A Star is Born:
Let’s Play Champions Online Pt. 4

By Shamus
on Oct 13, 2009
Filed under:
Shamus Plays
Just a note that the whole point of this series is to make a fun and amusing story. This means I’m not going after the most ‘leet power set, or trying to do all the quests. If it’s not going to add to the tale, I’m not going to do it. (Or if I have to, I’ll do it and not write about it.)

I’ve got an embarrassing number of other characters for amusing myself. This one is here to (hopefully) amuse you.

Dr. Silverback has told me to go to Champions headquarters and help the hero Ironclad. I imagine Ironclad will be standing there idle, and he’ll ask me to punch five aliens for him. Eh. It’s a living. Let’s get this done.

A massive cannon has been set up just outside of Champions HQ. I don’t mean some fancy photon cannon or death-beam. I’m talking about a gigantic gunpowder-based, shell-firing, heavy-ass hunk of industrial metal. They’ve got some Star-Trek lights bolted to the thing for show, but this is basically WWII level technology we’re dealing with here. I’m not so rude as to ask why superheroes would keep something like this around, but I do wonder.

Holy Haymakers! That is a big stinking gun.
Holy Haymakers! That is a big stinking gun.

Frankly, if these alien ships were susceptible to bullets I think we’d have beaten them by now. Still, I’ll bet the Champions don’t get many chances to use their huge-ass low-tech gun, so we might as well make the most of this.

Battle of The Ironclad!

This is the first public mission you’ll encounter in the game. Public missions are awesome. They are simply an open area of the game world where a multi-stage adventure takes place. In one mission, heroes must protect the mayor during a speech. First you run around the crowd and discover (and subsequently pummel) all the disguised assassins using a metal detector. Once the crowd is clear, you sweep the nearby rooftops and remove all the snipers. Once the snipers are gone, an epic boss shows up and everyone gangs up on him. When the event ends, it gives a score that ranks all the participants on how much they, er, participated. Everyone gets an item and a dollop of XP. You don’t have to worry about formally setting up teams or making strategies. The events are designed to be fun pick-up activities where everyone can come and go as they please, and which can accommodate both large and small groups of players.

This event is pretty simple. You have to kill a set number of aliens that rush the cannon. Then you run around and click on crates to “gather parts for the cannon”. Then you defend the location for a fixed time limit. Then everyone gets their little reward cookie.

The event repeats indefinitely, so if it’s fun you can do it as much as you like, and leave when you’ve had your fill. Public quests are one of my favorite aspects of Champions Online.

Ironclad is here. Unlike Silver Avenger, Kinetic, and the other superhero I didn’t even bother talking to, he’s not standing around asking people to do things for him like a murderous beggar. Ironclad is kicking so much ass that I’m having trouble finding asses that are still un-kicked. As soon as I run up to an nefarious alien invader, Ironclad whips a hunk of concrete at them and sends them into the alien afterlife. I give the bugs a few token beatings, but frankly I don’t think Ironclad needs all that much help and I’m starting to feel like a sidekick. He likes to run around the battlefield, one-shotting bug aliens while shouting stuff like, “These aliens will PAY for the terror they have wrought!”

Ironclad lets us know that, “If we lose this battle today, then tomorrow, all humanity will fall.” I suspect Ironclad is over-valuing Millennium City quite a bit. According to the loading screen, Millennium City used to be Detroit, which was destroyed by Mr. Truth-In-Advertising himself, Dr. Destroyer. If humanity was dependent on the health and welfare of Detroit, we would have gone extinct decades ago.

Taste justice, evil bug thing!
Taste justice, evil bug thing!

Once the aliens give up and stop trying to smash up our totally-not-compensating-for-anything gun, I head back to see Dr. Ape Guy and let him know everything worked out pretty okay, I guess.

