Go, play through the tutorial. It is worth seeing the character builder and basic implementation, although it may not be worth the download time.
You will first notice that the game is classless. Class roles come in later, but pick whatever you want at the start. That is positive, although it makes it look as though the entire game is just slightly different flavors of a few attacks. The front could use more “and you have this to look forward to.”
I have said enough about how the graphics are horrible. Just terrible. It is as though they maintained art quality by restraining their better artists rather than working on the worse ones. Just wait until you see the running animation that does not match movement speed.
The character builder has some improvements. You have more parts to play with, more color options per piece, lots of things to tweak. Paper dolls for hours! One small but significant improvement is how things change and re-color as you pan through options. Just mouse-over what interests you, and you will see how it looks. Clicking is not hard, but it makes a huge difference in how available everything feels and how smoothly you pan through options. It is the tiny interface change that is disproportionately important. Elsewhere in the character builder, I had heard that Champions Online would have player-defined power colors and the ability to choose where the blast came from (eyebeams, laser pistol, hand blasts, chest beam); if that was active the last time I tried Champions, I did not spot where the option was hidden. Many of the buttons are hidden just a little, such that it all makes sense once you get used to it, but they are not where you are expecting to look based on City of Heroes or other user interfaces.
The tutorial includes the usual: movements, attacks, fetch, kill defenseless enemies, kill underpowered enemies, face some impressive looking action that you can easily overcome. There are quests just hanging around for you to stumble on, like digging victims from the rubble. That is a great touch, and I hope it was mentioned in some text that I scrolled past. I found these by just wandering around and occasionally seeing some words floating in a strange place. Once you get sent to the knock-off of Beast, you can join a public quest. This is a great feature to adopt, and it starts very early. The tutorial includes fighting alongside Defender, which would be awesome if anyone had heard of Defender before meeting him; you get the hint that you are meant to be starstruck. The conclusion is great, as you walk down the staircase with everyone cheering and saluting you. It is an unearned Big Damn Heroes moment, but it still feels nice to get them. Oh, and there is an achievement for doing everything in the tutorial, so remember that for live if you don’t want to be that completist whining on the boards about how everything is ruined forever because he missed something.
An odd choice is that you level but get no new abilities during the tutorial. You complete a dozen quests or so with just the two powers, one of which is an auto-attack. No movement powers, no trainer to give you new abilities, just two buttons. This is not the way to show off your awesomeness.