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Champions Online now free-to-play

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As reported earlier, Champions Online has now transitioned into a free-to-play model.

This model grants all levels and basic areas, powers, and customizations to players for free; additional power sets, adventure packs, customizations, and more must be unlocked in the game’s item shop or obtained with a continued monthly subscription. This model mirrors the one used by Turbine for Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online, except many power sets remain locked for free players.

Champions Online is published by Cryptic Studios, which also publishes Star Trek Online.

Champions Online Gameplay Screenshot


Greetings Champions!

Welcome to Champions Online: Free For All! With this update, anyone can download and play Champions Online for free. We’ve done a lot in this update to prepare for free play as well as improve the game across the board. This list of patch notes is HUGE: we had a few thousand individual changes, which we’ve distilled down to the thousand or so that you’ll find below. Even if you don’t go look at the individual changes, I suggest that you give a quick read of the text here for an overview of the changes.


The Free For All update introduces Archetypes to Champions Online. An Archetype is a pre-defined build for a hero. It specifies which powers you’ll receive when you level up, what superstats you’ll have, and what role you’re best equipped to play. You still choose travel powers, talents, and power Advantages, but the general process is much more streamlined than a free-form hero. (All heroes created before this update are free-form heroes.)

Archetypes are available to both Gold Members and Silver Players. There is no difference between them. (Gold Members must follow the progression exactly as a Silver Player would.) This means Archetypes provide a standardized baseline for hero builds. Besides making character advancement much easier for those who just want to “get in and play,” some players may find Archetypes especially interesting for PvP matches.

Archetypes are freely available to all players. Silver Players have the option to purchase Special Archetypes, and Gold Members can play all Archetypes for free.

Visit the Archetype page for detailed information.

Mission and Zone Changes

We spent a lot of time on the early game experience of Champions. We wanted to get new players excited and involved right away. We wanted to get players into Millennium City right away.

So we completely revamped the story and mission flow from the Tutorial through to the Atomic Wasteland in the Desert. We updated existing missions, changed the order of other missions, and created many new missions to tell a better story in Westside and the Desert. Westside, in particular, has seen huge changes.

The tutorial is easier to navigate and the fundamentals of Champions Online are easier to learn. The Tutorial now concludes by putting you right in Renaissance Center working with Defender. New heroes now start their adventures right in Millennium City, in Westside. We have made so many improvements to the environment, mission flow and story in Westside it is almost a new neighborhood.

Note: The level range of Westside has been changed to levels 7-15. Players that have heroes in the previous level range of 18-23 will have their missions cleared and given a handoff to an appropriate contact in their level range.

The Desert has been updated and reworked to improve the story and support the new level range. Numerous pieces of Desert Crisis, Burning Sands, Burnside, and the Atomic Wasteland have been updated. We have added many missions and a new explosive ending to the Irradiates story arc.

Note: The level range for the Desert Crisis has been changed to 14-16. The level range of the Burning Sands through to the Atomic Wasteland has been changed to 16-18. Players that have characters in the previous level ranges will have their missions cleared and given a handoff to an appropriate contact in their level range.


The vast majority of the patch notes below are fixes and improvements to powers. I think we touched almost every power in the game in some way. First off, we completely overhauled the power descriptions and tooltips so that they are clear and standardized. Secondly, we continued the Power Framework reviews. This led us to improvements to single powers, bug fixes in many powers, and a better understanding of what we needed to do to balance and improve our frameworks for this and future updates.

Last, but certainly not least, we took a hard look at the mechanics of knocks and holds and decided to change them quite a bit. We’ve improved their usefulness and fixed numerous inconsistencies in their effectiveness. (See below for all the details.)

Note: With this update, every existing hero gets a free retcon.

PvP Improvements

With the addition of Archetypes we have added an Archetype-only Queue. This allows players to compete with preset builds that offer a more level playing field. Of course, we still have open queues that take both archetype and free-form heroes for those that demand a bigger challenge in the arena.

We have added auto-teaming to the Arena maps. This will allow players to quickly organize and get into the fight.

There are now more options for battles in the top Hero Games tier. A weekly arena map rotation and the addition of the lower tier UTC maps should make things more interesting at Tier 4.

We have more plans for PvP in the future. This is just the start.

Improved UI

We took the opportunity of going free to play to make some pretty big modifications to the UI. Everything from character creation, to inventory, to chat, to the C-Store has seen some improvement. We have a new look that updates the UI from a flat 2D comic style to a more modern look that is a little easier to use. We have a new font for tooltips and descriptions that makes everything much easier to read.

The character screen has been changed to make it easier to access your stats, costumes, action figures, and so on. By popular request, there is now a paper doll in on the character screen that you can spin around.

We’ve integrated a lot of C-Store things directly into the user interface. For example, you may notice that you can purchase character slots directly from the character selection screen, and costume parts from inside the tailor. When you start to build that perfect costume for your hero you will have access to all the parts in the game from the basic building blocks to the premium costume sets. You will be able to make your character and get what you need before ever stepping foot in the tutorial.


It should be no surprise that we’ve added a lot of items to the C-Store. Besides the kinds of things you might expect (such as XP multipliers, health restorers, and damage buffs), there are also some pretty special devices. We have one which lets your hero transform into a werewolf, complete with changing powers. Another lets you summon a sidekick or henchman to help you along in a fight.

There are a bunch of new costume sets in the store. The ones we added in this update are all free for Gold Members and include many new pieces! Check out the Viking Warrior or the Pharonic Master. Great stuff!

You can now purchase more Atari Tokens from right inside the game. And the C-Store is now available from the web as well as in the game. Check it out!

Character Conversion

Many players have asked about what will happen to their old characters, or what would happen if they upgrade to Gold. Firstly, nothing will happen to your hero unless you specifically take action. We’ll just safely hold on to it.

You can only play a hero that matches your account. Gold heroes can only be played by Gold Members. Silver heroes can only be played by Silver Players. You must convert the hero to the matching type to use it.

To convert a hero, select it on the Character Select screen (during login) and click the Convert button on the right side of the screen. You will get a pop-up with conversion options available for that character.

If you are switching from Silver to Gold, will get to choose to make that character the same Archetype, a different Archetype, or a free-form hero (meaning you are open to mix and match powers and are not restricted to the growth path of the Archetype).

If you are switching from Gold to Silver, you will be able to choose any Archetype you have access to. When you convert the hero to Silver you will lose access to all Gold Member bonuses and permissions but you will keep items and services you purchased like costume, character slots, costume sets, or bag space. All items your character had in their inventory will be mailed to your character.

Note: Each hero can only be converted once at no cost. Subsequent conversion of the hero is not currently possible, but will soon be available through an “Archetype Retcon Token.”

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