The Doctor seems to have the invasion all figured out. He explains to me some science stuff about signals and beacons and somesuch. I try to explain that bunk science isn’t part of my character archetype, but it’s no good. Eventually he boils it down for me: There are beacons in Champions HQ which have been hijacked to call the alien invaders, and they need to be turned off. (And at this point I’m really, really hoping “turned off” is a euphemism for “broken into tiny pieces with fists”.) I guess bad guys have broken into Champions HQ and hijacked the beacons. Dr. Banana gives me the key to HQ and sends me there to set things right.

Er. Key? But, if it’s been broken into, then shouldn’t the place be open already? It’s all very confusing.

So you’re giving me a key to our own building, which has already been broken into, re-locked, and had the locks changed. Got it.
So you’re giving me a key to our own building, which has already been broken into, re-locked, and had the locks changed. Got it.

I need to meet up with Defender. Defender is the big cheese here in superhero land. He’s the Superman of this world. The Dr. Manhattan. The Captain Marvel. The Papa Smurf. I head on into Champions HQ.

Please tell me the taxpayers paid for this.
Please tell me the taxpayers paid for this.

Inside, robots are fighting with bugmen. I always hate three-sided battles like this. Do I wait for them to finish and then fight the winner? Do I cut in? What’s the proper brawling etiquette here?

I don’t want to be rude, but… which one of you should I be punching in the face, here?.
I don’t want to be rude, but… which one of you should I be punching in the face, here?.

I stand a few feet away and sort of clear my throat to see if they want to team up against me. When that fails, I wade in. Hopefully this isn’t some sort of fisticuffs faux pas.

I work my way in and eventually find Defender fighting both sides. Whew. Looks like jumping in is the correct thing to do. We mop up and then I take a look around the room…

Left to right: Ironclad, Defender, Sapphire, Witchcraft, and (sigh) Kinetik. So THAT’S what he looks like outside of a cage!
Left to right: Ironclad, Defender, Sapphire, Witchcraft, and (sigh) Kinetik. So THAT’S what he looks like outside of a cage!

This hallway is about the size of a regulation football field, and serves no other purpose than to house the fifty-foot holographic statues of the various members of the Champions. I dub this room, “The Hall of Ego”.

That’s right. The champions have statues to themselves, inside of their own locked private base where the public can’t visit.

Left: Holographic Defender Right: Actual Defender. Not Pictured: Five million enraged taxpayers.
Left: Holographic Defender Right: Actual Defender. Not Pictured: Five million enraged taxpayers.

I meet up with Defender and the two of us head down another needlessly opulent hallway while he explains that Black Talon is our adversary, and that Black Talon works for Dr. Destroyer. We get to the end of a hallway, and Defender lasers a couple of massive golden doors open. Boom!

Dude! Isn’t this <b>your base?</b>
Dude! Isn’t this your base?

Shouldn’t we at least jiggle the knob and see if it’s open before you go blowing things up?

Once inside we get a look at…

I would have been right beside Defender if I hadn’t stopped to take the screenshot.  I wasn’t dawdling. Honest.
I would have been right beside Defender if I hadn’t stopped to take the screenshot. I wasn’t dawdling. Honest.

It’s BLACK TALON! Who I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF before!

Black Talon is not small. He opens up with a salvo of missiles, which is known in the superhero biz as the “munitions massage”. Really Black Talon? Swarms of tiny missiles? Has that ever worked on a superhero, even once?

Why yes, yes it has. Just now, as a matter of fact. I look to the side and see Defender has just been pancaked. He lets me know to fight on without him. Awesome. The big hero of this world just folded like a paper airplane and I have to finish the job alone. Hopefully Black Talon didn’t think to make his power armor fist-proof.

staronchest_defender_down.jpg

I run up to Black Talon and go to work while Defender coaches me from his spot on the floor. Hey Defender, I don’t usually take fighting advice from people who are on their backs.

A few solid knee-punches brings Black Talon down, and then Defender instantly and un-suspiciously hops up and lets me know how brave I was.

