Now we come to the fun part of reviewing new games: ripping up all the bad parts. To be honest, the greatest part I dislike about Champions Online revolves around one issue: Gear.
In CO, there 9 gear slots:
- 1x Offensive Primary
- 1x Defensive Primary
- 1x Utility Primary
- 2x Offensive Secondary
- 2x Defensive Secondary
- 2x Utility Secondary
All of these slots are pretty much the same: a few stats with some defensives. Most gear has zero effect on how your character looks, and is basically a stat slot. There are a few items which modify how your weapons or powers look.
I find that having gear have an effect on how your character looks is important to me. I like getting a new helm, or a new chestplate or shield. I like that visual reinforcement. Getting a random stat stick with some arbitrary, meaningless name just doesn't appeal to me.
As well, because there are so few slots, you upgrade them at a far faster rate. It's not like getting a weapon in WoW and then getting some use out of it for a few levels while the other slots get upgraded. You barely use an item before it's trashed.
Quests and enemies drop items of the same level as they are. A level 18 quest gives a reward that requires a level 18 or higher to use. Similarly, a level 18 mob only drops gear usable by level 18s or higher. This contributes to the high gear turnover. Additionally, it means that if you start punching above your weight, doing higher level quests, your inventory fills up with gear that you can't use yet.
Finally, mobs don't drop trash, they only drop items. The cumulative effect of this is that it feels like every few minutes you find a new sword that is slightly better or slightly worse than your current sword.
I just find the gear system very annoying and a big hassle. Unlike in WoW, where getting a new piece of gear is an actual reward and something to be anticipated.
The inventory system is a pain as well. You can't open all bags at the same time, and upgrading bags is a major hassle.
Crafting is a waste of time in this game. It just doesn't organically flow. You end up with bags full of ingredients, and can make nothing useful. I've pretty much ignored crafting after experimenting with the first couple of characters. The game is much more fun when you do that.
Outside of those three sub-systems--which really all have the basic gear design at the heart of the problem--there aren't a lot of other problems with Champions.
Chat could be improved and made easier to use. The general performance of the game could be improved. I play with low-quality graphics to get a decent framerate. There are occasional graphics glitches, my weapons sometimes disappear in combat.
Sometimes there are issues figuring out when you can use an ability after another, often relating to ability animations. For example, I have an ability that allows me to leap backwards out of melee range, Breakaway Shot. I find this ability never seems to work the first time I press the button.
But on the whole, the Gear, Inventory, and Crafting systems are the only things I seriously dislike about Champions Online. The core character creation, powers, and basic gameplay are a lot of fun. Champions Online is definitely worth checking out, especially if you've gotten a bit tired of orcs-and-elves fantasy.
Two caveats: I haven't really tried PvP or grouping, so I have no idea how the game works in those situations.