Published on January 18th, 2011 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
DC Universe Online Review
DC Universe Online
Release Date: January 11, 2011
ESRB Rating: E
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Genre:Action RPG / MMO
Platforms: PS3, PC
DC fans rejoice: The online MMO you have been looking for has finally arrived. After months of delays and testing, DC Universe Online has finally hit store shelves. Some of you may remember a game called City of Heroes a few years ago, where you could live out any superhero fantasy you had in a substantially large cityscape. In DC Universe, you’re thrown into the majestic world of DC’s most popular superheroes.
The good news? You can choose to make a Hero or Villain. Many MMO fans will find a new way to play in the genre as DCUO feels more like an action hack-and-slash game than it does an MMORPG. Fans of the ever so popular World of Warcraft will not find enough variety here to pull them away from their WoW accounts, but this game is not aimed at pulling you from that. It is aimed at fulfilling the appetite that comic book fans have had for years.
DCUO has a pretty in-depth character creator that rivals any MMO out there. With each character you make, you can choose your outfit, accessories, fighting style, super powers, weapons, and, best part of all, your character’s mentor. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all make up the Hero Mentors, where as Joker, Lex Luthor, and Circe make up the Villain Mentors. Each mentor has their own special abilities that your character can mirror, such as Superman and Lex are “Meta” characters, Circe and Wonder Woman are “Magic” characters, and Batman and Joker are “Tech” characters. The creation of your superhero is fun in and of itself. I found myself working on my Hero “FACTOR” for over an hour. When venturing on quests you will get new equipment and gadgets that can change the look of your character, but the best implementation is the fact that you can always revert back to your characters old looks even after equipping the new items, and yes, still keep the effects of the items intact.
The first event you will take your character through is a run through Brainiac’s ship. Think of it as a tutorial that will get you acquainted with your new character. You fight your way out of capture to fight Brainiac’s henchmen and eventually the captain of the ship (not Brainiac). You will also be acquainted with Superman as he helps you out in the boss battle. When the fight is won, he will give you details on your first mission and send to your starting location. Your Mentor choice will make a difference here. Think of Braniac’s ship as a first glance at how the dungeon and instance system works in DCUO.
The world of DC Universe Online is one of absolute beauty. Although the game is a majority of cityscapes and sky scrapers and doesn’t feature fantasy worlds like WoW or Aion, the detail is remarkable. The quests in each part of the cities are divided amongst districts. From Metropolis to Gotham City, Chris Cao really captured the feel of living within the comic book world. Rendering of the game’s details are a bit slow, my guess is due to the server congestion. I can’t ding DCUO on that notion alone because it suffers from what all MMOs suffer from: First Month Syndrome. Server lag, server down time and render issues all play a part in the first month of release. Sony Online Entertainment has already committed to monthly updates and content that will come free to players, as well as weekly bug fixes.
If you are a fan of MMOs then you will find the controls very easy to learn and navigate. On the PS3 (which is the version I played), the game will play a lot like a hack and slash game. You have your light and heavy attacks, and your light and heavy power attacks. To pull up your spell menu, simply pull the left trigger and select the corresponding spell. Inventory is pulled up similar to spells. Right trigger uses the selected inventory item. Moving “Soda” into the inventory slots is one of the first moves you should learn since you will be using “Soda” a lot to replenish your health. Your health will also replenish when not in combat or performing another action. The “Start” button will pull up all of your menu options such as your character’s inventory, social tab, and skill and power tree.
The mission structure will lead you from one city to the next fighting DC’s most famous villains. My character, FACTOR, who has Batman as his mentor, started in Gotham City fighting Scarecrow. My first series of quests led me to different areas of Gotham to battle enemies releasing fear gas. You will encounter many different foes who have a well-balanced mission system that will lead you from boss battle to boss battle. From the start many of the boss battles can be easy to complete by yourself, but later on (Freeing the Teen Titans for example) will be a bit complicated unless you are in a party. That being the structure of the game, it should be expected and welcomed. Many of the players I met on the different servers have been helpful and more inclined to help you out if you are in the middle of questing. The better part of having others help without them associated with your league or party surfaces as long as you make contact with a quest item before it is destroyed. For example, Batman led me on a quest to fight ten of Scarecrow’s henchmen and destroy five fear gas vents. After killing one of the henchmen, I lunged to a vent, hitting it once, when another hero jumped in and destroyed the vent. I still came away with credit for destroying the vent.
The level cap of DC Universe is 30. The better part of the game is the fact that there is not much of a grind when leveling. You can achieve level fifteen within a couple hours, or by the time you finish off your third boss. The enemy lock-on system is a little disorienting, in that it works well when you’re in a boss fight, but becomes broken when you’re on a mission where multiple enemies are in play. When performing spells, it becomes a pain. There have been countless times that I have aimed my ice storm at one enemy to have the storm go the opposite way and hit nothing.
The game does have a loot system that works well. After every encounter, little bubbles shoot out of the enemy with different symbols to indicate the reward, such as cash, XP, and items. Boss battles, of course, will earn you much more in each of these items. Scattered throughout the worlds of Metropolis and Gotham are exclamation marks that are known as investigation tabs that will give some backstory on the tasks that you are performing. A majority of these can be found near your questing zones. The yellow question marks are items that arrange in a wide variety, and sometimes pertain to the missions at hand.
If you want to take your character against others, DC offers different forms of PVP (Player Vs. Player) combat. Before you hit the maximum level of 30 you will receive alerts that are much like WoW instances for groups of four. Much like WoW, it is best to know your role when going into any of these fights, such as Tank, Healer, Crowd Control and DPS. Unfortunately, DC does not offer these options in an easy to see way. Right now, nine times out of ten you will run these types of instances with four tanks. These instances function much like larger missions that require a group. Unlike WoW, a DC Instance is your group fighting a certain amount of enemies until the boss shows up. At the end of each alert you will see your group’s stats, such as Damage and Healing.
The Final Truth:
DC Universe Online is a blast to play, and if you’re an MMO first-timer you’ll find this game much more fun than others. This plays like an action-adventure game more than a standard fantasy MMO. Comic book fans and fans of the DC universe will fall in love with this game within minutes of playing. All of DCUO’s Heroes and Villains are in the game in some shape or form. Although I find the $14.99 monthly charge a tough pill to swallow, I do find it a fun game and, with monthly additions that could grow the game even further, I am really hopeful.
Even though expansions are to be seen in the future, the level cap is a bit low. I was expecting around 50 levels, but hopefully in future patches that number will increase. If you are looking for a solid MMO to get into, DCUO is a terrific choice. The character creation is fun in itself. Taking your hero or villain through some of DC’s most historic cities and timelines leaves comic book fans in complete awe, not to mention that it’s an MMO that’s on a console.
+ It’s DC
+ Fantastic character creation
+ Great looking environments
+ Mission structures
+ Easy leveling grind
+ The Goddamn Batman
– Servers need some work
– Textures are a bit off due to server lag
– Targeting system is a mess