Gaming, Technology, Social Media, and Fun
Some of you may not know, but I love comic books. I grew up reading Marvel in my early years and gradually moved towards DC Comics in my adult life. So I was definitely excited to see that DC was releasing a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) called DC Universe Online.
It first caught my attention by the brilliant cinematic trailer. I literally got goosebumps watching this because it was so well done. Many people who watched this, really wanted this to be made into a movie. It’s just that good.
The trailer is very important to understanding the story of the game. SPOILER ALERT! Lex Luthor has traveled back in time to save humanity from the clutches of Brainiac. He has released Braniac’s “exobyte” technology to give ordinary people super powers to fight against Brainiac. As a character in the game, you have been captured by Brainiac since the exobytes granted you powers and you manage to escape his harvester ship to join the heroes or the villains.
Now on to the gameplay elements. This game is not World of Warcraft. Let me repeat, this game is not World of Warcraft. With that said, DC Universe Online (DCUO) plays like an action game with real-time attacks, blocks, and special abilities. This sub-genre of MMORPGs has been deemed “Action MMO” by the industry, and has been very popular in the Korean market. Most notably, Vindictus, is the latest of the genre which has been popular in the west as well.
DCUO is available on both the PC and PS3 platforms. If you think about this situation, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that the control scheme is going to stink on one of these platforms. It’s a valid assumption, because games like Final Fantasy XIV completely dropped the ball in bringing a smooth control scheme to the PC platform. For more information on that, check out my first impressions of that disaster.
I’ve been playing on the PC platform and immediately noticed a unique control scheme for a PC MMO. The mouse has no cursor. The mouse is used for combinations and camera movement, while the keyboard is used for ability shortcuts and character movement. For example, if you wish to conduct a superhero combo, you would click the left mouse button once or twice and then, hold down the right mouse button. It took me 5-10 minutes to get used to this control scheme during the game’s tutorial phase. All in all, I was happy with it and got used to it rather quickly. If you’ve played action RPGs such as Torchlight/Diablo, you should be used to the large amount of mouse clicking to engage enemies.
DCUO has basic features such as leagues (essentially guilds), groups and general chat. I’ve found that these features lack considerably. For one, the group and guild chat stops working for unknown reasons and no one knows why. The interface for chat on PC is terrible and has horrible response time. I find it to be the most frustrating part of grouping up with people. The player search controls are quite confusing at first. For example, to add a player as a friend requires you find a hidden option in a drop down. Little things like this make it counter-intuitive and can drive you nuts if you let it.
This is easily my number 1 gripe with DCUO
DCUO employs a mentor system, where your character is introduced to superhero’ism by one of 6 heroes/villains: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, Lex Luthor, Circe. These mentors guide you through initial character development and direct you to various assignments in the cities. Depending on which mentor you choose, your character will begin in either Metropolis or Gotham. As you level up, you venture out into the alternate city which will include instances that the game calls “Alerts”.
The questing operates at a good pace for both novice MMO players and experienced ones. I found myself able to level quite easily and found no issue with this part of the game.
If you’re interested in Player Vs. Player (PVP), DC Universe Online doesn’t disappoint. The “open-world” PVP can be a bit intimidating for those who wish to just level their character and interact with the storyline. What does “open-world” mean? It means that players can attack opposing forces anywhere in the world. It adds a suspenseful, yet dynamic element to a seemingly boring quest grind. Say you’re killing 20 of the Joker’s henchmen, and you’ve got one more left. All of a sudden, five villains fly in from out of the sky and ambush you. Even if you try to go back and kill that last henchman, those villains will there waiting on you. It’s quite fun.
There are also PVP dedicated areas, or instances, for you to enjoy. They range from 2v2 all the way up to 5v5 matches with various objectives. The Legends PVP mode allows you to even play as characters such as Batman, Robin, Harley Quinn, The Joker, and Nightwing. There’s also various rewards and gear you can earn with your wins in these instances. You’ll find some of the more attractive armor can be obtained through PVP. Overall, I believe it is a success and couldn’t find anything wrong with it.
I was happy to see that the DCUO lore was consistent with fairly recent developments from the comic books. Before the game was even released, I knew they wouldn’t have a problem bringing DC content in the game.
There’s a wealth of lore that has been around since the birth of DC Comics in 1934, and a lot of that is present in the game. For example, we see the classic clashes between Batman and Joker, Superman and Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman and Giganta, Green Lantern and Sinestro.
One area of the lore that I have to speak against, is the performance of voice actors to play the parts. I was happy to see that DCUO nabbed most of the voice actors from the popular Justice League and Batman series of cartoons (including Mark Hamill as the Joker!), but some of the voice actors are just plain terrible. The immersion of the game suffers due to this incredibly bad voice acting. You can tell it was rushed and that voice actors were not at their best. It is quite disappointing.
In the time that I have played DCUO, I was unable to participate in the majority of the endgame, so I will not comment nor rate it. I did however, reach level 30 and completed the final quest which opened up the raids. I was quite shocked by what I saw.
Batman thanked me and invited me back to the bat cave.
This is quite unheard of in DC lore and is reserved for no one. Even if Superman entered the bat cave, Batman would reach for his Kryptonite to get him out of there. I couldn’t believe they made him such a softy. I’ll try not to hold it against DCUO.
Overall, I think the game has a lot of potential in an already crowded 2011 MMO lineup. It’s a refreshing take on the level grind with a much more interactive controls scheme, decent lore, and virtually unlimited content to expand with. SoE has promised that a majority of this new content will not cost us money. Given that there are rumors of Green Lantern powers in the works, I’m pretty excited for the game. I recommend this MMO to you PC owners out there to try. Even if you don’t play beyond the first 30 days, you’ll get $50 worth of fun out of the game.
Now will it last? This is a hard question to answer with a high level of certainty, but I’ll do my best to guess. I think the game will be solid for at least another 6 months. I believe there’s enough in the game and to come for it to be one of my top MMO picks of 2011. Beyond those 6 months will be totally up to SoE which doesn’t have a very good track record with keeping MMORPGs up to date and interesting.
Social Features: 4/10
Post written by Bwana