At Comic-Con, we had some time to spend talking with the developers and getting some more hands on exposure to DC Universe Online. In addition to talking to Executive Creative Director on the game Jim Lee, we also got to talk to some of the more hands on members of the team.
Up until this point, the focus of the DC Universe Online message has been your own character’s adventure with interaction with the iconic characters. What they are looking to do now is have a mentor method where to learn from the Iconic characters such as Batman, players must experience what it’s like to be them.
The result is the competitive versus mode that allows for players to take on the role of characters like Batman or the Joker and go up against other players in order to advance as characters. The theory is that by playing as these characters, players will better understand their strengths and weaknesses, their strategies and their tactics. These matches go from 2 vs. 2 to up to 16 vs. 16. The game modes will include territories, capture the flag and sabotage.
It also allows for quick jump in and jump out gameplay for a player who only has a few minutes to play and doesn’t have the time to complete a full thirty or more minute quest in the game. Players gain PvP points that can be spent later on unlocking other characters or their character’s raid suit.
At release, Robin and Harley will be available for players for the heroes and villains sides respectively. Gaining currency, players can then unlock Nightwing, Bane and Huntress, eventually unlocking the Joker at the highest levels. As a bonus to people pre-ordering the game, Batman will be available to them from the start.
Some of the characters fit into specific archetypes for MMO gaming. Nightwing plays similar to a ranger class as he is fleet footed and can be used carefully up close combined with some average distance attacks with his gadgets. Harley on the other hand is full of up close melee attacks like her giant mallet that can also shoot a boxing glove.
Some characters like the Joker have multiple play modes as he can swing from an up close crowbar swinging lunatic to a dual pistol wielding lunatic to even a jet pack flying lunatic. He’s the Joker, did you expect him not to always be insane? Even Batman takes a dual approach as he plays similar to a thief, able to sneak in and out of combat with surprise attacks or like a warrior where he has strong up close brawling attacks.
When we got to try out the game, we played it on PC. There is a strong focus of “fast action, visceral combat” in DC Universe Online. What that means is it feels more like someone is playing an action game than a more traditional slower paced RPG where powerful attacks are just spammed on the keyboard. There is a level of urgency when playing DC Universe Online that you don’t often feel in other RPGs because of the combat system which definitely adds to the excitement of the game.
Techniques like blocking and dodging have a stronger focus in this game than the standard MMORPG formula where players often stay in place acting as punching bags for each other. The environment plays a strong part as well where players can use it for tactical advantage like swooping down from above to attack or using it as an escape route or even a combative advantage like turning on area defenses like turrets.
One important note is that the PC gamers will only share servers with PC gamers while PlayStation 3 will be on its own servers as well. Though it has been noted that they don’t think combat will be easier on a gamepad compared to a keyboard and mouse or vice verse, communication will be drastically different as PS3 owners will be using headsets while computer players will focus on typing messages.
And, as promised, check out the SDCC trailer for DC Universe Online which Jim Lee referenced in his interview with us. Make sure to look at the darker, grittier DC Universe seen here as the heroes and villains are literally fighting for their lives in the near future.
Stick with us for all things DC Universe Online as the Beta goes live and more news is released on this blockbuster comic book MMO!