DC Universe Online First Impressions


So I went ahead and bought one copy through Steam after doing a bit of looking around about it. The idea being I’ll try it out and see if it’s something the kids like or I think they can handle.

First impression was rather positive, though I question that my LLOgre will be able to handle the interface for it. I suspect it might be trying even for the LBOgre which means I might have to consider either getting a controller for the PC or get them a copy for it on PS3. I’m somewhat reluctant to do that until I see if they’re actually going to like it. They seemed pretty excited about it, made themselves a pair of characters.

LBOgre made one based off of Batman (the character creation has options to create a suit that is inspired by an existing DC hero or villain) only gave him Fire powers and a Bow for a weapon. After naming it, “Dingbat,” he had me play it and get out of the starting area for him.

LLOgre went the villain route and created one based off of Bane. He also had me play it through the starting area for him.

I made a couple of characters to see what sort of difference the powers and weapons had, not a lot initially, but as you grow it gets better. I settled on a Gadget/Dual Pistols/Acrobatics dude called, “Ghost Op.”

Here are a few rough notes because I’m too busy to write them out in detail:

Character Creation

  • Lack of a ‘natural’ power option or even a ‘physical’ power option is kind of bad/limiting because you’re forced to pick between Gadgets, Fire, Ice, Nature, Magic, Mental… I think I’m missing one. Normal heroes are stuck picking Gadgets.
    • Unlike in CoH, there isn’t an option for dual powers (so I can’t really recreate my Fire/Ice Blaster), instead you pick a power set and then a weapon type – the weapon type is almost like another power.
    • The power will tend to render through the weapon, which is cool.
      • I made a nature dual wielding guy and his attacks seemed to put plants on the targets while my ice dual wield appeared to have an icy look to the connecting hits. I could be wrong.
  • Weapon options were decent enough
    • Brawling, Dual Pistols, Dual Wielding, Martial Arts, Hand Attacks, Bow, Rifle, Two Handed weapons and a couple of others
    • These fall under the “Skills” category
  • Costume design options are a lot more limited than in CoH (even before the additional stuff they added in).
    • I think more options unlock as you play, but I haven’t been able to confirm that.
    • You did have decent customization points: head, face, emblem, chest, back (including capes, wings and a backpack), hands, waist, legs, boots. There is a shoulder slot, but I don’t think it’s customizable to start.
    • For colors you pick three colors to a palette then assign them to your ‘Gear’ pieces.
    • Skin, hair, eyes and make up are separated – though I didn’t see  makeup apply to anything more than lip color.
  • Travel options are limited and tied to “Skills” instead of “Powers”
    • Superspeed  – it’s fast enough to start and will pick up speed the longer you are running. You can run up walls and across ceilings, if you stop you will drop off. (There doesn’t seem to be any falling damage in the game).
      • It’d be nice to see the superspeed effect be customizable – it seems like it’s always sort of electric looking.
    • Acrobatics – You run a bit faster with longer strides, you jump higher and tumble a little. You can climb walls or run along side them and even crawl across the ceilings. (There is an animation bug where if you jump in the air and hit a wall or vertical object you will somersault up the wall, land on your feet and then climb or stick to the wall appropriately – not horrible but I thought it looked funny). You can double jump and you can hold down the jump to glide a bit.
      • Moving along ceilings is a PITA with the PC mouse. I find the camera seems to flip and I get stuck going in circles.
    • Flight – pretty simple. Much like superspeed you start a little slow/hover then pick up speed.
      • Again, would be cool to see the power tie into this some.
    • I miss things like teleport and super jump.
    • At higher levels you can put skill points into the movement trees. I think these might customize or enhance the movement options more.
      • For my Acrobatics dude, I noticed the first two options were a grappling hook to pull you or someone to you and the option of firing up some rocket boots while you’re gliding.
  • You have to pick a mentor: Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman for heroes while for Villians your options are: Joker, Lex and someone else I think?
    • Mentor text is confusing because it seems to imply who you pick reflects on the type of character you are; Batman = normal/mundane, Superman = super powered, Wonder Woman = arcane origins.
    • So far I’ve only seen that it impacts where you start. Batman = Gotham, Superman = Metropolis, Wonder Woman = ??

Leveling

  • As you level you get to pick some powers from talent-tree-like options with level caps on some of the options.
    • The tree means not a whole lot of variety for new characters (they could limit players to go into one tree until a certain point)
    • You have two different power trees depending on the power you picked and one third tree (requires higher levels) which is Iconic (which means it’s based on DC characters)
  • As you level, you will get Skill points as well, again using trees.
    • Skills reflect being able to do different things with your weapons or movement and they have branches as well
      • For example, with tap right mouse then hold right mouse, I (dual pistols) can shoot, then roll backwards while still shooting.
      • Holding down the right mouse button lets to unload my clips on targets – cool thing here is I can control which ways I’m shooting with my movement keys but I can’t move while doing the full auto.)
    • Movement abilities appear to augment your movement type in some way.
      • I mentioned above what I saw for Acrobatics; grappling hook and rocket boots for gliding

