The next legend is YOU!
- Experience the power of visceral combat where you control every blow your character strikes, delivering a level of action that is unparalleled in the MMO segment.
- Choose your side — superhero or villain — as you battle to save or conquer the universe.
- Fight alongside or against your favorite DC heroes and villains including Batman, The Joker, Superman, Wonder Woman and others… The next legend is YOU!
- Experience the intensity of a world created in the artistic vision of legendary comic book artist Jim Lee.
- Take advantage of the state-of-the-art physics engine and use objects in the world around you as weapons, including even your enemies!
- Players will create their own custom DC-style hero or villain, each with a unique look and combination of superpowers.
- Embark on heroic or villainous story-driven adventures penned by famous DC writers including Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman.
- Gameplay is optimized for both the PS3 computer entertainment system and PC.
- Explore the DC Universe; walk the darkened streets of Gotham City, investigate the mysteries of the futuristic cityscape of Metropolis and travel to legendary locations including Arkham Asylum and the Justice League of America Watchtower.
DC Universe Online Preview
GamePro editor AJ Glasser chronicles her first few hours in the DC Universe Online Beta on PS3, crafting a sultry heroine and smashing thugs along the way.
Entry 1 – Install
The DC Universe Online beta requires a heavy-duty 15 GB download to PlayStation 3s, which took my internet connection three days to manage. I suspect this has something to do with my Bit Torrent-happy roommates provoking Comcast into snipping our internet. The download froze twice before I got fed up and used a second beta key on a friend’s PS3 – his system snagged the beta in only three hours. Eventually, I got the beta up and running smoothly on both systems – but I was a little terrified for my home PS3 when the developer announced a patch. It wasn’t so bad a download, though, which really brought it home for me that the retail version of DCUO on PS3 is supposed to come on a Blu-ray disc.
Entry 2 – Setting the Scene
The opening cinematic was more DC fan-service than I’ve seen in my life with a much, much darker edge than I expected. Lex Luthor throws down with the Justice League in a ruined Metropolis in a frantic fight scene that moves so fast, I actually couldn’t identify all of the DC characters on screen. Mark Hamill’s Joker made a very prominent appearance for pretty much the only laugh in the whole game (thus far), while the rest of the voice performances scored a “decent” or above from the peanut gallery (friend and roommates).
About the time that Superman faints, having discovered kryptonite chunks crammed in Wonder Woman’s mouth, my hardcore DC fangirl roommate remarked, “Damn. Shit just got real.” She groaned when the scene cut to “present day” with Luthor explaining to Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman that that’s his past but their future. So, it turns out that the Lex Luthor (who kicked so much ass in the cut scene) went back in time to warn the present-day Justice League that he shouldn’t have pwned them because Brainiac took over while they were distracted. We’re not huge fans of history jumps in DC because it usually results in a lot of new characters we don’t like. I guess this time we can deal with it because the players are supposed to be the new characters.
Entry 3 – Character Creation: Artemissy
After a quick explanation from future-Luthor about humans becoming super heroes and villains to fight Brainiac, a screen prompt guides users through character creation. The game wisely walks you through basic choices like male/female and good/evil before asking you to pick a mentor figure – it turned out to be a heady nerd experience for me to pick a hero to follow. Also, the costume customization options are wide enough to be overwhelming even without all of the features live yet.
I created a small-statured magic-using archer named Artemissy. I had some drama around picking a Movement Mode type. Acrobatics, Flight, or Super-Speed all essentially do the same thing – help players get to new places on the map more quickly – but the animation styles are so different, it has a real impact on how you see your character. Acrobatics, as it turns out, are more primal and animal-like; flight is more graceful, but cumbersome (especially if you’re trying to keep the camera clear of wings you may or may not have); Super-Speed makes you look like a normal human, only sped up three times over. I went with Acrobatics for Artemissy, but I kind of which I’d chosen Flight to back up the character I envisioned her to be.
Entry 4 – Magic User Tutorial Mission
I chose Wonder Woman as my mentor figure (choosing magic over strength or gadgetry), so that I’d have a chance to encounter Zatanna on missions. The first magic-user-specific tutorial involves you rescuing Zatanna from some minor villain bent on brainwashing people with dark energy totems. The yellow arrow icons on the mini-map helped me cruise through Metropolis toward Chinatown to complete the missions, but I kept getting distracted by “Thug” non-playable characters that I could sometimes beat up and other times not for reasons I don’t understand.
