7 days around the MMO world / September 06

What a week this has been with PAX at the end and the Champions Online launch at the beginning. Who could ask for more awesome in one week? So September has begun its month long celebration of MMO launches with the much anticipated Champions Online. While the launch was generally smooth there are some things to discuss regarding the launch and post mortem.

The actual logistics of Champions Online‘s launch was pretty smooth and everyone seem to be able to patch their game, get logged in and start playing without any major hiccups. However that isn’t to say that there wasn’t something noticeably wrong to some players. Apparently Cryptic thought it was a good idea to swoop in at the last moment and do sweeping nerfs to all the powersets while giving a slight buff to the villains.

Needless to say those sweeping nerfs really miffed players off, especially those that had been playing in the beta and had expectations set. From our experience with the game thus far — we’ve managed to make several characters one of which has hit level 10 — we do notice that some of the powersets feel overly weak. Cryptic’s Bill Roper addressed the concerns of angry players in a “State of the Game” address and have since implemented a test server so that major changes like this don’t sneak up on us anymore. Did they fix the nerfs? No, but hopefully they’ve watching, especially the PvP and re-balance some of the abilities.

It hasn’t even been a week and Cryptic is already talking about the next update for Champions Online that will include a Halloween-type of event. The update is called Blood Moon Rising and will include a brand new powerset for players to muck around with. The new powerset is called Celestial and is focused on healing and buffing, so if you’re familiar with the Priest in World of Warcraft it will be similar to that is some respects. The update will also alter some of the world events that will cause players to turn into zombies when they die, and werewolves. We imagine the update will be coming before Halloween as it appears to be themed around the holiday.

Overall though it appears that Champions Online is doing well out of the gate. We’ll be interested to see how the rest of the game past the initial tutorial and beginner zones pan out as well as seeing the launch numbers. We know that launches can be deceiving for an MMO’s future, but it doesn’t suck that people are playing it and enjoying themselves. If Cryptic stays on top of issues and streams content to players, Champions Online has a good chance to be a major success.

Our ground troops at PAX haven been talking to developers and that means we’re gathering a ton of information to share with you. We have a ton of stuff to sift through for, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Star Trek Online, EVE Online and Lord of the Rings Online. So consider this an official invitation for you to keep your eyes peeled for our conituning PAX coverage next week.

Speaking of PAX and Star Trek Online, Cryptic did a nice little demo of the game showing off the space combat and ground combat. Luckily someone did the whole ‘record this discreetly and hope no one sees’ trick and shared it with us all. The quality of the clip isn’t all that fantastic as these bootleg things never are, but we can at least tell that so far the game looks pretty damn good. One thing we’re a little bit concerned with is how much fighting there seems to be in it. Star Trek always struck me as diplomacy first, war second and from what we see in this demo it just seems like they fight first and ask questions later. Hopefully this is just because it’s an early build of the game and that diplomacy part will come later as it’s part of the mystique that is Start Trek.

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