Lets talk Champions Online Strategy, particularly when it comes to developing your very own hero from scratch.
The primary statistics you want to invest in are endurance, recovery, constitution, and intelligence – in that order.
- Endurance assures you’ve a relatively large battery to use your powers from. Being able to use your powers at a critical juncture can save your character’s bacon in the larger majority of the situations you’ll encounter.
- Recovery primarily reduces the amount of time it takes you to generate energy. What good is a giant battery if it has only a small sliver of power in it most of the time? Recovery fills that battery quickly, as well as making sure the power tends to gravitate to a nice level.
- Constitution bolsters your hitpoint pool, which will come in handy because sometimes the opposition will hit you with some fairly big punches. You should learn to block those punches (by holding down the shift at the right time) but having some hitpoints offers a handy margin of error. It’s also useful in situations where you’re being nibbled to death by ducks – several smaller threats. Expect to get insta-killed by a lot of Cosmic level threats if you don’t have enough Constitution. (Expect to get insta-killed a little later if you don’t have a quick means to replenish those lost hitpoints.)
- Intelligence reduces the expense of the powers you use. Some people think that the savings from intelligence aren’t nearly as influential as Endurance, but what’s happening there is that they’re missing the vital importance of savings-over-time. The effect is subtle, but very important. Intelligence also influences the damage output of any pets under your control.
There are secondary statistics (called such by me because they’re not quite as important) which will nonetheless be important depending on the type of character you’re making. They’re far less universal, however, for reasons I’m about to explain.
- Strength may be an important statistic in many RPGs, but in Champions Online it only does two things for you: determine the size of the things you can pick up and throw, and influence hold resistance (both yours and your enemies vrs physical holds). It also boosts your melee damage, but currently only to about 25% and caps with a moderate investment. Thus, investing heavily in Strength is primarily useful for characters using Might powers because (along with constitution) it scales with certain powers. For everybody else, it’s fairly pointless unless you plan to throw a lot of cars. (Granted, throwing big things does do some pretty good (often AOE) damage.)
- Dexterity is another important statistic in most RPGs which isn’t all that vital in Champions Online. If you don’t have enough dexterity you basically won’t dodge and won’t do critical hits… but most characters can probably survive well enough doing only their base damage and blocking the big attacks. It’s primarily useful for characters who take Munitions, Archery, or Martial Arts powers because certain powers scale with it (particularly “Killer Instinct” out of Munitions because the frequency of critical hits will build your energy). It’s also relatively good for Ego-heavy characters because if you’ve got all that extra critical damage potential you might as well be able to use it.
- Ego increases the severity of critical hits as well as the ability to break free from insubstantial (non-physical based) holds, and works well with high-dexterity builds. It’s useful for Munitions (the energy restored from criticals when using “Killer Instict” scales with ego), but it’s really useful for Telekinesis players as a lot of powers scale with Ego. Especially Telekinesis (the power) which replaces Strength with Ego for lifting up and throwing things at range. For everybody else, it’s about the same as Dexterity in that it’s a rather pricey investment for something that might happen.
- Presence is primarily useful for Telepathy, Sorcery, and tanking characters. In general, it’s a team-support power, both helping to garner more aggro from enemies when you attack them (which stops them from attacking weaker members of your team) while helping to avoid aggro and heal or buff more effectively. Pet-centric heroes will enjoy additional hit points to their pets. More offensively minded characters can do well without it.
There’s some room for debate in statistics – my outline of which powers benefit from which statistics is not all-inclusive. I highly recommend grabbing this Champions Online character builder to see ahead of time just what powers will require what stats to scale well before deciding on what stats to prioritize.
However, when it comes to power selection, I think I’ve something a bit more concrete. I’ve found this formula works very well:
Take a passive defense power as soon as possible. These powers include Invulnerability (Power Armor), Regeneration (Supernatural), Lightning Reflexes (Martial Arts) and Personal Force Field (Force). The consequence of holding off on your passive defense power is clear: you will die, a lot.
Once you have a defensive passive taken and slotted (they currently slot by default as long as you have a defensive or balanced build selected) you will discover your survivability increases markedly. You’ll particularly notice the difference when grouping with players who have opted not to take one: you’re often the only one left standing.
Alternately, you can take an offensive passive power. It will similarly improve your survivability, since defeated targets are no longer a threat. However, the third kind of passives, support passives, are notoriously bad for improving solo survivability. (Perhaps with the exception of ones that bolster your ability to heal substantially when combined with an always available healing power.)
Choose one good single-target attack and rank it up with advantage points.
Often, your base attack given at level 1 (the one that isn’t an energy builder) will be fine, but if you decide you want to take a bigger (flashier) single target power, then that works too. If you choose to go that route, be prepared to accept that the replaced power will largely collect dust.
