Champions Online Press Weekend Impressions

John Funk | 5 May 2009 17:30
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

Unfortunately, it's also really, really unpolished. This ranges from things that are quite clearly bugged - when I tried to customize the movement keys, I found that the maps for left and right were, in fact, reversed - to things that are design flaws: Is there any particular reason to have the "Next" and "Back" buttons swap places when you're trying to navigate through a quest-giver's dialogue? Really?

For a tutorial, it could have really explained things better - I still don't understand how equipment works exactly, and I ended up having at least six or seven pieces of different equipment by the time I finished the first dungeon. Also, I had to do the first dungeon twice - upon being told to speak with two members of the Champions superteam outside the building, I ran out the way we'd come in, only to find myself having to start over. It turns out I missed a barely-visible side door in the final room that I was supposed to have used as an exit. Whoops.

As fun as the swinging through the city was, it was also kind of hard to control. There was a point in the desert area right after the tutorial where I tried to swoop down into an area through a broken glass roof that was obviously designed for this purpose (and I had, in fact, jumped right in normally) ... but whenever I tried to swing down, I just bounced off of it into the air. Really kind of frustrating, and it took me out of the "Wheeee! I'm Spider-Man! Awesome!" mindset that I'd originally had.

The ideas under the hood of Champions Online are actually really solid, and I still have hope that this is just a buggy beta build - that when the final game comes out, they'll have improved the tutorial and made it a lot more accessible, a lot easier to jump right in. Hell, maybe after the first bit, once you get used to it, it's flippin' fantastic - it wasn't available, so I have no idea. As it stands, the game - the introduction that I saw - is simply too rough to stand against the MMO sphere's other big-name titles. This is what is supposed to sell your game to people, and ... it didn't. Not to me, anyway.

I'd love to see Champions become a true success, and if that means having Cryptic hold it back until it's finally ready, then so be it. Don't rush it out the door, guys. People have been waiting for a new superhero MMO for a while - give it the polish and care it deserves. I'll keep my fingers crossed on this one.

I will also say that the NPC "Foxbat" made me laugh. Poking fun at Batman-a-la-Adam-West never, ever gets old.

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