Heroes Reborn: The Entomologist 2.0

By Alec Meer on August 20th, 2009 at 7:33 pm.

From the very first moment I heard about superheroic MMORPG Champions Online, I had one question – could I recreate my beloved City of Heroes character The Entomologist in it? With the open beta now live (rather unhelpfully, only so long as you’re a Fileplanet subscriber or have preordered), I finally got to find out. Live, little man, live!

This is The Entomologist, City of Heroes-style: Ento to his friends, and Enty if you’re trying to annoy me.

Less than 5 foot of big stompy superpower, and gloriously ridiculous in everything he does.

Champions’ character creator is much more flexible and powerful than COH’s, but I’m not convinced it’s quite as intuitive. A lot of major stuff is presented fairly obtusely – for instance, over-the-head masks are turned on by setting Hair to ‘none.’ Too much stuff hidden in sub-menus that only unlock once you stumble across the right option in the previous menu, essentially. But it is all there, and the degree of tweakery is impressive – a raft of accessories for every body part, every major muscle group granted its own size slider, and far more options for chin-shaping than anyone realistically needs.

The first thing that hit me, though, was the sad loss of the Huge gender. I guess it’d be too similar to COH if it was kept, but the Male, Female, Huge gag never stops being funny. Miss ya, big guy.

Next: lummee. I’ll be buggered if I know what Ento’s face is shaped like. Erm. Pea-like?

Still, the option to dick around with ear-pointiness, jutting jaws and creepily close-together eyes means it’s a going to be a fine game for genuinely distinctive player characters.

The body scale stuff I was particularly fond of. Loping, simian arms, beanpole legs beneath a hulking torso, strangely tiny hands, massive feet… This is a game in which everyone will almost inevitably look at least a little ridiculous. Good thing too.

So I’ve made myself a midget muscle-man, but he still ain’t dear Ento. Costume away!

The outfit designer is fascinatingly modular – you don’t simply pick a mask style and a mask colour, but rather you assemble it from various components.

As I mentioned, haircut was part of that, as were the eyes and eyebrows. To get simply that all-over red mask took a lot of fiddling. While I remain concerned that a lot of important stuff seems shunted off into less-than-logical sub-menus, there’s a fantastic degree of flexibility there.

The trouble with remaking Ento in it is that, in his original form, his design was very simple – so I ended up ignoring a lot of the fancier options simply to stick to that. Though I did enjoy adding eyebrows underneath his mask, still visible as two sardonically-raised lumps underneath the red cloth. Also neat is that the creator remembers all the colours you’ve used thus far, saving them to a swatch you can pick from when you’re recolouring some other costume element, rather than having to best-guess fromthe entire colour pallette.

Ah, now we’re getting there. Pure black skin, antennae, glowing yellow eyes, cheerily ostentatious giant E on the chest (though annoyingly stuck in italics)… Need to do something about those clown trousers, though…

And there he is at last: undeniably the Entomologist. Welcome to the future, sir.

Sure, the cape brooches are a little different, the antennae more overtly insectoid and the robotic left arm tragically less hulking, but that’s him alright. So proud. It’s fantastic to get the cape right off the bat, too – the idea that a superhero had to perform a series of quests for a tailor (as was the case in COH) before being allowed to wear a cloak was always openly ludicrous. Now you’re the picture of the hero you want to be right from the very start.

Don’t ask me to name a favourite between Ento and Ento 2.0. I’ve stared at the two of them for hours and change my mind constantly. All I know is that when I’m playing Champions, I’m still playing as The Entomologist. I can’t think of any other game where I’ve been able to create a near-exact replica of a former avatar, and I do find this oddly exciting. Perhaps it means Champions is too close to CoH (though, so far, they seem to play definably differently), perhaps it means I have no imagination. But it means Ento still lives, and that makes me a very happy little nerd indeed.

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84 Comments »

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  1. Tei says:

    I was tryiing to make one of the characters of “Battle Royale” or if that fails, make Carrie ( from Stephen King). Finnaly I have made a “ATOMICA” girl with a nuke on his back, looks sweet.
    Champins Online feel a bit random, it has varios type of awesome, but varios types of anti-awesomenes too (like lag). It feels to me like CoH 1.2 with better graphics than AION (you can disable that sick comic rendering stuff).

  2. Alex Hopkinson says:

    Where the hell did you find a cape? I tried to dig one out of the cryptic (hah) menus yesterday and couldn’t see one anywhere.

