Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?

DC Universe Online

By Shepton on February 16, 2011 in Reviews

Final verdict: C+
Final playtime: 200+ hours, ongoing

You should know by now how I feel about MMOs. If you don’t, then let me begin by saying I enjoy them about as much as I enjoyed watching Avatar. Oh, you don’t know how much I enjoyed watching Avatar? Then allow me to give you a frame of reference: I FUCKING DIDN’T AND I ENCOURAGE THE ROUNDING UP AND MASS CULLING OF THOSE WHO DID.

MMOs are “games” only in the loosest sense of the term. They are an interactive computer-based piece of software designed solely to trap weak-minded people in an endless cycle of doing the same thing over and over again with their weak-minded online friends, all of them incapable of independent thought. It’s my firm belief that a significant portion of WoW players would forget to eat if their healer didn’t have to go afk for ten minutes to get bitched out by their mom for not having a life.

During that tiny window wherein they aren’t able to continue grinding, a small segment of their brain lets down its guard and a signal from the stomach gets through. “I’M FUCKING HUNGRY”, it screams. The brain only registers a slight tickling sensation, but it’s enough to inspire the common WoW player to shamble begrudgingly to the kitchen and grab a bag of cheetos.

MMOs themselves are not fun. If you play an MMO, or have ever played an MMO, think for a moment and genuinely ask yourself: If I was completely alone in this game, would I play it? Would it be fun?

If the answer is not “no”, you need to seek an opinion from a medical professional immediately about your crippling mental disability. MMOs are deliberately structured to be a constant time sink and grind. They are work. They are a job. You only enjoy them because your friends are there suffering with you, and you promise each other some kind of light at the end of the dark, disgusting, infuriating, time-drinking tunnel. You reach endgame after several months and realize… hey. Wait a minute. Endgame is just more grinding.

So yeah, that’s what I think of MMOs. I refuse to play anything with “Online” in the title that I wouldn’t play offline. It just doesn’t make any fucking sense. If you are not receiving personal enjoyment and satisfaction from it, it is NOT FUN. You need to fucking sit down for a second and think about this in the simplest terms.

If what I’ve said above is true (which it is), then we can assume the following:

MMO = Not fun.
Good offline singleplayer or multiplayer game = Fun.
Friends = Fun.

Having distilled these facts into basic elements, we can then form the following simple equations:

Not fun + Fun = Meh.
Fun + Fun = DOUBLE FUN!

Which leads us to realize that:

MMO + Friends = Meh.
Good game + Friends = WOOHOO!

So why the fuck do people play MMOs and tell themselves they’re having fun when they could instead be playing something GOOD with their friends and having SHITLOADS of fun? Without having to feel like they’re grinding? Without having to worry about spending a week getting enough gold to buy their next piece of shitty armor which they’re going to replace with something else in a week anyway?

Whatever. Fuck it. I’ll never understand why people play shitty games and tell themselves they love it and beg the developers for more shit to be shoveled into their open mouths. Anyway, I should probably talk about DCUO.

DCUO is an MMO that defies all my relentless logic. I have a deep-seated loathing for any games that charge monthly because they’re always designed to make you take forever to achieve anything, so that you keep paying that monthly fee and making them rich as all fuck. It’s an incredible business dynamic, but it fucking sucks for someone who just wants to buy a game and enjoy it. But DCUO is like a glorious, shining light. Yes, it has the monthly fee and it’s an MMO, but holy shit they actually did it right. Mostly anyway.

You don’t notice the grind because there isn’t one. You’ll naturally hit the level cap within your first week of playing through the story missions. You think that’s too fast? You’re fucking wrong and stupid. Just because you hit the cap doesn’t mean you’re some elite endgame faggot now. It doesn’t work that way at all.

The level in DCUO is significantly less important than the gear you’re wearing. It takes a little while to really earn the shit that you want. Yeah, I know I bitched about MMOs making you take forever to reach goals just now, but DCUO has found the perfect balance. Rather than making it feel like your next amazing item is months away and requiring you to earn ten million gold through grinding just to get it, it feeds you a constant trickle of the currency you need to buy your shit through doing your choice of things. You can do instanced missions with other people, you can do solo content at your own pace, or you can just PvP. Who gives a shit, it’s up to you. Whatever you do, you’ll get some kind of reward for it and that reward WILL go towards something useful. Within a few days you’ve built up enough of these rewards to get yourself something awesome and you didn’t even realize it. Every week or so, you’ll be earning yourself a few cool things which significantly improve your character.

DCUO also made the fucking brilliant choice to be all about CONTENT. Remember FF14? That piece of shit launched with NOTHING. It was a character creator and a world. That was fucking IT. A shitty world, too. A copy/pasted world with the same cave every fifty feet. DCUO is two ENORMOUS cities, with dozens of instances you can enter, or if you prefer you can just fuck about in the huge open world throwing cars at people. There are collectible items and pieces of information fucking EVERYWHERE which are always cool and interesting. And the fucking GAMEPLAY, nigga? God dammit. This shit plays like a single player superhero action game, which is exactly what I hoped it would be like. Yeah, it has a bunch of MMO and RPG-like elements, but they’re really well implemented and adjusted to suit the kind of game that DCUO is.

