Tobold's Blog
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Anyone playing DC Universe Online?

Imagine a MMORPG comes out and nobody notices. That's the impression I had about the general lack of reporting in the MMO blogosphere about DC Universe Online. Now I've finally seen the first review, from Gamespy, and they say: "Everything about this game is so unbelievably bad that I do not know where to begin." As far as I could make out from the review, it is an "action" MMORPG, with that "action" being frantic mouse-clicking, and the "MMORPG" part being lots of grindy kill ten foozles quest. Guess we haven't missed much.
I was about to flame these guys because from the comment you pulled from the article it sounded like these guys didn't get very far in the game.

However, after reading the article, I see they got to 8 or so. My character is 10, and I can definitely say everything about the game just feels half-baked. Everything is just thrown in there with really not much of any kind of tutorial to go by. My mouse is getting worn out from all the clicking.

The game was definitely made for PS3. And, the ONE way you can tell, aside from all the others -- no general chat area. Everyone has taken it upon themselves to use /shout as a general chat area. Hoping your in the general area when you're carrying on a conversation.

Also, the map? Horrible, just.....confusing. I thought the character creation was pretty nice, much more customization than WoW.

I can't see myself staying past the free 30-day trial. Sadly, this was probably one of the worst $50 I have spent. I found out about it because I'm subscribed to TotalBiscuit's youtube channel and he did a massive review of beta and he seemed to like it. I did too at first, but now it just seems like a grind. It's worse than WoW.
I bought the game after enjoying a limited toe in the water with Beta. It feels very different from EQ2/LOTRO/Vanguard and is very enjoyable to play. I do not think it has quite the appeal that keeps me playing EQ2 for six years, but is a refreshing change.
The Chat UI is horrible - we can blame PS3 console for that design issue. However, the game launched smoothly and the bugs are annoying rather than game breaking or even game impacting.
It’s an interesting game. It can be pretty fun at first sprinting over skyscrapers and whatnot. The PvE can be good fun at times. The character creation is especially nice, one of the best I’ve seen (the best being Champions Online). It has lots of personality and most of the mechanics are very different than your standard MMORPG.

That said, it doesn’t have much lasting appeal. It’s clear the whole thing was dumbed down for the PS3. Much of PvP can end up being a mess unless you’re well acquainted with your enemy’s skills. The whole game takes place in specifically crafted famous DC cities, but exploration loses some of its charm when you realize that at least a third of the population can just fly anywhere right off the bat. And despite the different movement and combat mechanics, quests are like most other themepark MMOs, although they do a decent job giving variety, similar to WoW’s current model.

It’s a highly controlled and ridiculously streamlined game. Good for a single playthrough if you’re a DC fan, but MMORPG fans have very little reason to keep subscribing.
These guys you quoted sound like assholes.

The bash the flat power curve and actiony combat, but they're the same who would cry "same ol', same ol'" if it was otherwise. It just doesn;t seem like constructive criticism.

Aside from that impression - i haven't played the game yet. I occasionally poke the GAF thread about it and have watched a few YouTube videos (one of PvP and i remember one Boss fight).

From what i saw, it seems interesting, but superheroes are totally not my cup of tea.
I'm playing it. It's excellent.

I was in beta from mid-November and I played it a lot, so I knew exactly what I was getting when I bought the game at launch.

To give some context, the last game console I owned was an Atari 2600. I haven't played a console game for almost twenty years. I have never played an "action" game on the P.C. All I've played for a decade and a half are MMOS, CRPGs and Point&Click Adventures.

I'm playing DCUO on the P.C. I found it incredibly easy to learn and play. The mouse/keyboard controls are simple, intuitive and natural. By the time I got out of the tutorial I was comfortable. Comparing that to the weird controls on either FFXI or XIV, either of which took me days to assimilate, and I think this is an excellent P.C. iteration of a console-style control system.

Gameplay is fast, simple and enormously entertaining. There's a quest/mission structure that's familiar from every modern MMO. It's well-managed with a good quest journal and good map indicators. Levelling up is fast and fun.

The game is oddly gear-centred for a super-hero setting. In that respect it plays much more like a traditional MMO than I expected. You are constantly gettign gear as quest rewards, random drops and drops from nameds. It looks fantastic and you have complete control over what displays, allowing excellent and continual post-creation visual development of your character.

