The Daily Grind: What would you do to ‘fix’ Champions Online?


Whether it’s good news or weird news or bad news or bad news that belatedly turns into good news, any post about Champions Online inevitably turns into a discussion about the health of the game. Some of the superhero fans on our staff hoped that Champs would capitalize on City of Heroes’ closure to revitalize and become a new home for superhero refugees from Paragon City, but PWE has focused on other titles for so long that even promises of content updates have people muttering “maintenance mode” in our comment sections.

I have a soft spot for Champs. I don’t want to see it go down.

Massively OP reader and Champs champion The_Grand_Nagus recently wrote to us about ways to save the game — specifically, how to fix the problems of the free-form character slot. See, subscription players have access to free-form characters — that is, characters whose skills can be chosen from all disciplines — but free-to-play players are asked to shell out $50 per character for that privilege. TGN proposes that since F2P players are more likely to stick with the game with a character they designed themselves (as opposed to selected according to pre-set archetypes), they should be given a single free-form character slot. That, he argues, would help turn new players into regular players and generate more money for the game over time.

I think it’s a good idea. If I were to go back to Champs, I’d probably pay for a single month of sub, and they’d not get much else out of me. There’s no way I’d pay $50 for a character slot that provides what I consider basic superhero MMO functionality. It doesn’t fly in 2015. You can buy a bunch of Steam games for that!

I’m not, however, sure that it alone would restore the game to glory.

What do you think? Would that help Champs? What would you to do “fix” the game?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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I’m late late late to this party, but since I picked it back up to reconnect with old roleplaying friends I’ll put in my two cents. MAKE YOUR WORLD MORE FUN TO EXPLORE. Half the fun of an MMO is exploring an open world and CO’s is rather bland. Not to mention a good bit of it is locked until you get to a certain level or pick up a certain quest. Not cool, man. And don’t even get me started on the lairs/dungeons. It’s the same layout every. single. time. There’s nothing dynamic or interesting about a single one of them. Like many on here have said, it’s unfinished and until Cryptic decides that’s a priority the best option is looking like a complete scrap and redo. I really want to love this game. I like it; I have fun occasionally(mostly when roleplaying), but I can’t love it.


I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.
Champions is a great idea for a game. In fact, it has something like one third or maybe even one half of the minimum number of powers it needs to function as a game.
How does this work? Let me paint an extreme caricature. Imagine using Champions Free-form design system if there were only five powers in the game. The result would be that you are indeed truly free-form. But there would be far fewer end results when you compared to CoX.
Well, granted you have a lot more than five powers. But the basic problem remains. You have far fewer end results with Champions. One finds one can do all sorts of cool things with other games and when you go to Champions you find you really can’t do several different flavors of high end blaster, troller, tanker…
seriously, can you do a fire shield that stops and inflicts damage? Paralyze any mobs lately? Launch any non device sonic attacks?
The games problem is a simple one. It’s unfinished. It’s not a game, it’s a prototype.
People get mad, and wail about Champions misfortunes and they’re right. The game hasn’t had a fair chance. But it’s been around too long to ride on pity anymore. 
It’s time to get this game out of beta, or do a completely new superhero game.
It has another problem, and Laughing Alex touched on it.
It has a knack of twisting things. If everyone decided they were crazy for a game with “summon cute dog” power, they’d find some way to do it, in the barest, dryest, most pro forma manner possible. It would be stripped of whatever the point was, but they would have done it while leaving us to wonder why.
It’s like they joined a religion that worships bullet points.
To be more constructive… write a lot of new powers
Time to get a lot of new powers and get away from the trinity


Bit late here but.

Fixing or saving CO is not possible at this point I’m afraid.  Besides especially hostile trolls in the CO forums that use any excuse to discredit any idea as bad(even if it’s actually innovative) to generally poor power balance and a very limited number of powers, cryptic has generally ran the game into the ground and killed it’s mobility permanently.