It’s honest to goodness a game I would probably enjoy alone and offline, at least for a little while, and that’s why I’ve been completely fucking glued to it since it launched. Yeah, if it was offline it would be noticeably emptier for sure. It would get old after finishing the main story missions, too. But the MMO aspect of it adds a massive amount of replayability to that, which is exactly how every MMO should work. An MMO should be a GOOD GAME, made BETTER by its social elements, not a bad game that’s only playable due to its social elements. That’s something that DCUO did really fucking well, somehow. I didn’t think anybody would ever hit the nail on the head with it, but DCUO got it right on the money.

It has more than its fair share of bugs right now. There are all kinds of glitches that need to be ironed out. The bugs can be annoying and frustrating, I’ll be the first to admit – and there really are a LOT of them – but SOE seem to be relatively proactive at fixing the bad stuff. Things that actually detract from gameplay, such as exploits in PvP etc, are gradually getting fixed.

Now, the sad fact is that it is still just an MMO. It’s a damn good MMO that does a lot of things right and eliminates a lot of the shit that most MMOs include by default, but it’s still an MMO. There is still that annoying sensation that you HAVE to play it lest you fall behind, and, of course, it’s entirely filled with complete and utter fucking morons. One of the first things I did was disable a significant amount of the chat so that I only see messages from friends, because after a few days my rage levels were through the roof and my brain was attempting to migrate out of any orifice in my head that it could.

Speaking of the chat, it’s awful. Like, so fucking bad. You have very little control over it, and the chat box itself has large, annoying tabs that constantly flash at you if a new message has appeared in them. Let’s say, for instance, I have a Default tab which displays system messages, Tells from friends, League chat and group chat. This means I can only see those things in that tab. Then let’s say I have another tab specifically for Versus chat, for when I want to hear villains crying about how I obliterated them. The Versus tab, you would think, should only flash when somebody says something in it, right? Wrong.

There are certain options you aren’t able to uncheck in a chat tab. System messages will appear in EVERY TAB, and make additional tabs flash even when you’ve seen the system message already in your currently selected tab. Not only that, but you’d think a system of tabs would be easy to navigate. That’s what tabs are for, after all, allowing quick and easy navigation of a menu. But you can’t just click on those tabs. You have to open up an entirely separate menu which fills the screen just to change your chat tab, and then close it again. That’s pretty much par for the course in DCUO. The user interface isn’t exactly very well thought-out at all. It’s clunky, it’s slow, it has its share of little bugs and glitches, some of which can actually be pretty devastating, such as at the end of a boss fight in an instanced event. If you bring up the Loot menu and then the automated victory menu appears, your loot will be broken for everybody in the group if somebody leaves the instance, which can and will happen, especially when playing with randoms.

The PvP aspect of DCUO is something that I feel really livens the game up. My friends and I play on a PvP server, and the open world nature of the game allows for you to engage in combat at pretty much any given time and place with anyone of the opposing faction who happens to be there. At launch, as is standard with any MMO, there were a shitload of people all trying to do the same low-level quests at once, both heroes and villains, which meant getting killed when right in the middle of fighting something was a common and infuriating occurrence. It got to the point where I started to feel that quest areas should be protected from PvP but at the end of the day it’s never really going to be much more than a brief hinderance. You’ll get through all your quests after a while, because the fuckers who are camping quest areas to be cunts will get bored and move on after a half hour.

The PvP itself is interesting. There are a variety of different powers and weapons, all of which serve to make everybody that little bit different. You can only have 6 powers active at a time, meaning you never know going into a fight just how your opponent is going to play. You can spend time figuring out a tailor made build that works well for you, but you will never find a combination of moves that beats everybody else every single time. Someone, somewhere, will have a build (intentionally or not) that just happens to be perfect for countering yours. They’ll probably suck against a lot of other builds, but the point is that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. There’s no perfect build. Once you learn that, the game becomes a lot better because you can just chill out and do your own thing.

There are, however, certain power trees that just have huge advantages right off the bat. Fire is the primary offender in PvP situations because fire users can double their health and very easily heal themselves to full over and over again. The Nature tree can do the same with relative ease.

Man fuck it, I’ve said more than enough. Game’s good. Has a shitload of awesome features. It’s fun to play. Has good content. Fun PvP. Mark Hamill as the voice of the Joker. What more could you want? It has issues, sure. Quite a lot of them really, some of them relatively bad. Some of them are getting fixed pretty regularly but SOE can’t run or maintain an MMO for SHIT so it’s probably gonna have some of these issues for a long time.

This review is already way too long so fuck it I’m ending it here. If you have questions, shoot.

Final verdict: C+

Final playtime: 200+ hours ongoing

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