DC Universe Online Review: The Birth Of A True Hero

DC Universe Online stems from the roots of superheroes and extends far beyond any other massive-multiplayer online video game (MMO) in what it does best: giving normal people superhuman powers. Ever want to explore Smallville or go deep into the depths of Metropolis to fly down under the glazing sun and fight Bizzaro? It is time for the common masses to have an experience unlike any other with the greatest characters of DC Comics put together, including notable names such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, Lex Luthor, Catwoman, and The Green Lantern, all the while further creating a list that extends into the depths of the superhuman stratum. Now any player can have these unique interactions that are simply beautiful in gameplay and even more excellent in pacing and action mechanics. While parts of the gameplay have certain weaknesses, the atmosphere of DC Universe perfectly captures a superhero universe that is meant to be experienced by anyone that loves a MMO made for brawling action rather than click-and-choose gameplay. DC Universe Online effectively creates a different MMO and places a lot of faith to show others that being different is a brave stance.

The storyline begins in the future, where only last of the DC Comics characters remain: The Joker, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Circe, and a few more. The world is in ruins and nearing the mythical apocalypse as the superheroes come to a halting and devastating condition of loss. In the end, Lex Luthor prevails above Superman, before seeing Braniac’s ships approaching from the horizon. This was Braniac’s plan all along, to conquer Earth for his own means of survival and digitize Earth’s inhabitants. Within these ships are Exobytes, miniscule nanites capable of downloading hundreds of terabytes of data while rapidly adapting to conditions against it. A few years later, Luthor and Batman realize their final hope: to send these Exobytes into the past so that their numbers can outlast Braniac’s impending attack on Earth. The Justice League decides to trust Luthor, and inhibit the powers onto the common people. This is where the game begins. The storyline itself is amazingly immense within DC Universe Online, which combines the main universal storyline with the countless stories further in the game through quests, audio-logs, and other data files. This sort of integration and depth of story, not to mention the already immense material from the written comic books infuses DC Universe Online with a level of attention to detail that is admirable. Obviously, we want to see DC Universe Online develop extremely more with time in terms of storyline and environment, and hopefully something which can lead to more cities than just the major areas of Metropolis and Gotham City.

Environments within DC Universe Online are central to the gameplay experience. Currently, DC Universe Online has only two primary cities: Metropolis and Gotham – which does cover a majority of the cities in where most of the DC Comics heroes have been known to do their massive powers and battles. Iconic cities such as Smallville, birth of Superman, are also included. DC Universe Online creates these two cities with inspirations that lead to a grimly scenic Arkham Asylum, an illustrious HIVE Moon Base, towering bridges in Metropolis, the iconic globe of the Daily Planet, insane nutjobs in Joker’s Funhouse, bad rashes in Poison Ivy’s Garden along with 10-15 subsection maps per city with a total of 30+ sections and over 120 locations for instances catering to the different superheroes specific to each mentor. With these lavish environments dominating the game, superheroes are inspired within DC Universe Online to commit to the environment and scenery, and proceed with the game from the inception it starts. As any MMO player knows, environment is the key to MMOs otherwise grinding can become overly repetitious without any room for stopping to smell the roses and remember what the point of a MMO is.

Characters can be superheroes based on mentors, famous DC Comics characters that guide the action and quests throughout the levels within both sides: hero or villain mortality. Mentors further combine through origin classification (Meta, Tech, and Magic), effectively creating a role, certain types of character builds which are relevant to the group aside from one common thing anyone in any MMO has in common with anyone else: Damage Point System (DPS). Batman is associated with the Tech Wing in Watchtower, Superman is focused on Metahuman, and Wonder Woman on Magic, but it is possible to mix and match by choosing different powers for different Mentors, just as long as the origins are chosen correctly, the final gear sets are reflected based on Kryptonian looking armor for Meta-powered heroes, or further style in the grace of Tech-focused armor in the shape of a dark crusader through the Technology origin. The sheer variety of different powers all displays the importance of the relationship of diversity with superheroes not just in the comics, but in the world of DC Universe Online as well with characters of different mentors and armor.