The world itself is vast and incredibly detailed. I have spent many hours just exploring and taking screenshots. I think it is one of the most beautifully rendered virtual worlds I have visited. With the ability to fly,climb any surface and run up vertical walls the temptation to treat DCUO as a playground is irresistible, at least for me.

The PvP is great. I'm not a big PvP player in general but after spending beta on a PvE server i decided to roll on a PvP server at launch and it's been an excellent experience. Heroes and villains need the same NPCs/Objects/Areas to complete their quests, the same mission entrances to reach their instances. Often one side is tasked with protecting something that the other is trying to destroy. This leads to inevitable conflict and hero/villain firefights break out sporadicaly and organically all the time.

I could go on, at length, about how much fun DCUO is, but I'll leave it at that. It certainly isn't perfect, though. The chat system is terrible. Many of the powers are pretty unsuperheroic. It's a lot easier to make characters that feel and play like traditional fantasy classes than it is to make a proper super-hero. My character dual wields axes, for heavens sake, and could pass for an ogre berserker in any fantasy MMO you care to name.

There's plenty of room for improvement, but the game is only a week old! Most MMOs are in very much better shape six months or a year after launch and DCUO is in pretty good shape already, so prospects for the future are good.

I'd give it a solid 8/10.
I think you're all being a bit critical, it's definately no WoW killer, but I'm playing it as a little secondary thing to mess around with my friends with, have a bit of fun and I'm definately loving it.
I think you're all being a bit critical, it's definately no WoW killer, but I'm playing it as a little secondary thing to mess around with my friends with, have a bit of fun and I'm definately loving it.
Don't believe the GameSpy article. It is not a review, it is a collection of trolling forum posts disguised as journalism.

The game is actually great fun and tries to be different. Many people want their MMOs to auto-attack, auto-move and auto-play: DCOU gathers more to people who would enjoy playing action games. You click a lot, but not more than Diablo or an FPS, and the combat has surprising depth once you realize what the different combos do and start playing the harder parts.

Also, the game has an open world with PVP, team missions, dungeons, leveling, guilds, skills and plenty of group content. People who think this is not an MMO are probably those who think anything that is not WOW or a direct WOW clone is not an MMO. Auto-attack does not mean an MMO.
I'm playing it at the moment and am enjoying it quite a bit actually. The really bad part though is the interface which I think is more or less just copied from the PS3. And I shouldn't even mention the chat. Awful.

The gameplay though is quite fun. It's very different from usual MMOs and is more action-oriented. I didn't read the review but from the comments it seems like they didn't give it a fair chance, or that it was reviewed by someone biased towards some other game type.
I believe this game was designed with a controller in mind. I played beta for PS3 and could not imagine playing on a mouse and keyboard. Overall I thought it was a fun game, but am a bit turned off by SOEs blend of subscription plus cash shop business model. I may try it a bit further down the road though. I have always wanted to play a Superhero MMO, and do like SOE games.
I haven't played it and was in a simliar position as you as having forgot about its impending release.

However, please don't suggest that the article you linked to on Gamespy is their "review" of the game. If you had taken a moment to scroll up you would have found the following description:

Welcome to the Interrogation Room, GameSpy's signature pre-release game coverage format. Here, a GameSpy editor (typically one who's relatively in-the-dark about the game in question) grills his peers for information on a hotly anticipated game -- hopefully with more entertaining results than the typical boilerplate preview would provide.

You might not appreciate this distinction but having followed the work of the authors of the article for some time, they do and they certainly do not intend the article to be their final critical appraisal of the game.

Please correct your initial post so as not to suggest this was a review but rather, as the first line reads: "we figured we'd share our initial impressions of the game so far..."
i cant tell anything about this game because im just Lvl 12, i have a lot of fun so long and i like the different aproach they deliver, but we'll have to see if this changes in the endgame.
But what i cant understand ist the very poor marketing around this game, does SOE never learn?
Do they have PR/Marketing people in this company?
A friend of mine asked me about whether I had heard of it. I asked when it was coming out, and he said it was already out.

Since I hadn't seen it mentioned here, I assumed it was probably god awful. I believe I was right.
I thought it sounded great, until I saw it was due on PS3 also.

Dont get me wrong, I have nothing against consoles at all but I do wonder how simplified an MMO has to become to work with a joypad.
"Imagine a MMORPG comes out and nobody notices."

Perfectly put. The whole launch of DCU just seems very "meh". No one is interested at all :)
Here is best review of game ive seen. Gamespy was just a hatchet job on game.

