I’ve been an avid player of Daybreak’s DC Universe Online MMO since the PC beta. The Windows and PlayStation 3 release happened way back in January of 2011. Back then it was owned by Sony Online Entertainment. Call me crazy but I bought the collector’s edition being an avid DC Comics reader, even today, and I also spent money in-game on the PC version. Then the move to Next-Gen consoles happened and I jumped on the PlayStation 4 (PS4) bandwagon as playing with a controller there seemed more natural to me. I also spent money there as well. Now the same 8-year-old game arrives on Nintendo Switch and for some reason I feel invigorated again.
So, the questions that need to be answered eventually in this preview and then the following full review are the following. First, what’s new, if anything in the Switch version? And secondly, how does the Switch version perform in docked and undocked modes? And lastly, should one care if they are already invested in the game on another platform? Welcome to our week one release preview of DC Universe Online for the Nintendo Switch.
If you haven’t played DC Universe Online (DCUO) on another platform, consider is the only superhero based MMO today on the market. And it’s based on the mythos and characters found in the classic DC Comics universe. DCUO on the Switch can be considered the second MMO to arrive for this platform behind Warframe.
DCUO is free to play but of course a subscription option exists. The game is persistent and is played entirely online, i.e. connected to some “server(s)” in the cloud, along with other players in your game world.
The good news is playing DCUO on Nintendo Switch does not require a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online. There also appears to be no traditional “server list” to select from. It is assumed that whether you play on the US server or the EU server is based on the profile used from your Switch.
Due to the size of this established game world an SD card is recommended. The initial download is 24 GB and it took me nearly 3 hours to download via wi-fi on my 300 Mbps Internet.
Character Creation, The First Step In Life
The bad news is these Switch servers are new and unlinked with the PC and PS4 servers which means you start with nothing, nada, zilch. You start from scratch. This didn’t seem to deter many players coming over from other platforms, myself included.
On login you get the typical story prologue cutscenes followed by creating your avatar. You’ll spend some time here with all the multitude of options. At this point it all looks familiar from the other platforms. The only thing that felt different is you pick a powerset origin “type” (e.g. magic, meta, science) which automatically assigns your mentor (i.e. Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman) versus me picking one by name. I could be mistaken as creating a new character has been awhile.
Initially, you’re only allowed to select from certain superpower types, archetypes, etc. The bad news here is you need to create a character from these “free player” choices as there seemed to be no way to purchase the premium powers before initially logging in. For an alt I wanted to name a character “Atomic Punk” (waves to Van Halen fans) and use the Atomic powerset which is a “legendary membership” or purchased powerset.
To reserve the name, due to the deluge of expected incoming players, I had to create him from the freebie Fire powerset. When I start to level him up, I will change his powerset in game later using a Respec Token available from the real money transaction in-game Marketplace. I’m not saying it should have been free, I just wish there was a way on initial login to either subscribe or buy the powerset outright. There also appears to be no way to purchase a subscription outside of purchasing it from within the game.
Choosing a powerset, even from a limited set, was nerve racking. In the free model you’re only allowed two characters. I liked all the powersets associated with a Healer but I’m not a “healing guy” in traditional MMOs. I decided to give Sorcery a try, which is a healing archetype, with a Stat Points focus on DPS. If I need to heal, I reassured myself, DCUO healers perform more AOE healing versus individual healing. Time will tell as I’ve only reached level 22 and haven’t grouped yet.
In-game Marketplace Cash is handled through purchases of Marketplace Cash bundles bought directly through the Nintendo eShop. Some features are locked from the F2P player. You’ll be promoted to “Premium” status after spending at least $5.00 USD in the Marketplace. This status will provide some additional benefits and seems to be worth the five bucks. “Legendary” status, on the other hand, is for those that buy a paid subscription. Paid subscriptions exist through the eShop as monthly, quarterly or yearly. Yearly cost $127 USD with taxes included.
What Seemed Old Seems New Again
Starting off in this DCUO world was pretty much as we remembered on the other platforms. There were a few things we experienced for the first time, such as the new beginner “tips” “push” system (as seen in the screenshot above). Months ago, when this system was unveiled by the developers to the PC/PS4/Xbox community some of us certainly thought “why spend time on that?”. In hindsight that made perfect sense with a new player base forthcoming on the Nintendo Switch.
More good news in that the Switch version seems to be up to date, episode wise, with the other platforms. Noted by the fact you can jump into the latest Justice League Dark event when you hit level 10.
A Leveling We Go
Playing the game in undocked mode was joyous and was the whole reason to decide to jump to the Nintendo Switch platform. The default joy-con button setup worked perfectly for me personally. ZL enables the left side of your power’s toolbar while ZR toggles your right half. R brings up “block” and using R joystick you can dodge.
Originally, I started playing on an unsecured hotel wi-fi network and experienced no issues whatsoever. Text in undocked mode was adequate but having played the game from start a few times I just button advanced through the initial quest text dialogues.
Battery life was modest. I think I played for two hours on a full tank but will need to keep a closer eye on this.
At this point my goal is to get to max level 30, start gear grinding to get my Combat Rating (CR) up and do some grouping. I need to queue up for duos and group events to see what PUG times are like. We’ll keep an eye on how much of the player base stays active as well. I’ll also be preparing for the forthcoming “DC Metal” updates planned for September.
A full-fledged review will be posted here as soon as we've had a chance to put the full experience through all its paces.
Note: We were allowed early access of the game by a code provided by PR for the Nintendo Switch.