  3. Vinraith says:

    Nice character, Alec.

    Can anyone comment on how soloable Champions is? CoH always looked neat, but I really dislike being dependent on other players to be able to advance in a game.

  4. mrrobsa says:

    Alex H: Try setting back hair to none.

  5. 1stGear says:

    Mild tangent, but is anyone else getting pissed off at all these open-beta-if-you-subscribed-to-the-worst-download-site-on-the-Internet open betas? Is Fileplanet paying these developers money or are they just being retarded?

    Mmf. /rant.

  6. Jockie says:

    For capes, you can’t have a chest piece or you can’t select them (back slot). I may have to post a bunch of pics of my half dozen Champions characters in the forums later.

  7. Railick says:

    Uh, what are Ento’s abilities in Coh and this new game? Do they compare? Does he actaully have contorl over bugs or just a vast knowledge of them which turns out to be useless in combat (but luckily he’s got a giant fist to make up for that?)

  8. Olick says:

    I’m playing CoH right now. It only gets flack from people who came back from champions Beta. Things like: everyone plays ranged, defense, heals. Builds are boring. I played for six hours. Its makin me paranoid about Champions quality…

  9. Cooper says:

    I’m sure that, even though I’m unlikely to play the game for long, I will be getting myself a trial account as soon as it’s released so I can play with the character creator…

    Heck, here’s hoping they’ve seen the release of the creature creator for Spore – I’d love to be able to download just the character creator (though not gimped like spore’s release).

    In fact, I’m more likely to stump up for a bit of playtime that way. EVentually, fiddling around with it enough I’ll be bound to create someone I just have to see in action…

  10. EyeMessiah says:

    This game doesn’t interest me in any way, but based on my beta experience of the incredibly awesome character generator I’ll probably buy it just to mess about with character designs.

  11. skizelo says:

    Will be treated to a smiliar feature when APB comes out?

  12. Xercies says:

    I’ve heard this sin’t a very good game from various people who were in the beta. To be honest I’m nto looking forward to this one, and the only thing saving both coh and this is probably the character creator but to be honest that isn’t that great since spore did that and failed…

  13. Biscuitry says:

    The idea of an open beta you can only get into by preordering strikes me as a little strange. Early betas have always, for me, been as much a chance to try the game for free to see if I like it before they start charging for it as it is a testing exercise. Especially since these games have, in my experience, often lacked a trial feature unless you know someone who already plays or you’re willing to wait until it’s a year old or so.

    Maybe it’s just me.

  14. vasagi says:

    i belive ento is a blaster

  15. We Fly Spitfires - MMORPG Blog says:

    Awesome stuff! I love the Champions Online character creator, it’s utterly fantastic. I’ve spent longer using it than I have playing the game :)

  16. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    Thx for reminding me to start downloading it…I got the key through a free PDF magazine, so it’s not entirely true what you say…

  17. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    It was PCGZine

  18. Railick says:

    Does the beta allow you to choose an arch-enemy? If so , who is Ento’s Arch enemy ? :P The Exterminator? lmao

  19. Alec Meer says:

    Not seen arch-enemy stuff yet, but I suspect his nemesis will be The Antimologist.

  20. DK says:

    The Champions setting is just so….comic. Like the world gets threatened every week, which kind of ruins the impact.
    Case in point, you defeat one of the two head villains (you choose which one) basically by the tutorial.
    What’s left after that? Grinding random henchmen.

    No progression.

  21. invisiblejesus says:

    @Vinraith: I’m told by friends in the beta that Champions is very soloable. Having said that, I’m not sure where you got the idea that City of Heroes wasn’t, provided you don’t deliberately try to make things difficult for yourself you can solo to max level and experience most of the game content in CoH just fine.

  22. Railick says:

    And who would his side kick be, if he had one? :P This super hero amuses me. I’m thinking the comic book artist among you should make a few fake comic book panels with the awesome Ento .

    Are we sure that Ento isn’t an alter super hero ego of the Tick ?

  23. MaW says:

    I’ve been in the closed and open betas, I rather like it. As a long-time City of Heroes player I was worried that it’d be a disappointment, but it’s not so far. The way the combat system works is different enough to change the entire feel of the game, and there’s a really nice variety of travel powers (with a very nicely-done take on teleportation).

    My biggest criticisms so far would be that the fonts can be a little small, so they could do with a size increase option for that, and that most of the melee powersets have really strangely over the top animations. I’d rather they were a bit more plausible, like the ones in CoH.

