Mission for a superhero
When I first read some comments made about the missions in Champions Online from some closed beta participants, it was a bit negative. Bland and uninteresting were some words used. After playing the game now for about a month since release and a bit before in the open beta, my view does not quite match these comments.
First of all, I do think that the setting plays an important part here. If you do not like or are particularly interested in the general setting of the game, then missions in general will likely be reduced to only abstract game elements – just tasks to get that XP bar move a certain amount or give some specific reward.
Personally, I like the setting. Fighting off a horde of mutants, fighting terrorists or stopping genetic experiments to create super-soldiers do hold more appeal to me than saving the local farmer/villager from an infestation of boars/wolves/orchs.
Many of the missions do have some story context and not just set by the text itself, but where any villains you fight may be or where items may be located. E.g. a mission to confiscate ammunition from a Canadian terrorist group involves going into a terrorist training camp, which guard patrols, terroists-in-training, surface-to-air missile launchers (to shoot down flying superheroes among other things) etc. Some of the early missions and some missions in Millenium City though has a number of ”please come kill us” missions though – locations with loads of enemies which not much logical reason to be there except for players to fight them.
Most of the latter missions are quite quick though – a few minutes perhaps. While in many cases enemies are stupid enough not to notice fights going on quite close to them, it does get a bit more interesting if you are in a team. In those cases enemies are more likely to try to get help and trigger nearby enemies to join. In some cases I think that may happen even if the people in the area are not teamed up, although cannot confirm that for sure.
Some of the stories end up running some instanced area – some rather simple and some with a bit more extensive storylines. They are usually not particularly long and sometimes may be preferable to have 2-3 persons in a team.
A number of the mission areas, in particular the outdoor zones, do provide various lore items that may not be relevant for the particular mission you are doing, but adds information about the area or the enemies you are fighting, thus building on an overarcing story element. It certainly can add more flavour and interest to what is happening.
Another thing that I like about the mission system is that you do not get missions just by talking to NPCs that have a mission marker above their head. In the city people may approach you and ask to look into some disturbance. You may also get mail from some NPC that asks you to get in touch to help out. The system also rewards exploration in that if you enter certain areas you may get an indicator to accept a mission. Or an item you find on the ground or that is dropped from from a defeated enemy may also trigger a mission. If you run into some NPC that has been captured they may in turn provide you with a mission.
Some of these may be off the beaten track and are not connected with any other mission NPCs directing you there. And there is also the Crime Computer, which helps you to find NPCs with missions for you to do. But not every NPC with a potential mission show up there. Mission NPCs also tend to be a bit spread out – there are some in “hub” areas, but a number are also spread out a little bit all over the place.
Then there is also the Open Missions, which are areas with certain objectives in multiple steps – the idea has been taken from Warhammer Online public quests. My highest character is level 28 and has done around 7-8 different Open Missions so far, there seem to be one every few levels. Some of them have a few people around regularly, others may be a bit more empty. Some of them are also possible to solo, while others really need a few people at least for the final stage. I like the Open Missions; it does provide a different approach to tasks.
One of the common complaints the game has now is lack of content, to which I certainly agree. There seem to be enough mission content as far as I have reached (level 28), but there is not much reduncancy here – you need to do most missions available. This means that for any alts you level up they will basically be doing the same missions again, with little variation.
Some people even complain about gaps in missions and that they do not have any more missions to do or have missions a few level higher than they are. While I cannot say anything about the higher levels, I have never had any such gaps with my highest character yet. At level 28 the missions now active are generally level 26-27. But I think one potential problem here is if you play the game but just going where mission NPCs direct you and not outside that path. In that case I suspect that people may run into “gaps”, because they have missed a number of missions.
But if more missions would have meant more “filler” type missions with little story context, I do think I prefer it the way it is. The game is not quite up to par with Guild Wars when it comes to strong story content vs fillers, but I think it is still better than a number of other mission-oriented MMOs.
For those that find themselves into the situation that they have a mission gap there is a neat service that I found out about not long ago: Crime Computer 2.0. It takes advantage of the character info that Cryptic makes available and allows you to get a list of missions that a specific character of yours has not completed yet. The data is that the service queries is not updated in real-time; I suspect it is a daily update. So it may not show the latest and greatest info and could potentially list some missions that you have recently completed. It also provides links into the Champions Online wiki for more information about the missions.
I do hope that there will be more content added though; as an altoholic I would like to see more different missions when I play the different alts.