It’s a shame really, as it could have been a great game.  But CO is what happens when developers brains fall out, try to please everyone but then end up only pleasing a few “stop having fun guys” and scrubs.  I was also rather vocal about how they handled the micro transactions after a point when they screwed up royally with vehicles.

It was even my post from which a lot of ideas came for fixing vehicles, but they also twisted it on me and everyone.  They over monetized the idea and then over nerfed the original vehicles by making them slower than heck.  Vehicles weren’t as fun anymore, just slow moving tanks with high damage weapons.  Not what I had in mind(fast, fragile but hard hitting and dependant on hit and run/cc tactics to survive).

But then they turned and nerfed those weapons to complete uselessness.  AFTER PEOPLE HAD SPENT GOOD MONEY ON THEM!

Thats not smart business.  Sure, they appeased some very vocal vehicle haters by nerfing them so excessively, but they also pissed off people who were legitimately giving them money to do things.  Things the game never really got.  They instead just made more ineffective vehicles and even continue to do so today.  So their scam(as I call it these days) isn’t even working.  It completely stopped me from ever giving cryptic any ideas ever again.  Screw em if they cannot ever think to ask “is this fun” or “can this compete with x or y” or most of all “are we trying to take to much money from everyone?”.

I know, harsh of me to say that, but it’s a core problem CO has.  It’s developers for whatever reason love to listen to everyone at the same time, but never think of the consequences of making X or Y change.  So they make epic blunders like the above that I speak of.  Every time I posted any idea before then I carefully thought ahead of time.  Not once did I say “make existing vehicles useless”.  No, they listened to the scrubs/haters in implementing vehicles every step of the way and ended up ticking everyone off.

Then they nerfed cooldown reduction into oblivion so many otherwise reasonably fun and balanced powers became useless.  Because some scrubs couldn’t tolerate em.  Or releasing incomplete costume sets.  Or price hicking existing costume sets(that were not very good to begin with).  Or most of all, shaving the beard off a game finally beginning to grow it’s beard.  CO had potential, but it fails because it’s devs don’t know what direction to take it and are just to greedy and tend to twist any idea given to them into another “get rich quick” scheme.

Want to fix the game?  Shut it down or get rid of it and send it to someone who knows what they are doing.
Things I asked for that cryptic never does:

*Balance attacks better.  Many blast powers in general have no nuances and just don’t perform as well as others.
*Make attacks more diverse in secondary effects.

*Balance support to be more diverse than just healing and more healing.  Crowd control and buffs/debuffs should be more diverse and interesting.

*Make vehicles more about customization and make it so the mobs can counter them so they can afford to be a different gameplay style in open zones.  See games like UT2k4/UT3 for instance; such games balance vehicles vs foot by making vehicles counterable rather than just useless vanity items.  And because they are counterable they can afford to be good and fun.
*Stop monetizing vehicles to.  Instead make it something every character has access to with it’s own mechanics.

*Make defensive passives more interesting and make them feel more super.  Lightning reflexes doesn’t feel super with such a low dodge chance and generally wonky mechanic.  And don’t get me started on how poor PFF is.
*Don’t be afraid of letting people mix it up defensively/offensively.  Protoss dark templar didn’t give up shields to become invisible :).

*Cut the trinity.  It’s old, seriously, and anyone arguing in favor of it is not only being unninovative, but holding a dying genre back from moving at all.  And CO was a game that once cut it, and fails these days ever since the archtypes came out.  It doesn’t stand out.  MMORPGS had become as uncreative as ants at this point and it’s killing the genre.

*Don’t be afraid of making challenging content, but don’t resort to simply making it a raid in which anything but a trinity team loses.  Thats not fun and there isn’t even a popuation left to play the rampages, I wonder why?  Content can be hard without resorting to punishing tactics.

*Stop it with raids to, it’s old, boring and even more-so if EVERYONE has to resort to the same damn tactic over and over again.

*Don’t release money only items in a broken OP state and then nerf them into uselessness ever again.  Even more-so, don’t do that if the idea behind them is cool for gods sake.

