Hands-On: DC Universe Online

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Hands-On: DC Universe Online

Batman must really be tired of having to rescue Robin by now - that's why he's making you do it.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it involves MMOGs: At the SOE Fan Faire 2010 in Las Vegas, I got to sit down (well, stand up) in front of a very brief demo for the upcoming DC Universe Online MMOG. As it turns out? It's shaping up surprisingly well.

In the demo, I stepped into the cape and cowl of a 12th-level superhero whose influences began and ended with Batman. This made sense, of course, given that each of the three superpower origin stories - technology, metahuman, and magic - have a corresponding hero and villain attached to them as the character's mentor. Heroes fight under the wing of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, while villains cleave to the dark forces of the Joker, Lex Luthor and Circe respectively. As a technology-based superhero, my character was all but directly apprenticed to the Dark Knight himself.

That's probably why Batman sent me to rescue his other apprentice - the Boy Wonder, Robin, has been kidnapped by the Joker (or more specifically, the Joker's No.1 fan Harley Quinn) for the umpteenth time. It's understandable that Bruce Wayne is probably sick of saving Robin's brightly-colored behind by now, so it's up to you to do the same.

Any hardcore MMOG player would rightly recognize Harley's base of operations - in an abandoned Gotham City amusement park - as your typical instanced dungeon, but what was interesting was that it was completely a solo affair. While you can bring a friend or two along, DCUO's episode conclusions are meant to be tackled by lone heroes, boss fights and all.

It took me a few minutes to get the hang of playing the game on the PS3 controller, but the combat ends up feeling much more like a standard action game than your typical MMOG. Your hero has a normal melee attack and a ranged attack, and pressing the respective buttons begins a typical combo - and holding down the button at any point during the combo results in a more powerful finishing move, some of which stun the opponent or open them up for air juggles.

The combos also build the energy you need to use your superpowers, so it's important to balance both face-breaking and super face-breaking in order to succeed. As a tech-based hero, I had a bunch of gadgets: A bomb/shuriken to throw, a robot drone that followed me around and fired missiles, and perhaps most hilariously, a device that trapped an enemy inside a bubble force field that I could then smack around into other enemies.

The physics were impressive for an MMOG - while not on the level of Crysis or even the Half-Life 2 games, it was nice to see some serious attention paid to environment interaction. In the fun house, there was a room filled with giant bouncy balls that I could smack around and watch them careen off the walls like giant bouncy balls actually might. It feels very floaty, for lack of a better word, and it does seem kind of weird when you and your combo-target are just suspended in midair with no sense of gravity, but it's also really cool to dump the bouncy balls down a large shaft to damage the henchmen below.

All in all, DC Universe Online is turning out to be a very action-y take on the MMOG, which makes sense given its shared PS3/PC release. The action is fun, the boss fight with Harley Quinn was definitely more along the lines of something you'd see in a single-player game than World of Warcraft, and some of the other ideas behind the game - cosmetic inventory-free loot, strong story ties to the iconic DC heroes and their world - make this one a game worth keeping an eye on.

DC Universe Online will go into beta shortly, and the game is scheduled to launch in early November of this year.

Permalink

Boss fight with Harley? Sold.

image

looks cool to me. Will the PS3 be having a beta test?

Egads, i'd been ignoring this up to now. Roll on the universe i say!

tk1989:
looks cool to me. Will the PS3 be having a beta test?

I believe it will. becuase you can sign up for both PC and PS3 beta.

Wow my first MMO might just be on a ps3. Probably going to wait for reviews and such though.

I've seen the video of that demo, it looks utterly grand. I signed up for the beta, and I think it's one of the few MMOs that I honestly can't wait for. I'm surprised it's grown on me this quickly.

By the way John, do you happen to know when specifically the beta starts? I hate the "don't call us, we'll call you" aspect of these things.

Although I have less than no interest in the DC Universe (Marvel fanboy), the trailer for this was bad ass and the demo sounds like it was really cool. I hope this game does well; not because I want to play it, but because if it succeeds hopefully the Marvel Universe will get a similar treatment

Jimalcoatl:
Although I have less than no interest in the DC Universe (Marvel fanboy), the trailer for this was bad ass and the demo sounds like it was really cool. I hope this game does well; not because I want to play it, but because if it succeeds hopefully the Marvel Universe will get a similar treatment

Marvel was about to get the same treatment, Champions online was originally Marvel online. Don't know why they didn't keep it that way though.

My friends are so hyped for this. I was always more of a Marvel man, to be honest.

Wow, that actually sounds like it might be good! I mean, the trailer was awesome, but a good trailer doesn't necessarily mean a good game.

Hrm. I'm wondering whether I should roll my Green Lantern as a Tech or Magic hero. I mean, technically speaking, the power rings are just sufficiently advanced technology...

