There’s a very specific reason I don’t do previews of MMOs while they are in open beta: Because the final product may be very different than what players are testing out for the developers. As a rule, I remind people to never preorder on the assumption that, when the game launches, it will be the same as it is now. The open beta is a perfect opportunity for testers to show exactly what needs to be changed, and changed it will be. Abilities get tweaked, some features get buffed, and yes some features get nerfed. MMOs are never a final product, and big changes should always be expected.
I played both the closed and open beta, and I can say without a doubt that players were far overpowered. While Champions Online is a superhero game, you were more akin to Superman. Superman is rarely hurt by physical contact, nor is he harmed by bullets, and due to the threat of lawsuits from DC Comics, Millennium City is at a shortage of Kryptonite. The game only became easier at higher levels, and even super villains (Think the boss in each group of mobs) were a walk in the park. Players admitted that the game only got easier as the levels rose, and while you certainly felt like a superhero, the game felt more like Diablo (killing mass amounts of grunts).
When Champions Online went live on September 1st, they released with it a patch that drastically altered the gameplay, making the title more difficult by nerfing powers and buffing enemies. The game is, without a doubt, more challenging, and the “Kill 40 mobs without taking a scratch” days are long gone with the open beta and head start. Immediately, however, there was an uproar from players, those who had played the open beta and those who had created characters in the head start, who now found themselves without powers they were accustomed to.
For players who had already created characters, Cryptic offered free respecs (Resetting their powers) and removed the level limits on respeccing. Now players can remove any previously obtained power, gaining the point back, but the process is still extremely expensive (In game resources, not real world money). To alleviate complaints, Crytpic also chose that day to announce the upcoming free big update, Blood Moon. More importantly, Cryptic is handling all player feedback by placing a test shard, that will run a version of the next patch for players to test and give feedback.
In this writer’s humble opinion, I have high doubts that this change will come back to bite Cryptic, although they need to be very careful about large changes in the future. Although hindsight is of very little use, I would have suggested that Cryptic launched the patch on the day that the headstart began, rather than days later at the game’s launch. That being said, it is far too early to tell what will happen with Champions Online. The game just launched last week, not even enough time to give a rudimentary status update. We will have a better picture in a month, after the free month is up.