We’ve been searching for something a bit different to play as a couple of late, we’ve done plenty of Guild Wars 2 since last Summer and Wakfu runs terribly on my husband’s computer despite attempts at fixing it. At some point while away the idea of returning properly to DC Universe Online occurred to one of us, we’d tried the game briefly a long while ago, although I couldn’t remember when. I presumed it was before this blog since I have no posts about playing this super hero MMORPG.
According to the minimal achievements page of my original character, he was created on or just before the first of January 2012 – so he doesn’t predate the blog (which started in February 2011), but equally he doesn’t seem to have been played for much more than a week. We decided to create new characters anyway as these original characters had received auto rename suffixes and were so low-level that it didn’t really matter to us to start from scratch.
Influenced by The Secret World perhaps, I swapped from playing Sorcery/Staff to giving Sorcery/Rifle a go this time around. Having a combo of a super power and a weapon to select your overall combat skills does remind me somewhat of playing TSW, actually. I chose to be a healer/dps character and my husband went for a tank/dps Fire/bow character.
We went with aesthetics over any build guides or “most OP” comment threads – it’s highly unlikely we’ll even bother with group content in the game let alone anything near end-game. Perhaps it’s a superhero game thing, but DCUO has an excellent wardrobe system (called ‘style’). Like Rift or EQ2, you can freely mix and match previous armour styles to create or maintain a look. This is achievable anywhere, and almost anytime (outside combat I guess?) – no attempts to use this as a money sink or cash-shop inducement.
Thusfar we’ve played a few zones of Metropolis through following a now familiar pattern building up through minor threats and clean-up operations to a showdown with some minor villain. The overall plot is building on the intro video nicely. It feels very ‘super-hero’ in story-telling tone and graphical style – I’m no expert, but we have avidly watched many of the major film releases and some of the more recent TV series.
The game is heaving with players as well, many have pretty darned-awful names mind, but you can’t knock the game for being a ghost town. That means competition for mission updates out in the open zones, although the game seems quite supportive of casually helping others – mission objectives update if you get more than one or two hits on an opponent. Opponents and clickable objectives spawn very fast though, so we’ve not had to wait around camping a spawn point as yet.
The game auto hides the UI to take screenshots so you can’t see the mass of character names in the above screenshot. The UI is of the action-MMO style with cursor locked to mouse. Unusually there isn’t an obvious ‘mouse mode’ toggle key, unlike in say Tera or BDO, so interacting with UI elements can be unfamiliar or irksome – how do I switch chat if I can’t mouse over to click between tabs? Clearly it’s a console-oriented UI design rather than a mouse+keyboard one. It works well enough and some shortcuts are actually good UI features – like pressing Enter to quickly confirm certain choice. Other minor features are less friendly to keyboard players, such as the awful F4 menu system for adding friends to a party. Why the game hasn’t added an obvious way to interact with other players by pointing at their character and holding a button escapes me, it’s is such a standard thing for action-MMOs.
The other major aspect of the game that we’re learning is the role of movement in gameplay and combat. Unlike almost every other MMORPG that we’ve played, our selected movement power (we both chose flight) impacts both how we get around the game world and how we fight. Fighting in a 3D environment is a rarity in most MMORPGs, so it takes some getting used to when your character can fight from above or below enemies.
The auto-aiming system helps and hinders in equal measure, as the game will often switch to a target you consider less priority: we just need to get used to locking targets more (it is in the tutorial after all). Fighting opponents that are flying around above you is something that feels different from most games, and for my character with dual ranged skills it feels natural to do so. I guess we would have benefited from more time spent underwater in GW2 as it would have prepared us for this.
So far, it’s a fun game to play, especially duo. It’s also very different thematically to anything else we play, so I think more superhero adventures await!
I also still launch this game once in a while, for the mere sake of enjoying the combat system. Mind you, not all is smooth and shiny there, my character is at a point where any progress would require massive grinding. That’s why i’m only there very casually.
But despite not being able to really progress any more, the combat system all by itself is a good reason to return once a while. I just so very much wish Funcom would’ve looked at this game (and/or ESO) before creating SWL. They could’ve created something which actually is enjoyable to play. (I still miss old TSW. )
DCUO is a very under-rated game, I think. It has a lot of content and it gets very regular updates. You can solo, duo, group and play in open PQ/Dynamic Event style. It has a good housing system and as you mentioned an excellent costume system. The movement/travel skills are the real highlight for me – I can just fly or run or skim around Metropolis or Gotham for hours just for the fun of it.
I wouldn’t fancy playing it as a main MMO – it has an extremely grindy progression mechanic as an endgame – but as a dip in, dip out change of pace it’s always been a real pleasure.
I really can’t say why we’ve not looked at it again more recently, though I think we stopped playing soon after the first look because of the ProSiebenSat fiasco. It’s fun though, and the combat seems involved and varied enough to stay interesting. I certainly agree that I wish Funcom could have done a better job with SWL, as we’re playing that as well I can compare the two easily DCUO’s combat has a lot more flair. Flying while fighting is going to take a lot of practice, heck even stopping accurately to take an ‘I’ info snippet seems often to be fiddly, but otherwise the game (meaning DCUO) is a joy to play.
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