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Massively Hands-on: The first five levels of Champions Online Part 2

Kyle Horner

While playing through the whole of the tutorial, you'll level up quite a bit. However, you won't actually get to chose new powers or anything of that sort until you've finished the actual tutorial itself. My first run through took me about 45 or so minutes, but once you finish the last big instanced mission you're offered the chance to level up at a terminal and wow is it ever quite the level up.

At this point you should be level five, and you get to pick three things: a new power, a super stat and your travel power. Yep, that's right, you get your travel power at the end of Champions Online's tutorial. Currently the powers are:

  • Flight
  • Super Speed
  • Super Jump
  • Teleportation
  • Jet Boots
  • Swinging
  • Acrobatics
  • Ice Slide
  • Burrowing

I have a feeling some of you haven't heard of Jet Boots, and most likely many haven't heard of burrowing. I tried every power except Acrobatics, Super Speed, Swinging, and Super Jump, but I can give a description for the rest.

Travel powers are automatically binded to your 'T' key, which is actually quite nice. Jet Boots is very cool, and will please many an Iron Man fan -- myself included -- right down to the hands and feet pointing forward to stop animation.

For Jet Boots, you'll hold 'T' to charge up your bar. You'll need to fill the bar entirely to both power up and power down your boots. The benefit of the Jet Boots over flight or Ice Slide is that they've got really high top speed, but it requires you to tap the 'T' key. Think of it like the gears of a transmission, at the initial setting you hover around slowly, higher and you move and a pretty good clip, while maximum has you shooting across the landscape.

Flight can be tapped without a charge, but if you do that you'll start slow and after moving without taking any damage will build up to top speed. Charge your bar up all the way and you start out with kind of sonic boom -- it's pretty wicked. I'll note here that all the several wing options in character creation animate with flight.

Ice Slide builds up to top speed faster, but it's movement is, well, slippery. So it more or less lives up to its name. Oh and the ice block and effects can all be colored. Same goes for Flight and Jet Boots.

Teleport is really awesome in this game, as it works on a charge system. When activated, your world goes all Frodo-wearing-the-one-ring and you turn into a wisp on the screen. While like this, you can move super fast through the world and are invisible to everyone else. The downside is that your ranged is limited, and you want to get a full charge for the furthest possible movement. So while useful for escaping from battle in the blink of an eye, you may not get as far as you'd like.

"I'm really very happy you get your travel power at level five, traversing the massive zones without it would be a painstakingly long ordeal."

Burrowing is really cool, with your character diving into the ground and wriggling about until they're fully submerged in the earth. You can't burrow underneath things like buildings and rocks, but you can burrow up very steel hills. The power is also rather fast, so it's quite great for moving across the vast distances of the Canada and Desert zones in the beta. I'm really very happy you get your travel power at level five, traversing the massive zones without it would be a painstakingly long ordeal.

That's more or less it for the tutorial and your first five levels. Beyond this, you get something every time you level. The super-stat (it adds 10 to a stat of your choice) seems to be a rare thing. Instead, it appears as though the leveling pattern goes something like: stat boost, new power, advantage point.

Advantage points are used to upgrade existing powers by either moving them up to the next tier -- thus making them more powerful -- or modify the way they work. So for instance, you can make a lightning field power that you have to hold down a toggle instead. The trade-off for doing this is usually a weaker damage output, or bigger energy drain.

Something worth mentioning is that powers appear to scale as you level, and moving them up a tier only makes them that much more powerful. So making use of an advantage point in this way seems like a method of honing in and improving on your preferred powers.
Want to learn more about the Champions Online beta? You're in luck, as today marks the Press NDA lift and Massively is here to tell you all about it! Stay tuned for more beta coverage of the game, with plenty of tasty-good information for you to chew on gleefully!

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