Sunday, January 16, 2011

DC Universe Online - Finally Pushing MMORPGs in a New Direction

Amidst my World of Warcraft: Cataclysm playing I decided on a whim to purchase DCUO. I have a brief and mixed history with Superhero MMOs, so I was a little hesitant at first. But it was $50 very well spent.

Firstly; the combat. It's like playing an action RPG or beat-em-up game and is very dynamic and cinematic to watch. It has a modified targeting system which is more of a reticule that you place over what you want to hit as you swing away. But, you can 'lock on' to things if you need to. This is where the combat takes a leap towards what I'd actually call, the next generation of MMORGPs.

You can start a combo, change your mind mid-execution to something else, or even get the choice of which move you want to end it with. The commands for these weapon combos are simply left and right mouse buttons by default, with either a 'tap' or a 'hold' on them. For instance, my staff villain has one that is 'tap left x2' followed by 'hold left x3' or something along those lines. It seems a bit awkward on paper, but it looks great playing out and it isn't that tedious as you click through it.

Powers (which are separate from weapon attacks) are more typical of a traditional MMORPG special abilities, but are still given a breath of fresh air by being paired with the reticule targeting system.

The roles system, which allows you to change your character's strengths while leaving their power and skill choices intact, is another push in the right direction. It simply grants you bonuses to the role you wish to fulfill, rather than changing your character's purpose entirely by altering ability choices. You may be a damage dealer with a few healing abilities, but when you choose to take on the healer role, those heals become more powerful.

Finally it would seem we have a candidate for where to go next in the land of MMO gaming. If other games take note of these ideas and refine or alter them, the entire genre could possibly be rejuvenated in the coming years. Being that this game is by Sony Online Entertainment, I have very high hopes for the third Everquest game. I hope to see some of these mechanics and ideas in it, so that I can return to my younger glory days of online gaming in one of my favorite worlds; Norrath.

From what we've seen of Dark Millennium Online as well, it looks like it's going to be more action oriented. But what'd you expect from Vigil, the makers of Darksiders? I have high hopes for DMO as well.

It's a very happy day for me when I start to feel like my favorite genre won't be stagnating even more.


Lindsay said...

What an inspiring post for MMOs Cody! Did you encounter any strange bugs in DCUO? I'm not sure if you watch the BFF Report, but his video review mentioned quite a few people were experiencing warping issues along with invisible enemies which made it difficult for him to actually review the game. So I'm glad you were able to review the combat system, it sounds really interesting.

Also, have you looked into Rift at all? It seems pretty exciting, my friends and I will be trying it out when it releases in March.

Great post! :)

Goreface said...


There's been a little warping and lag but its been surprisingly low in volume for an MMO release. It's probably the smoothest release I've seen since Dark Age of Camelot in 2001.

I actually got to do some of the beta events for Rift. My impression of it was that it's WAR + WoW + Aion. More of a sidestep than a step forward as it doesn't really bring anything new to the table but tries to combine the successful features of past games. In some respects it seems interesting but I think the studio has set themselves up for nightmarish balancing issues given that you can 'make your own class'.
I think if the game had come out 4-6 years ago, it would be an amazing leap forward, but given that its a amalgamation of features from games released during that time period, it's just more of the same. Kind of like how Cataclysm just ended up being Wrath 2.0.

A lot of my complaints from the beta events, ignoring the obvious, were the animations and sounds. Lots of stuff just didn't look or sound right, and the spell particle effects were pretty weak. And the fact that most of what I did was grind quests, which after doing so for the last six years, I wasn't too thrilled about.

I'm fairly picky with my MMO'ing though, you should try to get into some of the pre-release events to try it out for yourself.

If I had to put money on the next big MMO possibly-of-2011, I'd put it on Guild Wars 2. The art is fantastic and they look to be pushing forward with some of their ideas.