Why I play DC Universe Online
I know I come across as negative in my articles. The reason is that I don't like to tell people what they want to hear, I tell people that there are problems that need fixing. People don't like this, so when I point out flaws people think I'm being a curmudgeon.
The thing is, I write articles to complain because, frankly, I care enough to want to see these problems fixed. There are many games that I played in the past that have been thrown unceremoniously into the trash can (Recycle bin, damn computer hippies) of my hard drive after 1-2 hours of play. There's more than a few MMO's that I've dropped after years of tolerating glaring problems and I don't even bother mentioning them outside of past experiences.
So with that in mind, I thought I'd tell you why I play, and pay for, the free to play game "DC Universe Online".
The DCUO Community is Awesome
I know, this comes as a shocker to people who read my stuff about kicking players, but let me tell you other stories as well. One night, at around 1 AM, I was in a party that was beating its head into a wall trying to defeat a major boss in an 8-player raid. I was livestreaming at the time, and I was trying to talk through the problem on air to myself to get a solution with what we had.
(Shut up, you do it too.)
One person tuned into my livestream, watched for a minute, and said
"Oh, you need a tank! Lemme jump in world and invite me."
He did, I did, and we blew the boss out of the water once we had the correct guy in place. This isn't an isolated incident either. There has been dozens of times where someone watching the livestream will see what's going on, and say "Oh, you need a (whatever)? Invite me!" or "Hey, I know this fight, you need to get the tank to do *this* and you got it."
When I livestreamed World of Warcraft, that never happened. Ever. When I livestream other games, that never happens.There is something about the DC community players that they'll just "jump in", and it may be inherent to superhero MMO players as it reminds me somewhat of "City of Heroes" community - everyone was in it together.
There is something about the DC community players that they'll just "jump in", and it may be inherent to superhero MMO players as it reminds me somewhat of "City of Heroes" community - everyone was in it together.
It might be that via mechanics, the game encourage community play. If a player goes down, anyone can pick them back up to "rally" them back into the fight. You don't need to be a healer, you just need the guts to run in there and do it. Even if they're not grouped with you, as long as they're on the same side of villain or hero, you can pick them up. Same goes for loot, if you hit the bad thing, you get credit for the kill and the resources it has. So there's no reason to not jump in and help fellow players, even if you're not in the same group. So we all just "jump in" and help people, even if we're just flying overhead and see they need an assist.
The players also blow me away constantly with creativity.
When you're running around the world, you'll see a lot of characters based on Marvel and DC characters (so much so it's a drinking game on my livestream) but then you see a lot of people making some very cool characters. For a game which doesn't allow you to build much of anything, players still show flairs of creativity that keep me on my toes.
Still a better love story than Twilight.
Most of the players are also hard-nosed fighters. We've fought all the way down an instance before, knowing we couldn't beat the clock but damned if we weren't going to try. It was actually a really cool thing, only because we weren't going to quit 'till the server threw us out. Most of the players are like this. It's a vocal minority that stick out as "abusive" or just "bad people", and need to have their toys put away.
The overall storyline is enjoyable.
I play MMORPG's for the story. I'll make lowbie characters to try new mechanics or ideas, and I don't mind playing the opening instances again because the story is actually pretty good. Then again, DCUO has a solid foundation for not only a world, but also characters to interact with. Everyone knows Superman. Everyone. If you're not familiar with the overarching storyline, here's the opening cinematic.
If it's tl/dr, I'll summarize: Random people are given superpowers in order to fight a global threat that will hit them in a future time. It's up to the established heroes and villains to train them, and prepare them for the fight to come. The storyline then goes from there, and it's one that actually works for me. In later DLC the story tangents off into other sub stories that are introduced in the opening levels.
The story is also presented in a comic book style, which I've always enjoyed. Voice acting gets hit or miss, but for the most part since they got a lot of the voice talent from the animated series, it works. This is why I throw my hat into the 8-player raids, the storyline continues into them, and I like to see story conclusions and not just hear about them.
