Experience Points: Champions Online – Part 3: C-Store
As mentioned in the previous installment of Experience Points: CO, the most vocal fear in any Free-to-Play game is the Pay-to-Win occurrence. I wrote how being a freeform character, which is exclusive to Gold players, compares to being an archetype, but I didn’t address the actual microtransaction store and its relevance in the “Pay-to-Win” argument.
The C-Store is divided into a few categories, and I’ll cover them one by one. There are a few things I’d like to mention before delving deeper. First off, anything in this article is based on information available at the time of the article’s publishing. So, if the direction, prices or anything else changes in the meantime, this article won’t likely get updated. Second, unless stated otherwise, devices do not bind on equip, meaning you can freely give them to others or sell them in the Auction House. Finally, Gold players get a monthly stipend of 400 Atari tokens to spend in the store.
The first and most important category is, of course, the costume category. A lot has been said about CO among the gaming crowd, but all seem to agree that the customization is amazing (yet another topic I intend to write about in future articles). A lot of rewards are new costume pieces and more often than not, the most expensive items in the Auction House are new pieces of clothing. It comes as no surprise that there would be sets exclusive to the store.
There are three kinds of sets available. Those that were previously either pre-order exclusives from certain retailers, or default pieces before Champions Online went Free-to-Play, are now Gold sets. That means that as long as you are a subscriber, you have access to them, or you can buy them if you are a Silver player. Certain in-game unlocks are also available for purchase. Save for the Luchador Set, which are PvP unlocks, all the other unlocks are from “Rogue Gallery perks.” These are items you get for killing 5000 enemies of a certain faction. I have personally never managed to unlock these pieces through regular play, only through dedicated farming (either for the actual perk or a drop from the mob in question). It is highly unlikely that you’ll unlock any of these pieces by the time you reach the level cap, and since a set contains around 5 or 6 pieces, your choices are either paying or killing over 25000 critters.
The last type are, obviously, exclusives. They usually have a theme to them and range from highly specific (Cyborg Beast) to broad (New Millennium Tights). You’ll often find a use for at least one piece from a set, and they are all very well made. The latest Fantasy set contains even weapon models for Blade and Heavy Weapons characters. The price for any set is 380 tokens (roughly 3.8 euro). There are also three emblem sets which cost 80 tokens each. All the unlocks are account wide and cannot be gifted or traded. You can preview them in the in-game tailor, though.
The next category are the devices. These are all devices that are only available via C-Store and/or Anniversary presents (a special drop from CO’s first anniversary event). The sub-categories are buffs, fun, rewards and teleport. Buffs contain sidekicks, healing items and buff items. The sidekicks are NPCs you can summon to your aid for a total of one hour (you can summon/dismiss them at will until the hour is used up). You can also have one sidekick at a time, and the most recent one, the Harajuku Twins, contain two weapon unlocks as well. Whether this is a one-time thing or will become a trend is yet to be seen. The healing items fully restore your health, energy or both. There is also a self-resurrection item to bring you back on your feet if you are defeated. It’s worth noting that the heals and self-res are available in-game, either via vendor or crafting (although not as potent as the C-Store ones). The buff items increase your damage for a short amount of time, or increase the potency of orb drops (random buffs or heals from downed enemies). None of these devices are usable in PvP and as mentioned in the previous article, mostly give you a slight edge in PvE rather than let you solo things.
The fun devices are the transformation items, the shrinker and magnifier and the party bomb. The transformation items are actually more useful than just being cosmetic. It lets your character become a demon, werewolf, vampire or whatever. Each device has its own set of powers, the number and potency depending on your character’s level. They last indefinitely, so you can toggle them on and off at will, but they are not usable in PvP zones (although they are usable in single duels). The shrinker and magnifier are exactly what it says on the tin. They either make your character gigantic or minuscule, and both come in temporary 15-minute and indefinite toggle variants. They are not usable in combat. The party bomb is basically a disco ball Area of Effect attack that forces everyone to dance.
Reward devices come in boost and gift box variants. The boosts increase your experience, resource, token and acclaim gain by 20% for the duration of the buff. The gift boxes give you 3 items of level 20, 30 or 40, but at the moment of writing, the gift box rewards are so bad, there’s honestly no point in buying them.
The teleport devices teleport you to Renaissance Center in Millennium City, teleport you to a teammate or summon the rest of the team to your location. They are not usable everywhere, but can currently teleport characters to zones outside of their level range, if you so desire.
The next category are powers, which are currently limited to travel powers and Gold archetypes. The travel powers come in two variants: Gold and Premium. The former ones are powers that were widely available in the game initially, while the latter ones were added after Free-to-Play went live. At the moment, aside from the Premium travel powers, everything in this category is free for Gold players. While I cannot find the exact quote, the Devs have stated that they’ll never add actual Premium frameworks, only cosmetic powers. So far, the only new framework has been “Heavy Weapons” and Cryptic has kept their promise, releasing it Gold.
The Adventure Packs are yet another “Free for Gold” category, which contains Serpent Lantern, Demonflame and Resistance. Adventure Packs are self-contained mission chains with special rewards, but this another thing I have reserved for future articles.
If you remember “Gold and Silver”, you’ll recall me mentioning how Silver players can buy individual features like bag slots, bank slots and so on. These are located in the “Service” category. You can also buy costume slots, character slots, rename tokens and retrain tokens in this section. The “Full Retcon Token” which lets you unlearn all your powers is also the single most expensive item in the store, costing 1000 Atari tokens.
The Figures section has exclusive vanity pets which cost 80 tokens each. Frankly, I think the ones unlockable in-game are far better.
Now we talk about the newest addition to Champions, the Hideouts. Player housing has been one of the most requested features since the game launched, or rather, Super Group bases were. While SG bases haven’t been confirmed, Cryptic decided to launch personal bases and look at the feedback. The bases come in 4 categories: basement, cave, moon base and sanctum (with a 5th “penthouse” category confirmed to be released in the future). Each category has its set and items from each set can be used within the same category. To give an example: if you have the industrial cave and the hi-tech cave, you can use “furniture” from both cave variants in your cave, but you can’t have cave “furniture” in your Moon base.
(Big thanks to the CO Wiki for the clip)
Each hideout can be edited on the fly and offers different customization and interactivity. The max number of guests you can have is 10 and you can invite them from anywhere as long as you’re not in an instance. So far, your hideout comes with a tailor and Crime Computer, with account storage and power trainers confirmed as upcoming features. Additional features are yet to be announced, but are being considered. Each hideout costs 500 Atari tokens, with Gold players getting one hideout from the launch lineup for free. Note, this is 500 tokens for one set, not one category! But they are account-wide and the game remembers the layout for each individual character.
That’s pretty much the whole overview of the C-Store. As you can see, most of the stuff is cosmetic or just gives more options rather than an advantage. Cryptic also occasionally releases freebies in the C-Store for all players, not just subscribers. The most recent occasion was the Steam re-launch, where all players got an experience boost, healing device and self-res, while Steam players received a sidekick as well. Next week, we’ll take a look at the character creator!
Experience Points is where we get to talk a bit more in-depth on games we are much more knowledgeable of through extensive playing. It’s not as much of a review as it’s our experience with the game in question