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Weekly #2: Iconic Play and the Lure of the IP

William Murphy Posted:
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One of the more attractive aspects of DC Universe Online is probably the ability the game offers players to take on the role of several iconic heroes and villains in PvP matches. And while the game’s impending release is right around the corner in November, there’s still a lot left that we do not know about DCUO’s systems and gameplay. But as we move into the beta phase, and as the summer convention circuit chugs on, we’re learning more and more. At Comic-Con attendees were able to take part in what is currently being hailed as “Iconic Play” in which players will take up the mantle of DC greats like Batman, Flash, Nightwing, Joker, or Harley Quinn and face off against each other in famous DC landmarks.

At SDCC the demo on hand let players protect the Bat Cave from Joker and Harley (controlled by opposing players), and a lot of fan send ups could be found. The T-Rex, the giant penny and the Bat Plane are all part of the PvP level, and serve as a real representation as to the lengths in which SOE Austin and Art Director Jim Lee are going to make sure there’s plenty of DC flair in the game. As a fan of the two previous superhero MMO offerings, I’ve always found the lack of truly familiar settings and heroes a bit off-putting. But with DCUO, SOE Austin has the ability to tap into a wealth of known heroic material (and plenty of not so known stuff too) to craft a compelling game experience that players can easily connect to.

Who doesn’t want a chance to run around Gotham or Metropolis? What comic book fan wouldn’t like to take their own creation and fight alongside Superman against Bizarro? Or take the fight to the crazies in Arkham Asylum for that matter? While there’s an ongoing feud between Marvel and DC fans, there’s little denying that either brand has its share of “Mythos Americana”. Superman and Batman are at the top of the list when it comes to the embodiment of the superhero and an MMORPG featuring these characters even just as NPCs has the potential to give DCUO the upper hand in the battle for comic book MMORPG King.

So when November 2nd comes along, and I boot up my copies of the live game, make my own characters and pick my iconic mentor (a topic we’ll get into at a later date) it will be with a certain bit more excitement than in the past with other titles. Because this time, I’ll be in Metropolis. I’ll be taking a part in a storyline and with characters that I’ve read and loved since I got my tonsils out as a kindergartener. And what’s more is that, if I feel like it, I can even pick up the Mantle of the Bat and dish out some punishment to opposing players.

November is only a few months away. We don’t really have solid details on a lot of the inner workings of DCUO just yet. We don’t know much in the way of character creation, power selection, how leveling and character progression will work, or just how deep the game’s item and equipment systems goes for that matter. There’s a lot of question marks still surrounding the game, and I’m sure that SOE will be answering the slew of them as we get closer to launch. And yet, despite the lack of information available, I can’t help but be intrigued by what I’ve played thus far and I find myself nervously getting my hopes up once more.


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.