In December, DC Universe Online brought its beta to PlayStation+ and PC, in advance of its retail release on January 12th. I spent a few hours giving it a shake to see if it could crack my fortress of solitude.
FULL DISCLAIMER: I feel this is absolutely necessary to point out before I even start to talk about my experience with the game, I have not played any massively-multiplayer online games before. Ever. So as well as the game, the genre itself is completely new to me, so literally everything about the experience was the first time I’ve tried it. This will obviously have a knock-on effect on the validity of this article if you’re into MMO games, but if, like myself, you’ve never played one, and are considering trying this out, hopefully my perspective can be of some help at least.
I spent a portion of time going through the rather extensive series of menus during the character creation stage, and I have to say, there’s quite a lot of choice when it comes to their appearances. The selection (considering this is a beta) was quite impressive, although compared to other games where created characters are the norm, like the Sims, or even SmackDown vs Raw to an extent, there’s still a bit to be desired. Usually a top half of a particular costume didn’t look good on a character unless I used the bottom half that’s designed to go with it, so that’s maybe something that will be addressed post-release. Or maybe I’m just an awfully unimaginative character designer, I don’t know. Going onto later in the game when I started to pick up loot with stat boosts, I really liked how you could apply the boosts but maintain your original appearance. Of course, being a superhero and all, maintaining a recognisable look is important.
With my first mission being to escape Brainiac’s ship, I was pleased to say that the controls feel at home on a console, and are not much different to your usual free-roaming adventure game. Having gone for a martial arts style with acrobatic movement, I was quick getting used to zipping around and quickly dispatching groups of enemies. Not long after, I’d met my first boss, a Ship Guardian, and with a little help from another player that I’d caught up with, I defeated him relatively quickly, before Superman showed up and helped us with the last of the small mobs before myself and my new-found comrade made our getaway.
I was taken to a pretty well-made Gotham City PD, which serves as a hub to heroes, houses a few familiar faces, and lets you communicate with your mentor and Oracle, who serves as a tutor of sorts. Some of the on-the-ground missions are pretty good, the dialogue is well-written and the map’s easy to get used to. I’d done a few small missions and grinding, like taking out fear fog machines and helping vaccinate hallucinating victims, amongst other things, before a showdown with Scarecrow was made available to me. His fight was pretty interesting, and his use of hallucinations was really good. It was very well scripted and a joy to play; hopefully all the other bosses are given as much consideration.
Overall, speaking as someone who isn’t familiar with the genre, being familiar with the DC Universe itself certainly helped me settle into the experience rather well. Playing without a microphone or keyboard for easy text chat could be a hindrance on myself, as it takes the communication out of the game and in effect, makes you almost forget that it’s indeed an MMO, but for a first experience with the genre? Hefty download time aside (the beta was 14GB, I was downloading on 3GB wi-fi, it took about 13 hours and required the client to be open throughout – meaning I had to leave it to download overnight since it couldn’t download in the background while playing other games), I found it to be quite impressive, a great first experience with the genre, and I’ll be looking forward to this evening’s Battle of the Legends Beta Finale. You can look out for me too, my character name’s Red Vinny, although I’m not 100% certain which server my character’s tied to.