10 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Champions

greatest-american-heroWith the launch of Champions just days away, I wanted to give you a heads up on a few things that will help you right out of the gate — and that you don’t want to be kicking yourself for not finding out about after you’ve been in the game for a month or two.  So here goes!

1. Stats Matter

Probably one of the easiest mistakes to make right off the bat is to skim past the somewhat unwieldy stat selection screen (if you’re making a custom framework character) to get to the character editor.  Be careful!  Your choice of stats matters greatly in relation to your powers — this handy guide is a nice reference tool for that.

At levels 5 and 13, you get what’s known as a “super-stat” (so, two total).  These two stats, whichever you choose, will be the main stats that boost your damage (as well as doing whatever the stats originally did).  So you might be building an intellect hero and make intelligence a super-stat for damage, versus a Superman-type doing strength.

2. Mix-And-Match vs. Dedicated Frameworks

At the start, Champions lets you choose whether you want a character’s powers to all be in the same framework (framework=powerset in Champions parlance) as a cookie-cutter build, or if you want to mix-and-match with a custom framework.  Trust me, go custom — the real joy in this game is getting to make the hero you want with the selection of powers that appeals to you.

The only thing you need to keep in mind for custom frameworks is how the power selection is handled.  In each framework, powers exist in tiers — Tier 0, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.  Everyone can always select any power that’s in any framework’s Tier 0 (provided you are at a level that you can choose new powers), but to progress up the tiers to the “better” powers means that you have to fulfill one of two requirements:

  • Tier 1: That you already have 1 power from that framework, or 2 non-energy builder powers from any other framework
  • Tier 2: 3 powers from that framework, or 5 non-energy builders from any other framework
  • Tier 3: 5 powers from that framework, or 8 non-energy builders from any other framework

So basically, if you devote yourself to getting powers within one framework, you’re going to be able to access the top tiers of that framework more quickly than if you’re more mix-and-match — BUT after a certain point in the game, when you have 8 non-energy building powers of any kind, all tiers in all powersets will be open to you.  The only question is how quickly do you want to get to the tier 3 goodies.

3. Secrets Abound In The Tutorial

You might be tempted, especially after your first run-through, to speed through the initial tutorial zone as fast as possible (and I wouldn’t blame you!).  But you’d be missing out on the start of one of Champions’ fun features, the Perk system, which gives you perk points for various achievements, which can then be spent later on goodies.  The tutorial has a number of perks to nab, which are unobtainable once you leave — so be sure to get them on your way!  A few of the “secrets” include:

  • Jump on top of one of the first crashed alien vessels (“Red Bug Down” perk)
  • A cat crate hidden among the rubble that starts a quest (“Reggie’s Owner” quest)
  • A mission (“Batter Up”) to save Foxbat, who’s trapped under rubble by a fountain – as an added bonus, you get to keep Foxbat’s gun when you finish the quest!
  • A mission to help trapped civvies you get via radio when you’re near some cop cars
  • Near Silverback (the holographic gorilla) is a cop car that gives you the “Save Kinetic” quest when you click on it
  • You get a perk for doing all of the missions in the tutorial, including the semi-hidden ones

4. Customize Your Powers’ Visuals

Emanation points and hues are fun, easy ways to make your power visuals stand out from the pack.  Right-click on any power on your action bar to pull up the customization screen.  It’s as simple as using sliders and drop down menus to tweak your looks.

5. Get A Defensive Power As Your Third Selection

Upon exiting the first tutorial zone, you’ll get your selection of both a new power and a travel power (yay!).  While it’s tempting to get something flashy for your new power, we recommend that your third power be a defensive one — most all frameworks offer a solid defensive power in their Tier 1′s.

6. The Powerhouse Is An Awesome Tool

“Try before you buy” is the motto of the powerhouse, and you best make use of it.  You can do two wonderful things here:

  1. Pick a power and then test it out in a training room to make sure you like it — if not, you can replace it with another power as long as you’re still in the powerhouse.
  2. Respec your character — respecs in Champions work sort of in reverse of how you’ve been building your character.  You pay some resources (money) to undo the last thing you added to your character (power, stat, advantages, whatever), and keep undoing the ones previous to that until you get to the point where you’ve undone whatever you don’t like.  You can only respec up to the past 10 choices you’ve picked.

7. Judge Ye Not The Game By The Tutorial Zones

Champions actually has two tutorial zones.  There’s the initial one (the alien attack), then a choice between two “crisis zones” — the desert or Canada.  Both are designed to let you get your super-legs before tossing you into the main game, and unfortunately, both are lacking in comparison to what the game is like past the crisis zones.  So if you feel a little… underwhelmed… by the tutorials, just know that you’re plowing through some of the dullest parts of the game.

8. Outlining: It’s Not For Everybody

Some people like Champions’ signature “outlining” visuals, some don’t.  If you aren’t a fan, then hop into the options, select “visuals”, then “advanced graphics”, then deselect outlining.  As a bonus, turning off outlining actually improves game performance.