My primary mission was almost all beating down brainwashed thugs. A small quest component also had me destroying 20 totems, which took longer than it should’ve because I had to wait for totems I’d just destroyed to respawn in order to get up to a count of 20. As I understand it, this part of the quest was pretty typical early-level grinding work – but I really didn’t mind so much because the PS3 controls reduce grinding to very simple button mashes and the animations were pretty.
About mid-way through the Zatanna tutorial mission, I got in over my head with some low-level bad guys and wound up “Knocked Out.” When that happens, pressing Triangle makes your character “Flee” to a checkpoint that appears to be chosen by how close it is to where you were – which is nice. But this particular checkpoint put a PvP zone between me and Chinatown, which was bad. At only level 5, the level 8 players went through me pretty quickly, which I suppose is a reasonable balancing of levels.
Finishing the Zatanna mission was the real payoff for playing DCUO as opposed to some other MMO. After entering a Chinese theater, I actually got to rescue and fight alongside Zatanna against a group of baddies. I was a little sad to find that when she cast magic spells, she didn’t seem to be talking backwards (which is how her character casts magic in the comics), but it could just be a beta bug…
<!– http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bigshinyrobot.com%2Freviews%2Farchives%2F20130&layout=standard&show-faces=true&width=500&action=like&colorscheme=light –>Early last week subscribers to the PS3′s premium service, Playstation Plus, got full access to the beta for Sony Online Entertainments upcoming MMO DC Universe Online. I’ve been excited for this game since they announced it a couple of years ago and have been patiently waiting for it to come out. So what does this diehard DC fan think of the game so far? I like it!
As the video shows the story of the game starts off in the future with all the heroes fighting all the villains. Everyone ends up killing each other and Brainiac invades earth. We come to learn that Brainiac had been stealing powers from all the powered people in the DCU which caused both sides to lose. Jump to the “present” and you see Lex Luthor from the future talking Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman into helping him stop that future from happening. He then infects the world with nanobots that give normal people like you and me powers. That is where your character comes in. You play your own character that fights with the heroes or villains. When making your character you have your choice of 6 mentors. This choice determines where you start and what your opening line of quests are. For heroes you have your choice of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. And for Villains you choose between Lex Luthor, Joker, and Circe. After that you choose your main attacks. This ranges from energy hand blasts to dual pistols, to melee weapons. Next up is what kind of power set would you like to have. Do you want to wield the powers of Fire or Ice? Do you prefer Gadgets? Or how about Telekinesis? For my character I chose Ice as my power and a Staff as my weapon. I would say the combat in the game is a mixture of Phantasy Star Online and WoW. Your skills and powers are hotlinked to certain keys (Holding L2 or R2 while pushing one of the 4 main buttons), while your weapon attacks are done mainly with the square button. As you progress you get new combos you can do with your weapon that are based on the timing of how you hit square.
I started off in Metropolis getting mission assignments from my mentor, Wonder Woman. The first quest line revolved around saving Zatanna from Felix Faust, then tracking down Faust and teaming with Zatanna to fight him. Most of the quest lines follow that loose guide. You save or assist a character, then you team up with that character to fight the bad guy. Eventually you can go up to the JLA Watchtower, which is also how you travel between Metropolis and Gotham. There are lots of side missions to do. My favorites are the “Wanted” or “Bounty” missions. When you hit certain levels bounties become available in the form of really strong characters that you usually have to be in a group to take on. I’ve faced Bizarro and Solomon Grundy. But the toughest one became available during my favorite quest line that I’ve played so far. I got to team up with the Green Lantern Corps against the Sinestro Corp in downtown Metropolis. The bounty came in the form of Arkillo, one of the stronger members of the Sinestro Corp. For a comic geek like me, getting to do something like that was so much fun!
The level cap on the full game is going to be 30. Although for the beta it caps out at 20. While that may seem low for an MMO I have heard that a lot of the content in the game is “End Level” content. I am ok with this. Past MMO’s I have played, like WoW, I would get bored and lose interest in the game once I got to around level 30.
Now is that to say it is without fault? No, it isn’t. However it is a beta test, this is the phase of a game meant to work out all the little bugs. On the PS3 the biggest problem for me has been freezing issues where the whole console locks up. This issue is getting better though. On Thursday when I started playing the game it froze more times than I could keep track of, but by Saturday it only froze on me a couple of times. SOE seems to be getting a bunch of the problems worked through which gives me hope. Past that I haven’t had any big issues other than some minor bugs, and most of those all seem to have been fixed already. An example would be checkpoints for quests not showing up, or areas for a quest being inaccessible to some people but not all.
