvE deaths are incredibly rare for me (I think I’ve had about 4 or 5 now, and every single one came from me being cocky and pushing past common sense – e.g. “I wonder if I can solo those 5 villains at once?  They’re close enough for an AE…”).  I’ll talk more about builds in another post, but suffice to say that there seem to be a large number of very viable builds in Champions Online – and just a couple of powers that are unbalanced.  Rather than saying those powers are “necessary” though, what I think a player really needs is skill, plain and simple.  Taking advantage of line of sight, proper blocking, focussing fire, breaking the enemy’s morale… it’s a rare and pleasant experience to find a game wherein the PvP isn’t just a numbers fest, essentially controlled by whomever has the best gear.  In CO, gear makes a pretty small contribution overall to one’s PvP outcomes, and I must say I like that.

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