Review in Progress: DC Universe Online

Want some initial thoughts on DC Universe Online? We've donned our thigh-high boots just for the occasion.

Online role-playing games have already given you the chance to act as a triumphant superhero or dastardly villain, but DC Universe Online marks the first time one has used a well-known superhero license. In this new massively multiplayer game, you create your own hero or villain and run about the streets of Gotham City and Metropolis, aiding your allies while fending off evildoers--or doing some evil of your own. As with all such games, reviewing DC Universe Online will take some time, though at the current pace of leveling, I suspect that this game doesn't hide many aces up its sleeve. But so far, it's light, breezy fun, with a smooth feel and a charm that is sure to delight fans of the license. I don't know that it's the right choice for someone looking to find a new long-term virtual home, though I have yet to experience all of its features. In the meanwhile, I thought I would share some thoughts regarding my experiences thus far, as well as some screens and movies to help tide you over before I deliver a full evaluation.

It's hard not to compare DC Universe Online to 2010's Champions Online, given their obvious thematic similarities. If you've played last year's superhero funfest, you may be somewhat disappointed that DC Universe's character creation isn't as flexible as that of Champions. There are fewer cosmetic options, nor can you create your own personal origin story, since the game's narrative provides you one. Don't fret too much, however, since you still get the opportunity to create a great-looking character using a variety of skin types, belts, boots, capes, tops, and so on. Of course, what makes DC Universe immediately rise above its recent competition is that you can play as either a hero or a villain, which enhances its appeal. Your choices aren't just cosmetic, however: you choose a basic power set (gadgets, for example, or ice, or fire) and an initial weapon. My magic-focused villain uses a staff to beat up her foes, while my hero gadgeteer wields dual pistols. (Note that you are limited to your initial weapon choice for the first nine levels).

In time, you can improve your method of travel in addition to your core powers.

You also decide upon a method of travel. On the PC, I went with acrobatics for my villain, which allows me to glide and quickly scale surfaces; on the PS3, my hero takes to the skies in full-fledged flight. My fellow reviewer Tom Mc Shea chose super speed, and it's a hoot to watch him flash across the screen while we travel together. You also must choose on a mentor. There are three mentors for heroes and three for villains. If you feel particularly virtuous, you can side with Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman; scoundrels choose from Lex Luthor, The Joker, and Circe. After you make these choices, the game opens with a quality tutorial that introduces you to the story and combat. The battle system is striking for its clicky/mashy action, which is a refreshing change from the more usual, less direct, massively multiplayer online combat. DC Universe feels like an action game, which gives it an immediate user-friendly appeal, though you may find that the appeal wears thin over time.

Don't ever ask to see Dr. Fate's medical credentials.

DC Universe Online mixes up its open-area questing with instanced scenarios in which you enter private areas and beat up on adversaries and interact with non-player characters and objects as you make your way to the end boss. One thing I appreciate about playing as a villain is that there's a definite evil (but tongue-in-cheek) twist to the missions that 2005's City of Villains sometimes lacked. For example, in an early quest you convert helpless citizens into less wholesome beings, and there's something awful and wonderful about hearing their cries for help before channeling a demonic presence. The main quest chains culminate with those instanced quests, which reward you with a sharp-looking, narrated comic cutscene. There's a lot of voice acting in DC Universe, and most of the beloved DC characters sound quite good. (As you can imagine, Mark Hamill is impeccable as the Joker.)

I've tried other types of content as well, including player-versus-player battles. Your introduction to PVP play has you and your teammates taking the roles of iconic characters and capturing key points while fending off an opposing team. I prefer using my own characters, however, since I am beginning to develop a bond with them, as I would in any online RPG, and have had more fun in the arena as a result. The PVP is flashy and enjoyable, though I haven't played enough of it to know if it has lasting appeal or if it's balanced particularly well. I've also taken part in alerts, which are extended player-versus-environment team missions. My first alert's end boss took some time to defeat, but that was due more to an inflated health bar than to an actual challenge. Most of the PVE content I've seen has been rather easy, which has led to a certain sense of shallowness. That impression is enhanced by other aspects of the game--the simple combat, limitations to how many powers you can equip at once, the fact that there are only two major locations (though they are impressively large), and certain interface and feature quirks. (For example, you can't share your quests with teammates as you can in most similar games.) Some of those limitations make sense from the console perspective and make the game friendly for those using a controller. Keyboard jockeys, on the other hand, may miss many of the interface standards and the flexibility they've grown used to over the years.