Overall I think this is a fun and enjoyable game. Will this game be for everyone? No it won’t. Do you have to be well versed in DC continuity to enjoy it? No, you don’t. My roommate is not well versed in DC past knowing who the iconic characters are and he has had a good time. Its has also made him curious about other characters that he isn’t that familiar with. With the low level cap I don’t know how much “end game” content there actually will be, but expect a report when I get the full game in January. I’ve been excited for this game since it was announced two years ago and I’m even more pumped now.
When the full game does come out I’m thinking of starting a BSR “League” (DCUO’s equivalent of a guild) on the PS3. Is there anyone out there also planning on getting the game? And if so would you be interested in joining. Go to my forum post here to continue this discussion.
DC Universe Online Review
Fun combat and great looks make DC Universe Online entertaining for a while, though various limitations keep it from being a long-term destination.
- Action-packed combat is fun from the start
- Both Metropolis and Gotham City look great
- Beautiful comic-book cutscenes punctuate story missions
- Changing gear doesn’t mean you have to change your looks.
- You reach the level cap and stop earning new powers incredibly quickly
- A variety of interface and voice chat issues
- Combat and missions get predictable
- Not enough content to keep you invested beyond the free month.
If you’ve never played a massively multiplayer online game before, DC Universe Online is a good place to start. This isn’t just because of the DC Comics license, though that might be what first draws you to this light and breezy take on the genre. After all, this is your chance to take to the skies above Metropolis like Superman or skulk in Gotham City’s shadows like Batman himself. But it’s the way DCUO mixes action-game sensibilities with traditional role-playing progression that makes it immediately enjoyable. If you’re a seasoned role-player you’ll find it refreshing as well–but only to a point. The speedy level progression and focus on all combat, all the time might prove tedious if you’re someone who enjoys exploring new worlds for the thrill of mystery and discovery. The largely instanced, repeatable endgame content is fun, but it’s not inviting enough to make it worth paying a monthly fee for it. But even if it doesn’t provide enough new content to sustain you beyond a couple of weeks, DC Universe Online is generally entertaining, and comic book fans will be happy that the license was handled with care.
Power Girl may or may not be vulnerable to kryptonite, depending on who you ask. But she’s not immune to a team of supervillains!
It’s hard not to compare DC Universe Online to the comic-inspired games that came before it: City of Heroes, City of Villains, and Champions Online. If you’ve played one of them, you might be disappointed that at least initially, DC Universe Online doesn’t offer the cosmetic flexibility for which those other superhero-themed games are so well known. That isn’t to say that the character creation isn’t robust, though you might have your imagination somewhat stifled. Of course, DC Universe Online instantly stands out by having heroes and villains alike share the same world. Once you tailor your creation to your liking, you select a weapon (if you want to play with other weapons, don’t despair; your options expand later); choose a basic power set (gadgets, ice, fire, and so on); and choose one of three available mentors, such as Lex Luthor if you’re a villain, or Wonder Woman, if you’re a hero.
Fortunately, if you are disappointed by the initial creation options, you aren’t stuck with this vision of your hero or villain forever. You earn and buy new gear as you play, but equipping a new cape doesn’t mean you have to change your physical appearance. You can equip that cape for its improved stats without removing your demonic wings if they’re more consistent with your overall look. In your main headquarters (the Hall of Doom for villains; the Justice League of America Watchtower for heroes), you can purchase additional cosmetic items, and when you hit on a look you really like, you can lock the entire costume–or just individual aspects of it.
After character creation, you are treated to DC Universe Online’s fine tutorial, which does a great job of explaining why the world is burgeoning with superpowered individuals and demonstrating just how different the game’s combat is from other online role-playing games. This is an action game in online role-playing form. When you press a button on your controller or mouse, you swing your blade, shoot your bow, or fire your rifle. There is the slightest amount of latency between your actions and the ones onscreen, but it’s not enough to diminish the immediacy of battle. In most MMOGs, your key press doesn’t necessarily translate to immediate contact between your weapon and your foe. DCUO’s directness makes it fun for almost anyone from the get-go and a refreshing change of pace from typical entries in the genre. Superpowers are limited by your power bar (RPG vets might think of this as their mana pool.) Weapon skills, on the other hand, can be strung together with abandon, whether that means whipping your staff around like an overly enthusiastic drum major or leaping backward while you fire your dual pistols as if you’re auditioning for a John Woo film.