Sounds generally fun, I'm also happy to see a PS3 launch aswell (how many consoles are there that have the power to compete with the PC?) Depending on price of subscription I'll probably look into it

The more I see of this, the more I honestly want to give it a shot.

However I am a tad gun shy thanks to SoEs amazing ability to grab suck from the jaws of awesome.

This is relevant to my interests.
(Although there is so much wrong with the badass trailer I can't even point at it)

I will need to have an eye on this one, didn't even know it comes also for the PS3. So, anyone know what playable characters we're getting? Because if they give us GL and Flash I'll be over that game like a cat over food it's not allowed to eat!

EDIT: Both of them playable? Fuck yeah!

I keep seeing reasons to get it for the PS3, but the only one I can think of for the PC is the Batman figure that comes with the Collector's Edition. That and the comics that come along with it.

I can't resist the Batman figure! Forgive me...! I am a weak spineless man blob...

*sniff*

The_root_of_all_evil:
Boss fight with Harley? Sold.

image

Is it wrong that I read that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin?

Quaxar:
I will need to have an eye on this one, didn't even know it comes also for the PS3. So, anyone know what playable characters we're getting? Because if they give us GL and Flash I'll be over that game like a cat over food it's not allowed to eat!

You don't play the "named" character - the idea is that the major characters of the DC Universe are recruiting loads of new heroes and villains to fight Braniac, a villain I still can't take seriously because he has the same name as a science-based comedy/educational show.

Still, no option for pure badass normal human? I guess I'll go, like, technology then...

Gritty Superman, really? I mean I'd heard that Christopher Nolan may have been working on rebooting the character, but that gritty?

Chipperz:

Quaxar:
I will need to have an eye on this one, didn't even know it comes also for the PS3. So, anyone know what playable characters we're getting? Because if they give us GL and Flash I'll be over that game like a cat over food it's not allowed to eat!

You don't play the "named" character - the idea is that the major characters of the DC Universe are recruiting loads of new heroes and villains to fight Braniac, a villain I still can't take seriously because he has the same name as a science-based comedy/educational show.

Still, no option for pure badass normal human? I guess I'll go, like, technology then...

Oh, I'm fine with anyone from the sector 2814's GL Corps.

Brainiac? I hope he doesn't blow as many caravans up as the British one!

Mr. Grey:
I keep seeing reasons to get it for the PS3, but the only one I can think of for the PC is the Batman figure that comes with the Collector's Edition. That and the comics that come along with it.

I can't resist the Batman figure! Forgive me...! I am a weak spineless man blob...

*sniff*

The_root_of_all_evil:
Boss fight with Harley? Sold.

image

Is it wrong that I read that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin?

*slapslapslap*

Snap out of it, man!

You should be asking yourself why everyone isn't reading that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin!

Arleen.... Harleen... Harley... Creepy, just noticed that :P

Can't wait to see this! Shame it'll be for PC, but I'm sure if I start giving my PC a makeover, it'll be worthy of the World's Finest ;)

Boba Frag:

Mr. Grey:
I keep seeing reasons to get it for the PS3, but the only one I can think of for the PC is the Batman figure that comes with the Collector's Edition. That and the comics that come along with it.

I can't resist the Batman figure! Forgive me...! I am a weak spineless man blob...

*sniff*

The_root_of_all_evil:
Boss fight with Harley? Sold.

image

Is it wrong that I read that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin?

*slapslapslap*

Snap out of it, man!

You should be asking yourself why everyone isn't reading that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin!

Alternatively...

Harley is back to being a straight villain? Last that I was reading in the main DC universe she had sort of reformed. Of course it's been quite a while now since I've followed it too heavily. Simply got my attention because I would have thought that they would be breaking off from some more "recent" comics continuity.

At any rate it sounds interesting, and it's awesome that they seem to be taking the plans for a simultaneous console and PC release seriously. Usually that doesn't pan out.

I'll be keeping an eye on this, and waiting to see if there are any chunks of serious gameplay footage before I pre-order it though.

monnes:

Jimalcoatl:
Although I have less than no interest in the DC Universe (Marvel fanboy), the trailer for this was bad ass and the demo sounds like it was really cool. I hope this game does well; not because I want to play it, but because if it succeeds hopefully the Marvel Universe will get a similar treatment

Marvel was about to get the same treatment, Champions online was originally Marvel online. Don't know why they didn't keep it that way though.

Actually, seeing how Champions Online turned out, maybe it was better that way. :)

That trailer was awesome, made superman seem cool

Even thought I'm more of a Marvel fan that trailer does look badass....

monnes:

Jimalcoatl:
Although I have less than no interest in the DC Universe (Marvel fanboy), the trailer for this was bad ass and the demo sounds like it was really cool. I hope this game does well; not because I want to play it, but because if it succeeds hopefully the Marvel Universe will get a similar treatment

Marvel was about to get the same treatment, Champions online was originally Marvel online. Don't know why they didn't keep it that way though.