Five parts focused on hero side then more on villian side.
Just a little addendum to my previous post:

I was having a great time in DCUO up to an hour ago when the server unexpectedly crashed. Checking the forums, where there are currently over 10,000 people viewing, it appears that demand is outstripping supply.

They already had to bring extra servers online to meet the unexpectedly high demand from the EU (which is confirmed by the thankful messages from EU players on the forums) and now it seems the U.S. servers are struggling to meet demand too.

I have characters on three US servers and they are at "High" population even when I play at GMT hours. This is all on the PC servers and apparently the bulk of the population is on the PS3 servers.

MMO websites and blogs may not have paid much attention to the launch, but it appears the paying public have.

Now let's just hope SOE get their act together and stabilise the servers for the hit they appear to have on their hands.
It's odd mate, as many of the reviews I've seen so far from the gaming press have been dismissive from the outset.

To be fair, I was fairly sceptical also. It was only TotalBiscuits vids that piqued my interest.

I'm enjoying it, it's somewhat lightweight compared to a traditional MMO. It's UI is somewhat rubbish, and there are a few oddities here and there. But on the other hand, I'm enjoying the game immensely, despite its flaws. It's nice playing a MMO that doesn't use banks and banks of hotbars and plays like an action arcade adventure.

I've likened it to CoH meets Crackdown. I like that quests are grouped together in small episode cumulating in a instanced encounter. Some of these have been very well done, and quite challenging at times.

It's not going to shake up the MMO genre as much as other games have. But it does demonstrate that you can have a MMO that uses more traditional single player control mechanisms on a MMO server based game. This game uses button combos for your primary attacks, and real time dodging and blocking, and it would be interesting to see someone take that kind of system and bring it to a Fantasy MMO, and see if the MMO audience can deal with it. I'm sceptical, I think a lot of MMO players like hotbar ability mechanics, its safe and familiar.

I think SoE have missed a trick not launching it as a FTP micro transaction game. Perhaps that was DCs or WarnerBros decision.
So, maybe it's not an issue with high demand then, but rather the low budget IT infrastructure?
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Can I respond to this even if I am not playing it? I suppose so, considering it is a yes or no question.

So to summarize, no I am not playing it.


Oh you know, I got burnt by CO pretty bad. I am not exactly very trusting of Superhero simulators now... I'll wait till there are a good number of impressions out before I dabble in it.

Or it goes F2P.
Well, I'm checking out the game by free trial, so comments will be coming within a week.

No I read Bronte's post and I surprised myself by thinking, how I would never want to play that game if it went F2P. Ever. I didn't know I have such an hatred for F2P games in me :) The dependance of my character progress on how much money I can spend on that character certainly has a negative effect on the entertainent value of the game. At least for me.

But that's offtopic, I'll sure be trying the game out this week, seeing as most of you agree that it is good in many ways with obvious flaws being the UI and the chat.
Definitely not the same genre as WoW, but yes, still technically an MMO. I would agree with the action MMO label.

I'm enjoying it and I thought I wouldn't. No crafting, no going back to each and every quest giver to claim my rewards, no waiting to get my mount. Just completing quests and instances and doing the fun stuff. Sorry, but a lot of that stuff is what most of us wade through to get to what we like or want. If we could all have a mount and travel fast at level 1, we would all take it! Their talent system is also pretty interesting as well.

All in all, it's just a lot of fun and nothing wrong with that. Not sure why these MMO's have to be a second job to be taken seriously. But yes, the servers are packed in afternoons and on the weekend. So much so that they had to increase capacity. Doesn't sound like much of a failure to me.
In my defense, I would have bought and played it, had I the money. It sounds at the very least like an improvement on City of Heroes which was a very fun game in its own right and worth two months of fun play.
Its a sad day indeed when people rely on Tobold's blog for the entirety of their MMO news.

"If a game isn't brought to my attention by Tobold, it must be god awful". - not a made up sentiment (look at comments above)

Then without playing the game, just reading this blog post confirmed that the game was indeed terrible.

Its a bit scary that apparently Tobold is now the foremost news source and arbiter of all free will.

it would be interesting to see someone take that kind of system and bring it to a Fantasy MMO

TERA is doing this, due out this year.


Agree wholeheartedly. F2P games with PVP are ruined by CS, which single handedly unbalance what should be a delicate mechanic. As far as PVE goes, I don't really care if cash shoppers level a little faster and more efficiently. I do mind if end game gear et al is just a credit card away.

Not to mention that most F2P games are severely lacking in content.
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