Synopsis: After defeating the Red Banner in Westside, you would think Willforge would get a break. But a crisis in Burning Sands threatens Project Greenskin. Can Willforge bring down the radiation shield enclosing the installation, stop the Irradiates of the area from destroying everything and everyone? And more important: can he withstand the radioactive rage of Gigaton?
With the Westside down, and the big choice of three locations in Champions Online to work on next, I decided that the Southwest Desert (aka Burning Sands) would be my next port of call. First, though, I needed to do what was once the first mission after the tutorial in this game back in the day (well, one of the two possible “first missions” after the tutorial). The two Crisis missions served as a short introduction to those regions, and pitted characters against a trusted minion of the (arguably) biggest bad of the setting, Doctor Destroyer. I’ll go into the Canadian entry if I do that crisis at some point; it’s still in my mission log, so I won’t rule it out. It should be horrifically easy at that point, though, since I expect to outlevel it substantially by then.
So. Burning Sands. Project Greenskin. Irradiates. Man, I’d forgotten how much I disliked Irradiates. They’re okay if you’re playing a character who has good defenses-or lots of health. But those guys were chewing up my health like no tomorrow. The worst part is the Reanimators, which do exactly what it says on the tin: they reanimate guys you’ve just finished putting down. So unless you go after them first in a group, your average group of three are effectively a group of four. The damage they put out is no joke, either-at least not for an even-leveled, hybrid guy like Willforge.
Still, I managed to complete the crisis, and the first grouping of missions that center around the Irradiates-the poor fools who happened to be affected and mutated by the radiation of nuclear tests in the region. (There is, in fact, a whopping big nuclear bomb in the area. There are some who actually worship at its site!) The missions aren’t horrific-although there was one that beat the tar out of me: a mission in which the end featured a timer where you have to fight off waves of irradiates to allow a doctor to complete his work. It went poorly; the first couple waves weren’t horrific, but I wasn’t putting them down fast enough to allow the character to heal up before the next wave attacked. Attrition began setting in, and since some of those waves also included those aforementioned Reanimators…well, it wasn’t pretty.
Upon each defeat of a character, that character loses “stars”-technically, hero points, but everyone I know of refers to them as stars. They’re helpfully shown on the portrait of your character, and they represent a level of buffing for your character. They rise and fall depending on your successes and defeats. If you complete a mission, progress is made to building up the stars again; being defeated lops off stars. So if your strategy is to zerg the enemy, you’ll find yourself at no stars instead of a full five stars rather quickly-and to no great surprise, the loss of such stars happens at a faster rate than the gain. (Technically, you can also refill stars to max at certain vendors in the game, but I try to preserve my early game currency for purchasing bag space.)
So after two straight defeats, I decided the heck with that mission, and complete a couple others that were on my plate. Those missions put me over the top for a new level-which included a new power pick. While I’d toyed with something for crowd control or healing (both of which are still on the table for the future), I instead grabbed a second ranged AOE attack which I hoped would have more kick-particularly if combined with the original AOE I had. Then I went back to the doctor’s place and inflicted payback in the form of being one level higher than the mission plus using that new power. Life got better at that point.
So now Willforge’s next step is going to involve ghosts of the Old West, and possibly an even more radioactive region in Burning Sands. Good times!