I have to run around the room and turn off (not punch, alas) the beacons while Defender follows me around and puts the “super” into “supervisor”. He yells at me to turn a machine off while I’m turning it off. Maybe he’s trying to make up for fighting like Glass Joe. I’m not sure what the rationale is for not destroying these beacons. Do we really need a set of beacons that will invite aliens to come invade us? Do we need to leave them all set up and plugged in where someone might accidentally turn it on while looking for the coffeemaker?

“The beacons are down!”, Defender shouts out as if turning things off was a heroic deed, “Let’s launch Ironclad!”

Er. Launch what? We’re doing what now? I thought I turned off the beacons. So, the aliens will relent now, right? So why are we launching things?

We enter the control room and Defender tells me, “Go for it! Launch the Ironclad defense!”

The plan is apparently this: Ironclad gets into the huge gun outside, and I launch him at the mothership. Again with these guys trying to get me to use guns. Do you mind? I’m trying to work within my character concept here!

Fine. Whatever. Launch.

This shot was taken earlier during the Battle of the Ironclad, just to give you a sense of scale, distance, and absurity.
This shot was taken earlier during the Battle of the Ironclad, just to give you a sense of scale, distance, and absurity.

Ironclad leaps into the gun and BOOM! He’s launched face-first at the alien ship with all the power and fury of an angry bee being thrown at an aircraft carrier. What exactly is this supposed to accomplish? Wouldn’t it have make more sense to load the gun with something that would explode on impact instead of something which will then have to run around punching things? Did he even make it inside the ship? For all we know he’s up there, his iron noggin buried in the armor plating and his legs dangling out the bottom of the ship saying, “These aliens will PAY for making their hull thicker than my head!”

Defender leads me over to a door labeled, I kid you not, “to the celebration”. I exit the building (and somehow inexplicably end up at the entrance I originally used, despite the fact that I went through the building) and find they’re having a big parade in my honor. The mayor presents me with the key to the city.

You know what Defender? <em>You’re doing a great job.</em> Keep it up, buddy.
You know what Defender? You’re doing a great job. Keep it up, buddy.

Now look, nobody deserves excess public praise more than I do, but shouldn’t we finish putting out the fires and stacking up the dead before we shower me with ticker-tape?

Defender endured all the pain, Dr. Monkey did all the thinking, Ironclad took all the risk, and I…

I just pressed the button thirty seconds ago.  That’s including the time it took me to go through the loading screen. How did you people GET HERE SO FAST?!?
I just pressed the button thirty seconds ago. That’s including the time it took me to go through the loading screen. How did you people GET HERE SO FAST?!?

…I get all the credit.

This is the happiest day of my life.

Next: To Canada! Or The Midwest! Wait and see!

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201737 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. SatansBestBuddy says:

    So Star On Chest = middle management?

  2. Henebry says:

    “super in supervisor” — that’s good

  3. mister k says:

    “Eventually he boils to down for me” ‘boils it down to me”? I’m loving these by the way, as I realise this is my first comment in this series and all I’m mentioning is a typo…

  4. Eightbitmage says:

    Why not do both? After you finish up against the desert boss you can choose to leave the boss lair and go back to the crisis desert, and then fly to canada and do those quests.

  5. João says:

    Did you know you can transfer screenshots from the game directly to a service that allows you to make comics (mashon comics)? *grins* haven’t used it yet, but looks like a fun idea. Starting tutorial here: http://www.champions-online.com/mashon/start

    The site also has some interesting social options, such as individual pages for each of your chars (My characters), a blog for each char as well as a blog for yourself(Cryptic Space) and a “friend feed” (My network) to see what’s up with your friends.

    Sooo… Shamus. When can we expect the twentysided Supergroup? :-)

  6. Neil Polenske says:

    So are all the superheroes that logged in after you pissed that you stopped the big invasion and now they got nuthins to do? :P

  7. DKellis says:

    Defender in Champions Online looks nothing like he does in the tabletop game illustrations. Which, to be fair, has I think maybe three different illustrations total of him, across all the books. He’s supposed to be more like Iron Man, rather than Captain America. (He does look suspiciously like City of Heroes‘ Statesman, which probably isn’t too surprising, since States is supposed to be like Captain America or Superman too.)

