I haven’t spent a lot of time lately in Champions Online; maybe I had some early burnout from trying to manage too much there, and needed some time away from it. It didn’t help that the big “mega-event” hyped by the developers there turned out to be just a few missions-admittedly rewarding Questionite, which can be used to get some higher end gear or get traded on their exchange for Zen (which itself can be used to buy stuff on the C-store or Z-store or whatever it’s called this week). But as far as being satisfying content? Iffy.
That changed a little bit with an instanced mission inside of UNTIL’s HQ to keep the antagonists of the invasion-the Lemurians-from getting their hands on a bunch of dangerous power objects locked away in their vaults. (Azuria from City of Heroes would be so proud.) While it wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring, it did represent something new, even if it’s temporary-the entire event will presumably recur in the future, but we don’t actually know when or under what circumstances. It may end up similar to whatever schedules they use for the Blood Moon event.
Of course, the event could hardly end without a capper. And man, we got one.
The final stage of the event is done via the Alert system, which is the fancy way of saying it’s a PvE queued event. It’s good for 10 characters, and you’ll need them. The Lemurians, after gathering their resources, have invaded Millennium City in force, striking from above and below ground. Not only do you have to rescue the citizens of the city, but you also need to deal with finding the Mayor (and the Mayor), get the anti-aircraft guns working, and try to stop a magical ritual that will summon the Bleak Harbinger. Try being the operative word, because it wouldn’t be really superheroic without having to deal with the biggest bad around.
And the Harbinger is huge! Honestly, I’m pretty sure (but not 100 percent sure) that it’s bigger than the Mega-Destroyer, which is a pretty big opponent to start with. You have to deal with periods of invulnerability while Lemurian air support tries to keep you busy. So you’re alternately fighting the Harbinger and the Lemurian fighters. The fighters are probably why it’s recommended you have the recently-implemented vehicles with their weapon systems; of course, vehicles can only be obtained with real money-either by C/Z-Store purchase direct or with lockbox keys. Or, amusingly, if you get really lucky with a reward in this Alert. But no fear! Flying characters with max ranks can hold their own, and UNTIL has thoughtfully provided spare advanced hover-disks for characters who have neither flight powers nor vehicles.
I’m told that this event has been a bit hard on a graphics card; forum posts indicate that there is definite serious heating going on with it. My own card sounded like it was forcing the fan to work a bit overtime, but it handled the event okay-no surprises with my graphics encountered. My biggest complaint is that I couldn’t see any warning just before the Harbinger goes invulnerable again-because when he does, he hits everyone near him for massive damage. It could probably be blocked if one knew it was coming. Now, it’s also possible that I simply missed the cues-there are so many status conditions on the thing that it’s possible one of them was involved. On the other hand, it’s not like items take damage in this game-so not so bad.
All told, the event was worthwhile. It did have growing pains-it was delayed a few times, not the least of which was to answer player complaints that once again, the alert was forcing players to level 30, which impacts rewards-and that’s important when a game of this age has little endgame or things to do at max level. So it got retooled for level 35+. And honestly, I think it’s better that way. It’d be good to have more content for lower levels, but it shouldn’t come as a result of the Alert system; it should come as permanent story content.
Which makes the imminent “Ask Cryptic” responses something worth waiting for. Last week, the developers finally opened themselves up to questions about the game, and will respond to them in the next day or two. Unsurprisingly, most of the questions tend to generally ask “does the game have a future, and just what does that future involve”? The answers, I think, are going to be examined very, very closely. But the fact that there is an “Ask Cryptic” imminent seems to indicate to me that there is a definite future in mind. We’ll just have to see if it’s a future the players are willing to go along with.