This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the 2010 Sony Online Entertainment Fan Faire in Las Vegas where I attended a number of panels, including one that featured a fairly in-depth discussion about their upcoming action-MMO, DC Universe Online.
The panel, as any good panel does, kicked off by showing the most recent trailer for the game. If somehow you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks and haven’t seen the epic trailer, do yourself a favor and click here.
So, now that we’re all on the same page we can discuss the game’s story which sees a beaten down Lex Luthor travel back in time to warn the Justice League that Brainiac plans a return and has been syphoning power from the Earth’s Super Heroes and Villains in order to do so. Seeing what is to come, Lex provides some of that same energy that has been stolen from the supers to more denizens of the Earth. Thus, the influx of heroes and villains that spring up for DC Universe Online.
While they may share a vaguely common goal in attempting to survive and defeat an eventual Brainiac invasion, we were told quite explicitly that heroes would still be heroes and villains would still be villains and that each side would be its own distinct faction. So those who may have feared that this would become a hero and villain love-fest need fear no more, they’ll be just as much at each other’s throats as you may have wanted.
In crafting the story for DC Universe and building the world around it, the developers wanted to keep one thing in mind above all else: They wanted to make players feel like they were actually a part of the DC Universe, with all of the freedoms that represents. The developers also assure us that while new fans to the DC universe will be able to pick it up and understand the goings on in the game, there are plenty of references that “in the know” people are going to get as well, including some appearances by less than a-list heroes and villains.
Each and every character will have what the developers are calling an iconic character (classic super hero or villain) associated with them to guide them through the episodic storylines of the game. If, for example, you are a tech-based villain, you’re going to be associated with Joker. If you’re a meta-hero, you’re going to be associated with Superman. Each of these episodic storylines offer players something different, giving folks a reason to play through an alt or two on top of their mains.
One of the mechanics that was talked about a lot during the panel were the game’s feats. Feats are your standard achievement-style goals within the game that exist outside of the classic: Do quests, gain XP, grind mobs, mentality. Instead, with feats, players are going to be able to earn upgrades and rewards for completing various tasks ranging from the mundane to the ridiculous.
For those of you out there who were concerned that DC Universe Online was going to be just another heavily instanced MMO, we were told that just the opposite is true. Gotham and Metropolis, the game’s two cities, are both single zone areas where a great deal of the action takes place.
One of the best examples that we were given of this is the fact that players can use one of the game’s three movement modes (flight, acrobatics and super speed) to race each other through the city. If, however, someone else sees your race, they are able to come in and interrupt it (i.e. It’s not taking place in an instance”. This will likely come as a refreshing change for many who feel that instancing in current MMOs is over-done. What that’s going to mean for griefing, however, is still unknown.
There are a number of options when it comes to PvP in DC Universe. First and foremost though, it should be made clear that heroes and villains are on opposite sides and won’t be teaming up in PvP mode.
First, there is open world PvP. Of course, you have to flag yourself for it, and can only directly attack others who are flagged (unless of course they open a PvP server, which hasn’t been announced but wouldn’t surprise me at all).
Then, there’s the matched vs. PvP which comes in a vaiety of flavors: 2 vs 2, 4 vs 4, 8 vs 8 and now tastes great, less filling 16 vs. 16 which was confirmed to be in the game at the panel.
Finally, players will be given the option to engage in “Legends” PvP where the players can take on the personas of the major iconic characters to duke it out.
As of this time, we are told that the PC and PS3 players will be on separate servers, although each platform will have multiple servers supporting it.
At its core, DC Universe Online aims to be an action game first, and an MMO second. That isn’t to say that MMO players won’t be happy with the game, in fact, from the sounds of it it’s a far more open world than many had first thought, but rather that the game is meant to stay true to its superhero game roots, bringing all of the fast action, combo move, controller friendly (but not necessary) action that fans of that genre enjoy.