  24. Railick says:

    I played CoH When it came out and found that I really enjoyed it I just couldn’t afford to play it. (If I recall it is one of the last MMOs I played for more than the trial peroid) My main character was a blaster I believe, it’s been a long time since I played it :)

  25. JonFitt says:

    Is there a posing pouch slider? It looks like Ento and Ento 2.0 are on different ends of the talent tree, if you know what I mean.

  26. Ginger Yellow says:

    “And who would his side kick be, if he had one”

    Gregor Samsa?

  27. Arathain says:

    @Vinraith: CoH is hands down the most soloable of the MMOs I’ve tried. The only content you really need a team for is totally optional.

    The Entomologist looks great- I can’t wait to play around and see if I can create some of my own CoH characters. I think I’ll wait for a trial, though. Let the game get some air underneath it, iron out bugs and imbalances, that sort of thing.

  28. Railick says:

    @Cinger Yellow – You just cultured me. I know now the general plot of a Kafka book which before now I did not. :P It is a rather sad story and he doesn’t seem like he’d be a very fitting side kick.

  29. Railick says:

    Reading this comment thread is making me miss my hero Pitt Daemon :( When I get the net back I may go back and try CoH again hehehe.

  30. Railick says:

    I vote that The Entomolgists background story be changed to state that he started off his super hero career in Mexico and was know as El entomólogo terrible

  31. The_B says:

    Alex – Capes you get by selecting cape in the backs section. Not sure if you have to not have the shoulder thing though.

  32. The_B says:

    I’m actually enjoying it more than I thought I would. At first it didn’t really grab me as much as CoH did in it’s day, but the more I’ve played this week the more it’s started to grow on me. Remains to be seen if it’s grown enough on me to buy it – especially since my current char will be wiped after the beta and I don’t really like the early game- but it’s not bad.

  33. malkav11 says:

    Imho, by definition any beta which only certain people can get into is a closed beta.

    The game was a lot of fun in the official closed beta, though, like the character creator, a lot of stuff in the actual game is poorly explained.

  34. Railick says:

    It still seems strange to me that the people that made CoH would release an MMO that competes directly with their existing MMO. Seems like they’d have been better off just making a totally diffrent MMO.

  35. Disco Inferno says:

    I dont play ranged at all. I made a joke character, and ended up liking him so much, im gonna make him my main character! He’s a blaxsploitation karate afro dude from the 70s named Disco Inferno. Martial arts is awesome. Ive also used swords. That was pretty sweet. But ive seen a ton of people using hand to hand.

  36. Railick says:

    Disco Inferno, classic LOL .
    I hate a character in CoH called Space Marine that looked more or less exactly like a Starcraft Space Marine and used technology weapons in combat :P

  37. Simes says:

    Cryptic no longer have anything to do with CoH, so as far as they’re concerned the more players they can poach from that game the better.

  38. snuf42 says:

    Railick, Cryptic Studios sold its share of City of Heroes to NCsoft back in late 2007. They no longer are involved with COH.

  39. Ale Frassetti says:

    Alec, sometimes fantasy turns into reality, and you are LATE!
    Look up entomo superhero observers in google… ;)

  40. Vinraith says:

    @invisiblejesus and Arathain

    Weird, I was always told by those CoH players i knew that it was heavily interdependent. If it’s not then that’s very cool. For that matter if THIS isn’t that’s also very cool. I’m not big on fee-based MMO’s from a design perspective, but I might try a trial at some point just to see.

  41. Shalrath says:

    “Early betas have always, for me, been as much a chance to try the game for free to see if I like it before they start charging for it as it is a testing exercise. Especially since these games have, in my experience, often lacked a trial feature unless you know someone who already plays or you’re willing to wait until it’s a year old or so.”

    Companies do this because if you pre-ordered, you’re most likely to tell people how awesome the game is, if only because you don’t want to regret your purchase. And as we’ve all learned, word-of-mouth does wonders.

  42. Arathain says:

    I mean, CoH actually has a difficulty level you can set for your missions. That’s pretty solo friendly.

  43. Azalien says:

    Hey… CO is soloable but there are 3-5 missions at each zone witch isnt… But they are the fun missions sinse they are hard they are an actuall challenge. CO is complicated to Solo sinse some classes are harder to solo with… Some classes are easy. Might is one of the EASIER classses but i belive it is a borring class to, tbh.