You should avoid spending advantage points on your neglected power.Your prize single-target attack is what you use to take down tougher targets. You probably won’t need another one, because the recharge time of most attacks is zero, though you can further supplement your attack with ones that debuff the enemy to your type of damage or apply secondary damage (e.g. Toxic Nanites).
Choose one good area-of-effect attack and rank it up with advantage points.
A few sets (such as Dual Blades or Gadgeteering) get a good AOE attack at level 1. Most sets will require you get them a little later.
The necessity of an area-of-effect attack comes from the opposite scenario of developing a good single target attack. Often in Champions Online, you’re not dealing with a single strong target but rather several weaker targets. Performing damage over an area of effect saves a lot of time and energy points over having to track them down one at a time. Once the weak targets are down, you can switch to your single target attack to mop up the more durable ones.
Again, if you decide to replace your AOE attack with a better (higher ranking) one, be prepared to accept you’ll probably not get much use out of the replaced power. Again, you’ll want to avoid spending advantage points on this soon-to-be-redundant power.
If your power category has a power enhancing power, get it sooner rather than later.
The reason why this is necessary is because many powers in Champions Online do not completely unlock until you have the necessary power enhancing power. Power enhancers include energy forms, focus powers, and other (unless categorized) powers.
Examples of “energy forms” include Electronic Sheath (Electricity) Fiery Form (Fire) and Field Surge (Force).
Each discipline of Martial Arts has a “focus” power. These are named “Focus of” something. While your focus power is working, it will often unlock whole other modes for your attacks and defenses.
Other examples are less categorized and generally less important. Power armor’s Targeting Computer reduces or eliminates the downtime of using the energy builder power, and this becomes essential later on when you’re trying to use several Power Armor attacks to unload a ton of firepower. Munition’s “Killer Instinct” is another great energy saver that lets them be far more effective because they will not need to spend as much time generating energy.
Some of these take up your passive slot. Consequently, you may want to hold off on taking them until you have found other means to reduce the damage coming at you. Perhaps crowd control, maybe an effective active defense like Masterful Dodge, uber attacks which eliminate threats quickly, or simply joining up with some other heroes who can distract the enemy for you.
That’s pretty much it. You’ve now five to eight powers powers: your energy builder and single target attack you received at level 1. Your passive defense you received at level 8. Your energy form at 5 or 11. Your preferred AOE attack at 5or 11. Maybe you’ve decided to invest in better AOE/single target attacks, maybe you’ve an essential focus power to take.
Now, as you level up, take whatever you want, but stick mostly to non-attacks. Very few attacks have a recycle time on them, and if you’ve advantaged up a favorite single target and AOE attack you should have all the attacks you need.
The reason why I caution players away from doing this is because, if you take too many attack powers before you have shored up your defenses adequately, your character will have difficulty soloing. You will find yourself in a situation where you are dying often.
Unless you are planning on teaming all the time, you will want to build yourself up as your own tank and healer as well as an attacker. Throwing in some crowd control is a very good idea too.
It’s a constant see-saw – watch your offense and defense carefully, and plan your next level accordingly.
Don’t Underestimate Utility
If you’ve decided you’ve reached the point where you have all the offense and defense you want (at least for the moment) there’s still a whole other direction you can expand: utility. These are the kinds of abilities which are not raw offense or defense, but rather can grant you the flexibility you need to handle particularly sticky situations. They include:
- Support powers which buff, debuff, or heal are solid choices to push “good” into “great.”
- A pet (you can summon more than one at a time) can be quite useful because they do not require animation time to use after being summoned, essentially granting you bonus actions. (They may also serve as a distraction to your enemies’ ire.)
- Crowd control can be highly effective mitigation and a means to turn an impossible fight around.
- Stealth and/or Smoke Bomb can allow you to avoid fights or bail out of fights gone bad respectively.
These are excellent choices to broaden the overall abilities of your character.
One last tip: keep an eye out for excellent advantage point perks you can apply to your powers. Even the feeblest of powers, the energy builders, can sometimes become an essential part of your chain once advantaged.
Force Bolt’s Energy Refraction is the foremost example on my mind – it not only allows you to have a chance to get some free hitpoint barriers when you’re healing, but it will also grant you an “energy form” state which is advantageous to unlocking the full potential of many powers.
The humble “block” power enhancer are also a good place to look for good advantage perks. Energy Shield’s Laser Knight or Force Shield’s Force Shealth can reduce the amount of damage you take substantially.
As I warned earlier, this guide can make the game boring for you, so don’t necessarily take it as set in stone that this is how you must build your character. Champions Online is very much a game of flexibility – you can (and should) build a character that plays how you want the game to play.
Me, I like to build my characters as being safe, powerful, and versatile – that’s essentially what this guide is about. If you follow this guide and find the resulting character boring, feel free to experiment – it may be that you prefer a more specialized hero with weaknesses of their own.
Filed under: Gaming | Leave a comment »