One of my favorite aspects of the game is that you loot new gear and weapons, but you can choose whether or not those items should appear on your character when you equip them. This way, you can get the stat bonus without messing with your physical appearance. My flirty she-villain doesn't look so hot in a flouncy blouse, but I enjoy seeing different looks appear on her as I progress. On the other hand, I love the appearance of my mysterious gadgeteer so much that I refuse to change it. This was a smart way to allow players the satisfaction of collecting loot without forcing a new look on them. And speaking of looks, DC Universe has them. This isn't a technical stunner, but the game's art is colorful and captures the spirit of the source material, and DCUO has performed admirably on both my work and home machines. I've experienced some performance hitches on the PlayStation 3, but nothing particularly earth-shattering.

Want to play as a famous hero or villain? Don't worry--DC Universe Online's got you covered.

Mind you, these are top-level impressions based on a dozen-plus hours of play, and I expect that my weekend will be spent spreading my online infamy. I'll have a review ready soon, but until then, I'll be posting screens and videos for you to feast upon. And if you're already cavorting about Metropolis in a cape, I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts!

Written By

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

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Discussion

110 comments
Kingnova3000
Kingnova3000

Well gotta say, apart from bugs that are quickly being fixed with updates, I'm loving this game. Now Im not a big MMO player, in fact I dont like them much at all, but DCU has a feel to it that brings it away from the standard MMO grinding to level up feel. Give it a few months for the bugs to be squashed and it'll be even better.

ThePizzaBoy83
ThePizzaBoy83

Played the beta and the biggest complaint I had was the blocking/interrupt mechanism in PvP. If playing a person new to PvP, a well placed block was very effective, but if both people knew what they were doing, PvP battles simply turned into block fests. Players would simply block most of the time and when they did engage only one or two strikes would be attempted for fear of being interrupted. (My PvP experience was primarily limited to world PvP at melee range.)

Maddogtaylor
Maddogtaylor

glad to see new mmo's surfacing and it couldnt be better timing since wow has signed its own death certificate with that poor expansion

Taasi23
Taasi23

I'm absolutely loving it! I feel like I'm an integral part of the DC Universe. :D

holtrocks
holtrocks

wish it was on the 360 since i am not gaming on the pc anymore i miss MMORPG

UBERxL33T
UBERxL33T

It's no WoW, but hey, it's worth a try.

Mugen76
Mugen76

@zero500x Also keep in mind that Eurogamer gives just about everything a 7 out of 10 because they're too lazy to put any deep thought into their game reviews, lol.

redness19
redness19

DCOU is a great MMO. It's one of the very few that is fun to play. I don't expect to be playing it once AAA MMOs come out like SW:TOR or Diablo 3 but it's a great time sink for a few months. IF, and a big IF, they can add more end game content, optimize the game for the PC, and support the game frequently, this will be an amazing game a year from now and one I will deffinately install and play again. The game is worth the purchase, hands down. Even IF you only play for the free month, you'll get some enjoyment out of it. This game is exactly what I needed to kill time on the PC waiting for TOR.

MattyVonP
MattyVonP

It's definitely a fun game but I personally don't think that I am going to shell out 15 dollars every month to play it. Nice to have one free month of gameplay though.

BooHi
BooHi

Been playing the game since its release and its got both really good points and some really bad points. The great thing about this game is the leveling content. Quests are voiced, story gels together and the two city areas have tons of random stuff. The couple of cut scenes are pretty cool. The bad things - as people have pointed out the chat system is pretty rbbsh. The end game is where the grind seems to begin. There's still some nice story content but the drop off is massive. You get daily missions for which you get marks of loyalty, which you trade for cooler looking gear but not stats wise (correct me if I am wrong about this). The better stats gear for raiding are gotten through difficult group quests. Fair enough, but unlike the other end game stuff, there's no automatic queue for. You can also trade badges upwards but its really expensive. Sure players should try the hard group missions but given the population you need some sort of automatic cue. The other thing that annoys me is the price, its 33% more expensive for Aussie's and given the current exchange rate that really is terrible. SOE have said they incur costs in currency exchange, but they could just charge USD. Games like eve do that and if your using your credit card its like a 4c per dollar charge (pay pal is like 2c). Overall, duco feels like two games. The leveling content is casual/story driven, and the end game content changes it completely to a fairly hardcore grind.

solidsnake7882
solidsnake7882

IMHO This is a great game. This is my first MMO and while I will state it has it's flaws it is still very good.

Zero5000X
Zero5000X

Will this be DC Universe Online's first fair review from a major site? So far Eurogamer and Giantbomb were disappointed this wasn't World of WarCraft: DC edition based off their reviews.

