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Duff’s DC Universe Online Impressions, Part 1

Posted by: Jeremy at 12/29/2010 1:49 PM
Just as Chad has been involved in his own adventures on the PC version of DC Universe Online, I have been wandering through the same DC-themed land(s) on the PlayStation 3 side of the fence. The PlayStation 3 version of the DCU beta is currently open to all PlayStation Plus members in addition to those gamers who have been personally invited to participate. On the next page, I will guide you through my experience(s) and impressions of this impressive console MMO thus far...



Let me explain, first off, that this is coming from the perspective of someone who isn’t usually into MMORPG’s; I have dabbled a little bit in WoW over the years, but have never gotten hooked. The only MMORPG that I have ever played religiously was Final Fantasy XI during its initial release. For some reason, that game clicked with me and I played it for the better part of its first year.

DC Universe Online hit me better than either of the previously mentioned MMORPG’s ever did... I really like this game. The game plays out more like a hack and slash RPG than the traditional games which keeps you more involved in the action during your gameplay. This fact alone is what hooked me from the start. I like action and I like to remain engaged during my gameplay; DCU served my needs in both of these categories and could easily become THE MMO that finally gets me hooked into the genre.

Character Creation: Birth of a hero (or villain)

Right from the start, I was immediately drawn in by something as simple (or deep, depending on perspective) as the character creation system of the game. After viewing a short cinematic that lays the foundation for the game, players are given the chance to design their character from the ground up. You have the choice of either completely creating and customizing your character or generating them from a template after answering a few basic questions. I tried creating characters through both methods. If you want to get a character based truly on your design, you will obviously want to make all of your decisions for yourself but know that the randomly generated characters actually turn out pretty well, or at least a lot better than I ever expected them to turn out..

Whether your choose to create a hero or villain, players begin by selecting from a male or female character and choosing a body type. There are three body types, as many would suspect, being small, average, and large. All of these choices are pure visual and have zero effect on the abilities of your character(s). After you make these early decisions, the game will give you the option to either continue with full customization or apply a template to your character. If you choose to apply a template to your character, will will then be given a chance to choose from a list of numerous DC comic book characters for which your design will be based. The effect of your decision will have impact on both the physical look of your character as well as their fighting abilities and weapons. The list of available templates is pretty long, ranging from DC staples such as Superman, Batman, and Bane to lesser revered characters such as the Green Arrow. I initially chose a larger, male character and applied the Green Arrow template because I wanted someone similar to a traditional ranger. The result was a huge, hulking, hooded figure who was as nimble as a cat. Despite the large size of my character, he was able to move around the environment quickly and scale the walls and buildings with ease. I would have had no problem playing with this character for the long haul, but I wanted to create something based purely on my own design and went back to the start and created a villain by the name of Darctic.

Darctic was created from scratch using the game’s character created and ended up being the character that I spent most of my time with during the beta. When designing your character from scratch, the first choice that you have to make is who will mentor your character in their experience. The options for mentors change depending on whether you choose to be a hero or villain. On the hero side, you can choose between Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. On the bad side of the coin the choices are Joker, Lex Luthor, and Circe. The mentor selection is best described as the class selection. Batman and Joker based characters use more technology than the other characters and focus more on combat that utilizes machines and devices such as traps and guns. Superman and Lex Luther’s students have their skills and abilities based more on genetic manipulation and magical gifts. The final grouping, Wonder Woman / Circe, are more magic based. The choice of a mentor will effect the types of armor and weapons that your character can use throughout the game as well as the abilities that they will have access to within their skill trees as your character progresses.

Players then have the option of choosing the types of weapons their character(s) will utilize from a variety of options including one- and two-handed swords, guns, rifles, staffs, and even hand-to-hand combat options. You can also decide the “elemental” type, if you will, of your character which influences the style. These choices range from things such as fire and ice based characters to technical (gadgetry) and magical classes. All of these options simply further narrow or limit the equipment options for you in the game. When you combine all of these options, it makes for truly unique characters and ensures that you can create a character different than all of the other one’s running around the world.

Once you select your mentor, weapon, and power, the rest of the options that you select from will be purely cosmetic. At this point, you will select and design nearly every aspect of your characters costume, down to the tiniest details including your gloves and belt(s). There are a ton of options within the game’s creator and they detail put into the costumes is downright intricate. Players will truly be able to create a wholly original character with insane (cosmetic) depth using the games engine. Once you get out into the world of DC Universe Online, you will collect and come across additional equipment and clothes which will alter your appearance when they are equipped. The game gives you the option to eliminate visual changes with equipment, ensuring that your original design remains on the character regardless of what you apply but allowing you to reap the benefit(s) of higher level armor and equipment.

School of hard knocks...

Once your character is created, you will “awaken” on one of Brainiac’s ships for a tutorial mission which will bring your into the fold of DCU’s world. The tutorial mission will cover all of the basics of the game including combat, movement, as well as looting and environment interaction. As I mentioned earlier, the combat in DCU is real time in the vain of a hack and slash style game. All of your actions are controlled directly by you buttons presses and occur when they are executed. Players won’t be queuing up commands and letting the game have all of the fun... you will be in control from start to finish.  

The development team has done a great job of mapping all of the game’s various abilities and options to the PlayStation 3 controller. Basic combat and movement is controlled by the face buttons on the controller but additional, more advanced options are available with the press of a shoulder button. Pressing the shoulder buttons brings up options such as your advanced powers and special abilities. All of these are customizable from with your character menu which is accessed from the pause screen. This allows you to design your preferred load out based on your ever-changing list of abilities and equipment. As you defeat enemies and earn experience, your character will level up and skill points will be obtained which you can spend on additional abilities and powers with this menu. The skill tree for your character can be a bit intimidating as there is a wide variety of options within it for you to explore. I feel that this, once again, only serves to ensure that players can create truly unique characters based solely on their likes and dislikes over the course of the game. This should promote one of the most diverse MMORPG communities in existence and gives the DCU world its own charm in that aspect.

Next time, I talk about what it is like venturing out into the world on your own...