As it slowly came out of SOE Austin that the Green Lanterns’ power set will not be making the game at launch for players to build their own characters around, folks began raising their eyebrows. Understandably, it’s not like SOE made some blanket announcement saying, “Guess what, we’re not going to have the Corps’ power set in the game, aren’t you excited!?” Some fans are justifiably wary of this development. The Green Lantern, and all of the mythos tied to Hal Jordan and friends, is such a very big part of the DC Universe that it seems a little suspect to not have players capable of joining the Corps themselves. But as Chris Cao explained recently at our NYCC panel featuring DCUO, there’s a real solid reason behind the team’s hesitance to put the Light power set in the game at launch. So for this week I’ll take a look at that reasoning and offer my own thoughts on what it means.
It’s Coming… Just Not Yet
As MMO gamers we often are told that such and such feature of some particular game is coming “Soon”. We’re used to it by now, but that doesn’t make it any easier to wait for something we feel a game should have in order to be more appealing to us. Patience, especially when it comes to features, is not our strong suit as gamers. Sure we will often gladly run a single dungeon a dozen times over until we get that loot drop we were looking for, but when it comes to something like the Green Lantern’s power set we’re not exactly keen on the idea of waiting. But we have to take heart in the fact that Chris, Jens, and the rest of the crew have come out and said, “Look… we know you want to join the Corps. You’ll get to. Just not right away.”
That’s a tough pill to swallow and immediately I thought to myself, “Oh great… they’re just posturing the release of the Light powers to coincide with Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern movie.” Then I chortled and guffawed and muttered something about how “that’s corporate America for you” and promptly went about my business reading previews on said movie. Later it started to sink in that even if they were merely holding back the Lantern’s powers due to the 2011 release of the movie (which they’re not), that’s not such a bad thing.
At our panel during this year’s NYCC, Chris explained that the reasoning behind the Light power set being held off on for now purely a logistical one. The Lanterns’ story and mythos is so much more than Hal Jordan. There’s so much lore poured into the turning of Sinestro, and a lot of the players who will be signing up for DCUO might not be familiar with any of it. Green Lantern is a little more fringe than Batman or Superman, but by no means is he less deserving of attention. It would be easy enough to just give players a few powers that vaguely resemble a ring of power, but instead what SOE Austin is hoping to do is build up the background of the Green Lantern lore for some time before unleashing the power set and probably a whole host of other content to coincide with it. This is the kind of thing that’s tailor-made for an expansion, if you ask me.
But will I have to pay for it?
That’s the kicker. A lot of folks won’t be too keen on paying for the Green Lantern power set by itself. While there’s no doubt going to be a lot of oomph behind said powers, and they’ll seem attractive enough to warrant an additional purchase, I have to agree with those who think that the Green Lantern is so iconic that his powers should be included with the box purchase and subscription. Just like the Flash, whose powers stem not only from his super speed but electricity as well, players will be waiting until post launch to make their own Green Lantern inspired characters, and they’ll be mighty upset if they find out they have to purchase them separately. But should the powers come as part of a larger paid expansion that includes the traditional trappings of a major boxed purchase? Then I’ll gladly fork over my money. If you bring the entire story of the Green, White, Red, and Sinestro Corps to the forefront of the DCUO story in an expansion, I highly doubt anyone’s going to complain about shelling out some more cash for that type of experience.
In short? Like it or not we’ll have to be happy with the Lanterns as NPCs at least in the beginning. But somewhere in the not too distant future, I’d be surprised if we didn’t have some sort of cataclysmic events in DCUO that result in thousands more players joining on the side of Hal Jordan or Sinestro and donning their own rings of power. And when that day comes, I’ll be doing a serious happy dance, and hopefully SOE will do justice to one of the coolest stories in comics.