DC Universe Online interview – Part 3: Characters and Heroes

Posted on February 27, 2011

Today, we talk with DC Universe Online’s Game Director Chris Cao about character creation, future Power Sets being added to the game and how the development team had to choose between quality and quantity in development. If you’re playing DCUO as much as we are, be sure to read the earlier parts of the interview, where Chris talks with us about animation glitching and developer priorities and the planned monthly content updates (hint: Penguin’s coming!), and tune in each day this week for more insight into our current favorite MMO.

PCG: A few of my comic book-savvy friends are upset that they can’t perfectly recreate a character like Superman or Flash because the game’s six power sets don’t really match those characters. Do see that as a problem that needs to be addressed or is it just a side effect of turning a comic book universe into a fun MMO?

Chris Cao: I know there are a lot of people who want to make a specific character, maybe you have a character concept in your head. There are other comic hero MMOs that create power sets that have no powers because it lets people do certain things. We are looking at it, but what it comes down to is that there are two types of people playing DCUO: those who want to create a specific character concept and that’s more important than the game play or cosmetic variety, and those who want rocking gameplay and abilities that tie together. That’s the spectrum: I don’t think players are one way or the other, you’re somewhere between that.

For us, the developers, we’re staying towards the gameplay more than anything, because adding a new Power type is the biggest change we can make in the game. A new power type affects literally everything we do. So our options are either give you a Power set that really isn’t very different because that’s the only safe way to add to it (giving you something that you already have and put different effects on it). Those character concept guys [want that sort of thing]: they’re like, “I don’t care if it’s different, at least cosmetically, I can get more into my character.”


I want to be just like these guys, except that Grundy fellow. He’s kinda gross.

The other alternative (on the gameplay-leaning side) is to say, “Hey, if we’re going to add more powers (and we will), let’s do it as totally different powers that feel different and provide different gameplay choices.” I think our weapons show how different we try to make things. Two-handed feels very different than Bow or Dual-wield and the rest. We’re trying to strike that balance [between new types and truly different types], and I think we’re always leaning on the gameplay side of those options. I’m not trying to stretch the answer out, but it’s really about different people playing the game and a lot of different points of expectation that they’re going to have. And we are always going to err on the side of things that makes the gameplay rock and gives it tactical combos and tactical multiplayer choices, rather than just trying to satisfy a player’s specific type of hero/villain concept.

One particular case is the Superman and Wonder Woman thing: they have power with no powers. We have their powers in the system, its just people want it called something else. We have Brawling in the game, and if you want to punch guys and smack things around, take the Brawling power set and Super Strength skill and you’re doing the Superman thing. Yes, you may have to pick Ice as a Power set, because we made a balanced system where everyone has a weapon, power, and movement mode. But if you want to get into that debate: we do have flexibility in our system. You can role play Superman no problem. You don’t have to use the Ice powers that are offered to you for tanking and those sort of things. You can mix your Power and Skill points, but its fundamentally a MMO, and that means it needs to play well as a multiplayer game with roles and abilities. That’s always going to be our first foot forward. On the cosmetic side, we’ll always try to put stuff in for it, but its gotta work as a game first.


Bop! Bet you didn’t learn that trick in martial arts school, Batjerk.

PCG: The iconic powers that everyone can access seems to be a good container for things like Superman’s laser eyes and Wonder Woman’s lasso.

CC: If you made a system that was perfect on the customization side, it would fall onto the gameplay side because they are at odds. You can choose one or the other. Really, DCUO’s the kind of game you want to play and we want to make it fun to play with your friends as well as give you the cosmetic side of it, but that’s secondary.

PCG: As far as adding new powers in the future, the most obvious one currently missing is the Green Lantern’s light powers. You could also do Cyborg’s techno-augmentation. Are there any power sets that aren’t implemented yet, that you peronsally want to see added sometime in the future?

CC: Designing power types based on one specific hero or villain is the main paradox in making a superhero MMO–if you’re making a game that only has one main hero: like a Superman game or Batman game, its probably less of a problem, because the abilities are customized to that character. But anytime you create something that’s more broad (like a power set in DCUO): your inspiration is specific, but your results have to be general.