Now for comparison to WoW again, this is why I left Azeroth. The storyline took a turn that, to use the vernacular, sucked. Panderia had an overarcing storyline that I couldn't buy into, let alone enjoy. For most of Cataclysm’s story line I was blowing plot holes through as well, so I couldn't really enjoy that either. Story first, game second. That's why it's an MMORPG. Not a coin-op video game.
The game itself is excellent.
All the storyline in the world won't save you if the game is unplayable. DC actually allows for a lot of flexibility in how you can play. Yes, there are elitist snobs who look at my screen and chastise me for having the "wrong loadout" or "wrong weapon", but I seem to be able to hold my own and thrive. You wanna be a pistol toting fire breathing flower or a plasma blasting gadget building holiday elf? COOL! Make one! It'll be awesome!
But just in hardware, I play with an x-box controller plugged into my PC. Any game in which I can use a game controller is already leaps and bounds ahead in my book. I've blown out my wrist playing "Champions Online" trying to contort my wrist into the default button configuration for hours. And seeing as in my livestream, anything that clocks in barely at the 2 hour mark is considered a "quickie", anything to make it more comfortable is better.
The combat flows very comfortably from target to target. Weapons are almost as powerful as most superpowers in terms of damage. The combos get a little confusing, but even there it's not anything unheard of. If you can play street fighter and get a "hadouken", you can do this too.
As a free-to-play game there is a lot of available content you don't pay a cent to see. The restrictions aren't overbearing either, unlike Star Wars the Old Republic. There's also never a feeling of "pay to win" like I got from Need for Speed World (related note, EA can suck a bag of fail-sauce with a side of fries, thank you large) If you want XP boosters or more bag space, it's there. But you don't need to spend the money if you don't want to, I know MANY people who don't and still run endgame content with me.
Exhibit A, my friend "Aqua", a free to play player, playing end content with me. Note the sweet "OMAC Batman" headpiece obtained from an 8-man instance run previous to this one. Oh, and Storm. She was cool.
I also like the aesthetic. It's not hyper-realistic, but it gives a nice comic-book narrative and look. The cut scenes can be annoying sometimes when you're in the middle of a fight, but it's negligible. Mostly. We have a joke about "death by cut scene", when someone goes down just before a cinematic and the timer doesn't stop.
And yes, there are some problems. Ive had fun with the targeting system sometimes, but the devs actually respond to them. Which brings me to the last part...
The dev team is pretty awesome.
I'll post a question on Twitter to "@DCUO", and get a response from a member of the dev team.
Let me repeat that. I'll post a message on Twitter to the game dev team, and they'll actually respond. Not with an automated message, but someone typing a response. Blizzard does not do that. I'd be hard pressed to find many other big MMO's that would and if they do its noteworthy. I've had twitter conversations with these people about game issues, and gotten replies. Hell, "DCUniverseOnline" has popped into my livestream before to watch.
Just for that alone I'll stick to DC for the foreseeable future. They actually talk to their customers on a social level. There are some things I'd love to talk to them about, but I get why they don't.
They also run livecasts themselves, a lot of times I razz them for how they do it but they do share content with the players on the betas. But the fact that they don't dwell in ivory towers and actually TALK to us players makes a world of difference. I also know they read articles like this one, and take them to heart. So to them, I say it's appreciated, thank you.
Before people think I'm painting this as nirvana, I'll tell you the game has flaws. I'm going to maintain that "Disband Group" is the worst idea they've ever rolled out and needs to get chucked out the window. I also think that the 8 player raids need to be adjusted (raise the bridge, lower the water, whatever works guys) because FoS is seriously a quagmire of failure since the "DG" era started. But there's a reason I pay money to play a free-to-play title.
I enjoy it. I enjoy it enough to want to fix what I see are problems within the game. As I said at the beginning, there are dozens of games that I've played and tossed out without a word because I didn't enjoy it at all. But this one, it has issues like every other game but I see them as fixable. Fixable enough to spend time to work out possible solutions and want to discuss them.
^^^ Thats not me.
So I'm not just being a curmudgeon. If I were I'd be saying a lot more "I told you so." I speak curmudgeon. I'm doing what I can to make improvements by voicing my opinion in an open and public forum to get discussions going, and get something that I know the development team will read some time down the road.
So see you all in Metropolis.