Daily Blogroll 8/18: Champions Edition


This week marks the start of the Champions Online open beta, the end of Aion’s closed beta, the beginning of the Fallen Earth open beta, and right now, MMO gamers just have to be asking themselves why they PAY for games when they can just jump from beta to beta?

Gordon of We Fly Spitfires thinks the whole “beta” thing has simply gone out of control, with the true meaning, if any, entirely lost. He looks back to the times when a game’s release date meant something. DM Osbon has sworn off betas since Warhammer’s escapade last year.

I think you had to preorder Champions to get into this beta (am I wrong about this?), and from what I understand, you had to have pre-ordered Aion to get into the last stages of the closed beta — no clue on the open beta. So at least two of the new beta games expect you to have dropped some cash to test their game for them.

Champions Online’s open beta was not off to a good start as the vast press of people waiting to get into the game had the patcher overloaded for most of the day. Warhammermer couldn’t even get the Champions Online website to validate his open beta key. Pete Smith of Dragonchasers has a little more news about how bad the servers were melting in that Los Gatos heat — 20,000 simultaneous patcher connections essentially kills it for everyone. Anjin at Bullet Points had a lot of fun watching the patcher screen.

So how did those who managed to get in the game, or those who played in the closed beta, feel about Champions Online?

Zubon of Kill Ten Rats liked the customization but found the UI hid too many important details and didn’t like the graphics at all. Keen felt the game wasn’t all that massive or original and seemed more tuned for a console a PC. Hudson couldn’t keep his gaming group interested in the game through its development. Syncaine says, “If Champions Online survives longer than HellGate: London, it will be a miracle.” Darren of Common Sense Gamer thinks the game is just a recycled and only somewhat expanded version of City of Heroes.

Scopique of Cedar Street likes the customization and feel of being ‘super’. Mr. Anderson of Juxtaposed Life likes the game enough to subscribe with the six month deal, but not beyond that (for now).

My personal feelings? I like making the heroes, but I was never able to get heroes to look as good in game as they do in the character creator. Melee is underpowered in the arena, and, I suspect, will need some buffing to become viable. It’s fine with NPCs who just sit there and take it — just not that useful vs players. It’s a WoW-ish quest hub world with a heavily instanced world that felt fairly empty once you get away from the low level areas. Aside from the public quest in the tutorial zone, I never saw anyone actively working on one, though I did stumble across some partially completed ones. Dungeons seem to be re-used for different missions, a holdover from City of Heroes, but surprising for a more modern game.

I subscribed to the six month plan because I really enjoyed the arena pvp. Like Warhammer, it boosts your level to the top of the tier — people level 1-10 are boosted to 10, people 11-20 are boosted to 20 and so on. I feel people will want to level to the top of their chosen tier and just head into the arenas, as the arenas were the first place I felt challenged and useful — but that was exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for. Casual, drop-in play requiring skill and teamwork. Not that excited about running quests.

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7 thoughts on “Daily Blogroll 8/18: Champions Edition”

  1. I do think that developers should lose the right to play the “it’s just beta, we owe you nothing” card when their publisher charges for beta access. You can have a free beta (open or closed) and owe participants nothing, or you can charge money for access to your beta and be judged on the quality of the service you provide. Once the tester forks over non-refundable money, they’re a customer.

  2. Aion gave away thousands of free game keys for each “closed beta” event, so no you didn’t have to pre-order to try it, but only if you were lucky enough to get one of the free keys, which went very quickly. As they were “closed events” I have no problems with Aion mostly only letting in pre-orders to check it out. I hope for the open beta they don’t pull a similar deal like Cryptic and use File Planet. If you are releasing a MMO that is supposedly “AAA” quality, then you better be able to field your own download and patching servers; as well as let anyone in that wants to try it without having to subscribe to some lame third party site, free or otherwise.

    As to “beta events”, they are a total joke these days. I’ve been in several this year and most were nothing but preview events. Aion, which is already released in Asia, but they did work on fixing the English translation section and will apparently take player feedback in mind (please fix or remove Gameguard!). Free Realms, which pretty much ignored the players (as they continue to do) as bugs I reported in beta are still in the game, even after repeated reporting of them since release. And so on. Just call them “preview events”, how can they be “beta” when the games have already gone gold and are being boxed and shipped during the “beta”?

    Love the comics you do from the various MMO games (Monopoly too) and the daily blog updates are great. Thanks for taking the time to do them!

  3. I think you had to preorder Champions to get into this beta (am I wrong about this?)

    Yes, you are wrong about this. Both preordering or having a Fileplanet subscription gets you a guaranteed beta spot. If you are neither and still want in, you can still apply at Fileplanet, because they hand out their remaining beta keys if they weren’t all picked up by the subscribers.

    If you are stuck in the patcher, you probably still got the original, not working version of the client. Best solution is a complete uninstall of that one, downloading the new and improved (improved as in now actually working) version of the client, and installing that one.

    And while you are at it, you might want to connect a gamepad to your PC, preferably an XBox controller for PC. That makes it a lot easier to realize what Champions Online really is: A console MMORPG. If you expect a classic PC MMORPG, you might end up disappointed.

  4. Okay so it’s not ALL pay to play beta :)

    The old launcher eventually did work for me. I left it going when I went to work and it was done by the time I got home. But I got pulled into EVE and didn’t get a chance to play. I’m not really all that excited about doing the parts of the game I’ve done before and having it all wiped away again, so not sure I’ll be playing the beta. Maybe I will make some heroes and save their costumes….

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