Superman is a great example: he breaks all the rules. He’s super strong and super smart (he’s actually an incredible scientist). His story is full of alien technology, heat vision, cold breath, all of the sonic clap abilities, the pounding and ripping, and everything else that goes on. He’s a very specific case that people identify with and if you’re making  a game about Superman, you can replicate those abilities one for one. If you’re making a system of abilities [for players to pick and choose from to build their own character] you have to generalize and ask yourself, “OK, what bucket does this ability fall into?” Like th Ice power set in our game: ice is actually two sets of powers (all of the power sets are broken up into two main buckets of abilities). And even though they’re different from each other, they are not radically different, so we put them in the same bucket so, anybody who has elemental-like powers will be using, at the start, either Ice or Fire.


The Bee Knee’s wardrobe for this episode was provided by GAP.

PCG: Did any power sets get cut during development?

We tested Earth internally, but we couldn’t make it different from those two just yet, and we didn’t want to put some kind of brown ice out there, so we put it on hold. It wasn’t cut, but personally I would love to add Light. We’re actually talking right now adding Light. It has a fiction and a lore–especially with the movies upcoming, there’s a lot of support–and when we do it, we want to make sure it’s cool and not just, “We colored some other abilities or we changed the particle effects.”

I think this is pretty key to our game and what’s interesting about it: there are other MMOs, superhero or not, where fidelity is traded for variety directly. You get something that’s lower fidelity because you get more of it. It goes back to your earlier question: Do you want fidelity or variety? Obviously everyone wants both. I think a lot of times, MMOs pretend to promise both. In an action game, [a type of combat or game feature] means something completely different fidelity-wise, and when in an MMO, players [may make the excuse] and go, “Oh, well ,that fidelity isn’t there because they had to make so much of it.” Whatever we put in DCUO, we’re going to put it in carefully and we’re gonna make sure it has its own value. Whether it’s another power tech or weapon–whatever we add, you can be sure that it will make a totally different experience. We figured as long as you like the existing game, we can build more over time. But we’ll only get that once chance to make a good first impression, and if two of our powers are too alike, you’re going to think that we cheaped out.


At one point, they had almost double the number of weapon types that made it into live.

PCG: Do you think there’s room for more weapon types to be added as well?

CC: Totally. We had 15 or so weapons that we played around with in development and we boiled it down to 9. In some cases, we did stuff creatively–like we had this Wand weapon type that’s a little bit like a Harry Potter superhero. And while it was cool and there are characters in the DC universe that used wands, we just couldn’t come up with enough badass combos. At a certain point, the guy with the wand is bicycle kicking and back flipping. It just didn’t work. So the quality-over-quantity thing came into play and we said “OK, lets boil down”.

Another example is we had Single Pistol in for a while, instead of Dual Pistols because there are a lot of DC characters that use just a single pistol. Again, we looked at it and ask ourselves, “Whats cooler? OK, dual pistols it is.” And how different are single pistols going to be from dual? We thought our time was better spent making a Two-Handed weapon type or making a Hand Blaster that will really be radically different [from anything else], rahter than making a Single Pistol.

A good example [of making weapon types feel unique] is Martial Arts vs Brawling. They’re different, but both are hand-to-hand. So really, we wanted to be different. We wanted you to be cool because, there’s a lot of weapons and powers that we give you, in addition, there’s a lot of cool stuff in movement types. Like the Flash is a great example. A lot of the Flash’s abilities come from Super Speed, not a power type. If you try to re-make Flash in DCUO, you’re gonna be bigger and better in a lot of cases, because you are gong to have more options.


Go to Source (PC Gamer)

DCUO interview – Part 1: Squashing bugs

Posted on February 23, 2011

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview DCUO’s Game Director Chris Cao. We talked about everything from what bugs the dev team is focusing on fixing first, March’s big update, future power and weapon sets being added to the game and if they’re planning to add mod support for the PC version. We’ll be releasing a new portion of the interview every day this week up through Friday! Today we talk with Chris about what the dev team’s top priorities are right now and what’s really going on with major bugs like animation glitching.

PCG: What do you see as the top priorities for the dev. team to address?

Chris Cao: Well, I can tell you that we don’t’ spend a lot of time making a list–we just start working on fixing problems. Right now we’re actually working on chat actively and we released some more fixes this last weekend and early Friday morning [to help improve the stability of chat on live servers]…. We’ve found that [the problems with chat] have been very population-dependent. Because our leagues are so big (like I’m in a league that has 750 people in it) its’ basically stressing our systems so we had to put in more tech to make sure that that whole thing works.

Voice chat is the same thing. We’ve done a bunch of changes there, but there are more coming in the February update. Communication is the number one thing. for us right now. Actually to that point, as a part of the March update, we’re re-designing the social pane and moving a lot of aspects currently in the social menu out onto the quick menu, so that they’re much easier to get to, instead of it being buried in the PDA.

