A new trailer was shown at Comic Con, revealing some of the back story for DC Universe Online. The future of Earth finds Lex Luthor, in his own words, a rat in the walls of Brainiac’s domination of the earth. He returns in time to warn Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman of the fate of the earth and releases the exogenic bots that he had stolen from Brainiac, into the world. Creating a whole new generation of super heroes, and those are you and I as we create our characters and enter the world of DC Universe Online. I was able to see and play the game as well as attend the panel and have some round table time with Jim Lee, Marv Wolfman of DC Universe as well as Wes Yanagi, Jens Anderson and Chris Cao of Sony Online Entertainment.
SoE also recently announced the actors behind some of the iconic voices in the game, with Mark Hamill reprising his role of the Joker, Kevin Conroy that of Batman and Adam Baldwin as Superman. Mark was on the DCUO panel at Comic Con and conveyed his pleasure at being asked to do the Joker again in DC Universe. “It’s fun to get behind the crazy car,” he told us, and using the Joker’s persona, to the delight of the crowd, he cackled, “A game named after me! DC Universe! DC! DC! Demented Clown.”
DC Universe Online was showing off their Iconic Play feature at Comic Con this year. This is pure PvP play where you take on the role of one of the icons and play against others in a PvP arena, using the powers and abilities which are based off what’s seen in the game in your earlier time with it. The arena shown was the bat cave which was a two on two match, with capture and defense of the bat computers being your goal.
“Part of the attraction is to play as iconic characters,” said Jim Lee. “This gives us the cake and allows us to eat it too.”
Like the other PvP battlegrounds, there are turrets to capture and activate, security drones to be released and pure beat them up combat between the iconic characters. I saw Batman, Nightwing, Harley Quinn and The Joker being played. “Just like you get a mentor character to learn from when you create your character, the idea behind the Iconics was for you to learn from the legends.” Senior Producer Wes Yanagi said as he showed me the gameplay. “The Iconics have the same powers that you see in game, and this is one way to learn more about your enemies in order to defeat them.”
“The Joker is a jack of all trades and a bunch of fun to play,” Wes continued as he showed me all the tricks he had up his sleeve. “You’ve got Crowbar Joker for close in melee and in his two-gun mode, he also has a jet pack.” Wes also popped Joker’s invulnerability skill by encasing himself in a gaily wrapped box, when he was being badly beaten up by Batman and Nightwing because he was talking to me. “Hold on,” he said. “I’m being beat up here. This skill is particularly useful. You can just sit in there and wait for your timers. Okay, here comes his goons.” And he sprang three goons to assist him in the fight.
“Iconic play is all about raw player skill,” said Creative Director Jens Anderson, “every player has the same power set in the characters they choose to play. But the game does support the way you want to play. Whether, it’s in groups, solo, getting right in the action or getting all the upgrades and skills and sitting back to nuke.”
Another feature of DC Universe Online is that the smaller characters that get an outing, characters seldom or never before seen in games. When pressed for details, Jim Lee smiled and told us, “You heard earlier that Ambush Bug is in the world, but how many of you have heard of Egg Fu?” To the clear lacking response, he grinned smugly, “Egg Fu is in the world.”
Marv Wolfman has been writing Superman stories for six decades, he is the man that invented the Teen Titans and is a gamer from way back, starting with arcade games. “Yes, I know about games,” he assured us, “even if I don’t know anything about how they are created.” His favorite console game is God of War, and he fought for a year to make sure that he was on the comic. About MMOs? He’s played most of them, including City of Heroes and his wife is Lead Producer for cinematics at Blizzard, so yes, he’s knowledgeable about them too.
Marv was brought in to flesh out the storyline, to write the mission stories. What’s special about DCUO, in his opinion, is the ability to play alongside your heroes. He is excited about the game as he wasn’t used to movement being so fluid in MMOs. “Movement is beautiful!” he enthused. “My God, it’s shocking!”
I asked how the game gave villains a fair shake since in the comic books, they were always the losers. Marv admitted to having some problems at first. “I finally got around it once I managed to wrap my brain around the real issue and thought of them not as heroes or villains, but as the Protagonist. What was their story?” he asked, “Their needs, their wants, their goals? Villains don’t see themselves as villains.”
Thus done, the stories are structured for the player missions and depending on player alignment they are assisting or hindering the protagonist so the mission could go either way.
“My job is to make it a DC-centric story and not just DC-centric but character specific. How that particular character would act and react. I’m given a scenario that’s set in a specific location, with a specific set of characters and with those specific characters in mind and how they would act and react, I create the story.”
Game launch is set for November 2nd and beta invites are going out at this time, with hundreds of them handed out at Comic Con. Players that pre-order the game will get the Batman Iconic and at launch, all players will get Robin and Harley. More characters will be added after launch and they will have to be unlocked through play. Jim also informed us that at game launch, a bi-weekly DCUO comic will also be published that will support the game world, but obviously, both game and comics will influence each other. “Get the game quick,” he laughed.“Wonder Woman’s costume hasn’t changed yet. Last chance to see Diana Prince in her old costume.”