A Quick Peak at DC Universe Online

So I joined another MMORPG. The last one I joined was Star Trek Online about a year ago.  This year I started DC Universe Online.

The bottom line is that DC Universe is a very different MMO than any of the ones I have played before.  The underlying mechanics for all the previous MMOs I have played were based on “turn based” combat. This one is more in sync with old FPS game play, even though it is not an FPS game.  The upshot is that the battles are fierce, fast and epic.  While I am not an expert, I’d say the combat in DCUO is the best I have ever seen in an MMO.  That plus excellent graphics, great voice work from real famous actors, great enemy AI, and a wide variety of mission types, makes DCUO a fantastic experience.

That being said, it is not perfect.  The last super hero themed MMORPG I played was City of Heroes, where I played an Assault Rifle / Device character up through level 50.  I decided to continue the tradition as a Dual Pistols / Gadgets hero in DCUO.  In comparing the two games, you quickly find the strengths and weaknesses of the two.

In CoH, player roles were well defined.  Tanks were tanks, controllers were controllers, Defenders defended.  In DCUO, no one really has a defined role.  They say there are defined roles but I don’t see it: Tank characters absorb a little bit more damage than others, Controllers avoid a little bit more damage than others, and healers can heal a little bit of the damage away.  The powers exist among all three types to handle any role you want.

The reason for all this is PvP.  In an effort to make sure there are no uber powerful builds that can dominate, everyone is essentially the same.  Most characters have ranged weapons that shoot, throw, fire out of your hands, or your mouth, or your eyes, or your head.  While they all look different, they all do more or less the same damage.  Every character can fight, and while pure melee characters have some additional area of effect tricks when taking on multiple enemies, in one-on-one combat, no one has an advantage.

The negative of all of this sameness is that there is little replay value. I may complete all missions with my dual pistol / gadgets / athletic hero, and turn around with a character that is the exact opposite, say a wand wielding sorcerer villain that flies, and will ultimately have the same experiences, employ the same fight strategies, etc.

Another thing CoH did right was make it easy to form teams for missions. They did this through a very flexible communication system and team finder system.  By comparison DCUO has an annoyingly weak comm system, and no team finder system. As a result, almost everybody plays solo, which is kind of sad for an MMO.

Controlling your character is also a weakness to DCUO, especially if you play on a PC. Many power moves are accessed by button pressing combos on a controller. On a PC, this is done with the left and right mouse button, for example:  hold right, hold right, tap left for a move.  This gets confusing, and if you are a person that creates many characters to play, remembering the key combos from character to character is confusing. Pressing F1 will give you a list of what you have, but this is impractical in the fast action combat in this game.  After getting 4 key dual pistol powers, I collect passive powers that boost my stats instead.  Despite this very bizarre way of controlling your character, it beats all to hell the monotonous button pressing I did in CoH and other Cryptic games like Star Trek Online (where I only played for about 2 months.)

Those complaints aside, none of which are bad enough to make me not want to play, I’m having a lot of fun battling villains in Gotham City and Metropolis, meeting all the great DC heroes and battling all the great DC Villains.

Me and Batgirl

5 thoughts on “A Quick Peak at DC Universe Online

  1. DC Hero January 22, 2011 / 6:24 am

    DC Universe is a big title for an MMO and Sony Online Entertainment is really cashing in on it but I don’t think I’ll be getting this game because I already have COH/COV and Champions. These two are already a sandbox in terms of hero creation. As much as I want to become a sidekick to Superman and Batman like everyone else but getting another superhero MMO is not practical.

  2. arianeb January 26, 2011 / 6:04 am

    A little secret about this game. I started this game on January 13th, and have been playing on and off for less than 2 weeks. I am nearly done with most all of the content in it. I should be done with my hero and villain characters, playing every mission in the game, before the 1 month free time period is up.

    With Dragon Age 2 coming out a mere 3 weeks later, and Guild Wars 2 a little bit later, I may not bother continuing to subscribe at $15 a month, but I will not delete anything in case I feel like a return trip to Gotham or Metropolis. City of Heroes took me a year to get to the end, so I find it ironic that DC Universe is so short.

  3. Grandviper January 7, 2012 / 2:36 am

    At this point DCUO is a fun game, but could have been way better. One issue I had was being forced to play a role to use a certain power. Sure every power has the option to take on a DPS role, but like you mentioned it’s not well defined. This could have easily been fixed just by having an option to choose what role you want along with your power (either while creating your character or after level 10) and give you different power tree to go with that role. On top of that, each power could have done the roles in a different way. Like let’s say you had a Fire controller. Their tree could consist of primarily AoE powers that did damage over time, or maybe healed smaller amounts of health and power over time. In the opposite, a Gadget tank could have used forcefield based powers tree that protected against ranged or melee that you would have to shift between in one tree, and powersuits or pets to tank for you in the other tree.
    With all the initial delays on the game, it just feels incomplete or rushed at times. There’s so many story arcs left open, bugs, and delayed reaction to game-breaking or exploitable glitches. But even with all these problems DCUO is still a great game to play, but even after switching over to free to play, there isn’t that much to keep people playing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s