Grouping is fun, but it could definitely be easier to get started.

Basically, right now, the thing that’s making everything not work or more annoying is the chat and communication. Right after that, is grouping and group queuing. The queuing logic that we have in there right now, we actually had hot fixes go out for it–I think it was Friday again. We’re starting to address these issues. We tried out a configuration for launch which favored Duo Modes over Alerts–it let Duos suck up all the available cues instead of letting more of the alerts show up. We’re looking at re-balancing that right now. [Balancing that sort of thing] is just a matter of finding out what people like to do and whose using what. We’re also adding in logic that makes sure that incomplete or dead instances get killed off faster, because they are also taking way too long right now.

So those are the two biggest things, because (1) If you can’t talk to people, it isn’t an MMO. And (2) If you can’t do things easily with other people then, that’s an issue. Now of course, there are lots of issues. Like we sped up the load time on the PS3 for a lot of menus which will speed it up on the PC even faster. That’s just basic usability stuff. That’s the thing: we have a great fun game, but there are some bugs and stuff that’s making it hard to use, and that’s really what we are focusing on more than anything.

And of course adding more stuff for everybody to do, but the focus is really split between making it easier to group and easier to see whats going on. Swapping group loot and cycle stance, which is a minor thing, but you look for group loot a lot more often than you cycle stance. So it’s those little things. We’re playing end game, we’re playing the leveling game, trying to get those things that we just want to smooth out and not like a rough edge to you.

PCG: That’s a lot of the changes that I, personally, was hoping to hear you mention.

CC: Yea, and there’s a ton of other fixes going in there, like in some cases, there were duos where you could get locked out of a boss fight. There are a ton of that type of changes going in. We usually don’t wait for the [major monthly] updates for those, because its server side. We actually change that stuff as fast as we can. If it involves physical assets that we have to do in the game, though, then we have to patch those and we wait for the update for that.

I could really use some help right about now… guys? Anyone?

PCG: Another major problem that you didn’t mention is the animation glitching that people are seeing in PVP, which lets cheaters chain together a crazy number of abilities. Is it going to be difficult to fix that? Is that even fixable?

CC: Well we’re actually trying to find out what’s going on, to be honest, because what’s interesting is that what people are calling “animation glitching” [isn’t really a bug at all]–it’s inherent to our system. It’s complicated to explain, so let me know if it comes across. Our system allows you to interweave weapon combos with abilities in your ability tray. That means that, in some cases, your ability tray needs to override your combo animation. In other words, if you gotta heal, you gotta heal right now because someone is about to die. So what we do is actually cut off the animation you were doing with your combo, and just instantly play the healing animation.

So sometimes people see what looks like a “glitch animation” which is actually our fail safe for when you need to heal or when you need to taunt or when you need to stun right away. We’re gonna override our own animation and make sure that that ability gets played, [but it’s not resulting in additional attacks]. The reason I bring that up is that this issue has actually grown [out of proportion] in peoples’ heads in the community, because we didn’t communicate well that “Yes, our system actually does allow inner animations to get interrupted.” Now at the same time, we’ve been watching the YouTube videos and doing detective work to figure out how the guys are doing 20 attacks a second. We’ve actually found in some cases that its a data problem, because we’ve allowed abilities to continue through [weapon attacks].

If I were animation-glitching, I might actually be winning.

So we fix some of those. We also have cheat detection which I won’t go into the details on how we do it. But we’ve been logging and learning a lot of that stuff and fixing it back end on our side. In an MMO, you are always racing against the people. The game’s evolving in both gameplay and technologically, we have our logging in place and are applying fixes (which I won’t talk about specifically, but we are addressing these types of glitches). We don’t seem to have anything duplicating what we saw in beta, where we had a few exploits like the track and field ones or the specific one with the Amazonian gauntlets where you could stack stuff up.

Obviously, when you’re in PvP and you get unfairly ganked, it’s one of the most emotional things that can happen. That’s just gonna piss you off. But what’s happening right now is that I’ve been playing a ton of PVP and I’ve never had [animation glitching] happen to me; and I’m on a pvp server! Obviously, this is anecdotal, but what I have seen is people calling out what I already do (which are my normal combos and abilities) and call that glitching.