Fluid combat animations, sparkling visual effects, and the combat’s general responsiveness keep DCUO fun for quite a while, though it loses some of its luster over time. As you level up, you spend points on new combos, which not only make you more effective in combat, but also make battles more visually appealing. Nevertheless, the button presses/mouse clicks required to pull off grandiose moves aren’t complex, and some attacks are effective enough to repeat over and over without throwing in too many variants–particularly when those reliable combos result in stuns or other such effects. A main drawback to the combat is the targeting. You can’t choose your target–only hit the auto-target button and hope for the best. In the early going, this isn’t such a big deal. In endgame raid dungeons filled with foes, on the other hand, it’s too easy to select the wrong target and pull a group of enemies you’d rather have left alone–especially when the action gets really hectic and your view is obscured by bright flames and jolts of lightning.
DC Universe Online may not always escape the tedium that comes with its button-mashing combat, but it does a good job of masking monotony in a number of different ways. One such way is the tactical use of the powers you earn. These powers come from a few different trees, including one that focuses on so-called “iconic powers,” inspired by the famous abilities of various heroes and villains, such as Batman’s batarangs. You can only equip up to six of these powers at a time, though you can set up a couple of different loadouts and switch between them. For example, if you look to Circe for magical guidance, you might be able to switch between damage and healing roles, and have a separate set of powers for each loadout that complements those roles. This setup recalls similar limitations in Guild Wars, where individuals and groups could exploit their tactical potential with interesting, varied skill sets. And in the same way, playing with your loadouts in DCUO might reveal effective combinations that make you a more helpful teammate. It’s too bad that the result summaries that appear at the end of certain player-versus-player matches and group dungeons don’t recognize the hard work of those playing a controller role or supporting their team in other ways. (Only healing and damage stats are revealed.)
A big difference between DC Universe Online and Guild Wars, however, is that Guild Wars showers you with new spells and skills even after you reach the level cap, whereas DC Universe Online focuses almost exclusively on gear once you reach the endgame. You can spend some in-game cash and “respec” your character–that is, reset your powers and skills and allocate your points elsewhere. But you stop earning experience (and thus, fancy new abilities) once you reach level 30, and unfortunately, you encounter that ceiling very quickly. You could conceivably reach that point after only a few days of play, and even playing casually it might only take a week. The downsides to reaching the level cap so quickly are perhaps obvious to longtime MMOG veterans: a diminished sense of progression and the tedium that arises when exploring familiar dungeons and PVP arenas many times over. And, you can’t ease any tedium by exploring the various diversions you might expect to find in an online RPG, such as crafting or a player auction house.
The upside to the compressed leveling curve is that you never encounter content gaps in which you have to search for things to do or grind until you reach the point where new missions become available. Missions come to you fast and furious from the talking-head heroes and villains anxious to push you toward your next task. Or, you might receive assignments from various non-player characters strewn about the cities and elsewhere. Almost all of these characters are fully voiced, many of them rather well. Mark Hamill does an excellent job as The Joker, as he so often does in other games and on television. The mentors all sound quite good, as do a few other lesser heroes and villains. Other voice-overs sound as if they were performed by the local junior high drama club and lack the tongue-in-cheek comic timing of the better performances. The beautiful comic-book cutscenes that conclude instanced story missions and other missions, on the other hand, are consistently superb. Some are funny; others are legitimately moving. But all of them are gorgeously detailed and colored, and they’re animated as if multiple cels were layered on top of each other.
The missions themselves aren’t as vibrant as the scenes that close them. Kill a bunch of these things and interact with some of these other things is usually the extent of what you do, sometimes pausing to carry this thing over to that glowing spot. These copy-paste objectives can get old, though the mission voice-overs do provide an interesting context to some of these tasks. Villainous objectives are particularly enjoyable, as they often entail doing some horrible thing to an innocent bystander. These mission chains end with the aforementioned instances, where you get a chance to fight alongside a famed hero or villain–or beat up on one. These instances are usually more varied than your other tasks. For example, you might need to destroy computer terminals before Supergirl can utilize them. For even more mission variety, you can join other players in group instances called alerts. Alerts are longer–and more spacious–than story instances and might have you (for example) beating up on HIVE drones, taking down their mothership, and then facing a boss that may not be all that challenging but nevertheless takes a long time to defeat.
