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.

  • ” even though for all intents and purposes it is just as close to a MMO as any game released in the past six years.”

    The funny thing is, like you said, its all how you go into the game. I’ve had fun with games that if I had gone in expecting the next ultima online I would’ve spat at, uninstalled, and ranted on internet forums about.

    I wonder if games stopped touting things like “world” “choice” and so forth, and just marketed what they actually were, if I’d enjoy them more.

  • It’s weird. I have paid $50+ for games like Call of Duty Black Ops (where I only play the single player) or Fallout New Vegas and they don’t last me more than 2 weeks but I feel they are worth every penny. I’m not sure why I’m so concerned about this game not lasting me more than a month, but I just am.

    I guess I’m remembering the CoH launch and how I was done with that game so fast. Another mission? Meh.

  • in my experience in Beta your review is dead on Keen. I was thinking of going into Retail and I still might but I couldn’t see myself playing more than a month unless they added a lot of content. There are lots of little things to do like looking for the collection unlocks (some give pretty decent gear and usually complete gear sets).

    With the UI I would have to say that I dislike it even more than I did with FFIV and the chat system is near being useless as it was.

  • I agree with your review. The story quest are great. I liked the Trigon vs Raven one. Both side have different perspective to these same stories.

    The UI is very annoying. Limited to 6 powers at a time when you’re given upto 15 sucks. You’re very fragile. If you don’t forget that ability by yard trash npc. Dirt nap can happen often.

    Overall, I see myself on this for another month.

  • From these impressions it sounds like a single player game with cool multiplayer features. This sort of seems like the thing alot of people are making then calling MMOs now.

  • @Epiny: No, it’s definitely a step up. More like multiplayer with some cool MMO features. There are even some forced group things. So far there’s nothing single player about the game, except for those special moments where you see the story. I feel strongly that this is the same thing we’ll see with SWTOR.

  • thanks for your thoughts
    interesting tho, you haven’t dissected the website hype & preamble on this game as you have on others, rather you’ve consciously made a decision to treat this slightly differently (its not really a MMO when they clearly state it IS a MMO) & as such, enjoying the game.
    heres some of the blurb, can you confirm its accuracy?

    This GENRE_DEFINING game puts the power of the DC Super Heroes and villains into the palm of your hands…

    Experience the power of visceral combat where you control every blow your character strikes, delivering a level of action that is UNPARALLELED in the MMO segment.

    So its safe to say, you can enjoy a game without picking its marketing terms to bits.

  • Also been playing the last few days, and i agree, Keen got the first impressions spot on.

    Ultimately the allure in the long term seems to be the PvP, not the PvE. I’d love to jump into this game every now and then and do open world PvP / Arenas /Duos etc.

    Of course SOE is promising high and low that they are going to generate new “free” content at regular intervals [because that is what a sub is for]. If they are going to do it like Cryptic [who took a year to release new content] , i will be hard pressed to subscribe to DCUO past 3 months.

    So i am very interested to see what SOE is going to do about the subscription + content updates in the long run. At least the franchise [DC Comics] most certainly have no lack of content to draw from, so there’s no excuse for not adding new characters, stories , areas [as found in comics] .

  • I am wondering, since I personally play on a PVE server, whether I am really gonna miss on a lot of the game’s core aspects, seeing how people seem to be having a blast with it and congratulate it all over the place. The thing is I stopped really playing PVP modes a long time ago, not even rolling on wow’s PVP servers which is as safe as it’s ever gonna get for PVP =/ Do I really have time to run to my corpse every few minutes, esp since I like playing on the Hero side? I really don’t think I would and I’m, funnily enough, afraid to even try (isn’t this what video games are for? heh).

  • They do voice overs really well so its not annoying. They are written short and entertaining. And for longer dialogs it is done through a communicator so you can listen as your travel. Its make travel more fun and gives you less down time.

    Just a little thing but really adds to the game.

    Some of the actors are not the best, but the manner in which its executed is perfect.

    Your not sitting through 20 chat branches.

  • It’s odd that Sanz uses Black Ops in his comment. I have felt for the last few weeks that DCUO should not be compared to the like’s of wow etc, more like a call of duty game.

