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.