*And most of all, for gods sake, stop listening to try hards.  Those types are the types who want people to “earn” their fun, often by asking for artificially difficult crap no one really enjoys.  They aren’t helping anyone and certainly not even people who would like a challenge.

I could go on, but fundamentally, CO is a game that I hate to say it, likely needs to be canned.  It will, sooner or later.  Even for Cryptic these days, it’s a stain on their rep.  Every developer has their crappy game, CO is that game for Cryptic.  I hear they learned from it’s mistakes in NWO at least, but I don’t even want to touch their stuff with a 20 foot pole :/.


The alert system is nice for a quick play but players spend their times in it to level their character, cause the game has very little to offer story wise to lever, and its faster doing it with alerts. The micro transactions are understandable but quite expensive and the lock boxes are so infuriating, the crafting system is impossible, (almost). For getting a level 9 mod you have to get 5x5x5x5x5x5x5x5x5 x2 more less because of the fails when crafting. Unless yo pay to win….i meant to craft. Clear mechanics in the game are a must. There is a true mess with the explanation of the powers. There are so many inconsistencies. Some are useless, there must be wiki and a revamp of the description of most powers. Adding real content to the game is also important not just a few twitches and more of the same old boxes. A few costume parts per year is not development. 
None the less I love the game, I would hate to see it die.


SimyJo statistically, if you build it, they almost never come back. What evidence do you have to support the notion that this game is one of the one in hundred exceptions?

It’ll need to be pretty compelling, to convince the folks who have to choose to allow Cryptic to spend that money.


I am VERY hesistant re: Cryptic-Studio’s track record with the IP.

It’s good that Randy has given the project some momentum – perhaps if they can also get Positron back off of STO and back contributing to their own superhero MMO (for which he has a natural flair) then they could drag this game out of the doldrums it has been languishing in for the last 4 years.

It’s great Ravenswood has been tackled but the buildings need to be replaced with some more historical-looking architectual assets (more like the sourcebook akin to Xavier’s mansion) , there are plenty to choose from out of the Vibora Bay assets (because sorry guys but plain square buildings don’t cut it and it looks rushed) – and also they need to bring in content with all the missing Champions locales;

#Wells of the worlds = missing

#Arcadia: City of Gold = missing

#Sunday Pond:Maine = missing

#Hudson City = missing.

#Atlantis = missing

#UNTIL space station (and ‘Champions-Beyond’ [space] content) = missing.

#Thaar: Island of the Bird-people = missing.

…and an updated content curve with new power-sets please (outside of lock-boxes and other such paywalls).

Super-group bases! – after the stop-gap measure of penthouses [that Nick developed before he went to STO] – Champions has totally lost the momentum with what that built up in excitement.  KoTOR (amongst others) shows that players will pay for different flavours of SG base and the decor to furnish them!.  Sitting on an absolute goldmine there guys with regard to Supergroups! – GET IT DONE!. 

Seriously ! – if you build it ! – they will come™ [back] !


Late to the party here but fixing Champions Online is dead easy.

1. Start releasing content for it again.  CoH is no longer competition.

2. Slowly fix the games flaws.

3. Sell cosmetic powers = Swiming in Cash


vulpisfoxfire syberghost BritoBruno Sorenthaz BKone remember when I said “one in hundred”? That’s one. :)

A lot of folks in the industry refer to this as “lightning in a bottle”. They’re usually talking about WoW, but FF14 bucking the trend on rehab counts too. You can’t count on this, and Square didn’t count on it either; they tried it, because they had enough money to do so. If it had failed, they could have moved on.


syberghost RicharddeLeonIII Wakkander Still seems low.  I’ll bet the numbers only account for actual book sales.  Actual nonDnD pnp players have to be much higher imho.


syberghost BritoBruno Sorenthaz BKone Should ask Square how they did it, as that sort of thing seems to have worked out well for FF14…