    Lets compare.

    Leveling – yep, they both have this.
    Stats – Technically they have this, with COD games having perks to unlock that make you run faster, kill better when equiped.
    Loot – unlockables with COD, similar with DCUO
    Dungeons – well, COD offers a bunch of gameplay types with different objectives, i suppose they are similar to ALERTS in that a team of players work together.. its more of a stretch but not unreasonable 🙂

    The thing is you pay your £30 and you instantly get 20 hours leveling (at least). In a game like gears of war, you’d get about 12 hours if you were lucky and you’d be very happy with that. The combat and character customisation feels very good to me. It’s fun, it grows well as you play – and at level 30 – its very skill based combat.

    This is the important bit i feel not many have tried / experienced yet. At 30 i have been running hard mode instances (Alerts). In fact at 30, there is a very nice collection of immediate end game content. Most of the crime investigation’s you do while leveling are available at 30 as a challenge mode, dropping level 30 gear and badges. There are about 6 main alerts – some exclusive to hard mode like smallville. Not to mention a good handful of daily missions to do.

    The Hard Alerts are very very fun. The reason is because its very much skill based, and you need to be on your toes. These feel as hard as instances in cata at the moment, in regards to how they have me sat forward in my seat with a high level of concentration. There are lots of “avoid the thorns on the floor” and “move out of the way of his aoe” mechanics during these, and it just feels very very good.

    Then there are RAIDs, that are still gear locked to me.

    A break down of badge requirements – it takes about 400 badges to get a full set of TIER 1 gear. Ive got about 25 in 2 days of casual play, running daily and hard mode content. You might argue it’s grindy, but its fun as im constantly unlocking new visual styles for my character as i go. To draw a comparison to wow – when you are running heroics, think about if all that loot that drops that no-one needs, that goes wasted. In DCUO you can take it and unlock a style for your character. At 30 there are lots of sets im beginning to unlock that you don’t see on the 1-30 trek!

    End of the day, there is a lot of content here to justify the cost of the box, and the first months play. When people get to 30 and start running hards – i think most of you will be very very impressed. It’s skill based fun combat, with badge and loot collection on the side. They say they have a 75 man post launch team – and are going to be chucking out content at a very fast rate.. so that sounds like a very good thing to me.

    I normally judge a game by how much i desire to play it – there has not been many since wow that have given me the urge to stay up to half 2 in the morning just to get to the end of this alert, or beat that boss – since wow in fact. DCUO does that for me.

  • Great review which neatly summarises the various impressions I’ve been getting from many, disparate sources.
    I too thought about how this compared as a “value proposition” against a game like MW2 which took me 6 hours or so to complete.

    So it does seem this one is worth buying for the free month then subbing if the content appears (or of course dipping in later when it goes Free to Play!).

    It’s an interesting state of mind for me that once MMOs were a massive deal and a huge commitment – I recall feeling guilty if I looked at more than 1 MMO at a time – but now MMOs and pseudo-MMOs appear so often they can be grabbed and “done” in short order (or in my case now dismissed out of hand on the strength of a few screenshots). Perhaps this has long been the intention of many of the producers: they know they can’t ever touch WoW but as long as they get their investment + some profit back everyone is relatively happy.

  • I did the same thing this weekend. My hubby had played it from launch and loved it so I decided to download it (he’s my Graev in some ways- if he likes it I will give it a shot).

    I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would and pretty much spent the weekend ignoring LotRO for this. I really enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to go back to a quest giver to get my reward every time. Or the fact I didn’t have to worry about collecting resources for crafting. Or wondering when I could get my mount. I got to focus on playing and that was it. Having obligations in more than one MMO at a time is just a pain.

    As for the graphics, I don’t think they are poor so much as in line with the genre. They aren’t trying to be the Batman/Superman/Joker/etc that we see in films. I think they are trying to go the comic book route. I’ve taken some screenshots and they look great. I do wish we could move portions of the UI around though. That gaping hole below the chat window is annoying. If I could just move it down… sigh.

