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So DC Universe is F2P

William Murphy Posted:
Columns Bill Murphy 0

Now the real work begins.

Let’s not gloss over it.  Despite my love for the game, it didn’t retain well once folks hit the level cap and found themselves queuing for instances, populations dwindled, PVP glitchers were in full effect on the PC, and then the whole SOE server attack and outage happened.  To say DC Universe Online has had a rocky first year in existence would be an understatement.  Now they game’s gone F2P, arguably as it should have been from the very start, so what’s it like so far?

I logged in early Wednesday morning (and more that evening and Thursday) to find the server filled with new players.  Granted, that’s probably a no brainer since it was the game’s first day in F2P status and all.  But I haven’t seen that many people in Metropolis since the game launched early this year.  It’s a welcome and expected change.  The best parts of DCUO happen in the open city and it’s good to see people out in the cities to make this a reality again.  I’m even contemplating starting a new character just to go along with the herd on their first trip to 30.

There was no new gameplay content in this change, so if you’ve been waiting for lots of new stuff to do (outside of the Green Lantern content) to come back, this might not be enough to entice you.  But hey… it’s free now.  That level 30 can be dusted off for grand PVP matches in the Arena and the eventual world PVP that’s bound to happen on a more regular basis now.  No, the real meat of this switch comes in the form of the Marketplace, which will now be DCUO’s bread and butter towards making money.  There’s still an optional expansion, and spending just $5 on the game’s marketplace will grant you a lot of stuff you’d not get as a purely F2P player, but how does the DCUO cash shop stack up in terms of value?

Honestly, it’s pretty damned good.

There’s only one remotely “unbalancing” thing in the whole store at the beginning of this new freemium venture.  Players who aren’t subscribed have their cash capped at a few thousand bucks.  As you hit level 30, you’ll need a lot more than that to keep your potions (Soder Colas) stocked for Alerts and Raids.  So what this means is that you’ll wind up needing to spend about $5 to get your “escrow” uncapped and then you can hold onto more money at a time.  The upside is that you’ll then get all the benefits of being a Premium member such as more inventory, characters, and bank slots.  Plus you get the bonus wallet-size without having to upgrade to a subscription Legendary account. Clarification: Purchasing the Escrow boosts are a one-time withdrawal of funds to pad your wallet, not a boost on the wallet cap.

The other stuff in the store is exactly as it should be: awesome fluff.  There are special costume pieces galore, with more coming no doubt.  There are some “beast forms” which will let anyone turn into a robo-dactyl or a gorilla or other such goofy things, plus a bunch of companion pet type items, which will just follow you around, and as far as I know not effect combat.  In short, believe it or not, this is a cash shop which really does keep things on the convenience or cosmetic side and avoids ruining the game in terms of competition completely. 

What will change this? Only SOE can know.  But you can expect each successive DLC pack to be a point of contention.  The next one is going to be Flash-themed, and involve Central City.  I’ve heard they even hinted at crafting in the next DLC.  If it’s like Fight for the Light, it will probably also involve a new power set, a bunch of new alerts, and hopefully some other goodies too.  I haven’t been able to watch the webcasts to see if Jens has unleashed more stuff we shouldn’t know about yet, but content is content.  And that’s what matters most now.

The game’s now F2P. Good. There will be a lot more players in the short term. Fantastic. But to keep them, much like before, we need more stuff to do. Here’s hoping that the worst fight against DCUO’s own Brainiac is over.  Jens and crew at SOE Austin have been hinting for a while now, since the F2P announcement even that the game’s next DLC is one to watch.  Well, I’m watching.  Make me proud.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.