The way to really tell if someone is glitching is to look in your combat log. If you see that you got hit repeatedly by someone in a span of time–instantaneously twenty or thirty times or constantly dodging or rolling–that’s the exploit that we are hammering down on. We’ve already done a bunch of fixes on it, but because of our combination of systems, we gotta make sure we’re covering all the holes. We don’t have them all yet but we are working on it.


Go to Source (PC Gamer)

Reviews: DC Universe Online Review Supplement

Posted on February 02, 2011

Greg Tito reviews DC Universe Online.


Go to Source (The Escapist – EscapistMagazine.com)

DC Universe Online Video Review

Posted on January 28, 2011

Check out the Gamespot video review for DC Universe Online.


DC Universe Online Review

Posted on January 28, 2011

Fun combat and great looks make DC Universe Online entertaining for a while, though various limitations keep it from being a long-term destination.

Score: 7.0 / good

Get the full article at GameSpot

DC Universe Online Review” was posted by Kevin VanOrd on Tue, 25 Jan 2011 18:28:35 -0800

DC Universe Online – PvP Gameplay Movie

Posted on January 26, 2011

Players fight each other for control of the Batcomputer.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

DC Universe Online – PvP Gameplay Movie” was posted by sampsona on Tue, 25 Jan 2011 14:56:44 -0800

DC Universe Online Screens

Posted on January 20, 2011

51 new shots posted.

Get the full article at GameSpot

DC Universe Online Screens” was posted on Wed, 19 Jan 2011 18:54:01 -0800

DC Universe Online: First Impressions

Posted on January 14, 2011

MWAH-HA-HA-HA! That’s my evil laugh. Do you like it? I’ve been practising. A 14GB download, immediately followed by a 6GB content patch, gives you plenty of time to perfect things like that. I’d already decided I was going to be a villain, because villains are always more fun than the heroes, but after so much waiting around, I was definitely in the mood to smash shit up in Sony’s comicbook MMO. We’ll have a full review for you soon enough, but for now, here’s what happened in my first few hours.

‘So, turns out I used to be a real douche. Sorry about that, Superman.’

DC Universe Online is set in a timeline where Lex Luthor finally manages to beat not just Superman, but all the world’s greatest heroes. This turns out to be a Mistake. Almost as soon as he lands the killing blow, Brainiac appears in the skies with a full warfleet and promptly steamrollers the now completely undefended Earth. The repentant Luthor steals some of his technology and heads back in time, releasing nanites capable of turning anyone into a superhuman powerhouse, with the idea that the Justice League can train them up to be an army to fight the incoming armada. Unfortunately, it works just as well on jerks, and his present-day self, along with Circe and the Joker, promptly set up their own mentoring system on the side of evil. As one of these newly-formed heroes, you get to not only choose who you want to be, but who you want to train you. Not much of a decision, really. Lex has incredible intelligence and the resources of a global conglomerate of evil. Joker has Harley Quinn’s cellphone number. Go Team Joker!

But how do you stand out next to the Clown Prince of Crime? Luckily, that’s pretty easy. DC Universe’s character creation unfortunately pales in comparison to both City of Heroes and Champions Online, but it’s excellent by most other MMO standards. The main restrictions are that your character only has a three-colour palette to share across all their gear, and a relatively restricted costume selection.

Unlike Cryptic’s MMOs, the idea is that you’ll find more costume pieces in the game itself, which I find pretty silly. That’s fine for the more iconic pieces, such as Harley’s jester cap, but when you’ve got to create your hero’s name and theme at the start, you want to make sure they live up to it immediately. Nobody wants to be Goingtobebatman or Green Punchintheface for 16 levels.

Most of the bases are covered though, with everything from a big top hat to a choice of hairstyles and Power Girl inspired spandex complete with boob-window, so you should be able to create at least roughly what you want. (Expect to see a lot of Spawn rip-offs, thanks to his mask having somehow slipped into the selection.) If you can’t be bothered to create a full character, you can also choose to be ‘inspired’ by one of DC’s signature heroes, which is the DC Universe Online equivalent of asking your parents for a Batman costume, only to get a logo cut out of a cardboard box and a cape made out of bin-liners.

Oh, goodie. Now Batman’s really going to want to kick my arse.

But what to make, what to make? I could have gone for an eye-poppingly colourful outfit, but nobody does that better than Mister J. Instead, I created a gunslinger forged from shades of grey, just like the world she’s about to enter. Her name: Monocrime. Prepare to fear her.

