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The Digital Continuum: Five reasons to play Champions Online

Kyle Horner

It's been a long wait since the announcement of Cryptic's next project, so long that some of us began to run around our houses wearing towels around our necks. Thankfully, September 1st is now less than a month away. Open beta? That's even sooner. Before we know it the game will be sitting on our desks and shelves.

So why should you be playing it come launch day? A fair enough question for any game, which is why that's the topic of today's The Digital Continuum. Hopefully in just five reasons given I'll have you convinced that come early next month, you'll be romping around Champions Online with superpowers -- tights optional.

Crazy Customization

This one's obvious, although all the more reason to list it here. I've detailed the character creation process in the past, and you can rest assured that since then Cryptic has been improving upon it ten-fold. So, with the insanity of that system covered, I'll keep it succinct here: Whoa.

Champions Online goes beyond what you expect from its customization. Its naming system allows for any name available, and like it or not that's a really great thing for most players. No longer will you spend an hour or two coming up with the perfect superhero name, only to be shot down by a "name taken" prompt. And considering that a majority of people play with a small circle of friends or stick to a small-to-medium sized guild, you're not going to see your own name a lot, especially with there being no shards. The chances of coming across someone with the same name as you in a game with even 100,000 people is fairly low. As for messaging logistics, that's where the @accountname suffix comes into play.

As an added bonus, you'll always know when your friends roll an alt character. Just look for their @accountname to find out!

So you've got your capes, your wings, any name you want, insanely customized costume, bio and can even pick the color and emanation points for your powers. When the customization features list got this long, Cryptic obviously decided, "Hey, good enough!" right? Well, no. As some of you know, the Nemesis System is the first customization feature to move beyond your character's personal appearance.

At level 25 you create your nemesis, their personality and minion type. From there on out, you'll be encountering side-missions both minor and major, which relate to your nemesis. Take your friends along for the ride, or go with them on theirs. Eventually you can capture and imprison this self-made foe and create a brand new one. Plus, old designs can always break free and terrorize you and your allies once again. Cryptic has even discussed the future possibility of a rogues gallery, where some of your most heinous villains join forces and become something of an end-game raid.

Fresh Yet Familiar Combat

Is the combat in Champions Online wholly different than any other MMO? I'm happy to say that it isn't, because being too different in certain genres can be bad. I've also previously discussed combat, yet once again it's something integral to the game and must be discussed -- especially some of these lesser-touched-on features.

A very, very important note: For players wishing the Xbox 360 version of the game was releasing at the same time primarily because of the control-scheme... well, you have that in the PC version, actually. By acquiring either a wired 360 controller or buying the wireless PC adapter, you can play Champions Online just as though it were on the console. Additionally, there are different control schemes such as "FPS mode" that seem to be designed for players who're more familiar with games like Gears of War 2, Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3.

However, I've been incredibly happy with the mouse and keyboard controls. There's been some slight upset over the one key being a toggle auto-attack, particularly for melee characters, but it's easy enough to turn off in the options. Only the one key on your keyboard can be used as a toggle, because it's your energy builder. For ranged builds, I love this -- but for melee I switch it to the combo-tapping because it feels right to me

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