(Note: This review is based off of the Playstation 3 version only, and through the eyes of a Hero)
Without forcing you to read too eagerly into my post for an opinion, let me start off by saying this: DC Universe is the most fun I’ve had with an MMO since I first installed World of Warcraft back in 2004. Do you remember that giddy, childish feeling of excitement that filled your body when you took your first steps across Durotar? Well, I can safely assure you that DC Universe will bring that joy back into your life, albeit temporarily.
For any of you that are completely unfamiliar with the game, DCUO drops you into the world of DC Comics as a hero (or villain) with newly acquired powers. With these new powers, you must team up with legendary comic icons such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to save Metropolis and Gotham city from a Braniac invasion. It’s a generic fate-of-the-world-lies-in-your-hands type of story, but it hasn’t been seen in an MMO before, and it works. I believe the reason for this lies primarily with the overall theme of the game. This is the DC universe, and there are going to be a lot of recognizable characters. While exploring Gotham, there was something incredibly exciting about flying over to Bane’s warehouse, knowing that the hulking villain was waiting for me within. This pattern remained constant over the course of my leveling process, forcing me to play for the excitement of coming across Doomsday, Harley Quinn, etc. If nothing else, it’s these types of connections that are going to ultimately keep you coming back to DCUO.
The initial impressions of the game are both awe-inspiring and original, particularly if you began playing at launch. When MMO games launch there are typically a slew of technical issues that are bothersome enough to drive subscribers mad, including latency issues, server disconnections and the like. Having played many of these games at launch, I can say with assurance that DCUO had a phenomenal one. Aside from the three-hour patch that I had to install prior to playing, I literally encountered zero drops or major bugs. Of course, there were a few minor occurrences here and there, but nothing that detracted from my playing experience.
The biggest form of DCUO’s originality is based around the game’s combat system. This isn’t your typical “press 5 to shoot” MMO. RPG combat has remained generally formulaic over the past decade, so it was nice to see SOE flip it on its back. DCUO is obviously an MMO at heart, but the combat is honestly more comparable to God of War than Craft of War. What some may call a “button masher” has compelled me to engage every foe in my path. I typically do my best to avoid mobs of enemies when playing RPG games, but not as Yigamiester, level 16 Fire Tank. See, with him, combat was actually fun. I didn’t just stand there and press buttons, I was part of the battle. Staying alive wasn’t a matter of having healing potions on me, but rather that I evaded incoming blows with the well-rounded dodge system and counter attacks. Being an MMO based around super heroes, this combat system is a perfect fit for such a theme.
Though it’s clear that I am having a blast with the game so far, it certainly has its faults. The most frustrating has without a doubt been the game’s chat system. To be frank; it’s horrid. The bulk of any MMORPG involves a great deal of communication between other players, and DCUO simply cannot pull it off in its current state. I knew that I was going to have to purchase a USB keyboard to get the most out of the game’s chat features, but even with one it’s still a mess. It’s honestly uncommon to see players associating in general chat at all, so if you don’t join a league (guild) expect some quiet gameplay. Considering that this is, in fact, an MMO, this is a massive problem that is hindering the game’s overall experience. SOE promises that they will be providing updates regularly, so one can only hope that this will be one of the first problems that they sort out.
Another reoccurring (but overall mild) complaint that I have involves the linearity of missions. Every two levels or so, you are told to confront a different NPC who begins a chain of quests. They’re very story-driven, but the problem is that they’re all the same. You must complete 3 to 4 missions that involve killing a certain amount of enemy X, or collecting item Y, and then one final mission that serves as a type of mini-dungeon with a boss fight at the end. If this game took place in any other kind of environment, I could easily see myself becoming bored. However, as I stated earlier, it’s far too exciting encountering the various DC villains and heroes scattered throughout the world. This flame managed to keep me happily occupied on my way to level 30, but this was just for my own personal reasons. The monotony of the mission structure may justifiably turn off some gamers.
The final, and biggest problem that I’ve seen with DCUO so far is simply this: Many of the players do not know how to play. I believe the main reason for this is because of the way that SOE allows class customization to occur. While there are six different class-types to choose from (2 tanks, 2 healers, 2 controllers), each of these has an alternative DPS (damaging) class. This is fantastic for the leveling process, especially for those who are fond of healing, as I am. Leveling a healer is never fun, as these class types generally tend to lack the skill set that allows high damage output. However, since each class has an alternative, it’s a win/win situation. The problem occurs within DCUO’s dungeons, or “Alerts.” From what I’ve seen so far, no one ever wants to switch out of their DPS class. This creates huge problems in many of the later, more difficult instances, as there is no tank to hold aggro, no healer to restore health, etc. Hopefully, players will begin to understand their designated roles as time goes on. Otherwise, this could become a detrimental fault to the way that DCUO is meant to be played.
All complaints aside, DC Universe Online is shaping up to be a fantastic game. Being an avid MMO player who hasn’t really skipped over a game in the genre for many years, DCUO is really a breath of fresh air. It ditches the brutal grind that exists in most other games, and replaces it with genuine fun. It shows an incredible amount of potential and I truly hope that it catches on amongst gamers.
- Familiar environments and faces create a fantastic theme
- Combat system is superb
- Graphics look great and rarely lag, even amongst large groups of players
- Horrible excuse for a chat system
- Monotonous missions
Have any questions about the game? Feel free to contact me at [email protected].