Talk about ironic. Just after I finally decide to quit CO, it decides to go to free to play. They’ve posted their membership matrix, and I’m going to go down each option to give you an idea of how the restrictions play out.
Custom Archetypes: Wow. Champions Online currently lets you choose any powers you like. F2P customers will be denied that completely, and instead will probably gain more of a pre-set level approach, where you gain powers from your initial powerset choices.
I’m sure Cryptic will have some decent builds for general leveling, but this is going to kill any attempt to make a concept character using multiple powersets, like a swordsman using guns, or a fire and ice character. It also will probably make you gimp in PvP, and depending on the powers, you might be a lot squishier than you should. You can buy the full unlock.
Edit: My mistake on this. Poster J.E. added more information that I misread. You can purchase “Gold” Archetypes, not the full customizability. This changes things as you now have tiered classes, and with no information on how the archetypes differ, it’s a little more worrisome.
Some more information. While archetypes are locked power selections, you will be able to choose how you spend your advantage points on the preselected powers. This gives you a moderate amount of tailoring to your needs, as many advantages also change the power directly, and not just its strength. For example, Laser Knight advantage for Energy Shield for power armor lets you activate the block benefits for a brief duration each time you use a meelee attack. From the forum post here.
Character Slots: Sub members start at 8, F2P members 2. This isn’t so bad because you gain a character slot when you get a character to 40, but it sucks for people who like to level multiple characters, or roleplayers.
All Zones/All Levels: They have to. There’s only 5 non-adventure pack levels in the game, and as my Time Trial shows, it’s very fast to get to anything below 30.
Adventure Packs: Sub gets them all, F2P buys. This actually benefits F2P, as only Vibora Bay is worth paying for. Serpent Lantern and Demonflame aren’t long enough unless it’s sold for a few dollars. None of them are vital, and you can level to cap without them.
Nemesis/PvP: Free for both. The only downside is that with the restricted archetypes, you may get your ass kicked. PvP builds are specialized, and often require powers across frameworks to do well.
Edit: PvP: It looks like the devs are going to segregate it by type. Archetype accounts will have access to a Restricted tier, and Gold members with full customization will be limited to an Unrestricted one. Golds can make an archetype to play in Restricted, but this has the reverse effect of possibly killing off Unrestricted. Info here.
Costumes: Gold members get 3400 pieces, Silver 3000. My guess is that the perk costume pieces and drops which you can get wont be an option for the F2P crowd. This is not as bad as it seems, as most of them people bought from the C-Store anyways: the in-game methods of obtaining them involve grinding 5k enemies or doing PvP. The premium costume packs are ones that you could only buy.
Costume Slots: Gold members get a base 3 at 40, F2P only 1. This sucks, because costuming is one of the fun things about CO. You can purchase more though, and any more than 3 is overkill.
Bags: Gold gets the normal 4, F2P 1. This SUCKS. It’s very easy to fill bags considering that quest items take bag spaces, and some can have up to seven different items. It’s going to make leveling a lot more of a chore.
Crafting: Free for both, but its useless except for bags and costume unlocks, both of which straight F2P don’t have. Market lots are limited to 5, which isn’t that bad from the standard 10.
Veteran Rewards: F2P players lose out on these, but they aren’t game killing. You get a free retcon and a couple of free 100% instaheals. Most F2P players wont miss them.
Chat, Supergroup, Mail: F2P players are heavily restricted, but for only the first 20 hours of their existence. This isn’t bad at all, if I’m reading it right. It prevents a banned spam character from spamming quite a bit.
Forums and Priority Login: Silvers can only read in all forums and post to their own. They also aren’t priority to log in if the server is busy, I guess.
Gold Travel Powers: Nearly missed this. This depends on what they describe as gold. The only non-standard powers are crafted, so my guess is that they are going to only offer a few powers and bar the rest behind a paywall.
edit: Poster JK mentions that the available powers are Teleport, Flight, Superjump, Superspeed, and Acrobatics. This is a good selection, as these are the basic types of powers. Many of the ones missing are modified versions (Fire Flight, Rocket Jump.) or are actually weaker powers (ice slide, hover disc, and earth flight both are slow and handle poorly.) The only original power missing is Tunneling, and Teleport handles most of what it does. Bad news though again for concept characters if silver archetypes include Fire, Ice, or Gadgeteering.
Edit: Support: Unsubject mentioned that I missed it. Basically you aren’t getting any for F2P. In practice I would think it would be like EQ extended where they only support billing issues, because having no support there would lead to things like disputed charges and chargebacks. Hopefully this will be the case, but technical support will wind up being a forum browse.
Edit: Hue Shifting: I missed this, but it’s not major. Hue shifting allows you to change the color of your power to a custom color among a slider. You can have yellow or green fire for a Fiery Form, for example. Only Gold subscribers can have this, but this is as purely cosmetic as you can get. I am not sure whether or not Emanation points are affected. Those are where your powers are manifested: fire bolts from hands, or the center of the chest.
I think we all thought Champions Online would go this route, so I can’t say I’m surprised. The restrictions aren’t bad for what they are, and in many ways are better than LOTRO or EQ Extended. You can still play a good amount of the core game, and most of what is F2P are optional content and conveniences. Some changes do suck though.
I’d recommed buying bag slots, one set of costume slots to bring you up to 3, and unlocking the custom archetypes at the least. (since you can’t unlock them, disregard. The Gold archetypes may make sense depending on what they are.) You may want to pay for more character slots depending on how much you like to experiment. I filled my eight easily. Out of all the games, I think Champions Online will suffer the least from the transition. Gear is not central to it, so paying for advantage is not an issue. Most leveling can be done solo, with really only endgame to group for. Most of what is restricted wont impact your gameplay solo or in group, and even with archetype and bag restrictions, that’s a lot of game for free.
I’m not happy that they chose F2P, because it’s going to take development time from actually upgrading and fixing the game for paid subscribers, and they have been languishing in a lack of content for a bit now. But they have to do it to survive, so I shrug my shoulders.