    @Epiny: There are instances (called “alerts”) and the instanced portion of some quests are harder than others and the guide suggests you group for them, but this is actually pretty hit or miss. I’ve soloed some easily and had trouble with others.

  • how come we have an article on DCUO and 16 comments and the word “bug” or “crash” isn’t mentioned once?

  • Oh… and FYI, if you go to DCUO’s facebook site, they will have a link to a DCUO rewards facebook profile. They are giving a free trinket if you just follow the instructions. This week it is a catwoman glove that basically performs a swipe when used (downside: long cooldown).

    @Pierre: I personally haven’t encountered any bugs, but I’m only at lvl 13. The only “crash” I’m aware of is when SOE brought the servers down with no warning or notice. That’s happened once to me so far. The next day they actually put a countdown in chat for bringing it down. They are starting to post notices for bringing them down on facebook and twitter, but still not SOE’s forums or the login screen. Odd, I know.

  • not 1 single bug or crash for me so far, except the sound going down after a movie. And of course the horrible UI, but it really doesn’t matter that much ^^

  • So, are there distinct differences between the PC and the console version? In other words; is one more fun over the other? I bought my son the PS3 version and he loves it, but I do remember seeing that people that played the console version on the console loved it, while the pc folks weren’t too impressed.

  • @Trimethicon: We’ve played both versions and they’re identical. PC just has a more social and vocal community.

    @Pierre: I have not crashed once nor have I experienced a bug or glitch.

  • F&$%. This isn’t helping my resolve to not buy this game. I already have a pile of uninstalled games I bought for cheap during Steam sales, I don’t need another one to go on the list!

    Alerts actually sound like a lot of fun, though I haven’t been especially excited by anything I’ve read about the raids yet. Then again, I’ve never really liked raiding.

    At this point I don’t imagine I’ll pick the game up, but it is mighty tempting. We’ll see if I get invited to the next RIFT beta phase – I think that would distract me from DCUO enough to avoid buying…

  • While chatting with Keen and Bart in vent last night they pushed me over the edge and I went out and bought the game. Definitely glad I did as I’m finding it very enjoyable.

  • DCUO sounds fun, but I know I would only play for about a month. Is $50 + a 1 month sub, so another $15 really worth 1 month of enjoyment? Not really atm. I have $15 of credit at Gamestop too and even with that I don’t think it’s enough to currently push me over the edge to buy this game.

  • That first month is free. You’re looking at paying only $50 for 1 month of enjoyment.

    Compare that to how many games are purchased for consoles and PCs that are played for a month OR LESS and are then set aside forever.

  • @Sanz

    Of course you don’t.

    That’s like saying “Ok wait, in WoW you have to run around in robes and cast lightning bolts at rats right? Pass!”

    You can design your character to look however you want. Tights are simply an option. Also, there is no prancing.

    Way to fail at over exaggerating.

  • @Keen
    To get that 1 month free don’t you still need to sign up for 1 month subscription? I thought that was how all MMOs work. You basically get the first 2 months for the price of 1 month? Or if I cancel as soon as I register I’m billed nothing?

  • @Epiny

    That is true but they do not charge you you until that first free month is over.

    On your account it will say something like, “Next Charge Date: 2/17/11.” The charged amount for the first month is $0.00.

  • Every MMO that I have played since 1997 has been a true free month. You can literally subscribe, cancel before your time is up, and continue enjoying that free MMO and never be billed for a month of play.

  • I have never played or read about an MMO that charges you up front for the free month.

    Sounds like someone doesn’t pay a lot of attention to their account details. 🙂

  • I’ve honestly never sub’d for just 1 month so it’s never been an issue before. I also have an account set up that automatically has money put into it that just pays for my game subs and gym sub… so yeah I don’t really ever watch it.

  • Sorry for the late response but i just had to after reading the comments. I recall wow requiring at least a creditcard number / gamecard to activate your account. There was an ‘illegal’ way to bypass this problem (fake cc number) but it meant for those without cc, you simply had to buy a gamecard to activate your free first month.

    I’m playing dcuo for 1,5 month now and still love it. Not lv30 yet bc i can only play in the weekends for approx 5 months 🙁

    Cheers

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