9. The @ Factor

Instead of having separate servers or shards, everyone will play on the same server in Champions.  Every player can choose whatever name they like for their characters, as they’ll always have an @NAME attached to the end of them in chat (but not above their heads).

The @NAME factor changes things up a bit from other MMOs.  The first thing is that you will have to watch your reputation a bit more — there’s no getting away from your fixed surname, so if you’re a jerk on Wildbeast@Syp, people will still know it’s you when you’re Flutterfire@Syp (Flutterfire is copyright me, and I have a team of lawyers at my command to enforce it).

The other thing to consider is that the @NAME thing makes it a ton easier to keep track of friends — everyone plays on the same server, with a constant surname, so there’s no sweating which server (and perhaps, which friends) to be with.

10. Swinging Is Awesome

That is all.

(*Because Ysharros has a dirty mind, I have to come back and clarify: swinging the TRAVEL POWER.)

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42 thoughts on “10 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Champions

  1. I didn’t care for swinging when I used it in the powerhouse, never got to try it in the openworld though.

    Acrobatics on the other hand, was pure win.

  2. Teeeeheeeee! :D

    Early morning laughs = win. Plus, yet again your post makes me want to try this game out. But I shall resist! … At least a few months.

  3. You might have flutterfire – but you can’t stop me from using my “tribute character” flitterflame! Mwahahahaha!

    @Shadowwar – personally, I found acrobatics to be lacklustre (though the animations – especially for running and jumping backwards – were fantastic). Runs alright but doesn’t jump quite high enough…

    Oh, another tip I heard is to get a “proper” travel power at level 5 – something like flying or swinging or whatever for maximum mobility early on – and save the flavour ones for your second travel power at 35. Up to personal preference of course but it can be worth it.

  4. I would add that Canada should be avoided like the plague. At least soloing in the Project Greenskin desert area you aren’t forced to take up crafting if you don’t want to (there’s a backpack in the instance to provide radiation protection) and a lot of the quests don’t require poor quest mechanics such as waiting for hikers to respawn to talk to them real quick with 5 other heroes lingering around trying to do the same.

    Once they iron out some of the kinks I’m sure Canada will be wonderful but at the moment I steer my characters for the Desert all the time.

  5. I never stepped out of the framework box in beta, but I’m thinking I have to when it’s game time!

    Thanks for the list of perkilicous goodies. I would’ve never caught the “Red Bug Down” one, and I definitely never found the “Batter Up” mission.

    I’m ready for Friday!!! Let the pewpewing commence!

  6. Cool post. While I do not intend to play, the Powerhouse seems like a “duh” moment. Hopefully other games steal it.

  7. Castamere – there’s a dead scientist or something in the canada boss fight with a cold protection item, like the backpack in desert.

  8. @Castamere
    I thought that the Desert was much better as well. It’s not as big as the Canada zone, but it’s laid out much better with better progression for the player.

  9. Starayo – Well crap. You learn something new everyday!

    Be that as it may there are still a lot of quest areas that puts you almost against your fellow heroes and is a breeding ground for jerkish attitudes and playstyles. One example being the Lost Hikers where you have to wait around for the damn hikers to respawn whereas the Desert equivalent is the turret quest and you get credit for the turret whether someone else already activated it or not.

  10. So far my favorite travel power is teleportation, if you get in over your head you can instantly disappear, and you are stealthed so you can get into area without aggroing.

  11. Great write up Syp. I’m going to show it off a bit to Sodality members and such.

    I also liked:

    “The @NAME factor changes things up a bit from other MMOs. The first thing is that you will have to watch your reputation a bit more — there’s no getting away from your fixed surname, so if you’re a jerk on Wildbeast@Syp, people will still know it’s you when you’re Flutterfire@Syp (Flutterfire is copyright me, and I have a team of lawyers at my command to enforce it).”

    Every MMO should do this. Reputation should follow you everywhere.

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  13. Nice list. My thoughts:

    I’ll second Starayo’s suggestion about getting a practical travel power first. Tunnelling is an awesome-looking power, but I can’t imagine using it as the primary travel power; there are just too many limitations. OTOH, I’m quite pleased with acrobatics, which is incredibly fun so long as you’re not travelling great distance (although including a slightly higher jump would be nice). Teleportation works surprisingly well and looks better. And then swinging…. swinging is quite possibly THE MOST FUN I’ve had in an MMO since I first was able to fly in CoH.

    The Canadian zone, admittedly, did have more chances for people to ninja something away from you. But the landscape there is nothing but georgeous — I LOVED the Bigfoot enclave to the northeast. And the rescue of Oceanic Flight 815 (or whatever parody name they gave it to prevent copyright claims).

    Turning off the outline made a huge difference in my enjoyment of the graphics. It suddenly looked (more) like a real MMO instead of a 1990s console game with the contrast settings bonked.