PVP arenas and group dungeons send you to a few iconic locales, such as the batcave and Bludhaven, though you will spend the majority of your time in DCUO’s two main cities: Gotham City and Metropolis. Missions send you from one hot spot to another in either of these two urban centers at a slick pace, and you won’t find any wondrous new vistas when exploring the nooks and crannies. Yet there is a good reason to keep a keen eye on your surroundings. Orbs dot the landscape, and investigating them unlocks little bits of backstory and other narrative scraps to collect. When you complete a themed collection, you earn new loot. There is another good reason to pay close attention during your travels, however: Both cities look lovely. Toxic yellow clouds hover over abandoned parking structures in a darkly lit Gotham. A derelict roller coaster is a stark contrast to the skyline in the distance. Green parks, sunny lighting, and tall skyscrapers make Metropolis a joy to travel in–and above. Some instances–warehouses, offices, and the like–aren’t particularly eye catching, and many character models are devoid of detail. Yet these aren’t huge faults in a game that excellently re-creates famous fictional cities and then encourages you to gild them with glowing rings of fire and colorful balls of energy.
Whether you prefer to stay solo or group up, DC Universe Online goes out of its way to be friendly. In some cases, simply standing near another player that performs a mission task–successfully defending a pedestrian, for example–gives you credit for the same task. Kill stealing is rare because you get credit for the kill as long as you landed a single hit on your target. Furthermore, your travel options (flight, acrobatics, and superspeed) make it easy to get across town in a relative hurry, particularly if you upgrade your travel method in the associated skill tree. Even when you’re on your own, missions stay relatively easy, though the frequency with which enemies respawn can lead to occasional frustration if you’re adventuring alone. Of course, you can always group with friends or join a league (DCUO’s guild equivalent) if you want company. And you need company if you want to take on bounties, which are familiar, powerful superheroes and villains that pop up in Gotham City and Metropolis. You can also take down opposing players by joining a player-versus-player server, temporarily activating your PVP flag to make you vulnerable to the opposition, or by joining others in the competitive arenas.
DC Universe Online’s player-versus-player arenas aren’t as potentially unbalanced as those in Champions Online, but stuns and knockbacks are prevalent, so skills that deliver and protect you from such punishment are more helpful than when you’re dishing out pain on non-player enemies like OMAC cyborgs. PVP is one of DCUO’s late-game mainstays, rewarding you with currency that can be spent on better gear, which makes you more powerful and, of course, then leads to even more gear. Grinding arenas to earn new items isn’t the only endgame option, however. Once you reach that upper limit of level 30, you gain access to some of DC Universe Online’s more entertaining options. These include larger raid dungeons, new four-person instances, and two-person dungeons called duos. Duos are particularly enjoyable, such as one in Gotham University in which you slash up (or beat up, or shoot up) swarms of mummies and scarabs before confronting a histrionic Isis. If you were hoping for a greater challenge from DC Universe Online, the endgame content is where you will find it. Don’t expect to bring down Chemo, for example, without a game plan and a good player in the tank role.
Which version of DC Universe Online you choose to play depends entirely on which quirks you’re more willing to endure, though some issues are common to both platforms. Voice chat is a nice feature when it functions, though that only happens to be some of the time. Sound effects sometimes go missing or get muddled when there is a lot going on at once. Neither platform allows you to drop missions or share them with your groupmates. PC players will be immediately struck by the console-focused interface and the overzealous profanity filter, which inexplicably can’t be turned off. However, loading times on the PC are zippy, and the game runs smoothly as you soar across the skies. The PlayStation 3 version is noticeably more sluggish. Menus take too long to pop up; the frame rate chugs along every so often, or the game might freeze for a second or two; and the telltale texture pop-in common to games using Unreal 3 technology is all too prevalent. Yet all things considered, the menus are simple enough to navigate using a controller, and the combo-focused combat feels natural on the platform.
These and a few other scattered glitches aside, DC Universe Online is relatively stable at this early stage, which makes it an even more attractive option for anyone who tends to shy away from these sorts of games. If you are one of those people, DCUO’s flashy, combo-driven combat and visual pizzazz will draw you in from the beginning and keep you entertained for a few weeks. It’s also hard to ignore the license’s appeal, which is best showcased in the excellent scenes that play at the end of instanced story missions. Yet DC Universe Online tips its hand early on; in all too short a time, it stops offering any real surprises, remaining approachable but never wading too far from the shallow end of the pool. If you’ve been around the block and are looking for a new virtual world, this isn’t the universe to call home. But if you long to face off with Mr. Freeze or stop The Flash dead in his tracks, this is a fun way to flex your superpowered muscles.
6.7 Press Score
7.4 Reader Score