Shamus Plays: Champions Online, Part 3


If you remember from last time, Dr. Silverback 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.

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.

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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!

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 that 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.


I scratch my head, “Er. Key? But, if it’s been broken into, then shouldn’t the place be open already?”

Silverback mulls it over, “Well… maybe they… locked the doors behind them after they went in?”

“But they broke in! Doesn’t that imply they would have broken the locks?”

“Look, just use the key to get in.”

“Hang on a second. You’re a hologram. How did you just give me a key?”

“Stop arguing and get going!”

“Okay,” I say uncertainly. “But I can’t shake this feeling like someone didn’t think this through.”

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.


Wow. 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 stand a few feet away and sort of clear my throat, “Excuse me? I don’t want to be rude, but… which one of you should I be punching in the face, here?” When they don’t answer I wade in and start swinging. 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!

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.

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 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…



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.


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 – which nobody has bothered to explain to me until now – is apparently for Ironclad to get into the huge gun outside so that I can 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.


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? 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 get a parade? But… 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?!?

Next Time: Let’s get out of town for a few days, eh?

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