It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s… some character you created in a videogame. And that’s all you need to do to get started in the upcoming massively multiplayer, cel-shaded superhero RPG Champions Online, which we played last week during a visit to developer Cryptic Studios. Based on the pen-and-paper game Champions, Champions Online takes place in the established Champions universe, including the game’s iconic Millennium City, with classic Champions heroes and villains appearing as NPCs in its main story (written by Marvel writer John Layman).
The centerpiece of any superhero MMO is character creation, and Champions offers up enough options to keep us tweaking our heroes for hours. You can pick a powerset built around a theme, like fire, lightning or martial arts. You’ll also have a lot of control over your hero’s look, of course, and will be able to tweak body size, height, weight, and facial features, choose from hundreds of costume options and even go as far as to tweak individual pieces of armor.
Rather than tie players down to any particular “class,” Champions will enable you to mold your character however you like. For instance, if you want to create a tank-type character, you don’t have to limit yourself to only heavy attacks. The game also never forces a “look” on a player unless it’s part of the story, like having to use a disguise for a specific mission or use a certain weapon to defeat a boss. If you decide you want your character to have a broadsword for your visual look, but want the stats from a katana, those stats can be transferred to your broadsword.
When it’s finished, Champions will boast more than 900 missions and five different main zones, which will be huge and have their own unique characteristics. For example, we were shown a desert zone that had its own wasteland, a prison and an abandoned amusement park. Another zone, Lemuria, is 98 percent underwater, where some of your travel powers don’t work and you now have to worry about combat above and below you.