The gameplay is a traditional hack and slash with several additional elements. During the opening sequence, the player selects a race, appearance, and skills. From there, the game continues to follow classic RPG standards, as the player fights monsters, explores forests, towns, godly domains and dungeons, obtains gold to purchase weapons, and so on. As the player gains experience, he or she will level up and increase character statistics and abilities.

All characters have a series of spells and skills, which can be enhanced via the Ability Tree. The Ability Tree allows the player flexibility in choosing skills, chiefly because points may be invested in several choices at once. These abilities can increase damage, add new spells, etc. These choices are limited by several factors, including the character's level, the skill's prerequisites, and the total amount of ability points in the character's reserve. The points cannot be regained once used.

Equipment is often dropped by enemies, though there is a shop to buy items. Sometimes, the items dropped by enemies are much better than anything for sale in the shop. Each character has a weight limit (which is increased by strength) which only allows for a certain amount of equipment to be carried at any given time. However, the gate scrolls allow players to warp back to the nearest shop and sell excess inventory. Moreover, the armor and weapons are customizable, which allows players to fuse a weapon with statistical bonuses, elemental attack, and increased weapon attack speed.

Dungeons in the game cover many forms of terrain. As with most RPGs, many dungeons in Champions of Norrath feature a boss or large group of enemies that must be defeated to advance or obtain a special item. Traps and secret passages are also common in dungeons (for instance, destructible walls). Furthermore, the game offers two advanced bonus dungeon levels upon completion of the game.

The camera allows for 360 degree rotation and three levels of zoom. It is possible to import and export characters, which allows the player to save or load a character anywhere in the game while keeping the statistics and items of that character. This is important for scenarios which require a transfer of characters, such as online play, multiplayer games, and the sequel, Champions: Return to Arms.

Savepoints and portals play a key role in the gameplay. First, savepoints also double as checkpoints, which may be accessed if and when a character dies. The Portals are activated when the player walks near the Portal. They allow the player to jump to key locations in each region.

Players may import their character(s) for online play, which can be accessed from a save point. This mode of play allows for players to join parties or quests. Players can join anywhere in the game, despite completion in the one player mode. Up to four players can join in the same game. It is a cooperative type multiplayer game that disables damage a player can inflict upon a fellow player