  44. NDA Repealed? Taking no chances. says:

    I’m finding Champs to be a bit of a disappointment so far. You can mix and match skills pretty much at will as you level up (tho you’ll unlock higher level abilities of a certain category sooner by specializing in that category), and that’s a nice change, but there isn’t very much variety in powers, especially in the first few hours.

    Instead of having a few ‘archetypes’ and each having very diverse powers to choose from, it’s more like we’re choosing different flavors of the same archetype. Starting out, every character has a basic attack that charges up their energy, and a power attack that spends that energy. That’s all there is to it.

    Having an active blocking ability is an interesting change for the combat, and you’ll actually use it since enemies always (so far) give some kind of warning before they use a really powerful attack. By time I hit level 10, took about six hours, I still only had 3 attacks I could use, total. I could have four, but that would mean having no defensive power, which means not being able to solo anything.

    I actually preordered to get into the beta, rather than signing up or Fileplanet. So now I’ve put down 60$ or so on a game that disappointed me in the first ten minutes, and I just have to keep banging away on it to get my money’s worth. There’s no refunds on Direct2Drive, so yeah, lesson learned, even if I don’t much care for Fileplanet and their fake queues, they’re a lot better deal than buying a game I’ve never played just so I can demo (beta) it early.

    Normally when people say a PC/Console game is going to be dumbed down for consoles, I’d think they were just reactionary, but the simple yet cumbersome interface suggests a game that’s been mapped to a gamepad, to the detriment of depth or accessibility. You can’t even click directly on objects or people to interact with them, you have to either move around until they’re the closest object, or click on their name at the bottom of the screen, in a poor aping of the context-based actions of console games.

  45. PaulMorel says:

    I haven’t read this thread fully. I just wanted to say that I am currently loving the Champions beta. It is the best MMO that I’ve played since WoW … imho … and it isn’t the grindfest that CoH/V was.

    And yes, currently in PvP, ranged powers pwn close range powers … but we’re still in beta. I’m sure that there will be much balancing before the beta ends.

  46. PaulMorel says:

    NDA Repealed: “You can’t even click directly on objects or people to interact with them”

    Double-click, genius.

  47. Signod says:

    One thing people are not taking into account on the powers thing is that youget drops that change up powers, im only level 10 and i have 3 ways to modify pistol, and 2 ways to modify electric powers, i have also picked up a quest item that surrounds my character with a blood-red aura and makes his eyes glow red

  48. invisiblejesus says:

    @Vinraith: It depends largely on what content you enjoy; the overwhelming majority of the game’s content is soloable, provided you don’t deliberately make it difficult for yourself (i.e. choosing the least solo-friendly archetypes and then deliberately avoiding solo-friendly powers). I admit that for me, the particular type of content I enjoy most is team-dependent, which is fine by me since I have an awesome supergroup there. Maybe the CoH players you know have similar preferences to my own. But the overwhelming majority of game content is soloable, and you can skip the nont-soloable stuff with zero trouble. It does mean skipping a small amount of content, content which in my personal opinion is very cool and not to be missed. But I’m a pretty hardcore fiend for task forces, and I prefer playing with my supergroup whenever possible. There are a LOT of players who don’t share my tastes, and they seem to enjoy the game just fine. And for that matter, when my people aren’t on I can solo just fine and have some fun doing it.

  49. Vinraith says:

    @invisiblejesus

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. I may have a look, it’s always been a game I’ve been interested in despite its genre.

  50. NDA Repealed? Taking no chances. says:

    PaulMorel: That is how you would expect it to work, yes. But actually, double-clicking on a character is translated as pressing Z (the use button). In other words, right now my guy is standing between two quest NPCs. If I click on the one to my right, I end up talking to the one on my LEFT, because he’s at the top of the list at the bottom of the screen, and is therefore the default target for interactions if I hit Z.

    So to talk to the other guy, I have to walk around until he’s at the top of the list, or, point and click on his name way at the bottom of the screen. It’s a little counter-intuitive. I’m pretty sure that CoH let you just click on whoever you wanted to interact with.

    I think the reason it works this way is that you’d only have one button for ‘interact’ on the console version, and so it has to be a context-sensitive button, and thus you have to wriggle around to get whatever you’re trying to interact with to the top of the list before you can actually, interact with it.

    Many, many times I’ve tried to talk to a quest NPC, and instead picked up a nearby crate, and then had to throw it before I could talk to the NPC. That’s a fundamentally strange interface and it gets in the way a lot, but is really just a niggling concern on a whole 55-gallon drum of underwhelmingness.