50 MMOs in 50 Days #10: DC Universe Online

Last played: 2012
Experience: Extensive

From one superhero game to the next!

Oddly, I’m not a big comics fan, but for some reason I’ve really gotten into, and enjoyed, superhero MMOs (though I’ve never played Champions Online, which I hear is a good thing). I feel like DC Universe Online kinda snuck into the MMO world and is rather unappreciated by PC gamers (it does much better on consoles), in part due to its console-y feel and perhaps lingering feelings people still have for City of Heroes, which it definitely is not.

DCUO‘s action-based combat is twitchy and surprisingly strategic. You need energy to use your powers, and energy refills slowly over time, but you can execute combos – typically with combinations of the left and right mouse buttons – to refill your energy more quickly. So combat is a mix between flashy, powerful abilities and more consistent combo attacks, requiring a careful balance between the two to sustain yourself in longer fights. It’s different enough from most MMOs to make it feel like something new but similar enough to not seem too strange.

DCUOAs you play, you’ll interact with various heroes and villains from the DC Universe, all voiced by either the actors you know from the animated series (like Kevin Conroy for Batman or Mark Hamill for the Joker) or other well-known stars (like Wil Wheaton for Robin or Adam Baldwin for Superman).

I got to max level and sampled a little of the endgame content, which comes in conveniently sized chunks for parties of all sizes, as well as solo players. Fanboy squees, a major license, and solid gameplay means the game should have been a hit, right?

Where the game lags behind – or at least did when I was playing – is the social aspects. Chat was an absolute nightmare, requiring me to pull up a menu to find a chat channel; I couldn’t just hit Enter, like in every other MMO. The open world, consisting of the cities of Metropolis and Gotham, looks grandiose at first, and does have some collectibles for you to snag in various locations, but seemed merely to exist to give you places to go to level. Once I hit max level, there was no reason to do anything besides run instances to gear up, and instances aren’t the best places for socializing.

If you have a friend or friends who you think would like the game and with whom you can play consistently, I still totally recommend DC Universe Online, which SOE updates frequently. In-game socialization is tough, though, so if you go in alone, you’ll probably find yourself soloing to max level (which is only 30) with only the barest interaction with other players. It’s not like that doesn’t happen in a lot of games, granted, but DCUO seemed singularly ill-suited for socialization when I was playing and that’s a shame for what’s actually a pretty good game.

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3 Responses to 50 MMOs in 50 Days #10: DC Universe Online

  1. I gave DCUO a try a few months back, and I was actually really surprised by how good it is. It has some hiccups — the lack of facial customization is a bit jarring, and I found the F2P model a little overbearing — but I came away baffled as to why it isn’t a lot more popular. The combat is some of the most satisfying I’ve encountered in an MMO, the travel powers are stupidly fun, and it’s just a solid and enjoyable game.

    Unfortunately, I have a pretty active dislike for the DC universe, so I wasn’t able to maintain my interest past a few days, but looking at it objectively, I think it’s a very good game, and I would definitely recommend it to comic book fans.

    • jasonwinter says:

      Heh, just talked to Jens Anderson the other day, and he gave me the lowdown on all the new stuff that’s been done. In particular, he said that my gripe about not having anything to do in the open world has been addressed, and that there are more options for builds.

      Maybe it’s that it did that quick subscription-to-F2P transition, and as you say, the F2P aspect is a trifle overbearing. I think if it had come out a year later, when things were a little more stable, it could have done better.

  2. Pingback: 50 MMOs in 50 Days #33: Neverwinter | Wintry Mix

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