Whatelse73
Whatelse73

There's a general consensus on many things, so I won't bother. I have a PC, no consoles. Anyway, I didn't play the beta, so I can't say what's what from there. Instructions / descriptions for powers is severely lacking. I don't expect detail down to the 10th decimal for what it does, but you have to try some a while to see what they do and figure out for yourself. Weapons & powers. Powers seem like an accessory more than a primary. It can be tough to build power to use your powers, then they take too much power to use (in whatever role you might use). So, weapons are the main thing you use the whole time. Seems weird to me I guess, for superheroes. Cutscenes. There are many cutscenes to go through, it would be great if we became immune to damage while they play. Too often I'm in a cutscene and an NPC or a PC comes by and beats the snoggin' out of me before the cutscene finishes. (I know there's a skip feature, but I should be able to watch a cutscene to hear what it has to say as part of the storyline) Its a decent game and it has its fun, I like the costume adjustment feature, some pieces are just plain ugly I think. The reason why your colors are limited is because that's the DC Universe. Even the joker has a limit to colors in his costume. Styles and costume pieces come as you move through the game. Yes, this is a PC game. Some ability to adjust our UI would be fantastic. Tweaking our UIs in a game is what PC players thrive on for our own efficient play.

jedikevin2
jedikevin2

@Kevin-V Will we be getting 2 distinctive reviews here with one judged upon the PC platform and one for the Ps3 platform? I would hate to learn that your review would be copy paste for ps3 and pc expecially on a game like this (MMO thus PC version should be judged upon its platform of this genre and likewise for the ps3)

AzatiS
AzatiS

@Arkanis_vayll True , though the leaked release schedule is in 2013 , thats only 2 years from now. In mmorpg genre , a healthy game should be "Active" and "healthy" , means stabilize and why not expand their subscribing base even more through the years. So if thats the case , why not mention TITAN ? 2013 is near considering that DC universe by that time will be only 2 years old.

Arkanis_Vayll
Arkanis_Vayll

@AzatiS The tentatively named "Titan" is -years- away. I'm not sure how that is even involved in the discussion.

starduke
starduke

I played the beta of DCUO, and from that I'd have to say it's worth checking out, if you don't mind the sub fee's. I'm actually seriously considering a lifetime sub, which would be around $200. However, I'm much more interested in Guildwars 2, which, according to the website, is going to be like Guildwars, once you buy the game you play online for free.

awright00
awright00

I agree with what others are saying -- the gameplay is loads of fun but lacks depth so the game will likely lack staying power. The chat, menus, and interface are all a bit flawed but workable; it sounds like console players feel the controls were designed for PC and PC players feel it was designed for consoles. Power descriptions are especially vague: "Instantly engulfs you in flames to damage nearby enemies" and "Engulfs you in flames to burn nearby enemies" being the descriptions of two different powers. Even with all those minor drawbacks though, it is still loads of fun.

AzatiS
AzatiS

Sorry to say it so blunt... This is fail... serioulsly... And with so tremendous competitors like Vindictus ( free ) , Dragon nest ( free) , Guild wars 2 , diablo 3 , Torchlight online , TITAN ( blizzard new mmorpg) etc around the cornet... How the gell this gonna survive?

wickdawg01
wickdawg01

I have read many game reviews from Mr. Tom and the only reason i even say this is because his way of reviewing leads me to believe he is a very biased reviewer that bases what he says off his own feeling towards a particular type of game. I honestly believe that a reviewer should review a game for how well it is made and so on and so forth. And considering you said "My fellow reviewer Tom Mc Shea" leads me to believe he was co-reviewing it. So sorry for reading that incorrectly. The fact that i cannot express how i feel about something without other "reviewer" jumping down my throat just goes to show you how much this website reviewers are veering more and more towards a communist way of thinking.

Azzer_007
Azzer_007

The gameplay is fun, but very shallow. The chat system is almost non-existant (a pain to use, and there's no public/global chat channels, only the "/shout" channel for nearby players, and it's a pain to use - you can't resize the chat window or font size, unless you open a full-sized "social panel" which prevents you doing anything else in the game). It's very clearly a "console UI", not at all good for PC users. The end-game content is very shallow and light on the ground - a hardcore player can level up to 30 (the level cap) over a weekend, a casual player within a week Light, shallow fun, with a lifespan of up to four weeks at the most - only hardcore DC fans, or players that genuinely love the "theme/concept" more than the content will be playing longer.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

I'm not really into MMOs, I mostly playing Strategy or Adventure genre. IMHO this one looks interesting though :?

CT_1
CT_1

a console interface!!! well that says it all for me. am not even going to bother trying this game!

