The action is all fine and good. Surely it seems that SOE will be doing some difficulty adjusting in the coming weeks as the live population settles in, and surely they’ll be fine-tuning each of the game’s instanced encounters. But by and large, the action works well and that’s very good. What’s concerning however has to do with the little things in DCUO. The social menus and chat, while far ahead of where they were early in beta, seem quite behind the times for a game that’s straddling both the console and the PC. Ad-hoc grouping is not an easy task, especially with the more hectic nature of the gameplay. I keep finding myself wishing for WAR’s Open Group system and I fear that most grouping in DCUO will either be in PUGs with the Alerts or only with your guild. Luckily the open world questing doesn’t seem hampered by this, as players can share credit on mission objectives. The social controls just seem sort of clunky.
Additionally, while I think the UI has come a long way in the past few patches leading up to launch, my main concerns now lie in the descriptions of powers and how the power system works. It wasn’t until my 4th or 5th alt that I started to realize I was getting extra skill points for completing feats. I also didn’t realize what some of my powers really did in either role until someone explained them to me. All of that info should be right there in the game, readily available. While I’m sure word will spread and players will know, it is going to be off-putting for new folks that don’t have a clue what their powers do. I wrote in this week’s list that I hate when obvious games belabor the point with a needlessly long tutorial. I’m not asking for DCUO to make a boring long teaching section of the game, but more pop-ups as you discover things for the first time on a new character would help. DCUO’s definitely doing some new things in the MMO space, and it would help to have them explained a little more.
Finally, I’m hesitant to put this in as negative, as I’m not sure it will affect me personally, but there is concern over whether the game’s too short. There’s plenty of content to get through the game leveling, and you could probably do it four different ways between hero and villain. That’s no slouch. And right now DCUO is promising significant monthly updates and even bigger updates on top of those on a less frequent timeline. But at launch, it will take most players probably between 40 and 70 hours to hit the level cap (longer perhaps on PvP servers), and once there it’s likely there’s plenty to do for several weeks if you’re of the mind to finish feats, grind enough tokens for T1 and T2 gear, and compete in PvP to get those sets too. Basically, it’s the standard end-game, with a shorter leveling curve to overcome. This will be all find and good if DCUO makes due on its promise for monthly content. I don’t expect them not to, but I felt it worth mentioning because there may be a lot riding on the idea of continual updates.
Not everyone’s going to adore DCUO. I think I stated not just an opinion but a fact when I said it’s going to be divisive game. There’s a whole lot it gets right, especially in terms of engaging content and combat. But there will be folks who decry its lack of down-time things to do, and others who deplore its more twitch-like approach to gameplay. So I’ll end this launch preview with this: if you’re looking for a great superhero game that plays altogether unlike anything else on the market, and if you like a lot of action in your gaming, DCUO is for you. If on the other hand, you need more world-like features such as crafting, housing, and the like to make an MMO your home, then it’s probably best if you skipped this one. For those who are looking for a new take on the superhero game, one that comes jam-packed with production value and fantastic action, look no further. It’s already a very good game, but the fun will be watching it grow.