DC Universe Online - Hands-On Impressions (2/2)
By James Farrington (12.22.10)

Gearing up for a fight

The loot/gear one collects off of enemies and through completing quests are the elements that will change the appearance of one’s character in-game. However, if one looks at a superhero or villain they usually never change their appearance by much unless for some special storyline or mission (or artistic re-vamp). So “DC Universe” makes every piece of gear integrate into the player’s superhero/supervillain outfit. This integration of gear is accomplished by changing the collected gear’s colour scheme to match the colour scheme of the character’s outfit. Furthermore, if the player wants the bonuses a piece of gear offers but does not like how the gear looks on his or her character the player can choose to either make that piece of gear invisible (but still have the gear equipped to gain its bonuses) or swap that gear’s appearance for any other gear’s appearance the player has in his or her inventory. For example, lets say I find a set of shoulder guards that offer some armour bonus I want but the shoulder guards are all spiky and my hero has a smooth clean look to him. I can equip the spiky shoulder guards and then swap its appearance to match the smooth rounded shoulder guards I had on from the start while still keeping the new shoulder guard’s stats and bonuses. In terms of in-game character customization I think this kind of mix and match approach will go a long way to making sure one’s superhero or villain always looks unique in the huge online environments.


The cities of the DC Universe

“DC Universe online” looks and sounds great. There is a lot of detail in the player characters and the huge cities are vibrant and both Gotham and Metropolis look unique. Little details like showing the city defending itself from Braniac with artillery fire shooting into the sky help make the cities seem alive. Sound effects are fairly standard but work well and help to make it seem like one’s character actually has superpowers. Also the developers assured me that there would be little graphical difference in the PC and PS3 versions of the games as the PS3 was used as the technical benchmark for the PC version. This also means that the game was designed to run on the PS3 from the start so console owners should hopefully not have to worry about the game’s performance on the Playstation 3.


You Look'n At Me?

Player vs. Player combat is available in the game, which makes sense since both heroes and villains will populate any one city. However, if one wants to fight in the streets of Gotham he or she will have to join a PvP specific server. Non-PvP servers will still offer arena style PvP, which can be accessed from safe houses (arenas are also available on PvP servers). I did not get a chance to see the PvP in action, which is a shame because the PvP will really show how much player skill is involved with the combat as opposed to everything being determined by stats or invisible dice roles.


Final Impressions

“DC Universe Online” is an ambitious game with a lot of potential. The demo I watched definitely raised my interest in the game but there are still some unanswered questions: Is the combat dynamic enough to facilitate player-skill based gameplay? Will the huge environments be filled with content and interesting scenarios? Are the quests varied enough to keep player interest? Perhaps those in the Beta have answers to some of these questions but really the quality of the game will not be known until the game’s release. Still, the combat does look fun and the level of character customization is one of the strongest aspects of the game. Being able to mix and match gear to allow for total control over how one’s character looks may help to instill the idea that one is playing a new and exciting member of the DC Universe. I am looking forward to playing the game and I am intrigued to see if “DC Universe Online” can successfully bring the MMORPG genre to the console market.


DC Universe Online Official Site