She’s a Tech themed superhero, with Acrobatic travel powers. This means she gets to fight with toys like Joker and Batman, as well as clamber up buildings like Spider-Man and glide effortlessly across the city with nothing more than a flappy trenchcoat to catch the breeze. Later upgrades allow for rocket travel and grapple lines, although I haven’t gotten them yet. You can also opt for Flight or Super Speed, but I burned out on those during Champions/City of Heroes. Athletics sounds crap, but is fun.

Monocrime. Does in fact plan to commit more than one crime. Stop asking.

Everyone gets the same training mission, set aboard Braniac’s ship. It’s… pretty dull, really. On the plus side, it’s very easy, very short, and gives you plenty of time to play with your new combat moves.

DC Universe feels a million times more kinetic than most MMOs – more like a (very, very stat-driven) God of War than the usual click-to-auto-attack style. With melee attacks, you flip from goon to goon in huge flashing arcs of pain. With guns, you unload from a distance or do pistol-whips up close, pulling off John Woo style moves like leaping backwards while firing by punching in simple combos. Opted for Stealth? You can assassinate people, or lay down mines. Went with Tech? Expect toys like Sentry Turrets.

Much like City of Heroes, the most notable thing about the combat is that it lets you feel like a badass right from the start, taking down rooms full of robots and fighting alongside Lex Luthor in a mission to save the planet from Braniac’s first world-conquering attack wave.

Well, that was easy. Turns out the Justice League are a bunch of wusses.

The main problem I had with the combat – and it’s a limited one – is that the controls and feel of the game was clearly designed around everyone playing it with a controller… but DC Universe Online refused to detect my 360 pad. The setup program did. The actual game didn’t. Not everyone is having trouble with this, according to the official forums, but if you are, there’s no confirmed fix yet. Boo.

Playing with a mouse and keyboard is doable, but feels distinctly wrong – much floatier than it’s obviously meant to be, with mouse-clicks just not having the same oomph as buttons. Using grown-up game controls also turns the interface from okay, for a system without a guaranteed mouse and keyboard, into something much more horrible, with a useless chat interface, a lack of things like tooltips, and constant menus and shortcuts when you just want to click and type and actually do stuff. But no matter…

Up above the streets and the houses, Batsignal flying high…

After killing roughly a billion robots and helping Lex take out the ship’s main weapon, I was immediately dispatched to Gotham to start my life of crime. Again, it’s tough not to compare the city to City of Heroes/Champions Online. Mostly, it’s good news. Gotham definitely feels like Gotham, complete with Batsignal up in the the clouds, with the only real missed opportunity being that the streets feel deserted. There are villains and cops, but not much in the way of civilians to terrify – at least not in this opening area.

There is however plenty of lore, mostly told via promotional booths where Booster Gold gives you a self-aggrandising tour of the city, and standalone information points that tell you that, say, a particular burger bar is owned by LexCorp, or that so-and-so is a member of the Falcone crime syndicate. All of this is optional, although it does give XP, but an excellent touch, whether you’re a fan of the lore or have no idea what you’re meant to be looking at. The only finger-wagging disappointment is the shameless pinching of the Rikti War Walls from City of Heroes in the form of Braniac bottle-fields all over the place. Still, overall, it’s a good Gotham, with excellent Batman atmosphere and all the trimmings. Time to crush it!

DISCLAIMER: At Level 1, crushing may not in fact ensue.

Villains are based out of nightclubs, because modern music is evil, where everyone from Two-Face to Catwoman just stands around next to a teleporter to the Hall of Doom. I immediately rushed to the Auction House to try and sell Batman’s secret identity on the black market, but couldn’t find the option. Instead, I was informed that I’d have to get money the old-fashioned way – supervillainy. Joker immediately sets up some quests involving beating up policemen and stealing their guns, with the goal of starting a gang war to ‘entertain’ Batman. And knowing Joker, spreading some deadly laughing gas for kicks.

Oddly, nobody seems particularly bothered about the alien invader currently invading the city, as the cops are still chasing Level 1 thugs, guys on the docks are still shunting drugs around, and the nightclub dance floor is packed. I suppose that when you live in Gotham, you resign yourself to a horrible death.

All of the quests are fully voiced, from the mission briefings (often by the DCAU cast, including Mark Hamill) to random comments from enemies. There are a lot of them. One early mission for instance has you bribing rookie cops, who have several different barks depending whether or not they take the money or tell you where to stick it. In terms of objectives, they’re pretty bland so far, but the simple fact that they’re coming from the Joker himself gives them a certain kick. Hamill plays him with his usual delicious relish, with extra input coming from a shadowy figure called Calculator, who I’ve never heard of but I’m told is a villain whose superpower is having a magic calculator. No wonder he stays behind the scenes, even if he was later given an anti-heroism force-field to protect him from harm/nasty people being really mean.

