web analytics

PS4 Day 2: Assassin’s Creed and DCUO

We’re two days into the launch of the PS4 with lots more to talk about.  These aren’t full reviews — just a quick synopsis of our experience with a smidgin of impressions.  The images used for these games were taken with the screenshot sharing feature.  The quality on them isn’t great, but it’s nice to finally be able to take pictures without having to use a third-party device.

assassins-creed-black-flag-ps4

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

This might sound crazy, but this is the first Assassin’s Creed game I have ever played.  I’ve watched Graev play all of them, and I knew exactly what to expect, but I wasn’t quite ready for how awesome the free-run and acrobatic movement felt.  The high frames per second and gorgeous graphics made my first hands-on experience with AC really quite something.

I love pirates.  I live for this setting.  If there’s one setting I may love more than medieval fantasy it’s Pirates!  Black Flag captures everything I love about the setting and then some.  I talk all the time about being able to control my own ship, and Black Flag does not disappoint.  I love being able to sail around.

I’m not going to spoil anything, but the story in the previous AC games looked really crummy.  So much so that I almost didn’t pick this one up. Ubisoft takes the story in a much more believable, interesting direction.  Expect my full review to come when I’ve logged significantly more hours into the game.

dcuo-ps4

DC Universe Online

Years ago I played DC Universe Online for the PC, and along with Graev and several of our friends we reached the max level and completed everything there was to do in the game at that time.  When we stopped playing it was never because the game did anything wrong — We simply ran out of things to do.  Years later, the game is free to play with lots of microtransactions.  I can’t say for certain how the F2P model has improved or harmed the game, but I know I’ve been able to play everything I can remember without spending a dime.

The PS4 version is great.  I feel like the controls are perfect, and perhaps even better than the PC version.  I remember thinking that DCUO was always meant to be a console game with this inherent sense of combo button presses and beat’em up nature.  Using the new DualShock 4 controller, I never felt wanting for a keyboard or mouse.

I think they did a nice job upgrading the visuals.  Everything looks high-res, and load times are quick.  I haven’t experienced any slowdown or performance issues.

If you just got a PS4, or heck even if you’re still gaming on the PS4, it can’t hurt to give DCUO a try.  I think the potential for MMOs on consoles is quickly catching up the PCs.

January in review with an eye toward the future

Sorry for the blackout of content guys.  It’s been a balancing act for me the past week and my schedule has been extremely tight with papers, homework, projects, and four tests.  I’m working hard to try and fit in my blogging time but it’s not really helping me that there’s not much to comment on or discuss these days.  Bear with me!

January, aside from being an awful month for blogging, had some great moments of gaming to touch upon that I feel might be helpful and relevant to you, my readers.

The month started with a lot of hardcore WoW playing.  Greav and I reached 85 right around the first of the year and started gearing up in dungeons.  The feeling of the grind his us rather quickly and it wasn’t long before we were just desperate to get into some raids.  Our guild began raiding a few weeks ago and we have two 10-man raid groups (few slots filled with pugs) that have each downed a few bosses in various raid dungeons.  It’s a slow process building up, but hopefully it keeps interest.

My main fear with WoW is longevity.  I enjoy the raids when we’re doing them, but aside from logging in to raid twice a week for a couple of hours my desire to spend time on my Mage has shrunk to almost nil.  My Druid is level 83 and I enjoy him a lot — maybe more than my Mage — but his leveling is slow going.  All of this just emphasizes the failings of WoW and how it really has become a game of logging in to run a raid or a dungeon and logging out, having lost that MMORPG feel and taken on a more arcade-like multiplayer appeal.

DCUO has well worth the purchase of the box price this past month.  It won’t be long before my free month is up, which is the real test for this game.  I will maintain my position that DCUO is an excellent game but one with questionable longevity.  I write a post not long ago asking if a short MMO that ends after a month or two is an okay thing, and the majority of you said yes.  I think it’s okay, but I question if it’s okay from a game perspective, but for a MMO I feel like I want more.

My character is almost level 30… literally I could log in and get it in a half hour.  I really enjoy the instanced missions and some of the quests aren’t bad.  The alerts can be a little bland after the first few times (just like instances).  The biggest selling point in DCUO, for me, remains the PvP and ad-hoc nature of Hero/Villain interaction.  The sense of constant danger from a guy flying out of the sky or someone leaping a tall building in a single bound is exhilarating.  I like the PvP and I like how DCUO incorporates it into regular play.  Honestly, that’s what WoW needs to make people want to log in for more than raids.

February will be a time of thinking — thinking about whether or not I want to play Rift.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m 50/50 on the fence.  On one hand it’s a solid game that one could even call ‘good’, but it’s generic without much innovation at all.  If I want more of the same old stuff done well, then Rift would be a great game.  The only thing it has going for me under that criteria though is the ‘newness’ factor.  If I’m tired of WoW and DCUO when Rift releases, then it’s perfectly capable of sliding in and filling a void until SWTOR (Which we now know isn’t coming out in Spring…).  Actually, what makes me want to go 51% in favor of getting it is that I’m already tired of 90% of WoW.  My internal debate is bleeding over into my post nicely.