Wonderboy2790
Wonderboy2790

@Kevin-V I would imagine that this statement is the point of confusion, and understandably so, "My fellow reviewer Tom Mc Shea". And while I and others understood that you were just describing Tom as a your co-worker, wickdawg01 obviously took the statement in a different direction and assumed you were both working on a review for the game. Other than that wickdawg01's post was very idiotic and rightfully deserves many thumbs down.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@wickdawg01 -- Tom Mc Shea isn't reviewing this game; I am. I didn't state that he was reviewing it, and I am not sure how you jumped to that conclusion. Nor is Tom "biased," whatever you have decided that word means. Shockingly, a review may not always tell you what you'd like to hear, but that doesn't mean the reviewer is "biased." That term is usually thrown around without regard to what it actually means--it's just an easy way to discredit the critic with whom you disagree.

Timmy_Gwar
Timmy_Gwar

@wickdawg01 This article isn't very biased. A review is from the reviewers perspective anyways. If you're that concerned about personal bias then why read any reviews?

Barighm
Barighm

It's too bad reviews of MMO's tend to come out a few weeks after release when we all know the game won't really be running on all cylinders until a few months after release, nor will it be at its absolute best until YEARS after release. Kind of sad really. I hear Age of Conan is really darn good now.

GryphonICD
GryphonICD

I'm quite enjoying playing the game, although I don't see the current content lasting much more than maybe a month or two. Still, even if it only lasts a month, it's the same price as a console game, the first month's trial is free and it will probably give you more hours gameplay than something like God Of War....so can't complain! It IS very fun to play, it's just over a bit quick is all (although rumour has it more power sets, an auction house and a bunch of other stuff is on its way pretty damned soon).

stalters
stalters

I picked this up for PS3 and only have a 27" standard Definition TV. While I enjoy playing the game, only 2 hours worth so far, it is almost impossible to read any text on-screen. I've adjusted the Screen Slider in options, but it did not help much at all. At least now the chat box is completely on the screen, but it is so small and hard to see. I may have to get it on my PC instead, or finally get an HDTV, but money is an issue in regards to getting the new TV. :(

evildead7
evildead7

Played the beta for about a month and in my assesment it was a fun game it has it's faults but it was still fun. However I won't buy it only because there really isn't much there to warrant a $15 a month fee. You can get to max level really easily in just under a week of playing. Hardcore players will be able to do so in just a few days.

Ltzeus
Ltzeus

First video looks like it's a mix of fast action console with computer based MMO , it kinda looks weird in my honest opinion. I'm also affraid it might lack a deep endgame. Time will tell I guess.

wickdawg01
wickdawg01

well im glad i refuse to read the gamespot reviews anymore and only read the user reviews. Once i saw that Tom Mc Shea (whom is very biased) is also reviewing this game, i stopped reading

gwd3987
gwd3987

I do not care what score this game gets. At end game you run out of things to do and it gets boring. Yeah it will be fun up to that point but who wants to pay to play a MMO that they will not want to play in 3 weeks. Oh and I hate that they made it PS3 friendly with the controls. I play PC games because a keyboard is superior to a controller. Why force a limit on the way I want to control game to satisfy the console crowd.

bat725
bat725

I love this game! I used to think MMO's were for D&D losers. Boy, was I wrong! This is the best MMO I've ever seen and played! What a blast! Can't wait for the Green Lantern expansion when the movie comes out. Oa, anyone? Yeah, Marvel sucks.

whiskymaster
whiskymaster

Call of Duty Black Ops like so Totally rocks :-D

sircyrus
sircyrus

@TrueIori No, it is not. It is a MMO. You have 2 cities. In those 2 cities, you have the hero and villain players. Hundreds of them. The city is not instanced or broken up into regional zones, like CoH/CoV, meaning you'll actually be seeing more heroes/villains than you would in the other superhero MMO's.

maximo1
maximo1

This has been a fantastic break from wow. Like most the interface has been a pain, but it hasn't stopped me from enjoying the game. Leveling is fun and that doesn't seem like it'll change any time soon. I hope it can keep me beyond the first month.

