For Co-Op Casual Friday this week, we turn our heroic gaze to Champions Online, a super-hero MMO that recently adopted the free to play model. MMOs might seem an odd choice for a "casual" article, but one thing we like to focus on is games that appeal to kids. Champions Online does that in spades, and for a very reasonable price that will surely appeal to parents as well. Read along as we detail the first adventure of our family's father-son team, which has now been officially dubbed "The Dark Duo".
The day that Champions Online went free, I began the lengthy download before we went to school. Alas, the servers were getting pounded, for when we returned, it was unfinished. My nine year old boy was devastated; we had been looking forward to launch day for weeks. By the time everything was installed and ready to go, it was a mere half-hour before bedtime. Not long, but I figured he could at least make a character and play around for a bit in that time. However, he instead dedicated the entire session to character creation, complete with a detailed background story (think Batman meets Hawkeye, but with a big sword) which he typed in himself. His avatar, known by the rather generic name "Dark Fighter", had been created, but it was now time to get his creator tucked in. Connor went to bed and likely dreamed of dispatching villains with his virtuous might.
I took the time to create another account, and, to match my son's character, created "Dark Scarab", a clone of a character I created in City of Heroes years ago. (He's basically The Beetle combined with Dr. Fate.) I logged in and messed around for a few minutes, saving the bulk of my playtime to share with Connor. In the meantime, we told each other stories about our new heroes, and had a rather passionate discussion of who was the main hero and who was the sidekick. We eventually compromised on an equal partnership, so no one had to be lame like Bucky. (Though Mr. Barnes is a really interesting character in his own right, these days.)
We managed to log in, and found the proper instance of the starting zone to share with each other. We entered the metropolis of Millennium City, which was in chaos after the arrival of a fleet of alien spacecraft. Grotesque creatures roamed the streets, and the once beautiful town had been reduced to something out of a warzone. After talking to a few fellow citizens, including the Mayor and a handful of other superheroes, we set off to assist the Millennium City Police, who were hopelessly outnumbered and outmatched.
The first few creatures we ran into fell quite easily. Dark Fighter's blade made short work of their pitiful defenses. The arcane bolts that Dark Scarab tossed defeated these enemies before they could even close in on him. Feeling like a pair of Supermen, we headed farther away from the safe harbor that the police had set up. Our first real detour took us inside a blasted office building, which had been reduced to a hollowed out shell of rubble and debris. Walking in and around the mounds of wreckage wasn't difficult, but seeing the locations of all the aliens was. Often, we were ambushed by two or even three of the creepy monsters at once. This led to a few tense moments, but nothing our noble ambitions couldn't handle.