(Note to Calculator fans: I’m sure his magic calculator is lovely, and he has a deep backstory in a hundred different comics, but I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, even admitting to owning a magic calculator earns you the same respect level as the dreaded Skidmark Streaker or The Phantom Baker.)

Long arm of the law? Pah! My reach is much longer…

Combat isn’t a patch on a dedicated beat-em-up like God of War or Bayonetta, but it’s pretty damn good for an MMO. You’re always doing stuff, whether it’s spotting an incoming super attack like a Riot Cop’s chemical spray or blocking attacks before striking back, and your special moves are much more entertaining than simply hitting someone in the face only harder. In my case, I had a taser wire that would yoink enemies right over to me and stun them at the same time, and the ability to go into stealth mode, lay mines, or assassinate from the shadows. There are several talent trees, and pretty much any combat type you could want – the only real absences being full-on superstrength and a Green Lantern ring. The first is covered a bit by martial arts and brawling. The second, I expect to see sometime around the release of the movie. After a few levels, you can also buy Iconic Powers, such as Batarangs and Superman eye-beams. This seems a bit silly, really. Why would Batman let some rookie have access to his stuff?

(On a similar subject, I have a bone to pick with the Iconic Armour sets that you’re meant to aspire to. The idea is that by doing raids and PVP, you can unlock pieces of super-armour based on signature heroes, depending on your role. All but two are based on male signature heroes, with Wonder Woman’s set looking more like something Hawkman would put his stamp on, and Circe’s apparently chosen at random. The game has suits based on Metallo and Steel and even Robin, but no stealth-camo from Catwoman or similar? Rubbish! Hopefully later tiers will be a bit more even handed. If nothing else, a hulking Zatanna combat suit complete with armoured top-hat and riveted-fishnets would be hilarious.)

As far as game-modes go, there’s a PvE server and a PvP server, and I suspect that the PvP server will actually be more fun, if the ganking isn’t too horrific, as well as stretch the game’s playing time out a bit longer. It caps out at Level 30, and with only two cities to play in so far (along with instanced content from elsewhere, like a dungeon based in Gotham’s sister city Bludhaven, and a raid in Arkham Asylum), I suspect it’s going to run out of content pretty damn quickly. It definitely feels like a game that would have been better off as an F2P action game, not – unless this is really impressive – a £10 a month MMO.

But it is the only one where Harley Quinn will offer to give you her body for the night.

That sound you just heard was a planetwide nerd orgasm.

Okay, so it’s not as dodgy as it sounds. There are a couple of different PvP modes in DC Universe Online, but the coolest of them (at least at the start of the game, when your own character is obviously rubbish) is Legends, where you get to download a copy of some signature heroes and fight with them, complete with all their elite powers. Harley is the first you unlock when working with the Joker, as well as a fanboy favourite, so jumping into a match inevitably meant teaming up with three other psychotic jesters to fight a team of much more boring Robin clones. Further proof that evil is Best. The action is very chaotic, not helped by the fact that without a mouse cursor and tooltips, it’s tough to know what all your individual attacks actually do, and a bit fast and flailing, but it’s a cool addition and a great taster.

The mission I joined took place in Arkham Asylum, and involved controlling assorted points on the map, apparently to release villains, although mostly it just seemed to be Harleys stamping around with giant bombs, hammers and trick gloves. The chat interface is lousy, and nobody seemed in the mood to talk anyway. Still, just following someone else and helping them beat up a couple of Robins did the trick, at least until they turned round and kicked our Harley Army right in the bells. Bah!

And THAT’S for Batman and Robin!

Back in Gotham, Joker’s attempts to start a mob war continued with an all-out brawl between mobsters and the police, with my job being to rearm the mob and take out cops. It’s 15 of one objective and 25 of another, but since you’re in the middle of a brawl, it takes no time at all, and is actually pretty fun. Dual-guns blazing, I took out half the GCPD, before being sent on the most dreaded assignment of all…

…going into a warehouse.