User Interface

  • It is definitely catering to the console crowd – or at least limited by it. Still, not horrible.
  • I couldn’t find where to see my characters attributes? That’s not a win.
  • You access your Powers mainly through the hot bar (did I mention you only get one hot bar and only have eight (might be 10) slots?)
    • Yes, this means you have to pick and choose what you have up though you can swap them out, it just means digging through some panels so you’re probably not going to do it mid combat.
    • Here’s what I had for Gadgets:
      • I dipped into the Traps tree and picked up Tazer (does electricity damage and yanks the target to you), Hide (out of combat only – this opens up a bunch of things you can do while hidden, which is cool), Thermite Bomb (channeled ability, places an fire/DoT trap and I grabbed the Sticky Bomb from the Tricks tree (it’s the first one; allows you to toss a bomb on a target which stuns them as they try to get the bomb off, then it blows up for damage). I think I also picked up a Turret (Traps tree), but haven’t tried it.
      • I might have Traps and Tricks mixed up. 🙂
  • You access the different attacks of your weapon through the button presses (I’ve only got a mouse so I’ll talk about those)
    • Combo sequences seem sort of interesting and involve tapping the button (click and release) or holding the button (do I need to explain that?)
    • These combos are explained in the Skill view page so you don’t have to discover them
    • Here’s what I had for Dual Pistols:
      • Tap left mouse is a melee attack
      • Right tap is shoot both guns
      • Hold left mouse is a pounce with guns firing
      • Right tap, Right hold is a shot then backward somersault while firing away at the target
      • Right tap, Left hold is a shot then a shooting pounce at the target (I think it’s a knock down)
      • Left tap, Left hold is something else – it’s a bigger melee thing
  • Targeting is what you’d expect for a game that is also on a console.
    • It’s tab to lock on (no clicking since that’s for attacking) and it’s sort of a sticky targeting
    • Without a locked target, attacks and specials fire towards your targeting reticule.

Gameplay

  • Quests are simple enough and appear to have dialog (but nothing more for you to do than accept or decline).
  • Quest lines are neat and you can turn in the quests while out in the field and get the follow up without having to go back to the quest giver.
    • These tend to include an instance or two (very small so far)
    • These also seem to end in a boss fight.
      • So far I’ve beaten up the Scarecrow and Queen Bee.
      • I’m on the trail of Bane, but sidetracked to check out the other areas
    • Completing these gets you a nifty little comic-like movie which you can view later as you desire
    • Completing these also gets you a news article item.
  • Travel is pretty safe and easy. Fast too.
    • There are the odd random encounters consisting of a criminal doing something they shouldn’t be, but not quite like CoH
    • The streets and areas for quest lines do not appear to be phased so you’ll see most of the quest MOBs all around even after completing the quests.
    • There a ‘race’ quests, as in zip around the map really fast.
      • I haven’t done these
    • There is a main hub which you can teleport to from the various police stations (or hideouts; heroes and villains are separated)
      • Which means you can get to the other areas easily enough
      • The machines to respec appear to be here
      • The Flash is here in the vehicle bay, apparently this is where you hand in the ‘race’ quests
      • Banks are here too
      • There are some special gear vendors here that sell really high level gear
  • Vendors buy, sell and repair items.
    • Some items have level requirements, others seem to require reputation and I think some of the ones in the hub require tokens.
  • Exploration is rewarded with discovery achievements
    • You can also find collections.
    • You can also find clues for investigations (though some appear inside the instances as well).
      • Completing investigations gets you some gear reward emailed to you
      • I think you get something else too, but I can’t remember what
    • There are quests that are exploration based.
  • I haven’t really seen any ‘dungeons’ but there are a bunch of instance options for things like PVP.
    • There are these things called Alerts but I haven’t had a chance to look at them yet; I suspect they’re sort of like the ones in Global Agenda – you PUG and try to defend something?
    • There are also some PVP instances which I’m guessing are like Battlegrounds (yes!)
    • You get access to a Vault
  • There does seem to be a step up in difficulty around level 7 or so.
    • The beginning parts seem downright trivial.
    • I think things are much tougher to solo when they have a couple of levels on you (I’m talking 1 or 2, not 3 to 5).
    • Interrupting some of the enemy power-up attacks is important
      • Target locking and no click targeting makes this harder than it sounds when you’re soloing
  • Grouping up is possible
    • I didn’t get a chance to do that, so I can’t comment on it.
  • Guilds are possible to create (though I’ve no clue how).
  • Gear can be upgraded!
    • You can equip items you find and this will impact your character attributes
      • They built into the tooltips what sort of changes you’ll see if you choose one piece over the one you have equipped
      • Equipping items can change the way your character looks, though your color settings for those slots stick.
        • You can adjust this in the Styles window where you can define how you want each gear slot of your character to look and you can lock that look in place so you don’ t have to set the original look back after.
        • This means you can have the Metropolis Fire Dept. Axes for your Dual Wield hero but they’ll look like the swords you start with.
        • None is also an option; so if you don’t want that cape look but like the stats, just equip the cape and set the appearance to ‘None’.

I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but that’s all for now. So far, I am actually impressed but I’ve also played enough SOE games and MMOs lately to know developers/producers put a lot of the effort into the front end of the game… so that’s not a final feeling from me.

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2 thoughts on “DC Universe Online First Impressions

  1. I really liked the combat in DCUO. That to me was a big surprise and the game looks great. But I am not a big fan of the somewhat limited character creation options and the missions do become repetitive after a bit. But I did only play the beta so the final product might be much better.

  2. It definitely does seem to be getting a little repetitive but then there is only so much you can do.

    As UFTimmy predicted, the little Ogres have had next to no interest outside of a brief time on Friday where LLO gave it at try and determined it was a little too hard for him (he had a hard time coordinating the mouse/keyboard so he was facing the wrong way when attacking).

    They’re both very into their DS, mainly Pokemon Soulsilver. LBO is almost done in Johto while LLO is puttzing around because I told him he really needs to level up his other pokemon, not just (what is now a) Feralgator.

    I have to admit, the DS is pretty fun. It feels like you’re carrying around your own personal Nintendo system, including some of the games of that era (at least they feel and look like those games).

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