    The tutorial zone is entirely too long and too mandatory, as are the crisis missions. For a game in which the costume creator is one of the biggest draws, it seems counter-intuitive to make the early game so tedious; it’s like they want to discourage people from playing too many alts. After making a few different toons, I completely came to hated the tutorial, and by the time beta was over I never wanted to see another crisis zone again.

  14. @Castamere

    In the last open beta patch they fixed the spawn rates for the hikers, two of which almost never spawned previously. Now it is not much worse than the similar desert quests.

    I still enjoyed the content layout in the desert a bit better. The desert also had a better selection of sub-100 crafting skill up objects compared to Canada, if you are into crafting right away.

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  16. There’s at least one more person besides Ysharros who read into that last statement. Heh.

    This is a good write-up. There’s going to be a lot of new players next week, and they’ll need to know what’s what to survive the game. I liked it when I played it, but probably won’t be joining you – it’s definitely a game that has already taken a lot of licks from the community, but in reality, it’ll do just fine.

  17. @Ferrel – I agree, I liked the @NAME factor as well. I think it’s an excellent idea. ^_^ I get to have whatever name I want, AND avoid people that I may rather not be around. Good stuff.

    @chris – Thanks so much for saying that! o_o I was curious about teleportation, as it looked very interesting, and now I definitely know that one of my characters will be using that! Useful means of escape FTW.

    This post was awesome, Syp. Thanks for all of the tips and wonderful advice!

  18. This was very helpful for me. I’ve been debating no gonig with a Electricity build, but Telekinesis has a lot I want to dabble in as well. I’m worried about how stats will work out since primarily Electricity needs Rec and End, and Tele is Con and Ego, but it seems most all powers don’t pair up very well. I’ll have to read up on custom frameworks, because at this point I’m still a bit clueless, and I don’t want to screw myself over in PvP because I made a poor build compared to the veterans from beta, and people who build theirs based on guides after release. I’ve been in beta since beta started, but only recently started playing.

    Btw, tip #4 was awesome, I wondered how to customize the powers colors, and now I know, this at least helps me finish designing my character.

  19. My favourite sentence was this one “With the launch of Champions Online just days away…” fillled with a giddy amount of stupid excitement.

    Thanks Syp for this, as someone who hasn’t touched the game at all, this is all very, very good to know. I’m totally going to print out this post before first launch.

  20. I must agree with the comments that the progression for Desert is a bit better than the Wilderness, but I must confess I like the story element better in the wilderness.

  21. The @name thing also gives you something else that’s nice: the ability to choose any name. So no need to log on and grab names, you can always have the one you want.

    However, on the bad side, it reveals your account name to everyone and their super-powered dog. It would have been nice to choose a permanent unique alias.

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  23. @Vincent – Your CO forum alias is also your @name in the game. It doesn’t have to be your account name. Choose wisely, though, as I have read several rants on the forums by people very irritated that their silly forum name was going to be their game name.

  24. The tutorial also has a “Kill 100 Qualar” perk.

    And yeah, I’m a bit worried about the “@name” part being my account name as well. Your account name is typically something to guard very carefully, and yet, there it is right at the end of your name….

    Also it adds a “better pick an account name you don’t mind everyone seeing.” My wife usually uses first initial, last name as her account name. It would be a bit of a shock to use that, and suddenly have everyone see her personal info….

    That being said, I love that it’s there. I would just like to see a permanent alias too.

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  28. swinging is cool, both ingame and in RL. srsly you should try it :)
    a lot of people using acrobatics and i’ve notice, my first toon did too but now i am so stuck with superspeed – absolutely fastest travel power and its so immersive.

    i really hope that CO will grow in time, right now the feeling of potential is all over it.

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  30. @Derek K

    Create a Support Ticket and ask them to change set your display name to something different than your account name — they will do it.

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  32. is there any way to go anonymous on some toons? I donlt mean my @name not displaying to the people I’m in the same zone with. I mean having an alt where my guild mates weren’t notified that i was on. Some of the guy I know are nice but very … enthusiastic … and I like having the option to play without getting dragged in to some major group effort that goes until 1am

  33. One other tutorial quest that can be “hidden” is the “escort the girl back to the mayor” quest. If she’s there, it’s an obvious quest, but if someone is in the midst of escorting her it could be easy to miss your first time through.

    She spawns near where you’re getting stuff from the mayor’s desk and computer. She’s on the street near the rubble.

    I actually ditched my first pre-order and spent $5 on a second after I realized my silly forum name would be my in-game name.

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  35. 7. Judge Ye Not The Game By The Tutorial Zones

    The only problem is that its so RIDICULOUSLY dull… so dull that I couldn’t push myself past it. I’ve never been that bored by the beginning of an MMO, its THAT horrid.

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  37. Very well done Syp. I wish I had seen it before I started my fourth alt, but I can always delete and start over.

    I didn’t even know about some of those starting area quests and I’ve not even made it to the Canadian Wilderness yet, I always end up in the Disaster Desert, might be time for a change.

    Although, I’ve not tried Swinging yet, a friend says it makes him seasick, I have tried teleportation and man, that travel power is rockin.

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