DCU Online: The Watchtower Review


We talked last week about DCU Online, the MMMMMMORPG launched by DC and Sony this past week. The question was; is it any good? Well, we inserted one of our moles, Lord David of Scot into the game itself, and he has this report:

Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Fight epic battles, save citizens, fly between skyscrapers? Well in that case you’re in luck as DC Universe Online released this week. However it’s a crowded MMO market out there and with World of Warcraft: Cataclysm barely out a month, is it worth your hard earned cash, not to mention your on-going credit card payment?

Well for me that answer is, unfortunately, no. I’m a huge DC Comics fan and was looking forward to the idea of being able to create my own hero from DC power sets and be able to fight alongside Batman, Superman et al. The major problem with DCUO is that isn’t what you get to do. Powers are defined at the early stage as basic fire, ice, psychic, and tech abilities along with a choice of 3 movement powers – flight, super speed and acrobatics. So there’s no heat vision, Green Lantern power ring or golden lasso, at least not at the early stages, and fighting with Batman and other DC characters is frankly quite rare and usually saved for boss encounters.

Unfortunately the lack of available power sets at the start means that character creation comes off as generic and uninspired. That’s a feeling that translates to DCUO’s gameplay which frankly doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the many other MMOs out there. The first 30 missions on both the hero and villain side were simple exercises in “run here, smash/kill/collect this, rinse, repeat”, standard MMO fare but not exactly original.

The real pity about the uninspired gameplay is the fact that the overarching plot, developed by DC Comics writers Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman, is actually quite interesting. The game begins with Lex Luthor and other villains finally overcoming and destroying the Justice League only to find that they are now vulnerable to an invasion by Brainiac. Lex then goes back in time and uses some stolen Brainiac technology to empower a whole slew of new heroes to prepare for the coming crisis. (Yes I just used the word “crisis” while talking about DC. I’m just going to go in the corner and geek out for a second…. Okay, I’m back) It’s an interesting plotline, buoyed by a mostly stellar voice cast, and does well at explaining the sudden presence of all the player created characters but I can’t help but feel it’s a little wasted by being spread thin across an MMO.

DCUO isn’t helped by its pricing. Monthly subscriptions are currently priced at US$14.99, the same price as WoW. If Sony truly wants to complete with Blizzard’s juggernaut MMO, they may want to aim at a far more competitive price point.

Truly the larger issue at hand with DCUO is whether you enjoy MMOs – I honestly don’t. They’re just not my kind of game – I don’t enjoy the endless grinding, I like my social gaming a little more confined and I really don’t like paying monthly for a game after I already bought it. Especially not for a game that needs so much attention it feels like work. I tend to find among most gamers I know that it really is a case of “Your Mileage May Vary”. Be aware that there is very little new here in game mechanics but you like MMOs and comics then you should probably check out DC Universe online.

-David Weir

David Weir is an angry Scottish Gentleman who spends much of his time immersed in the sticky worlds of games, comics and pop culture. He writings include reviews for YourTechReport.com, as well as several lists detailing his plans for world domination.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 17th, 2011 at 12:25 am and is filed under Extras, Game On!, News, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “DCU Online: The Watchtower Review”

  1. Jessi MacCormack
    6:22 pm on January 17th, 2011

    Pretty much exactly what I expected. Thanks for spending the time writing the review Dave. Now I won’t have to waste anymore time to find that out myself.

  2. Tweets that mention The Watchtower Podcast » Archive » DCU Online: The Watchtower Review -- Topsy.com
    7:19 pm on January 17th, 2011

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  3. Josh
    9:54 pm on January 19th, 2011

    It’s kinda sad Sony didn’t come out with a stronger price point. If they want to take market share away from WoW they need to be willing to be a “loss leader” for a while. Thanks for the review!

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