Champions Online's On Alert launches, we interview Rob Overmeyer

Champions Online screenshot

There's been a big buzz for the latest update to Champions Online. The entire game is undergoing a significant overhaul for the newest expansion, On Alert, which has just gone live today. The developers are adding in talent trees for player heroes as well as a dramatic overhaul of the way equipment works.

We sat down with Rob Overmeyer, executive producer for Champions, and asked him a few questions about the update and what it will mean for Millennium City's superhero population. Naturally, he had a lot to say!

Massively: What exactly is the Alert system? How will teaming up work with Alerts?

Rob Overmeyer: Alerts get your heroes straight to the core of comic book conflict: squaring off against supervillains. Each Alert pits a group of five players against a unique villain and his henchmen in a special scenario. Every Alert is different, but there are categories that dictate the rules of engagement as well as the rewards. For example, Brawl Alerts offer a straight-up smackdown with the villain and grant a boost to XP as a reward. Meanwhile, Burst Alerts grant your heroes extra size and strength via radioactive energy, enabling them to plow through hordes of henchmen. There are other varieties of Alerts, all with their own special rewards -- some even showcase your Nemesis.

Players will have their choice of entering an Alert with their current team or joining the queue solo in order to be quickly and automatically teamed up with others.

What can you tell us about Specializations and how they will impact player builds? What are some example options players will be able to select?

Specializations are a brand-new system for adding an extra layer of customization to your heroes and their abilities. Functioning much like a traditional talent tree, Specialization skills offer new skill points to spend and a variety of skills to spend them on starting at level 10. Your first Specialization branch is based on your Primary Super Stat. Points spent on skills in this section will improve your character based on what that Super Stat represents. For example, one of the skills in the Constitution tree causes your Secondary Super Stats to grant additional health, while another causes your Dexterity to grant a small chance to Dodge, and another increases the amount of Defense you receive from your items.

As you level up, all players unlock new branches. Archetypes' sections are predetermined and largely tailored to their Role. Freeform characters may choose from Specializations tailored to any Role. For instance, the Protector tree includes a Specialization that increases the healing you receive from others. The Sentinel tree has a Specialization that gives you a heal-over-time effect to allies near you.

There has been talk of increasing monster difficulty. What kind of specifics can you give on that? How will it apply at different difficulty modes?

To compensate for the influx of player power granted by Specializations, we'll be increasing critter difficulty. For example, critters above Henchman rank will now have some innate damage resistance, and starting at around level 12, critters above Henchman rank will have increased health.

Champions Online screenshot

We've also heard a lot about the development of a new crafting system. What are some of the planned changes? How will this affect existing itemization and crafting skills?

The old crafting system is being replaced with two of our new features: Modification and Fusion. Before I explain these in detail, I should note that this update will introduce a completely new item system, including all-new item rewards throughout the game. Though old items will still be fully usable, the new items are made specifically to work with Modification and Fusion.

Modification allows Mods –- item-enhancing, stat boosting accessories -- to be added to "slots" on new gear items. In this way, items can be customized to create special bonus and stat combinations.

Fusion, on the other hand, allows players to effectively "level up" their Mods by fusing a stack of lower-tier Mods into a new Mod of the next level, granting greater stat and bonus boosts.

These new systems effectively replace the old crafting with an elegant new method for creating custom gear via slots and Modifications. The old crafting skills still exist and interact with the new systems by granting better chances for success in Fusion and allow discovery of new Mods at skill objects in-world. Also, players with old crafting components will be able to exchange them for Mods, giving them the new components they need for their customization needs.

What is Recognition? Will it change itemization in any way?

Recognition is a special new currency that all players will earn at all levels of the game just by playing through content as usual! It is dropped by critters and given out as mission rewards. Recognition can be spent at new vendors for a variety of rewards, from all-new costume unlocks to new gear and accessories. Effectively, Recognition puts the choice of rewards directly in the player's hands.

Champions Online screenshot

Will other currencies such as Nemesis tokens, UNTIL merits and Acclaim ever be made account-wide?

We currently do not have any plans to make these account-wide yet. Having just introduced a number of new currencies in our newest update, we'll wait and see what develops.

Will there be a level cap raise?

There will be no level cap raise just yet. Our primary goal for this update was to provide a strengthened foundation to the core game. Now that this is in place, we can look to the future of our content.

What is the Questionite System?

Questionite is a new time-based currency acquired through existing Adventure Pack and Comic Series content or via special daily missions. Acquired in a raw state as Questionite Ore, it can be refined and spent at a special vendor on unique travel powers, costume parts, and top-tier gear not available anywhere else.

Questionite also offers an avenue toward purchasing C-Store content. Questionite can be converted to C-points or purchased with C-points, thus offering players ever more choice and freedom in obtaining goods and services.

When will players get access to any Foundry-like systems?

While we are aware that access to the Foundry tools is desirable to some of our players, we cannot promise any dates yet. The ramp-up time to making this feature work in Champions is extremely time-consuming, and our current priority is on planning exciting new content releases for the upcoming months.

What is being planned for the next content update? Will we see new adventure packs or comic series soon?

We have a number of exciting things in the works right now. While it's too early to talk about some of our larger release plans, we have some killer custom Alerts ready for release in the weeks ahead.

As always, thanks to Rob for answering our questions!