It’s been a long weekend PNG’ers and we’re ready to hit the ground running. Today starts my weekly articles on my experiences with Champions Online. I sat down on launch day of Champions Online and really thought about what and who my Champion would be. It had to be something special and with flair, and more importantly, represent Pixels and Grids to his fullest capacity. We needed a hero… and this is how The Equestrian was born.
Raised by the wild horse people of Equus Diligo, The Equestrian left for greener pastures and adventure. His travels brought him to Earth in the late 18th century. He traveled the long dusty roads of the wild west, never understood and forever hunted by the men of Earth. He became known as El Hombre Y El Monstruo around what is now known as the U.S. / Mexican border and was often mistaken as El Chupacabra. A mistake that gave birth to the rivalry that exists between the two today.
Thus was born the idea of The Equestrian, but he needed an iconic look. I decided that he needed to look like a cross between a horse and a cowboy and wield dual swords and pistols. Lucky for me, the character creation options are very deep and were able to pretty much accommodate my whacked out idea for a superhero via powers and the actual creation of his dope look.
With The Equestrian ready for action, I was thrust into Millennium City in the midst of an all out war with some aliens named the Quular. This little area basically serves as the tutorial and will get you familiar with how Champions will play out. I could tell immediately that there was some definite improvement to the performance since the beta and was able to run the game at a decent frame rate on medium-high settings. All pictures in this article are actually taken in game and are screens from my play sessions.
To be honest, I was having a bit of a time with the controls on a mouse and keyboard. When they say that this is an action MMORPG, they’re pretty on point. You can lock onto your target and initiate your basic energy building auto attack, or get a few more powerful attacks in with the energy you have before a fight. Until you finish the tutorial, these are the only two attacks that you have access to. I decided that The Equestrian would use dual pistols as his basic energy building and auto attack, and then dual swords as his more powerful energy consuming attack. Once I got the hang of this, combat felt incredibly smooth and rewarding. Continually hitting the dual sword attack would actually string together a combo that would do a considerable amount of damage. It still, however felt a little clunky with a keyboard and mouse. It turns out though that since this game is being ported to the Xbox 360, it maps perfectly to the console’s controller and feels terrific to use. You will, however, need to still use the keyboard for such things as typing messages, access your inventory, and get a larger view of the area map.
If you’ve played some of the more popular MMO’s out there, one of the first things you’ll notice in Champions is how it’s core mission structure does not feel as original as it’s look and combat. The tutorial was filled with the standard fetch, kill, and courier missions that we have all come to expect from an MMO these days. What was refreshing however, was that they also drew inspiration from Warhammer: Online’s public quest system and implemented what they call Open Missions. Towards the end of the tutorial, one of your missions is to participate in one of these. The object was to help one of the NPC Champions, Ironclad, defend a giant cannon from the Quular. It went in three stages and at anytime, you could walk in and participate which would net you some loot depending on your contribution. I must have done that open mission about three times before moving on.
The final part of the tutorial brought me to an instanced dungeon where you help another NPC Champion, The Defender, run through Champions HQ to turn off some homing beacons that were responsible for the whole alien invasion mess. The instance behaved a lot like you would expect. You run through the level either by yourself or with a team and fulfill the objectives. I also encountered a villain that was in a giant black mech suit. In the end, he was no match for The Defender and The Equestrian.
Completing the instance brought an end to the tutorial and an excellent start to my adventures in the Champions Online universe with The Equestrian. I exited the Champions HQ to lines of saluting soldiers and cheering citizens just to meet up with two more NPC Champions whose names escape me. They gave me the option of going to battle in a burning desert or in the great white north, America’s hat… Canada. I decided to make a run for the desert, but that’s a story for next week.
If you’re playing Champions Online and would like to join The Equestrian in his quest for MMO immortality, feel free to add PNGJames to your friends list and prepare thyself for merriment!