Powers combine with the leveling structure gameplay mechanics to create a splendid gameplay combination and precise ease of definition while making each and every player feel important than just seeing a certain percentage increase from 2 hours of work, which is a concept quite different from other MMOs where players have to grind endlessly to see a small ability difference visually and statistically. DC Universe Online focuses the advancement of powers to determine the player’s abilities, combat strategy and role in groups. Abilities are split between two trees, for example Telekinesis and Illusion for the Mental power set. These points are allocated up to 18 for ability points and 22 skill points that can be advanced depending on feats accomplished past the level cap of 30. Skill point attribution is split between Movement and Weapons. Most of the players can find a fine balance of perfect powers that not only make their superheroes look stylish and good while pulling off great moves, but also give an edge in terms of player stats. Powers further the action of DC Universe Online to an exciting level combined with Iconic Powers that are iconic in their own right for being known to superheroes such as Superman, The Green Lantern, and Captain Marvel.

Quest and mission structure is the best part of DC Universe Online. Of course, players see repetition to a level after the maximum level in way of raids and Duos, which is slightly disappointing but nonetheless the missions up to a point are exciting. There is some light to the repetition however in that there is the magnificence of moving on to the next better and greater mobs and having unique encounters with the forces of The Joker or even Poison Ivy. Raids are 10-man groups that further carry on the action apart from Alerts and Hard Alerts, which garner excellent experience to anyone looking for it. Duos are exciting, but then again after these are done they can become repetitive for different Tiered gear. Police headquarters also have various wanted posters as part of the live-world action into hunting creative and iconic bosses from Bizarro to the golden dancing clown of Full House. There is a consistency of opportunities in DC Universe for ample grouping with any levels, without the terrible and rather pedestrian burden and restriction of not being able to level with your friends if they are too far behind (a feature noted as sharing quests in traditional MMOs), and finally create wonderful memories to get to the level cap and advance for the post-game stance of gaining raid armor and helping others. It is easy for us to see there is constantly a standard of elegance that caters to the fan base of DC Comics through the sheer level of creativity that can turn someone who has never read the DC Comics into a firm believer of not just the game and its characters, but the entire DC Universe to a level that is admirable and takes a real critic to recognize and any gamer to take advantage of and clearly find amiable.

DC Universe Online synthesizes the best of universes: verisimilitude of reality and the DC Universe. After 500 hours of logged gametime, nothing is more obvious than the level of detail Sony Online Entertainment focused on. The leveling schematic and quest structure is simply dynamic and constantly leaves opportunities for people to group up with any other leveled heroes to complete missions, or simply join in on higher-level action to contribute whatever they possibly can without being limited in scope (although this might not be advisable). Is there repetition? Absolutely, and while this is undeniably disappointing, there is no denying the level of superhero MMO action that a developer has managed to capture in their first time, similar to a repetition seen with Batman: Arkham Asylum (minus the other problems with Arkham Asylum alone). There is a true superhero vibe within DC Universe Online that continues to the solo quests and group quests through helping with solo quests or joining Hard/Normal Alerts, Duos, and extremely demanding Raids. There are no complex systems set up in place in terms of power trees while PvP and PvE action have been separated without being forced onto the player unless they are hoping to gain PvP items exclusive to PvP and PvP armor usable in the rest of the game (Tier 1, Tier 2, PvP).  Everything engages at the flight of balance and works in harmony within DC Universe Online while giving room to always improve further and tweak certain technicalities in later patch updates. If DC Universe Online was free, a lot of people would play it as it is certainly a title that does superhero MMO decently. Superheroes of all different kinds finally exist in a world where every character has something to offer not just to a group in a meaningful way, but also to themselves as they are rewarded magnanimously every time they level up. DC Universe Online creates the level of elegance and rewarding detail that is representing of the key thing that all heroes aim for: honesty and perfection, regardless of any issues they can prevail over time.

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