Home > Champions Online, City of Heroes, DC Universe Online > Triple superhero weekend

Triple superhero weekend

January 30, 2011

This weekend I decided to focus the playtime on superhero/supervillain activities and thus played the three superhero MMOs I have active; City of Heroes, Champions Online and DC Universe Online.

City of Heroes

In City of Heroes it was double XP weekend, so that meant that the max level characters took a rest and some of the other characters got some playtime instead. There were two characters I put a bit of focus on and that was Don Charge, my electricity hero dominator and Tsu Han, my villain scrapper (kinetic energy/willpower).

Neither of them had any playtime in the last month, so it was time to dust them off a bit. For Don Charge my goal was to get him his pets, which he receives at level 32, which were about 2 levels away. For electricity dominators that is a pair of being of electricity called gremlins – a bit similar to the ones that can be found in Cap au Diable. I like eletricity control as a powerset – it has a few slightly different behaviours to other powersets, like when an effect can “jump” from enemy to enemy, if they are near each other. Electricity assault is not a high damage powerset, but has still a decent punch on dominators, so it is good fun to play. But I am also very much into dominators in general, since I already have 7 at max level. I kind of like them :)

My second character which got a bit of time was Tsu Han, a scrapper that just had left Praetoria for the Rogue Isles. On his task list was to do a new story arc that was added with Issue 19 aimed at character that has just left Praetoria. So my idea was to play this arc and also at the same time get Tsu Han high enough to be able to equip single origin enhancements (SOs) – i.e. level 22. As he were at level 20 before, that was not a big task.

The contact for this story arc was a Vincent Ross, a guy with a grudge against the Legacy Chain among some others. He was looking to tap the power of a being called the Leviathan, for which he wanted to use a special coral called the Blood Coral. I am not going into details of this arc, but it is a quite nice one – a bit dark and sinister like it should be on the villain side.

In the last mission of this story arc I was reminded of a dialog from a Japanese movie I saw on a film festival a long time ago. I do not reember the title of the movie, but in that movie the group of four heroes in the story were kind of super warriors. At one time they were confronted with a large troup of enemies:

Hero A: The enemy is gathering, should we take another route?

Hero B: Why? They are only about a hundred.

Hero C: Charge!

Overall, it was good story arc to play. And yes, Tsu Han got his SOs at the end of the arc.

Champions Online

I had not originally planned to play Champions Online now. But since I got the superhero weekend in my head I then decided to have a go at it and see some of the changes that Cryptic had made. I had a look at the release notes and I was a bit surprised actually – there were more changes than I had expected.

Already when you log in once can see the changes – character select screen has changed and for the better I think. I decided to create an entirely new character to see what they had changed. So my new character was Dr Kaksi, focusing on the supernatural infernal powers to start with (free form character, not an archetype).

Starting in the tutorial the surroundings looked quite familiar – the tutorial is pretty much the same as before in terms of the type of missions you do, but there are some noticeable changes in the details. One detail one notices immediately is the layout of the text dialogs. That has been changed and definitely for the better I think. It is more readable now than before. I did not have problem reading the text when it first released, but I remember that some people had a problem with that. Now they seem to have improved in this area, very good.

The significant changes come after you leave the tutorial area – instead of getting a choice of selecting Canada or the Desert, you go to Millenium City directly. There are new/changed cut scenes as far as I can tell. The arrival to Millenium City starts with some missions to familiarize players with the surroundings, where to find important places. It then sets of to a set of new series of missions, which also have some old revamped missions mixed in. The Renaissance Centre area has also been changed a bit in the layout.

Overall the missions in Millenium City that now go from essentially level 5ish to 14-15ish is a mix of entirely new missions, old missions that has been changed (location, context and some other details) and also a number of old missions that are pretty much the same as before. I think the new approach gives a better way to familiarize players with some of the gangs that roam around in Millenium City.

Cleaning up after the mess in the tutorial

Looking at the power choices when leveling up I could also notice that there had been a cleanup among the powers in terms of what they do and their descriptions. The descriptions do look more clear to read and understand now.

