For some time I have been anxious to hear more about the DC Comics MMO adventure DC Universe Online, and finally today at E3 I managed to find out everything I needed to know. The basic idea of the game is that you create your very own Superhero or Villain; you can then go through a single player adventure that will have your character working closely with some of the most celebrated characters from the DC universe. It’s a thought that I am sure many of us have had before, what if I was a super hero? What if I was a super villain? What would my power be? What would my costume look like? DC Universe Online let’s you answer those questions, bringing childhood dreams to life.
Your characters rise to fame in the DC world will be played out in different episodes, which Sony Online Entertainment explained work very much like comic book issues. These episodes will serve as the story arch for your character, and throughout all of them you will be interacting with the many heroes/villains of the DC world. In the mission Sony Online Entertainment showed me, the objective was to take out Harley Quinn and save Robin who had been kidnapped. I was informed that this mission would be completely different if you played from the perspective of a villain instead, with the objective being to kidnap Robin and stop detectives from taking out yourself and Harley Quinn.
During this mission I was shown how the combat system for your character will vary depending on the type of character you decide to build. When you build your hero/villain you will be able to choose a weapon, special power and movement style. You can pretty much guess what your weapon will do, but your special powers and movement styles are what give your character depth. When first creating your character you have to pick one main type of special power, and then throughout the course of the game you will be able to gain new powers that compliment your main power type itself. Meaning that the new powers you can learn throughout your time playing the game, will ultimately depend on the main power type you choose in the beginning of the game. Movement styles determine how your hero/villain can move around the battle field; whether it’s flying, gliding, grappling or moving at supersonic speed like Flash. However you decide you want your character to move, you will gain various advantages in combat based on which style you use.
The main fun comes when you take all these different factors and use them together to completely own the opposition. Using your weapon, special powers and movement styles together can help you take on battles in many different ways. There are so many possibilities to explore that I can barely even imagine what the number of combinations in the game may be. DC Universe Online performs just like any other MMO-RPG, you must continue to kick ass until they have no HP left. You could even use a special power on a foe that will cause a status effect, such as blinding, confusing, immobilizing or freezing them just to give a few examples. It really all depends on how you decide to make your character, this is your entry into the DC Universe.
Just like in many other MMO’s out there, item collecting is a big deal in DC Universe Online. You can collect new and unique items that will add or decrease different attributes that your character possesses. Some of these items you will find on enemies some will be given to you by your peers. In the demo which I was shown, after defeating Harley Quinn it was possible to possess a special kind of jester hat. The neat thing is, if you choose to equip items like this, you can choose whether you want it to affect your characters appearance or not. So if you don’t want your bad ass hero to look like a darn fool in that jester hat, then you may equip it without it actually being seen on your character. No matter which side you choose to take in DC Universe Online, you will be able to form close relationships with the many different characters from the DC world. I was even told that you can choose to follow certain characters, and doing so will make them respect you enough to give you some valuable benefits. For example if you follow Batman he will craft you a custom made Bat suit, which will have its own unique set of attributes. The same applies for every other flagship DC personality in the game, which should prove a hit with hardcore DC comic fans.
Of course an MMO is not an MMO without some kind of online environment, and this is the part that gives DC Universe Online legs that will carry it for years to come (perhaps). Though I didn’t get to see too many of the different modes that will be on offer in the final game, what I saw sparked my interest. Imagine a metropolitan city full of villains and heroes at war night and day. Sony Online Entertainment even told me that the open ended version of the online play can house up to 3000 different players; though it is not very likely you will run into them all.
Now for the upset. Though DC Universe Online is a very promising title for both the Playstation 3 and PC platforms, it of course will come with a monthly subscription. The subscription will cost around 14 bucks a month, which will be heart breaking for many console gamers interested in purchasing this game. I feel that if you have the money then it is more than worth it, Sony online Entertainment promises this game will receive continuous updates to expand onto the experience, keeping it fresh for months and perhaps years. They even hinted that maybe in the future they will add the ability for your character to have his own special hideout, much like how Batman has his batcave. So DC Universe Online is definitely something we have never experienced on a console before, but will this be the game to prove that MMO’s can be successful on consoles regardless of the subscription? The pressure is now on. Let us know your thoughts.