Metropolis Now: Welcome to DC Universe Online
By Stephen Boyd, OnRPG Journalist
30 years ago an uncle of mine gave me a Superman comic. And that was it. A lifelong obsession was born. About five years later I was given a ZX Spectrum and that sparked off another addiction that still plagues me.
Fast forward three decades and a whole lot of miles later, we find ourselves here at the launch of one of the most important MMOs ever. DC Universe Online is a major MMO release in its own right, but it basically holds the future of console MMOs in its sweaty little palms.
Although the concept of a super hero MMO is not new to us, remember before World of Warcraft we had City of Heroes, but the DC Comics license and sheer volume of character and story that comes with it may well prove the deciding factor. If the comic buying public get behind this one, Sony Online Entertainment could well have a huge hit on their hands.
Now, a great license and a built in fanbase do not guarantee a hit. Warhammer Online showed us that 30 million tabletop game players did not jump into the online world. Will the comic fanboys sign up for this?
How will the PS3 version fare?
The next 30 days should give us a fairly good idea.
I did not play the beta version of this game, and have intentionally avoided as much coverage as I could. I wanted to go in fresh and, as a comic and MMO fan, I have been looking forward to the game’s release.
As I stood in the freezing cold outside my nearest game store waiting for them to open I did not exactly see a huge queue waiting for the release of this game. Inside, my friendly neighbourhood sales clerk tells me that they only have six copies of the PC version in stock, only two pre-orders and no gametime cards. That does not bode overly well.
The installation of the game went remarkably smoothly, no issues here. Registering the game though requires my credit card information immediately. I am given the option to use a gametime card; however, as stated above, no gametime cards were available.
Registered and logged into DCUO portal, I found an 8GB patch to apply. The patch downloads fairly quickly and we are into the game.
After a world destroying battle in the future between Superman’s Justice League and Luthor’s Injustice Society (as seen in the awesome Blur trailer from last year), Braniac has swooped in to devour the remains of earth. In an effort to prevent Braniac conquering our planet, Lex Luthor has returned to the present with technology stolen from Braniac that can turn your everyday schmuck into a super powered soldier.
And so, after a brief cutscene from future Luthor explaining the premise, we are into the character creation phase.
Firstly World selection. At launch there are only two European servers available. One PvE and one PvP. Two more servers have been added within the first two weeks one PvE and one PvP, a clear sign that the game is popular so far.
Server chosen, I move on to creating my first hero.
The first choices to make are gender, size and morality.
One medium heroine later we get to the first unique feature of DCUO. You are given the choice to either custom build a character or use an Inspiration template.
With the vast array of characters in the DCU, the 16 templates offered are a little limited, but I am sure that more will be made available in future updates. The Create options are quite varied, but not bewilderingly so.
Even if you choose an ‘Inspired by’ character, you can still edit the look.
Clothing items can be changed and your general colour scheme can be tweaked.
Next comes your power type selection. At launch there are six power selections to choose from.
Fire & Ice – These are “tank” roles and generally have higher defence and/or health. In group content these characters are responsible for keeping the enemies’ attention and taking the majority of the damage.
Gadgets & Mental – These are “controller” roles. In group content these characters manage the enemy swarms by stunning enemies and generally controlling how many enemies are dangerous to the group at one time.
Nature & Sorcery – These are “healer” roles. In group content these characters are responsible for keeping the group alive by distributing health to the group members.
Although these are the official guidelines from Sony, as far as I have seen, all of the power types have abilities that relate to these archetypes, so my advice is to create a few characters and try things out. My healer characters has both tank and control abilities, so pick the power set you think will be fun and run from there.
All the power sets can be switched on the fly in game, as soon as you reach level 10 you get to choose your role, and all characters from that level have two loadouts; one for damage dealing and one for your group role.
The next selection is to choose your movement mode. You have the choice of flight, acrobatics and super-speed.
Again, this is up to your personal choice as all movement types have their own strengths and weaknesses. I found that the super-speed was the hardest to control and my speedster often got stuck in corners or on the ceiling!
The final choice is your weapon type, which basically governs your combat type and how you will deal with enemies in the game. No matter which weapon you choose your hero (or villain) will have a ranged attack and melee attack available. The choice of weapon mainly effects the look of your character and you can change your weapon selection in game.
Now, all that is left is to choose a name for your character. The filter on the name selection is quite strict so any registered DC characters are off the list. As soon as your name is approved you will enter the game, captured on Braniac’s ship.