It was one month ago that Champions Online launched to the waiting crowd, the first in our Mega September that saw a number of new titles launch, old titles receive expansion packs, and an oldie hit its twelfth birthday. It is one month after an MMO launches that the honeymoon is over, as is the free month of membership included in the game, and the true players are separated from those who just stuck around because they had the free month.
Champions Online’s launch was not without controversy: Several days before launch, players bought up the six month and lifetime membership packages, resulting in a limited quantity going broke a week before the game was set to go live. Due to a massive response by players begging to throw their money at Cryptic, the offers were reopened until September 1st. Launch day saw a massive change in the game’s mechanics, altering practically every aspect of the game, from powers to henchmen, leading us to ask: Did Champions Online Pull a Trammel? All players received a free respec for their characters, and Cryptic chose that same day to announce the upcoming free expansion: Blood Moon.
At present, Champions Online still stands with some glaring issues. Despite Cryptic’s numerous attempts at filling in gaps, there are still portions of the game where the player runs out of quests, and is forced to take missions several levels above their own. The button mashing aspect that is freeing yourself from a hold, is still a fight between smashing your keyboard or just smashing your computer screen in rage. Player Vs Player is still a game where players fight until they get low on health, and then teleport away and teleport around the ring until their health regenerates. Powers are not balanced for PvP, and frankly they probably shouldn’t be. Champions Online was, and remains, an MMO of Player Vs Environment, where Player Vs Player just drifted in, doesn’t know what to do really, but doesn’t want to leave for fear of getting lost again and possibly stumbling into Lord of the Rings Online. Undoing abilities is still too expensive, and almost impossible at higher levels.
The future looks good for Champions Online. October is set to bring the first expansion, a free expansion at that, titled Blood Moon. Adding to the lore, Blood Moon will have champions fighting the heroes that once protected Detroit when it was destroyed by Dr. Destroyer (So presumably the fights will take place in Millennium City) some time before the game began. Get your zombie and werewolf fighting gloves/sword/mystic powers/claws on. With Blood Moon comes a brand new Celestial power set, a healing/support class set. Cryptic is also looking at making it cheaper to undo abilities, among a myriad of game tweaks and balances.
So after a month, my diagnostic: It could have gone better, but then again it could have gone much worse.