So are there enough missions to play? After leaving the tutorial I played almost exclusively in Millenium City, only a short trip to do the Canadian Crisis zone (not the early Canadian missions). At level 15 I had skipped some of the missions which looked as they were the same as before. If I would create another new character he/she would certainly need to repeat a number of the early missions, but not all. Possibly by playing the adventure pack missions (available from level 11 if one has access to the advanture packs) one could play completely different missions.

The early Canadian content did not seem that it had changed and it becomes a little bit out of place – there is not much to hint players to that there is content to play there at low levels, so I would guess it mainly would be players who are already familiar with it since before that go there.

My initial reaction after looking at the new C-Store is that I found things to be a bit pricey, You pay with Atari points nowadays and 100 Atari points is the equivalent of $1.25 – a bit more than the original Cryptic points. There are many things that cost a few hundred points. But I guess it might be ok:ish if it is a one-time fee, as opposed ot the “rent” that some other games use.

Overall I found it to be  a positive experience – not to the point that I would jump up and down and shout, but at least pretty good. A lot of people seem to want to try it out also; when I was logged in there were about 55 instances of Millenium City, each with perhaps 65-90 persons. That is more than I have seen since the launch. So now Cryptic has more people around, remains to see how it works out commerically for them. But it may be promising in that regard.

DC Universe Online

DCUO is a game I play on PS3 instead of a PC, which means that there are a few things that are a bit different. I have a bigger screen area, but lower resolution; the game only plays in 720p on the screen (i.e. 1280×720), which is a bit lower than my 1920×1200 PC monitor. Using a PS3 controller instead of a keyboard+trackball makes things also a bit different. And I have not found a way in the game yet to actually take a screenshot, so this part of the post will be without pictures.

Despite the lower resolution the game looks very nice; SOE has done a good job here. This is however probably my most positive experience with the game.

Since I bought the game I have created a few different characters, with the highest one reaching level 7.  This may not seem much and that is probably correct – I have probably spent the least amount of time of the three in DCUO. One major reason for this is the somewhat crappy controls and the user interface. SOE has squeezed in a lot of features that you would typically see in a normal PC-based MMO. Then they have tried to map all of that to the PS3 controller. Here it breaks down IMHO – due to the limited set of keys there can be a lot of pressing various buttons to try to get to the right view in the interfaces. On top of that, the interface is not particularly responsive – in fact it can be annoyingly slow at times, plus the views in some cases seem to bug out also. This makes it a bit frustrating.

The combat in the game is somewhat ok; the mapping is somewhat straightforward, but I am not sure if I managed to trigger some effect/power when I try – probably not. Combat is very fast paced and it reminds me a bit of games like Sword of the New world or Dungeon Runners with he quick respawns and perhaps a bit frantic button mashing play. Not quite my cup of tea; fast paced is ok, but I like Champions fast-paced better than this fast-paced to compare a somewhat similar MMO. Despite that there is a target locking mechanism I had trouble actually getting the target indicator to lock.

There are three travel powers, superspeed, flying and acrobatics. I liked the concept of acrobatics to climb over and across pretty much anything and it is reasonably ok when it is active, although sometime sthe animations are a bit messed up. But I had big problems actually with the switching on and off of the acrobatics travel power – most of the time it did not work. Flying is much better in that regard, seem to work pretty much every time.

Due to that the controls and user interface kept annoying me, my play sessions were generally short – at most maybe 20-25 minutes each time. Then I had to do something else. It seems there are some potentially good content in the game, but I am not sure if I will get to the point that I can get past my annoyances with the game.

It may still be a good game for others, but I will not continue after the included 30 days. It is simply not a game for me I believe.

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  1. Bhagpuss
    January 31, 2011 at 01:14

    I played both CO and DCUO today.

    It was my first time in Champions, a game I would never have played had it not gone F2P. It didn’t start well.

    I had the game downloading all day yesterday. A 3GB download should have taken maybe an hour to 90 minutes but after 12 hours it was at 60% and going nowhere. I did a forum search and found that the Cryptic downloader is notoriously slow. I swapped to uTorrent and started afresh and it did the whole download in an hour, but by then it was 2 am so I left it til today to make a character.

    I spent an hour designing my first character and got him looking just how I wanted him. I hit the “Enter Game” button and got “Character Creation Failed”. An hour wasted. Very frustrating. Tried again, with a quick replication of the character, failed again. More forum searching and I found that there’s a bug where two of the Archetypes on the Character Creation screen are actually only available to subscribers and of course I had chosen one of those.

