Rocketed from a doomed planet, the last survivor of his kind, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and change the course of mighty rivers, he is….Superman! Hideously disfigured in a robbery gone wrong and craving nothing more than the attention of the Dark Knight that made him who he always should have been, the clown prince of crime, the Joker!
Some dude from Belfast that slings a green ring and twin pistols, kicking ass and taking names all over Metropolis and Gotham in a fetching spandex outfit? The first two origins are no doubt familiar, the third….well, in DC Universe Online; the next legend is…..you! January 11th, 2011. The day the exobytes were released and the people of earth (or those willing to be the monthly subscription fee at least) became meta humans.
A lot has happened in the two plus years since that day and DC Universe Online has changed in many ways. The first major issue that DCUO faced in its early days was the now infamous “Sony Hack” of May 2011. While the way this entire affair was handled by Sony was, quite frankly, shocking – a true case study for inept community management if there ever was one, the fact that DCUO survived the outage was surprising to many.
In a landscape that at the time already had Champions Online and City of Heroes to provide your spandex fix, the “new guy” was seen as an underdog by many. The key factor that made the game survive, and indeed thrive, is the heavyweight license that it carried.
While Champions had its pen and paper heritage and City of Heroes a loyal fan/playerbase to draw upon, they could not compare with the 70 plus years of lore that DC Comics provided for the developers at Sony Online Entertainment’s Austin studio to draw upon.
Another arrow that DCUO carried in its quiver was the voice cast. Built around the iconic Joker and Batman of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, respectively, the cast included such talents as James Marsters (Buffy’s Spike) as Lex Luthor, Adam Baldwin and Gina Torres (Firefly, Hannibal) as Superman and Wonder Woman and Will Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next generation) as Robin.
While the game had the same teething problems that many MMOs have; server populations, faction balancing the development team and their ambitious plans for monthly content updates certainly kept things fresh for players. These updates added new solo content for players as well as new collections and new ways to chase the all-important Feats. One issue that traditional MMO players had was the ability interface.
The game clearly was designed with the cross platform features in mind and many players considered the” 6 powers and a potion” loadout to be too limited. Once the system is mastered though, DCUO has an exciting combat system that utilises both powers and weapon combos to provide a fluid and intuitive spanking to any enemy you may face. Another “problem” that long term PC players had with the game in the early days was DCUO’s “low” level cap. Topping out at level 30, many of the WoW players out there felt that this was too easy and the game reached end game too soon. In reality, Level 30 is really nothing more than the end of the tutorial and it is after that that the game truly begins.
Feats are the achievements or trophies in game that actually carry more weight than their console counterparts. Players earn feat points by accomplishing tasks in game, collect X amount of “shinies”, complete this instance in 20 minutes or less, spot Iconic characters in the open world and more. Each of these Feats carries points. 100 Feat points are equal to one skill point and it is these skill points that allow players to raise their characters stats in various ways.
Fight for the Light was the first DLC that introduced a new power set, Hard Light and gave players the chance to fight alongside the Green Lantern Corps, if they were heroes, or the Sinestro Corps if they were of a villainous bent.
In November of 2011, the game went Free to Play and a huge influx of players crashed the servers straight away. The payment model split three ways from that point. Legendary members remained those that paid the monthly subscription. Premium players are those that have spent a minimum of $5 on any form of content. All other players then have Free accounts. A tiered benefit system including character slots, inventory space and in-game cash limits scale down from Legendary to Free.
Lightning Strikes followed a few months later and the DLC release has been constant and (fairly) consistent ever since.
Crafting was introduced to the game at the beginning of last year to allow the gatherers out there the chance to scratch that itch and Home Turf, the most recent DLC introduced player housing to the game. These features appeal to the hard core MMO players out there and introduced a new style of play to the PS3 players out there.
As we sit on the eve of the latest DLC, Origin Crisis, it seems that DC Universe Online is striding ahead with a clear plan. And we haven’t even touched on the amount of Raids, solo content, character customisation and PvP! So, the game is free to try, so what are you waiting for? Don your mask and strap on that cape, get out there and fight for good or just cause mayhem! To find out more about DC Universe Online, visit the game page.Related: DC Universe, MMO, Review