Microsoft canned it mid-development, much like every other MMO they have tried to get for their systems.

Mr. Grey:
I keep seeing reasons to get it for the PS3, but the only one I can think of for the PC is the Batman figure that comes with the Collector's Edition. That and the comics that come along with it.

I can't resist the Batman figure! Forgive me...! I am a weak spineless man blob...

*sniff*

The_root_of_all_evil:
Boss fight with Harley? Sold.

image

Is it wrong that I read that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin?

Dude; it's wrong that you do not read it with her voice. Are you crazy? Are you nuts? She's the mother f*cking Harley Quinn!!*

*Yes; I did spoof that infamous Batman line.

At the end, the Big Brainiac... Thing, kinda reminded me of the Zerg, cause it sorta looked like the brood lord. (I'll Admit I've been playing too much Starcraft 2)

OT: Looks cool, but Continuous universes are hard to take seriously, Luthor is supposed to be SO brilliant he doesn't even need to be on the same continent or have super powers to beat Superman, seeing him in a Mech suit slugging it out on the field strikes me as lazy writing.

sagacious:
At the end, the Big Brainiac... Thing, kinda reminded me of the Zerg, cause it sorta looked like the brood lord. (I'll Admit I've been playing too much Starcraft 2)

OT: Looks cool, but Continuous universes are hard to take seriously, Luthor is supposed to be SO brilliant he doesn't even need to be on the same continent or have super powers to beat Superman, seeing him in a Mech suit slugging it out on the field strikes me as lazy writing.

There's no such thing as too much SC2

Kevin Conroy! I fucking love that guys Batman voice! But the one problem I have is that if i were to play this game I would probably want the Metahuman power style but i would really rather Batman be my mentor. Oh well I could probably still visit the cave every now and again.

I get the feeling there will be some balencing issues...

Well this looks like more fun than I thought it would. And I do want a proper fight against Harley...

Boba Frag:

Mr. Grey:
I keep seeing reasons to get it for the PS3, but the only one I can think of for the PC is the Batman figure that comes with the Collector's Edition. That and the comics that come along with it.

I can't resist the Batman figure! Forgive me...! I am a weak spineless man blob...

*sniff*

The_root_of_all_evil:
Boss fight with Harley? Sold.

image

Is it wrong that I read that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin?

*slapslapslap*

Snap out of it, man!

You should be asking yourself why everyone isn't reading that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin!

Arleen.... Harleen... Harley... Creepy, just noticed that :P

Couldn't agree with you more!

Is there any confirmation of a single player mode so you don't have to subscribe?

Mr. Grey:

Boba Frag:

Mr. Grey:
I keep seeing reasons to get it for the PS3, but the only one I can think of for the PC is the Batman figure that comes with the Collector's Edition. That and the comics that come along with it.

I can't resist the Batman figure! Forgive me...! I am a weak spineless man blob...

*sniff*

Is it wrong that I read that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin?

*slapslapslap*

Snap out of it, man!

You should be asking yourself why everyone isn't reading that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin!

Alternatively...

hahaha!

Take that hippy!! :P

Brilliant.

Sinclose:
Well this looks like more fun than I thought it would. And I do want a proper fight against Harley...

Boba Frag:

Mr. Grey:
I keep seeing reasons to get it for the PS3, but the only one I can think of for the PC is the Batman figure that comes with the Collector's Edition. That and the comics that come along with it.

I can't resist the Batman figure! Forgive me...! I am a weak spineless man blob...

*sniff*

The_root_of_all_evil:
Boss fight with Harley? Sold.

image

Is it wrong that I read that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin?

*slapslapslap*

Snap out of it, man!

You should be asking yourself why everyone isn't reading that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin!

Arleen.... Harleen... Harley... Creepy, just noticed that :P

Couldn't agree with you more!

One of my friends actually goes as Harley to costume parties, she had her boyfriend double up as her Mistah Jay, which he did a great job of actually.

Goes to show how influential the Animated Series was that they not only wrote her into the comics, but also gave her a comic line of her very own.

Jbird:

Mr. Grey:
I keep seeing reasons to get it for the PS3, but the only one I can think of for the PC is the Batman figure that comes with the Collector's Edition. That and the comics that come along with it.

I can't resist the Batman figure! Forgive me...! I am a weak spineless man blob...

*sniff*

The_root_of_all_evil:
Boss fight with Harley? Sold.

image

Is it wrong that I read that in the voice of Arleen Sorkin?

Dude; it's wrong that you do not read it with her voice. Are you crazy? Are you nuts? She's the mother f*cking Harley Quinn!!*

*Yes; I did spoof that infamous Batman line.

I'm more off than insane. Or is my denial the proof that I am?

...

Yeah, I can agree with that point.

...

Fine, I made a mistake, okay? Wait, hold on.

How rude! Can't you see I'm having a conversation with that handsome man blob in the mirror?! ... the nerve of some people...

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