    Third time lucky I made a random character (and finally spotted the “Save Character Design” button, grrr! ) and managed to log in. The tutorial was fair for a tutorial (I loathe tutorials). I couldn’t find the very first object for the first quest (never did find it) and had soem trouble finding any of the objectives. On the positice side, at level 1 I had no difficulty killing level 4 mobs. I muddled through to the final instance, which I hit at level 4.

    The instance was daft. I died (got knocked out) maybe six times on the boss, who was way too hard for me, but his hP just stayed where they were each tiem so I kept running back until I whittled him down. Utterly unconvincing, although not unamusing. I got to Millenium City with virtually no quests from the tutorial actually finished (it does warn you about that but why would you care?). I got to Level 6 and logged out.

    The graphics gave me a slight headache. I can see why so many people complained about them at launch. Ithought it played exactly like any run-of-the-mill MMO from the last 5 years. I didn’t dislike it and I will play again, but not very often I think.

    This evening I played DCUO for three hours and it was three hours of sheer, unmitigated pleasure. The pace is perfect, the graphics are stunning, gameplay is intuitive and natural. I play on a PvP server and every session I’ve played has been a perfect balance of making good progress on the PvE levelling while getting into serendipitous and extremely fun fights with super-villains along the way. Best PvP I have ever experienced, although that may not be saying much.

    I play DCUO on the PC. The last time I played a console game was 1994. I am a dyed-in-the-wool MMO hotbar clicker. Yet I find DCUO incredibly natural and easy to play. ONly reason I’m not still playing tonight is that after three hours I am exhausted!

  2. January 31, 2011 at 05:40

    Good to see that DCUO seem to work well for you on the PC! Going with PC would probably been the better option, although my main interest in buying the game at all was to see how an MMO worked out on the PS3 when finally there was one released.

    One of things that many people did not like with the Champions graphics is the black border on character to make it more “cartoony”. This can be turned off in the settings and usually works out a bit better without it, IMHO.

    Blocking is a key factor in Champions combat; you simply need to block at the right times with a bit more difficult mobs to be able to defeat them. The Black Talon enemy is there in the tutorial I believe to enforce that. But he was a bit tougher than he used to be also. I always remap the blocking key so it is easier for me to reach; I do not find the default mapping (shift) to be particularly convenient.

  3. Vulpis
    February 1, 2011 at 23:54

    As someone who’s played the ‘regular’ Champions…I honestly thing Cryptic is shooting themselves in the foot with the design decisions made for the f2p release. It simply is *not* worth playing ‘free’ between how much of the previously ‘default’ costume pieces have been dumped into purchase/subscriber sets, and the archetype system (considering that the major strength of CO in the first place was the ability to mix and match powers and *not* be locked into a cubbyhole as in other MMOs), you might as well say the heck with it and just subscribe anyway.

    DCUO…granted, all I have is the beta experience, but it has several advantages. First is that it’s *not* an RPG-style MMO so much as it is a MMO brawler, which makes the less freeform power trees less of a disadvantage. The costume system…I have mixed feelings about–less selection and flexibilty than the one CO used to have, but the ability to pick up new ‘styles’ as you play is pretty fun–especially when you can still use the best *statted* equipment regardless of the style it comes with. The world is a much tighter design than CO’s, and the missions flow into each other better.

    • February 2, 2011 at 18:23

      I agree with that Cryptic has limited the silver account options too much. The game is still s subcription-based game, but with an extended free trial – and you can extend the trial a little bit more if you pay for it. But it is still a trial, you are not a proper 100% real customer unless you subscribe.

      I was less bothered with the costume selection in DCUO than I thought I would be; there is still a reasonably good selection from start. The flow between missions definitely seem good I think. I can’t say that they have made me want to care so much about the heroes and villains involved – but that is on par with Champions. In that regard I think City of Heroes is better.
      I do not think I would want to may a subscription for DCUO though even if the controls and interface would work better for me; but neither would I pay a subscription for Champions today. But I am already a lifetimer there, so I do not have to make that choice – just make the best of my choice 1.5 years ago.

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