Thanks to my friend Jeremy over at MMOVoices (http://mmovoices.ning.com/) I got the opportunity to gain access to a 14 day trial of Champions Online.
I have been playing for several days now and have created three unique super heroes (heroines?). The first guy I created was a robot with mental energies and a large laser cannon called Meganaut, from my days playing Villains and Vigilantes (an old pencil and dice game). I enjoyed him for a while getting him up to 8th level. Then I created a super hero called The Wild Wild West that was part cowboy and steampunk. He has old steampunk fashion gadgets, but looks like a rumble-bumble cowboy. I really enjoy playing him. Finally, I made a devilish, impish girl called The Dark Princess which has magical powers. She has the ability to teleport around and throw ball of electrical energy.
You can create a million different super heroes in the game, though I have found serious limitations in the creation process. You are very much limited to a human, bipedal constraints. I wanted my robot to be a more of a floating computer box with no arms or legs, and I couldn’t figure out how to do that.
As for game play, it is like most MMOs in the sense you get quests and experience with the treadmill of doing kill X mobs for X experience. Although I found I could go around and just beat up bad guys, the game really frowns on that and gives very little experience for doing so — the quests are the mode of level advancement.
Sadly, from what I have seen thus far (pre-10th level content) there is no community in the least. In the hours of play I only occasionally read a chat commented, and most of those were in French.
You see, the entire game is on 1 server which makes for a grand experience, but then they shard each zone into microcosms of 50 people each.
This brings us to the two major content areas — neither of which is in a city but stuck out in the wilderness, one frigid and one barren. I am not sure what their intentions were on this, but super heroes need city landscapes as much as elves need forests and goblins needs caves. I just could not get into the story, and I felt the entire affair was staged and contrived. As a player I knew this was just a static story being played over and over. The character should feel that their environment is alive. City of Heroes did this much better with their large city scapes that offered a feeling that life moves forward, not stuck in a continuous loop of a destroyed camp in the wilderness.
I have dealt only slightly with the crafting system in the game, but what I have experienced as left me indifferent. Similar to World of Warcraft, you select the item to make and push a button. Make sure you have the raw ingredients, found on bad guys you kill and make your item. Perhaps at higher levels things change. There are several fields of study, with each having areas of specialization so everyone will feel that they have their own unique little crafting method.
I am still out with a verdict on this game. It looks fun, plays well, but I am not drawn back to it like I am to Everquest II. I will continue for another 10 days and keep you informed of my findings.