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DC Universe Online – First Thoughts

DC Universe Online – First Thoughts

Lots of people have been asking me what I think of DC Universe Online. Goes hand-in-hand with the job, of course, especially when I offer incisive and definitive opinions such as “it’s alright, I guess” and “yeah, it’s okay.” Turns out some people want more opinion than that. Pffft. So here’s a blog post offering more opinion on DC Universe Online thus far, following a few days of myself playing as mini-robogirl Shinpey.

Beats me writing about my laptop dying over the weekend or that weird Mortal Kombat dream I had last night where it was in 3D and had ringouts and Chun-Li almost got ringed out until she managed to fly away while Baraka could only watch and angrily shook his fist/blade/thing.

Sigh. That was a weird dream.

1. The install is HUGE

I didn’t think to take note of any numbers or statistics or anything like that, because that would have involved the fabled process of ‘taking notes’, which is the last thing I want to do when I slump on my sofa at the end of the day. But what I can say with certainty is this. The DC Universe Online disc went into my PS3 at 6.30pm and I didn’t start playing until around 8.30pm. Around half of that install is a download for patch 1.01 and with the game currently at patch 1.02, it means the wait for new players should be even longer than what I sat through.

2. The level cap is low

I got my copy on Thursday, the day before it was released. I started playing that evening, went out on Friday night so didn’t play it then, played it most of the weekend. I’m now at level 25 and the level cap is 30. So… that’s a few days of solid play bringing me to the level cap. Someone else in the office has already hit 30 and said that the game opens up more – raids, duos, vaults, harder instances and the like become available while a lot of the in-game gear isn’t available to those who aren’t level 30 and don’t have a high level of repute within a faction. Even so, that message is going to be lost in a chorus of those moaning that the level cap is too low. Which I’ve accidentally contributed to with this blog post. Whoops.

3. It’s simple

And that’s both good and bad. The actual combat is simple enough that you can descend into button-bashing territory and just about survive, especially at lower levels. Given the gameplay is anchored to a needlessly complex and unresponsive menu system, it’s probably just as well you don’t have to think too much when the action kicks off. As the difficulty cranks up as your levels progress, you’re forced into balancing your powers between protecting yourself and dishing out damage. Still, what this translates to is casting a power, then button-bashing again. It’s fun for now and has just about enough strategy that it doesn’t feel so simple that it’s brain-dead but it does make me wonder how long it’ll be before players stop enjoying combat and maybe even start dreading it. I don’t think it’ll be that bad in the long-term though I’m still mildly concerned about the combat system, which will be key for the game’s long-term health.

4. There are loads of Marvel wannabes

Seriously, this can’t be stated enough. You have enough customisation options where it could reasonably be claimed that the only limit is your imagination and all people want to do is make Hulk and Deadpool. It’s already so bad that people have taken to naming their characters ‘Bulk’ and ‘Rulk’ because ‘Hulk’ was taken a looong, long time ago. Depressing.

5. It’s alright, I guess

Yeah, it comes back to this cutting, insightful and authoritative opinion. It’s alright. It’s okay. It’s good. It’ll do. It’s fun flying around Metropolis and Gotham, it’s more fun creating a league of bizarre looking superheroes/villains, it should be even more fun once I hit level 30. But at the same time, there’s a feeling that I’m enjoying it in spite of its flaws, that it’s a little too simple and that the novelty could quickly wear off. Also, being a Marvel fanboy, it’s harder for me to get as excited about a chance encounter with Queen Bee and Chang Tzu as it would be with, say, Mystique or Sabretooth.

DC Universe Online is an impossible game for me to review. I could give it anywhere between 50 and 90 percent and be able to justify it, not knowing how much of its appeal is down to the novelty of it being an MMO and me not being an MMO player, at all. That’s probably a good thing as far as DCUO is concerned, because a lot of PS3 owners are presumably in the same boat. There’s something fun and unique (as far as PS3 gaming goes) about seeing a group of random players trying to beat Bizarro into a pulp and joining in the fray, being part of a 10-strong unit spontaneously formed, as we all try and take down a much stronger character. So like I say – impossible for me to review.

Fortunately, we have an MMO expert in the office who is getting stuck into it right now – look out for the full review and video footage next issue – so he’ll be able to say whether it stands up to being pounded for days and weeks and months (ahem). For now, I’ll keep going until I hit level 30. Maybe there will be a DC Universe Online – Second Thoughts blog post.

Won’t that be exciting?

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  • RBL

    thanks for that,

    and yes that was a strange dream…. must be all that time your spending in “hell”….(wink)

  • Garan

    I’m busy fighting with my local retailer to get a refund.The games broken,as much as there are playing theres just as much sitting staring at the disc because they can’t play for more than 5 minutes without it freezing.I think everyones to starry eyed over the PS3s first MMO to admit its pretty average.Honestly how many of you can see yourselves playing this for the next 3-4 years.You may comeback to it on a random because you bored.Look at what titles are coming out soon Killzone 3,LBP2,Dead Space 2.Are you really going to want to play DC Universe between all the good quaterly releases?.Eventually this game won’t be a big deal to you.Then will you still be paying the monthly subscription just to occasionally dabble?

  • Ryan King

    Garan, I’m guessing they’re not refunding you because you have redeemed the month’s subscription? I remember a similar thing with Phantasy Star Universe on Xbox 360.

  • Garan

    I’ve contacted their main supplier and the said I must go to the store and once there contact them and they will give me a reference number and credit my account at the store.I know its not the store or suppliers fault,but they knew SOE were still having difficulties,they said so.So they should clearly warn buyers beforehand.The guy at the store told me everyone who bought a copy are having problems.Here in SA we only have 2 servers.1 pvp and 1 pve.How many are in the UK?

  • Ryan King

    Just two right now, but the PvE server has been full a few times. I’m expecting more will be created.

    For what it’s worth, people here who have played it haven’t had any issues with crashing, freezing, etc. Not everyone here likes the game but no-one’s said anything about the reliability of it.

  • Garan

    South Africa internet service pretty much just sucks.What DC takes to download there is like 2 hours,but here it took everyone 8 or so.It took me that with the PS3 version and a friend got it off Steam,I think he said,and it took him about the same time once he had the actual game.

  • It’s a big title for an MMO and Sony is capitalizing on it. I already have COX and Champions so I don’t think I’ll be getting DCUO. As much as I want to become a Superhero Sidekick to Superman and Batman, too much spending on games is not practical. Two Superhero MMO is my limit at the moment.