Sorry, but ever since City of Heroes, I’ve developed a fear of warehouses in MMOs. There are only so many times you can fight through them, shooting generic goons, before you want to rip your hair out in chunks and make the designers eat them. Luckily, this warehouse was a bit more interesting. By the end of the first area, Catwoman had shown up to lend a helping paw, which led into a couple of set-pieces, including a police ambush, and a full-boss fight with Huntress, one of Batman’s more violent allies.

Here’s another part where DC Universe deviates from most MMOs. Typically, early boss fights are simply a standard monster with slightly higher stats and a name over their heads. Huntress offers a multi-phase boss battle, showing up with a cut-scene, and then forcing you to work alongside Catwoman to take her down. Initially, she comes at you with a staff. Later, police rappel down from the ceiling to distract you. She deploys exploding crossbow bolts that you have to dive out of the way of, hiding behind destructible scenery or convenient walls. She goes invisible, forcing you to stick close to Catwoman and try and score a couple of hits before she disappears back into the shadows for another strike.

Huntress isn’t difficult to kill, but it definitely feels like you’re going up against a proper superhero in a battle that’s genuinely worth your time. Throughout, the two ladies have a bit of custom banter to add life to the encounter, and as a bonus, when you finally kill- sorry, ‘knock her out’ – you’re treated to a short animated comic explaining a bit more about who she is. It seems a little odd to have a big dramatic sequence about how badass and determined she is when she’s lying defeated at your feet in a pool of agonising broken-ribbed pain, but it’s a cool addition and a great reward. Hopefully the later bosses will be as good.


Aside from the comic sequence, the rewards for beating Huntress were pretty standard. A couple of new costume pieces. Some money. A big chunk of experience. Catwoman invited me to go see her back at the evil nightclub, assuming The World’s Greatest Detective hadn’t worked out that every major villain in his Rogues Gallery was standing around in the same place, along with a teleporter straight into the Hall of Doom. Luckily, he hadn’t, and the next quest arc started up, involving Bane and the drug Venom.

But by this point it was 2AM, and while Evil may not sleep, Evil In Training needed forty winks. I hit the main menu to log off, before remembering a message I’d been sent after defeating Huntress, from a character called Ambush Bug. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but talked about one-time access to something called The Vault, where I’d be able to score lots more loot and cash. He even warned me to clear out my inventory slots. How could I log out before at least finding out what he was talking about, especially if there was a chance he’d be more generous than that Azerothian skinflint Greatfather Winter…

So I used the ticket. Then this happened…

What… the… fu-

Seriously, where does he find the time to make all this stuff? Clearly, I have much to learn from the master, and while I doubt I’ll still be playing come the first monthly subscription bill, I am looking forward to seeing what other craziness is out there, in Gotham, Metropolis, and – Batman permitting – beyond.

Full review coming soon. Until then: MWAH-HA, and indeed, HA. Hail Joker.


Go to Source (PC Gamer)

Shippin’ Out January 9-15: DC Universe Online

Posted on January 09, 2011

SOE and Warner Bros. superhero-infused MMORPG takes to the streets alongside Kingdom Hearts II: Re:coded, Prinny 2, and Ghost Trick.

Around this time last year, the gaming industry saw a glut of big-budget titles that missed–or dodged–the holiday release window, including the likes of Darksiders, Bayonetta, and Army of Two: The 40th Day. This year is shaping up to be a bit less front-loaded, though it does still have a few potential hits arriving during the second full week of 2011.

Perhaps the biggest launch this week is DC Universe Online from Sony Online Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The PC and PlayStation 3 game lets players create their crime fighter or villain, and because it is set in the DC Universe, such locales include Superman’s Metropolis and Batman’s Gotham City. Also, a range of heroes and villains from the comic book publisher’s immense stable will lend their presence to the game. The game will also benefit from heralded comic artist Jim Lee and scribe Marv Wolfman, who are contributing to the project.

Handheld gamers have a number of options this week. On the DS, fans of the Disney-Square Enix crossover series Kingdom Hearts can pick up Re:coded, which follows a digitized version of Sora. Fans of Capcom’s Ace Attorney series may be interested in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, an investigative adventure game from Shu Takumi.

As for the PSP offerings, NIS America returns with its infernal penguin brigade in Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!. A spin-off of the Disgaea franchise, Prinny is an action platformer that the developer billed as the most “challenging side-scrolling action game ever.” Its predecessor follows in those footsteps, taking place after the original and telling the story of Netherworld overlord Etna’s missing panties.

For further details on the week’s games, visit GameSpot’s New Releases page. The full list of downloadable games on the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Marketplace, and Wii Shop Channel will be revealed later this week. Release dates are based on retailer listings and are subject to change.