Sonic9479
Sonic9479

I find it so interesting how two people can take the same exact thing and see it so differently. I am not what you would call a hardcore MMO gamer. As a matter of fact it is my least favorite genre partially because so many of the titles I have tried have fallen short so terribly. Yes, there are bugs and some UI oddities. But there is something about this game. I cannot stop playing it. I will say this though. My first build sucked and I did not know it at first. My character did not seem to posses the kind of power I would expect a superhero to have. Then I went and built a new character with some new knowledge, spent a little more time on the build, and now the combat is kick ass. I find that using combos effectively makes a big difference. As far as character options are concerned I find them to be plenty. Now, as I said I don't play many MMO's so maybe I have missed some other title that had like 20 more options or something, but I have 4 characters that are nothing alike whatsoever. Their look, their powers, and their stories are all pretty different, and yet there are still more options. All in all I think this game, like any, should be taken at its own merits. Cherry picking things from other titles and then faulting them for not having each of them is kinda like saying "well how come my BMW doesn't have the same hood ornament as on that Cadillac over there, I like that one better."

Leonagard
Leonagard

SOE............. this game have had to be free... GW2 and Star Wars are comming... Lotro did a great job just follow them... achievents in this game could have worked like in Lotro.

TrueIori
TrueIori

@Barighm Well let not hope it stuff that we have to buy from the marketplace -_-

Barighm
Barighm

I wouldn't worry about the lack of costume options. I bet that will improve a lot over time.

TrueIori
TrueIori

First of all it not a MMO it a Competitive online role-playing game (CORPG) Second : this game takes the term "repetitive missions" to a new extreme Go kill this , Go collect this , Go collect this and bring it the shiny circle , instance boss battles rinse and repeat. Hero and Villain side are nothing but Copy paste with a few minor tweaks Third: Horrible UI, no reason to force feed us Pc gamers that crap of a UI since we don't even interact with the ps3 players. Horrible. Fourth: horrible create a character compare to the two other supes mmo out there. "but COH started with a crap creation to" yeah.....SEVEN YEARS AGO -_-. Ever heard of Progression? , why not try to outdo COH/CO in their current state instead of being lazy and just aiming to have a better Create a tool than a when COH launched seven years ago? and Last: this game is nothing but a placement holder till the REAL MMO's comes out like Guild wars 2 and SWTOR. I give this game the same amount of days it takes to get to cap lvl, and the same number of cities it has http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR8ruegy-C0

bpmcd9
bpmcd9

I hit level cap just over 24 hours in (had 3 days off with a partner, so we pounded through it with very little sleep), and once you hit 30 you actually have a plethora of options to bide your time. These options range from Alerts, which you can do hard modes. Of course you have arena, with your character, or you can pvp in legends. I'm currently saving up for 70 marks of legends for the joker :) . You can also do raids. At the moment, there are only 2 of them, but hey, it's release was only a week ago. Also, my favorite, is duo's. This takes you and a partner and puts you in some of your favorite instances and makes them just a tad bit harder, and also makes them level 30 content. You get better loot, and a greater challenge. Oh, and you can also do instance challenges modes at 30. But you can only do them by yourself. They are entertaining, but I found them to be quite difficult as a gadget/dual pistol character. All in all, there is plenty of content to keep us busy at level 30. At least for a while. I will say that I am happy with the game thus far. Oh ya, nerf fire please. Just a bit. Thanks.

Curzad
Curzad

The big ? Is it fun for a week or for a year.

StSk8ter29
StSk8ter29

Right now I'm level 24 and although I extremely enjoy the combat, I'm more than a bit worried that I won't have anything to do once I hit the level cap. Not to mention this is only after 22 hours of in-game time.

Tetsu0jin
Tetsu0jin

level 6 and i like it so far :)

Rivenearth
Rivenearth

If they do the review correctly @sircyrus, then they will review at end game. And yes it really does take money per month to pay, less money than it would to buy one newly released game a month.

sircyrus
sircyrus

I've gotten a chance to try this out since my earlier comment. After having tried it, I'm still of the opinion that the game will get a 7.0-7.5. If Gamespot gives it higher than an 8.0 they're being generous. Mind you that's not to say the game is bad. I don't view a 7.5 as bad. I view it as average. From what I could discern from my time with the game, it's like a 3rd person Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. If you're not beating up enemies, it's because you're running to the place where you need to beat up enemies for your mission. It's like a MMO version of Ultimate Alliance. If you're a DC fan you'll probably think it's great because you see all the characters from the comics, but if you're only a mild fan or just looking for a MMO to play, there's not much there aside from beating things up. Combat is fun with the combos you can do, but it is very repetitive since you're doing the same combos literally hundreds of times over the course of a couple hours. Think of doing that for months... bleh. The PC controls aren't as bad as FFXIV's were, but it's obvious that the PS3 was at the center of their UI layout. I wish developers would start making dual UI's - one for PC, one for console. Anyway, if you have a PS3 I think you'd love the game. But for PC MMO veterans... doesn't seem like there's much here. Unless you're a big DC fan, or really like beat-em-ups.