    A problem with public missions is that sometimes, for no consistent reason, they get bugged, and then nobody can complete them unless they change instances or wait for server maintenance. For example, in the example Shamus gives, occasionally the last assassin fails to spawn, leaving the counter at 11 out of 12 forever.

  8. Angie says:

    LOL! This really makes me want to play. [laugh/flail]

    Angie, hunkering down to make her deadline instead

  9. *** Dave says:

    Defender seems WAY too giddy over “helping” Ironclad, “assisting” Ironclad, “lauching” Ironclad, “quiveringly admiring” Ironclad. It’s kind of … uncomfortable.

    My vote for Star On Chest is the Desert. I mean, punching out pseudo-Hulks vs trudging around through the snow? No contest.

  10. Eric says:

    Having grown up in the Midwest, I’d just like to say I only wish it were a mutant-filled, radioactive desert. Those Project Greenskin guys have it easy…. ;)

  11. Dev Null says:

    Damn you Shamus! Now I want to play this game just so I can be (dum dum dum!) SuperVisor!

    Is nitpicking a superpower?

  12. Haviland says:

    Defender’s the leader of the most powerful supergroup evah, and he needs me to take down this guy?

  13. JW says:

    Public missions sound like a great idea.

  14. Zed-F says:

    Actually in the Champions Universe, Defender and his team were originally supposed to be ‘representative average superheroes’ — i.e. the ‘insert your PCs here’ team — not the most powerful supers in the world. The Unity team, for instance, is considerably more powerful.

  15. Jason says:

    “Is nitpicking a superpower?”

    I think its in the Wife framework.

  16. Palette says:

    Ironclad? Witchcraft? Kinetik? Who are these people pretending to be the Champions?

    As far as I’m concerned, the only true Champions are from 4th edition: Quantum, Obsidian, Seeker, Solitaire, Jaguar, and (sigh) Defender. Of course, Defender has always been a bit of a joke.

    And why oh why does Doctor Destroyer look like Doctor Fate in this MMO? I much prefer the Perez-drawn badass on the cover of the Big Blue Book.

  17. krellen says:

    The guy that created the Statesman persona for CoH also adopted the Defender persona for CO, if I recall correctly. Somehow I’m not surprised they look similar.

  18. Rainmaker, the gray says:

    This is by far the funniest thread on the series. Seriously!!!
    “A few solid knee-punches brings Black Talon down, and then Defender instantly and un-suspiciously hops up and lets me know how brave I was.”
    Nice…..

  19. Rhykker says:

    Shamus, your Let’s Play Champs Online series has been pure gold. Very entertaining, a pleasure to read, clever, and has made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion (per post!). I hope that when the inevitable happens and you finish with this mini-series, you can continue this style of humor/wit in future endeavors.

    Edit: As a Canadian, I’d find it interesting to see what Champs Online’s take on Canada is…

  20. oep says:

    I read it out loud to my wife and daughter and broke up laughing. I am dying here.

  21. DGM says:

    Loving it. Although the recurring “exploited taxpayers” theme has me wondering – is real life informing your comedy here, or do I just need to lay off the political news for a while so I can get my perspective unwarped?

  22. Randy Johnson says:

    As far as I know, Shamus doesn’t even watch politics. I would say always give him the benefit of the doubt, if it sounds political, its probably not.

  23. BlckDv says:

    I have my own theory on Black Talon and Defender folding hard (Aside: if you have a powerset with major damage and a buddy with an interrupting power, you can drop Black Talon before Defender folds), I think my idea fits in very well with standard comic logic and continuity issues.

    See, every single PC, past, present, and future, is fighting the SAME Black Talon with the help of the SAME Defender. We’re just in some sort of Ultra Science dimensionally vibrated shared space or somesuch, rendering the heroes unable to see each other.

