The Scores on the Doors

schwarzenegger-in-total-recall1The new Champions Online: State of the Game has been published. Just let me get something out in the air before I start, something I said last week

After Blood Moon, Cryptic need to come up with more End-game content. Not just more, but interesting content …  If the next Content release from Cryptic is merely the Christmas Event, then I may just call it quits.

So other than the Blood Moon event (which appears to have some serious bugs, was not well thought out and generally a pain in the arse for anyone who only plays for an hour or so a night) what has Cryptic added for the long term from this?

First off is the British Bulldog style PvP map, Zombie Apocalypse. Where when one person falls, they become a zombie and have to then attack their comrades. While I’ve not played it yet, it sounds a refreshing change to the standard PvP mix of Deathmatch, CTF and base assault, and I can honestly say I’ve heard nothing like it in other MMOs. Whether or not it works or not is yet to be seen. For now that’s +1 to Cryptic

There are then some bug fixes for Blood moon. I mean, serious bug fixes, like faulty boss respawns and not sharing credit cross-team for the public quests, stuff that shouldn’t have made it out of the test server. I’d call that -1 to Cryptic

New 18-21 missions in MC to fill out a minor levelling gap which, to be honest, I never noticed at all (on any character) but will undoubtably help take some of the monotony out of levelling alts. I give that a +1 to Cryptic.

Crossover Missions is basically just sharing missions if a player has completed, or not eligible for the mission. With that player then getting the XP and rewards from it. It’s a good idea, encouraging more grouping, something that is really needed in this game. another +1 to Cryptic

Flashbacks is, essentially, going back and playing missions you’ve completed previously. Now, I know this would be fun for one or two missions, well, actually, there’s nothing off the top of my head that I’d want to do again that I’d missed. I’m sure some people might, and it might encourage machinima artists to play the game (the ability to re-use any map in the game would be quite a draw), but for me this is just meh, I can’t give Cryptic any points for this, so I won’t.

I have to deduct points for mindless hyperbole though,

There is a new repeatable Lair in the works that will feature some very special villains, as well as one that will shake you to the core of your reality.

Just say “There are new lairs in the works” if you want to be vague about it. If you want to be more specific, give us some damn information. -1 Point to Cryptic.

There are minor balance changes coming to passives and travel powers. Buffs or nerfs? No idea. No information given other than they’re being looked at. Nice to know, but without specifics, nil-points for that.

So, this state of the game currently sits at +1 point to Cryptic, which means it’s been a bit meh, but not pointless and the game has progressed slightly. But we have one more point to cover

We’re also starting work on our Winter Event that will roll out in December. And then there’s the very big surprise we have in store for early 2010…

Note my Quote above (-1 Point). Granted, we have a new repeatable lair in the works, but the vagueness of the information belies any confidence that it’ll be anything more than just another 5-man instance, something that we already have. The Winter Event, while obvious it was coming, should not have come before the ‘big surprise’ – which I’m sure everyone is hoping is one of three things. Multi-team raids (Ala Hamidom from CoH, or even raids like WoW) is one, increased level cap is the second, and Multi-Nemesis missions (The League of Destruction thing) is the third.

It’s likely going to be LoD, which wouldn’t be much of a surprise, but considering I’m not getting any nemesis minions spawning since I hit 40 I only have two Nemesis’, one of which I’ve only done the opening mission, I don’t see me having enough Nemesis characters to form the league.

Unfortunatly, each of these should have been in the works from day one. Instead, what we’ve had over the last two months is, undoubtably, an extended beta test. I hate resorting to that kind of language, but we have. They only recently filled the 30-35 content gap with repeatable missions, major issues with the lacklustre end-game, Lemuria’s epic lag, bugged PQs (I still know of atleast 2 that are bugged, one in MC and one in Monster Island), and because of these PQs, no-one will do any other PQ incase they  go through it and  it bugs out on them. (-1 Point)

We have 5 Daily quests to do, 2 Repeatable Lairs and no Epic Raids.

These are the issues that need looked at, and these are the issues that are missing from this state of the game, hell the should have been addressed before the game was launched.

I’m going to reference World of Warcraft at launch, so don’t hate me. It had, at launch, UBRS, LBRS, Scholomance, Stratholme and Blackrock Depths for it’s 5 man instances, that’s 5, plus Molten Core and Onyxia, the 40-man raid instances. Within one month they released a Massive 3-part instance, Mauradon for mid-levels. It’s been nearly two months of Champions and the only things we’ve had are bug fixes and content fillers.

I’ll compare it to a contemporary MMO, Fallen Earth, which, from release, has a fully developed end-game. While it’s not a traditional MMO, it does have it’s priorities right. Content first. Keep your players entertained. In 2 months, yes, they’ve announced major improvements coming very soon. These are major improvements. Player housing alone is worth it’s own update patch. Champions has yet to nail down it’s end game.

There is still time for Cryptic to pull it around, show us that their development cycle can produce a patch without game-breaking bugs, show us that they can design content that is interesting, fun and challenging, otherwise CO will slip into mediocrity and I hold little hope out for Star Trek Online in that case.

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