Synopsis: APOCALYPSE, PART TWO! As things in Vibora Bay continue to fall apart, the world’s mightiest heroes arrive to join Willforge stopping the end of days! But as the party responsible for starting the Apocalypse continues to ascend, Champions will fall-and Willforge must make new allies in the darkened streets of Vibora Bay!
The Vibora Bay Apocalypse continues….
It’s been a long time since I ran the Apocalypse arc in Champions Online, and it’s possible that I’m further along than I think I am-I’ve gotten to the point where Willforge is about to try to recover the Elemental Gems, but I don’t recall how many more missions until the grand finale of the arc. I have managed to avoid gaining any levels since last time around, which indicates to me that perhaps this isn’t as big a deal as I was thinking-so I’ll probably resume doing XP Alerts to help things along again.
If I time it right, the final missions of the arc will correspond neatly to Issue 25 of my Willforge covers. 25 is often a big issue for comic books (especially in this day and age when comic runs get restarted after just a year of publication), so it seems that Fate has decided to work with me for a change.
One thing that I appreciate about this particular arc is that-as it’s the end of the world and all-the story writers didn’t pull many punches. When I mentioned “Champions will fall” above, I wasn’t joking-and the mood of the quest givers reflects the long odds that just keep getting longer as the arc goes on. It’s not so much that your character is failing in the missions-it’s that it’s a race against time (so to speak-“time” is really not a big issue in an MMO questline) and if the bad guys get done with their plans before you get done with yours…well, you didn’t really want to keep living in this universe, right?
It’s not every story arc where you have to decide to ally with man-eating werewolves or blood-drinking vampires, too. (I went with the wolves; it’s hard to feel sympathy for vampires, and they’re already technically dead.) Nor do you usually get a chance to fight side by side with groups of Champions. (Well, sort of.) Despite the presence of the NPC heroes, you never get the feeling that you’re there to assist them. They’re here to assist you. Of course, that said, the usual conventions of MMO writing still apply-you’re still getting missions from other NPCs (Dr. Ka and Robert Caliburn, mostly-but there’s a number of others in this arc that have things for you to do, such as Trismegistus mages and Black Mask-you remember her from the Queen City arc, right?). How many of these luminaries will be left standing after the End of the World is still an open question.
That does sort of lead me on a side-ramble. MMOs in general have the glaring fault that your character is always a reactive one-at least as far as quests/missions go. In some games, it works out okay; Star Wars Galaxies had mission terminals that had missions to give out, but your character wasn’t the champion of ultimate destiny (well, not until the NGE, anyway), and needed to make a living getting credits somehow. World of Warcraft has a number of people who would give out missions because they have actual authority (kings, queens, military officers, etc.). But as one gains levels (or increases in ability, as not all MMOs are level based), one gains a certain reputation for getting things done. You get to a point where you’d think that you wouldn’t need character X to tell you what to do; but there you are, still taking orders (or requests) to “do this”. It seems to me that you could ramp up the illusion that you’re actually competent if you could respond with what would apparently be your own ideas. Some MMOs can do this during missions/quests (Star Trek Online does a decent job of it-certainly better than in the early days of the game, and the Old Republic does a decent job too-with some missions more than others), but CO isn’t really set up for that sort of thing. Which is a damned shame, but honestly, there are other things that bring me greater regrets than this does. Yes, these are “themepark” MMOs, and not sandbox MMOs, but one can at least try to give the illusion of character competence.
Well, that was a bit of a ramble. Let’s close it out with the obvious: since I’m really unlikely to get to level 40 before the End of the World, it’s probably safe to assume that we’ll be going beyond issue 25 above. Maybe not by MUCH, but it’ll happen. Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if I could close it out with the last mission of the Nemesis chain? Food for thought….