    From this point of view, Black Talon is actually amazingly difficult to defeat, and Defender is managing to soak more than half of the damage output that can severely harm hundreds of thousands of lesser heroes at once. Not such a wimp.

    Why are looking at me like that?

  24. HeadHunter says:

    Nice to see that Public Quests are making their way into other games.

    They were one of the strong concepts introduced by Warhammer Online (which also had the most enjoyable PvP of any game I’ve ever played).

  25. Heron says:

    Ironclad lets us know that, “If we lose this battle today, then tomorrow, all humanity will fall.” I suspect Ironclad is over-valuing Millennium City quite a bit.

    You misheard it. Ironclad clearly states: “If we fail, Millenium City will fall.” I’m playing that mission right this second. I switched windows just to write this post :P

    Edit: Oh. He says the phrase you quoted later. Now I feel stupid.

  26. Badger says:

    Hurry up, then- we’ve got TONNES of quest for you here in Canada! I need you to run over to Ottawa and punch some politicians. Then I’ll give you the keys to the city, ‘kay?

  27. Jazmeister says:

    I swear, you are my favourite writer right now. I didn’t see it coming.

  28. DKellis says:

    Technically, Black Talon is supposed to be the Black Talon suit, as in a class of armoured suits (Conquerers, Killers, and Crooks p. 19). You meet the pilot himself again later.

  29. Matt K says:

    I thought Black Talon was the guy wearing a chicken costume (Old school Deadpool reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Talon_(comics) ).

  30. SharpeRifle says:

    Ummmm…Southwest…New Mexico is in the Southwest not the Midwest.

    Edited to add: And Detroit is IN the Midwest…sooo…technically your LEAVING the Midwest already!

  31. JP says:

    “Now look, nobody deserves excess public praise more than I do, but shouldn’t we finish putting out the fires and stacking up the dead before we shower me with ticker-tape?”

    Just think of it like a Nobel Peace Prize.

  32. TheMATT says:

    Come to Canada. It’d be funny to see “Star on Chest” drink our beer.

    in fact, it’s funny to see all Americans try our beer.

    light weights…

  33. ColdFrog says:

    “See, every single PC, past, present, and future, is fighting the SAME Black Talon with the help of the SAME Defender. We’re just in some sort of Ultra Science dimensionally vibrated shared space or somesuch, rendering the heroes unable to see each other.”

    Actually, it’s quite simple. The NAME Black Talon is just a label applied to Dr. Destroyer’s currently Top of the Line second-hand man. Kill one and his latest assistant is only too happy to take his heroes place. The man may die but the legend lives on!

    Well, you know, in the bad way that bad legends live on.

    Also, love these things.

  34. DGM says:

    “Just think of it like a Nobel Peace Prize.”

    Nah, Star-On-Chest actually did something before getting an award.

  35. Borislav says:

    Firing Ironclad at the ship is actually a brilliant plan, despite the hero being an obvious and weak copy of The Human Bullet. ( http://www.thetick.ws/images/humanbullet.jpg )
    By the way, here are some of my favourite super heroes: http://www.thetick.ws/tvheroes.html

  36. WJS says:

    The quest about the battle has been reworked some. After the battle, you don’t return to Dr. Silverback anymore, you go straight on to Champions HQ, where Witchcraft is holding off waves of Qularr. Then she gives you the quest to go inside and finish things. No keys are involved. Defender still blows the doors to Black Talon open, though.
    Defender doesn’t get taken out anymore either, instead waves of adds spawn, and he “holds them off” while you take on Black Talon. (On one character, my DPS was high enough that I actually took out Black Talon before Defender had finished speaking)
    The ridiculous “celebration” was fixed long ago. I remember when I first played, and it didn’t do that then either. Back then, you went through the door, and then there was a cutscene showing how your character helped in the cleanup, then there was the little ceremony scene. Now, it’s different again; after you launch Ironclad, it goes straight into a narrated cutscene about how Ironclad took down the mothership, and the rest of the aliens ran away. Then you’re back in the powerhouse.

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