Champions Online? City of Heroes Has Nothing to Worry About
City of Heroes, Champions Online, MMORPG, pc game, xbox 360
What about soon-to-be released Champions Online, developed by the original developers of City of Heroes and based on a popular pen-and-paper RPG? Can five-year-old City of Heroes stand up against this game, which is going to be using up-to-date technology and be available on not only for the PC but also for the Xbox 360?
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||City of Heroes Has Nothing to Worry About|
By Cecil Adkins
Cecil Adkins is a fiction writer and covers MMORPGs for Examiner.com. He is an active player of City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, and several other MMOs. He can be found on the web at www.ceciladkins.com.
Latest Updated: Why City of Heroes SHOULD Be Worried
For over five years now, there has been one and only one superhero MMO: City of Heroes. Released in June 2004 by developer Cryptic Studios and publisher NCSoft, City of Heroes offered something that was rare among MMOs: a game that wasn't filled with elves and dwarves and dragons. Now wholly owned by NCSoft (which has renamed the studio that develops City of Heroes to Paragon Studios), City of Heroes has enjoyed having this small niche all to itself. Its subscriber numbers aren't huge (hovering in the 100,000 – 150,000 range), but it has more than enough to be considered successful and hasn't lost significant ground for quite some time. In fact, with big updates coming up like the free Issue 16: Power Spectrum and the paid expansion City of Heroes: Going Rogue, the original superhero MMO looks to be in good shape for the future.
City of Heroes - 5 Year Anniversary
But what about the upstart? What about soon-to-be released Champions Online, developed by the original developers of City of Heroes and based on a popular pen-and-paper RPG? Can five-year-old City of Heroes stand up against this game, which is going to be using up-to-date technology and be available on not only for the PC but also for the Xbox 360?
I think so, and here are five reasons why.
1 Cryptic hasn't learned much from City of Heroes. That may seem like a surprising statement, since they developed City of Heroes during its first few years. However, some things that are being done with Champions Online just boggle the mind, considering the innovations that City of Heroes introduced to the MMO scene. First of all, it seems that the majority of CO's missions are open-world instead of instanced. One of the best things that City of Heroes has had in place since launch is that most of its mission content is instanced, i.e., set in maps separate from the main world. There is no waiting for an important mob to respawn, there is no worrying that someone else may come along and finish off a big boss that you've taken time to whittle down, there is no competing for resources. Why Champions Online has moved away from this design element is beyond me. Another thing I just read about is the limited number of powers that will be available on the main UI. Initially this limit was only seven, but that caused an uproar among beta players and they've now raised it to fourteen. City of Heroes started with only two trays of nine power slots each, for a total of 18 powers that could be visible at any one time. Even though that number is higher than the current max in Champions Online, it still wasn't enough for CoH players and a third visible tray was added. Eventually City of Heroes was made so that you could have several more trays than that. Why CO is going backward in this regard is puzzling, although the limitation might have something to do with its eventual console release. And don't get me started on the ridiculously low maximum number of characters any one player can have…
2 Champions Online will be available for the Xbox 360. At first this might seem to be an advantage over City of Heroes, which is only available for the PC and the Mac. But I think it's going to be more trouble than it's worth. I just don't think an MMO can be properly done on a console, and I think anyone who tries is going to have to dumb down their game to do it. The Xbox version won't be out by the time the PC version comes out on September 1st, hinting that they may be having troubles even getting it done. Those troubles may lead to even more issues as they have to deal with essentially two versions of the game down the road. Also, it's sad that they're not doing a Mac version of the game, something else they obviously didn't learn from City of Heroes, as that game's Mac version has been very well-received.
3 Champions Online's graphics aren't spectacular. I'm sure many people will like the look of Champions Online, but I'm also sure that many more won't care for it. It's true that it looks very comic-book-like, but seeing a comic book come to life isn't all it's cracked up to be. To me the look of Champions Online just seems way too cartoony to be taken seriously. It looks like it will be very distracting in actual game play.
4 City of Heroes has five years of content. This is something that is going to be very hard for Cryptic to overcome. Sure, Champions Online is new and shiny, but compared to a game that's had free updates a few times a year for five years, its content is guaranteed to be lacking. There's just no possible way there will be as much to do in Champions Online as there is in City of Heroes. Also, not only does City of Heroes have a lot more developer-created content than Champions Online could have, but it also features a way for players to effectively make limitless new content themselves in the Mission Architect. Champions Online may have their Nemesis system (an idea originally conceived by Matt Miller, now City of Heroes' lead designer, back in 2005 but not implemented in City of Heroes), but players in City of Heroes can craft entire armies of bad guys and interesting missions to put them in.
5 Champions Online fights dirty. A few months ago Cryptic Studios employees solicited City of Heroes players to apply for the CO closed beta. This wouldn't have been so bad, but they did it from within the City of Heroes game and official forums themselves! No, this doesn't really have anything to do with comparing the two games, but this shady practice left a bad taste in my mouth, and I wasn't the only one.
I could be wrong; Champions Online may come in and sweep everyone off their feet with brilliant writing and fantastic gameplay. But I doubt it. I think City of Heroes will get along just fine, despite maybe seeing a dip in their subscription numbers within the first few months of the release of its competitor. I think a lot of people are going to be curious about Champions Online and give it a try, but I'm betting that quite a few current City of Heroes players who do will wind up back in the streets of Paragon City or the Rogue Isles.
City of Heroes Screenshot
Stay tuned for my reasons why City of Heroes might actually have something to worry about.
Champions Online Screenshot