I think many of you fall into the same category I’m in.

Can a shorter MMO still be a good MMO… or a MMO at all?

I really do not like adhering to strict definitions when it comes to explaining MMORPGs.  To me, this is a subject that goes beyond just words.   I want to focus on the part of MMO’s that I consider more of a feeling and less of a rigidly defined structure for how these games should operate.  One of the defining attributes that I assign MMORPGs is the idea of time.  I think of MMO lasting months or years and I even associate the longer lasting ones with quality.  Compare that with a game like Zelda or God of War 3 which can last a month or two at most for a serious player.

This is totally my opinion here, but I feel that MMORPG’s should be games that last a long time or are set up so that players can lose themselves into one of many aspects, including but not limited to: Character progression, the habitation of the world, or the social experience over the course of many months or ideally years. There are many “kinds” of MMOs now so I won’t try and lump them all together, but I really feel that longevity is an inherent trait that must be there.

This gets all messed up when a game like DCUO comes out.  On one hand you have a great game that nailed the right kind of PvP and PvE but on the other hand you have a game that, for many, is “a game to fill the void before Rift/Swtor/etc” comes out.  A lot of this is fueled by the fact that DCUO is a shorter game right now with maybe two months of content.   This question was asked in the comments of one of my posts last week: Can a MMO be designed as a short game experience and still be considered ‘good’?

Knowing my thoughts already that a MMO should be a longer, deeper, and all-encompassing experience, I’m inclined to answer that sure, they can be… but they shouldn’t be.  That’s not a cop out, I swear.  At this point I’m just brainstorming out; maybe MMO’s really should receive more focused labeling.  Maybe a game like DCUO shouldn’t be called a MMO (even though it is a MMO, just a short one.)

My mentality comes from my background.  I see MMORPGs through the lenses of someone who was actively involved with the community when the first one came out.  I see the EverQuest’s, Star Wars Galaxies, and Dark Age of Camelot games when I see the label “MMO”. To me it’s just a ‘feeling’ I get when I log into a more virtual world experience that I’ve attached to the meaning of the genre.

What do you think?  Answer the question about whether or not a MMO can be a good MMO  (or rather a MMO at all) if it’s designed to be short and maybe add your thoughts about why or why not you draw distinctions between the EQ’s and the DCUO’s in your mind.

Awesome day of PvP and fun in DCUO

Having convinced some friends to play from our impressions of the game, today’s activities in DCUO are worthy of report.  We made the switch to Super Heroes yesterday.  Keenzarro (a little Leprechaun with pistols and a love of Plants) and Graevzarro (a mostly naked manchild in pink underoos and cape) the dynamic duo of the Power Pals League were joined by Blackyce and Bartlebe to form one mighty unstoppable force.  We spent the day questing around Metropolis stopping evil monkeys and insect cults from taking over the world.  It sounds funny, but that’s Superman’s universe.  We had nothing short of a blast completing missions and taking down known Super Villains.

The best part of it all was how fun the game was with four people.  We found an awesome synergy with our heals, tanking, control, and dps spread.  Taking down bosses and missions was a breeze, yet challenging and long enough that it felt like we accomplished something after clearing them.  The cutscenes and stories of the missions serve as a little incentive for me.

Even better than the missions was the PvP.  I haven’t had this much fun PvPing in a loooong time.  PvP is absolutely everywhere and it’s all fair game.  We spent the greater portion of our evening fighting outside of the Metropolis hospital.  The place was a hot spot for PvP and we had Super Villains swarming from every direction.  With our teamwork we decimated just about everything thrown at us including level 28 players.  We would have groups of level 12’s try to take us out and we would root them down or stun them and use our abilities to try and immobilize them so that they couldn’t run when they discovered we were a coordinated group.  They would fly up and Graevzarro would turn them into an animal and they would fall out of the sky where I would be waiting to entangle them in vines.   Meanwhile Lex Luthor’s forces would be attacking us and we would be fighting a battle on multiple fronts.   It was really hectic since the action was non-stop but we all agreed as we logged off for the night that it played into the memorability.

I’m really, really glad that I gave the game a chance.  I judged it really unfairly early on based upon being burned by previous Super Hero games and regret that now.  I almost missed out on a great game.  It’s been a different kind of enjoyment… one that doesn’t normally come with MMO’s.  Whatever it is, it’s a good feeling.

DCUO Impressions

Graev and I have been playing DCUO for a bit these past few days.  The decision to get the game was totally on his shoulders since he was the one who decided to purchase it for himself regardless of my desire to play.  We rolled up villains on a PvP server and have reached ~level 12 so far.  DCUO has received a mixed bag of impressions from people.  You can read any given website’s comments section and see half the people saying they love it and the other half saying it’s bad.  I think my impressions falls in the middle, leaning towards the “I really like it” side.

