I'm a longtime Champions Online player. I've enjoyed the PvE content of the game, I've enjoyed PvP before On Alert, I've enjoyed the lairs, I've enjoyed Zombie Apocalypse, and most of all I've enjoyed the costume creator.
However, the game has grown a little bit stale. You can only play it through so many times before it gets old, you can only make so many amazing characters, you can only attempt to PvP so much without giving up due to frustration, with both the queue system and the general Hero Games attitude.
I decided, however, to give it one last go. I decided to start up an Invincible archetype. Power armored tanks that are just all around fantastic. I named her Crash, and she was a lizard woman underneath the armor, gave her some silly story about being a VIPER experiment that escaped. A pretty cliche story, but who reads bios anymore these days, anyway?
So I played through the game, balancing missions and Alerts, and it was fun. I soon arrived at Vibora Bay Apocalypse within a few days, and I went on with it. Kinetik was the sacrificial lamb in the first mission where a Champion dies. I'd seen it so many times I really stopped caring. However, something different happened in this cutscene before he died.
He looked right at me. Even behind those goggles he wears, I could sense his anger at me. The mission continued as normal, but Defender stopped my character on the way out. "Kinetik was a good man," he tells me. "He didn't deserve this, and he didn't deserve it the other times this has happened." His portrait in the message background's eyes briefly flickered, from white to black, but it was too fast so I couldn't screenshot it.
Later, in the mission where Ironclad and Defender were supposed to die, Therakiel didn't show up after Valerian Scarlet called him. Defender and Ironclad were still standing after the cutscene. Was this it? Had I averted the apocalypse?
"You are a coward." Ironclad's message box appears as I reach the doors. "Therefore you shall be punished like one." Suddenly, a loading screen appeared. The tooltip read "NoT all IS as iT sEEmsssssss", and the comic picture was a black box with three sets of red eyes looking at me...
Crash appeared in a black void, with Kinetik's body on the ground. Going in for a closer look, his body rose and he looked like a zombie version of himself, sprouting red Nephilim wings before attacking! He had his full Superspeed powers, and I'm confident that if I were playing as any other Archetype it would have been a losing battle, but I came out on top. After that, there was nothing. I tried to demorecord it, but it said "ERROR: THIS IS ONLY MEANT FOR YOUR EYES"
I hit Alt-F4. I clicked the red X. I tried to log out. It refused to close. All while the chat box printed "COWARD" over and over and over again... so I decided to try queueing for PvP here. Thankfully the queue popped, and I thought it would be over.
It wasn't. The loading screen came up, but instead of displaying "Stronghold" and the relevant loading screen, it displayed "MURDERER", with a blank tooltip. I did, however, appear in Stronghold. Alone. There wasn't a single turret nor a single NPC. Well, not until Defender stepped out after I made my way to the central area of the map on the Heroes side. He pointed at me and hit me with a Tactical Missile, which did a surprising amount of damage. The fight was on. Power Armor VS Power Armor.
Once again, if it weren't for the Invincible being so damn tough I'd have lost, and I felt like the stakes of the fight were extremely high, as if I would really die if I lost. After the battle, there was a cutscene where the walls of Stronghold faded to blackness, and I appeared in the Champions building, standing over Defender's body. The other Champions came over and began to weep.
I began to realize what had happened, and my character did too, using a strange animation never seen before to take her helmet off (I had made a helmet and no helmet costume for this character) and she fell to her knees and began to cry too. After that, I was booted from the game, and when I tried logging in again, my character was still available, but rather than her armor she was wearing a hospital gown. Upon choosing her, I found I was inside Mercy Hospital. A cutscene explained everything.
"Therakiel found a way into your heart through the lack of guilt you felt when you saw Kinetik die. He clouded your mind and used you as a puppet so that you were to one to kill Defender in this timeline, not him... however, we have already sent someone to stop you from being turned into a puppet, and to prevent this timeline from ever happening."
There was a sudden scream, and Crash fell to the ground, the camera panning away from her body, though I could plainly see that a hole had been blown through her chest suddenly... and I was logged out once more.
When I chose Crash again, she was normal. I was back at the start of Vibora Bay Apocalypse, and when Kinetik died this time, I paid him his due final respects, for it would be my last time going through Vibora Bay.
After that, everything progressed as normal, though when Therakiel was killing Ironclad and Defender, I spotted another person in the background wielding a massive rifle of some sort, but they did not attack. Crash's assassin making sure everything goes right this time, perhaps?
I filed a bug report at the end, only to receive an immediate response. "Sorry."