101-in-1 Sports Party Megamix–WII–Atlus Co.

DC Universe Online–PS3, PC–Sony Online Entertainment

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective–DS–Capcom

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded–DS–Square Enix

Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!–PSP–NIS America


SpellForce 2: Faith in Destiny–PC–JoWooD Entertainment

Zeit 2–X360–Ubisoft

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot

Shippin’ Out January 9-15: DC Universe Online” was posted by Tom Magrino on Sun, 09 Jan 2011 12:00:00 -0800

DC Universe Online Beta Available Soon

Posted on December 09, 2010

Sony has revealed that a beta of DC Universe Online will be showing up on PS3 soon, but only for a select group of crime fighters.

Those crime fighters are gamers who have subscribed to Sony’s PlayStation Plus service. The exact release date for the beta has not been revealed, but will be posted at PlayStation Blog. If you want to know what to expect, be sure to check out the Five Things Adam learned while playing the beta earlier this month. Spoiler: One of them is that being a super hero is fun!

[Via Playstation.Blog]


Go to Source (Game Informer)

New DC Universe Online video and screens show Batman taking on Joker

Posted on November 26, 2010

The latest screens for DC Universe Online show the Dark Knight battling it out with the Joker in the Batcave. There’s also a spooky fly through video of Gotham City, showing of many recognisable landmarks like Arkham Asylum, Crime Alley and the Joker’s favourite deserted fairground, Amusement Mile. You’ll find all of the new images and the video embedded below.
We were pretty excited by DC Universe Online’s showing at E3 this year. The superhero MMO’s physics driven environments and roster of much loved superheroes makes DC Universe Online a promising prospect. For more information, check out the DC Universe Online site. Scroll down to the bottom to find the Gotham fly through video. The game’s out early next year.


Go to Source (PC Gamer)

DC Universe Online Screens Takes Us To Strange Places

Posted on November 13, 2010

Wouldn’t it be great if you could click on this link and check out a new batch of DC Universe Online screens featuring new locations such as Gorilla Island, Gotham Botanical Gardens, Brainiac’s ship, and Poison Ivy’s Lair? Yeah, that would be something.

Oh my gosh! There are a bunch of DC Universe Online screens here. Crazy.


Go to Source (Game Informer)

DC Universe Online Gives Robin a Voice: Wil Wheaton!

Posted on October 25, 2010

As if DC Universe Online‘s voice cast wasn’t cool enough already, Wesley Crusher is going to be playing the Boy Wonder.

View Article (The Escapist – EscapistMagazine.com)

Trailers: DC Universe Online Comic Con Trailer

Posted on October 11, 2010

DC Universe Online reveals new player-created villian footage at New York Comic Con.

Go to Source (The Escapist – EscapistMagazine.com)

DC Universe Online Delayed Until 'Early' 2011; New Beta Details Revealed

Posted on October 04, 2010

Turn in your cape and cowl, ladies and gentlemen, DC Universe Online will not be saving the day in 2010, as planned.

In a press release, Sony Online Entertainment revealed that the upcoming PC and PS3-based online title originally scheduled to launch in November has now been pushed to “early 2011.” According to a statement made by SOE president John Smedley in the release, the extra time will allow the development team behind DC Universe Online to “address community feedback” from external testing in a “meaningful way.” Smedley states that when the team gets deeper into the external testing process, S…
Go to Source (ShackNews)

DC Universe Online delayed until spring 2011

Posted on October 04, 2010

Sony Online Entertainment announced a delay of DC Universe Online, from its announced November 2 release date until “early 2011.” Or, in comic book terms, SOE rebooted the universe, creating a reality where the game was always going to be released in early 2011. “As the game heads into external beta testing, this extra time will allow us to address community feedback in a meaningful way,” SOE president John Smedley said. “When we get deeper into external beta, we’ll be able to share more information regarding the new launch date.”

There’s sort of good news if you still want to spend your November (or at least part of it) playing DCUO. If you’ve already pre-ordered, or if you do so before November 15, you’ll be “assured access to the beta by November 30 (North America only).” If you miss that deadline, you’ll get access a week before launch, and you’ll get to take part in the “Battle of the Legends” event at the end of beta, along with the other people who will have had months to get way, way better than you.

Continue reading DC Universe Online delayed until spring 2011

JoystiqDC Universe Online delayed until spring 2011 originally appeared on Joystiq on Mon, 04 Oct 2010 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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