DCUO is not a typical MMO.  The problem it faces is the fact that it’s going up against other games that feel more traditional.  I went into DCUO knowing these superhero games are never really MMO’s and I think my enjoyment has been quadrupled because of it.  It is definitely closer to an action game with multiplayer, even though for all intents and purposes it is just as close to a MMO as any game released in the past six years.  It’s weird because it’s right in the middle of what people would expect, so it will most likely surprise you in a good way if you go into it with the right mindset.

The world is fairly open.  We started in Gotham with Joker as our Mentor.  The storyline and city interaction so far has naturally followed the Batman property.  I’ve explored all of Gotham and feel that one definitely could conclude that it’s mostly open-world, even if the cities themselves are like isolated continents.  Travel powers make it quite easy to traverse the playable area of the city, but even flying across the rooftops it feels big.

Gear works well, albeit there are some interface issues that I feel hinder how polished it comes across.  Your character’s appearance can change based upon items you find or you can choose to lock your look.  Items drop regularly but rare enough to make it still feel like you got something for killing that boss.

Combat and interaction with the world are well done.  The combat feels like an action beat’em up with twitch elements.  As an archer I can lock on target or I can shoot freestyle and still hit the enemy.  Holding or pressing shift blocks and breaks CC’s and dodging by moving out of the way is also in the game.  You can pick things up and throw them and interact decently with the environment.

There’s a lot to do in-game right now, but most people have been saying that the game only has enough content to support serious play for about a month.  I can see that being the case.  You finish the story lines and then you’re left with either grinding rep or just PvPing (which is done for fun and not reward at this point).  If the fun content runs out, I can’t see myself playing long but that’s what most people would think too.

What can you expect from DCUO?
A game where you can log in and jump out into missions quickly.  It’s a game of constant action that makes you feel like a real character in the DC universe right from the start.  The powers are fun, the missions are fun, and the PvP is just right for my style (even if frustrating when ganked).    Some of the questing gets boring but on a PvP world it is broken up by lots of PvP and villainous acts.  It won’t be a game that you get into deep character progression or one that has you logging in 15 hours a day like WoW, but there’s legitimately fun content for as long as it lasts.  It’s a super hero action beat’em up with MMO elements near-seamlessly mixed in.

I recommend the game to fans of DC and to those looking for a fun game to beat up some bad guys, have a little PvP, and enjoy some action for a couple months.  It’s as good a time as any to get into DCUO.  I believe that no matter what, it’ll be fun while it lasts and that’s at least enough to justify the $50 and first free month. DCUO is by far the best “superhero MMO” I have played.

Likes

Combat - Fast paced and action oriented.  The button combos (ie: tap left mose 2x hold -> Hold right mouse) to execute powers work well with the mouse. The combat feels much smoother and connected than previous super hero games and nothing like a regular MMO.

World – It’s open except for instanced dungeons or story encounters.  Graev and I both feel strongly that this is how SWTOR will be done.  The graphics are not the best but the game is pretty and stylized enough to capture the feel of cities like Gotham.

PvP – It’s open world pvp in its simplest form.  You find someone from the opposite side and you kill them.  Level 30’s can kill level 1’s. It’s fun being a villain and really being able to just attack some poor hero.

Powers/Skills – Both the travel powers and the normal powers are fun.  Graev and I both went acrobatics for our travel ability and have since taken additional skills under the acrobatics section to give us a more powerful glide that mimmicks flying and a grappling hook that jets us up buildings.   Abilities like landmines, sleeper darts, and my favorite the tazer pull look nice while being functional.  We jumped this hero who was level 12 when we were level 8 and he tried to fly away… well, I shot my tazer grapple out at him and sucked him back in so that Graev could root him with ice.  It was awesome.

Story-related Quests – When you see Bane, Catwoman, Joker, and these other villains/super heroes in action it’s a lot of fun.  These cinematic-like missions are what got me set on liking the game.

Legendary Arenas – You get to unlock your favorite heroes and play them in a battleground setting.  These are fun and offer some additional playability to the game.  You get tokens from these that you can use to unlock new heroes.  Starting with Harley you get tokens to spend.  I’m saving up 70 for Joker.  Note: There are standard battlegrounds where you use your character as well.

Customization – Between Powers, Skills for weapons, skills for travel, iconic powers, and how you spend your points and customize your looks it feels like there are many different ways to play.  In my opinion it feels like I have more choices than I did in CoH.

Dislikes

UI – Although it looks nice, the UI feels like it gets in the way.  Chatting is harder than it should be sometimes.

Some quests – There are some bland quests among the good ones.  Apparently they become more abundant later on, but for now from what I’ve seen it’s 50/50 crappy quests to good quests.  If you don’t like to quest, just avoid DCUO.

Longevity – The fact that it may not last long has me bummed.  It will last just as long or longer than some of the console and PC games I’ve purchased, though.  For a MMO I hope it lasts longer.