Massively Hands-on: Champions Online Desert Crisis zone

We've given you a look at Champions Online's character creation, combat and first five levels -- plus we just began our Create My Champion feature yesterday. Today, we're here to tell you about one of the two zones you'll encounter after completing the tutorial zone: Desert Crisis.

For this play-through we created a Force character with Jet Boots, who's a bit of Defender and The Comedian all rolled into one baddie-knocking hero. The force explosion power was especially fun and we discovered that taking the passive personal force field ability -- which reduces all incoming damage -- was a smart choice. Never underestimate a well-rounded character, especially when soloing.%Gallery-68570%
The first thing you'll notice when disembarking the UNTIL chopper is that, well, something has gone terribly wrong in the desert. This is something we hope to see repeated in each of the game's zones: crisis maps. After being waved down by a particularly worried guy, we learn that the head honcho of this particular party needs a hero.

Well, wasn't he in luck then?

The missions in the Desert Crisis involve saving scientists from what we're pretty sure the narration at the beginning called "irridiots", which we liked to think of as really pissed off irradiated hillbillies. While most of them wield pipes, toxic sludge or just throw punches, some hold deadlier weapons like small radioactive bombs. Others have been far more exposed to radiation, making them far more monstrous and deadly. We'll admit to being beaten a couple times by these particular enemies; don't underestimate a throng of super-powered hillbillies.

So after saving scientists, disarming bombs and generally using our force powers to slap our bio-toxic foes silly, we were asked to help reboot some defense turrets around the besieged fortress. It was easy enough, although more irradiated foes were crawling around the area outside the walls. Thankfully, once a turret was reactivated, it unleashed hot high-powered justice on our attackers. Soon enough that was done and our next destination was at hand.

A few more missions awaited us, but the most challenging one was definitely one named "Built Ferd Tought" which asked us to defeat a particularly big and powerful mutated menace. He was big, he was red and... well, we didn't get a screen of him but trust us when we say he was tough. Consider it a surprise for when you play the Desert Crisis zone in just a month's time. As for the other mission, it involved beating a tougher mob and some more hillbilly irradiates -- then disarming a giant bomb of the nuclear variety.

Finally we were at our last mission. This was the big one -- the showdown. It was time for the source of all this mayhem on the desert fortress to meet his end; Gigaton had to be dealt with harshly. First we had to save a general and his troops, although the general was nowhere to be found. However, after delving deep into Gigaton's hillside cave hideout, we discovered the general had been changed into a crazed irradiate. Oh, how the fate of men is so easily swayed. The coolest part of meeting the big baddie for this crisis was two-fold: the voiced in-game cutscene and eventual boss fight.

After Gigaton's defeat, the whole place began to fall apart faster than a poorly constructed LEGO bridge. Given the option to be buried alive or dig out of the cave, we choose digging. Although, it's important to note that you can opt to travel back to the crisis zone, albeit at the cost of having to re-do the Gigaton mission. Once we dug our way out, the full enormity of the Desert zone lay before us like a majestic land of wonder and opportunity. Actual zones in Champions Online are huge, and if you were worried about constant instancing, well, rest assured knowing you'll be very happy to have a travel power by the tender level of five.

Crisis zones are quite awesome but once the entirety of an area opens before you, Champions Online turns into a whole different sort of beast -- the kind of beast you want to tame. We'll definitely be bringing you plenty more coverage in the coming weeks leading up to beta, so keep an eye out!
This article was originally published on Massively.