I have already said that my first impressions of Champions Online were negative. But that kept stacking, early problem on early problem, such that I made it through the tutorial once after four starts. For all I know, it is problematic turtles all the way down, or perfection lies just beyond the knee-high fence that stops yet another video game character.
When I first tried the closed beta, it was a mess. I started on a night when a mid-level zone was being tested, so I skipped past what would have been a couple dozen levels of learning what all these buttons do and how to build a character. Some of the powers did not work, there were graphics glitches, the handling was odd, the quick start guide was wrong about what some keys did, and I was unclear on the stuff to test for the evening. It is confusing when you do not know what is broken and what is yet to be implemented. I surely could have puzzled it all out with an hour or three on the forums… or I could log and do something else.
Meanwhile, the graphics were horrible. I am the least visually stimulated person you know, and I like a simple style, but I was physically repulsed by looking at this game. Some of that was one option buried under advanced graphics: the black outlines around the characters. Someone decided it would give the game more of a graphic novel look; it struck me more as “everything looks like badly drawn Colorforms.” Add to that some difficulties with the costume designer interface, which was (then) subtly different from the City of Heroes costume designer in unlabeled ways.
Another night, another fresh try. The tutorial zone was under test, a perfect chance to start over with all that early guidance I had previously missed. The controls were still jerky and unfamiliar, the user interface was clunky, but I had learned a few things. And there I went, with many things still disabled, trying the standard newbie instance with two or three powers while I learned what the buttons did. 1 1 1 2, training dummy defeated! On to wandering between quest givers with awkward instructions to learn unfamiliar mechanics that may or may not be enabled. I never finished the tutorial. Another night, I made it to one enemy who could attack back before deciding to read a book.
The night before uninstalling the client, I made it through the whole tutorial, and I will have some positive things to say another time. The end result, however, was still that the whole thing is one step forward, two steps back from City of Heroes. The graphics are the worst of it, and the gameplay was not helping. I presume it all gets better in later levels, where the complexity comes in, but little in the tutorial suggested that I should keep playing. More tomorrow.