DC Universe Online – early surprises

No spoilers here on story, but I wanted to share a few things during character creation and the intro scenario that surprised me.

I’ve played other superhero MMOs before, so there are some expectations I had going in… and some hope in my heart that there’d be differences from what i saw before.

First, the classes.

There ain’t classes like you or I might expect classes.

People talk about Fire, or Ice, or Mental, and yes, those could be called classes. But really, when you think about your character, it breaks down more like this;

You pick a combat style, then you pick a basic power type, and then you add your movement style on top.

Your basic combat style is seperate from the additional things you will be able to do with powers. And both are different from the things you’ll be able to do with movement.

In combat styles, you can pick from a lot of choices. There is no special weighting given to any of them, so it might seem strange to see so many weapon variations in a superhero game. The truth is, Brawling is the most typical superhero fighting style in comics, and it’s a choice. But in comics, more rarely seen but still present are the sword swingers like Deathstroke, the staff users like Nightwing, the bow users like Green Arrow, the two gun fighters, etc etc. These styles are all present, and many, many more… but you shouldn’t feel that you must choose one over the others. each one is pretty cool, has it’s own leveling tree that branches with abilities you can pick and choose from, with BOTH melee and ranged options. So, if you are looking for a more typical fighting superhero, by all means take Brawling and enjoy. The style and graphics effects of Brawling are a lot of fun. All the options have been realized well.

In powers, you will probably feel dissapointed. There are only a handful; Fire, Ice, Mental, Sorcery, Nature, Gadgets. There might be one or two more, it’s not important. What is important, is you’re looking at that list and saying, “Wait a minute… where is Invulnerability? Sonic Scream? Wall of Stone?”

The answer is that each power type has two trees inside it… and the abilities within each tree are mixed up pretty good. You can pick and choose things from them, and while each one has a purpose in groups, like tanking or healing or crowd control, they add to your existing combat options, they aren’t the SOLE basis for them. Consider them powerful flavoring.

Then there is Movement, consisting of three choices; Flying, Acrobatic and Super-Speed. You start with whatever one you pick, and each one is pretty powerfu right out of the gate. They are throttled based on starting time… as you try to fly you take off, get going and then really get cooking along. Super-Speed really is zooming along, too. Acrobatics is some very cool bouncing/leaping/gliding/soaring just like the Bat-dude.

But each of them has a tree too, a large tree, incorporating attacks using that style of movement as well as increased speed or whatever.

You end up with, not one power set, but four, all with customizable trees, and everybody gets to have some powerful attack style. Nobody has to be the gimp just because they happen to like healing.

Now, when you do choose these abilities, and your costumes, you might be taken aback by what seems like very limited choices, and few options for customization.

One thing that is a little advanced is choosing a color pallette.

When it comes time to getting your gear customized, you have to set up a three color ‘palette’ using sliders and intensity gauges. It’s not bad, but when you want to have three colors work well together in nice harmony, with main colors and accents, it can be tricky.

Fortunately, one thing that is available are default templates.

When you make a character, you can choose ‘Custom’, or ‘Inpired by’.

There are lots of heros and villains that you can scroll through as inspirations, and for each one, there is a costume, color palette, combat style, power set and movement type already pre-chosen for you to get you started.

Now, me, I didn’t want to pick any of them. I really liked the starting palettes of some, or maybe the basic choices of inspired costume (like Catwoman’s for a bad guy), but I didn’t like all the power choices picked for me.

Fortunately, you can choose an ‘Inspired by’ template, and then hit ‘Back’ to return to the “Custom/Inspired by” choice, and when you select Custom, all the costime and color choices are kept… you just get to pick powers and attitude and all that, and then have a pre-selected costume to modify, instead of a blank canvas to start from scratch.

It helps get started, while still feel like you’re using your own creativity and making your own choices.

Now, about those choices… as I said, you might be surprised at how few your choices seem to be. Whether costume pieces or weapons, it seems slim. Two hander style? You get a big old hammer and like it!

But there is a reason for that… you pick up gear along the way!

That’s right, there are loot drops. Costume pieces that you pick up, and when you equip them, they have stats (like extra armor), and automatically adapt to your chosen palette.

That would be another tip from me to you, my friend. If your chosen costume only utilizes two of the three palette colors, as som do, make darn sure you like that third palette choice as well, because some of the loot drops you get might use it. Purple with ice blue and yellow might just clash a bit.

Another tip along the same lines; don’t spend 5 years trying to get the absolute perfect costume design out of the choices available, because you’ll find yourself changing pieces up as you go. Be more careful concerning your color choices, they’ll do more to set your theme.

Finally… once you actually get it started, I really like how you feel powerful, right at the beginning. Your moves are limited, but you can fight effectively, your movement is mighty darn fast when you’d like it to be, and they give you a few levels worth of experience so you can get points in powers as you go.

It’s darn strange, and I still haven’t quite landed on a character that has totally won me over, but I’m liking what I’m seeing.

With WoW, there are at times that sense that, if you can just make it to level 20, THEN you’ll get ability x that’ll make you feel badass. Or if you get to 40. Or 60. Or whatever. Just a little more playing and you’ll feel that you’re kicking tail and chewing bubblegum.

I think it says a lot that you can leap into DC Universe and, at level 1, feel like you’re a life taker (or saver) and heart breaker.

20 thoughts on “DC Universe Online – early surprises

  1. PC servers and PS3 servers are separate in live – apparently they were sharing the same server in beta, but have been separated for accounting purposes. Also, PC players can choose to play on US or EU servers and switch between them from the launcher – from what I’ve read, PS3 players aren’t able to switch.

    Also, from what I’ve read the controller role appears to have shifted more from the cc-based role of beta to more of a power-replenishment role in the live game (essentially healing players mana pools, which is pretty necessary when you’re playing the endgame group content at level 30).


      • They are seperate Bear,

        I’m on Brave New World (PC) as Ursine Heat and Ursine Master if you wanna play with the other bear 🙂


      • Well… Ursine is my naming convention… Ursine Avenger is my new obsession…

        Heat was a fire tank… avenger is a telekenitic with a big ass rifle…

        So if you ever wanna look for me, until the get global friends list on this game, Ursine BLAH and you probally got a good chance it’s me… especially if it’s a big burly guy.


  2. I wanted to try DCU but I don’t really like how costume pieces are so slim and they are drops, I would then feel obligated to farm certain parts in order to look a certain way that I like. But I guess it’s just not a game for me 🙂


  3. One thing that the game doesn’t explain very well is the Roles.
    They unlock at level 10 when the first Alert (think 4 man instance) becomes available.

    Each power set has two of the 4 roles – All of them can be DPS and that’s the role that you have by default. The other roles are Tank, Control and Healer.
    Tank == Fire and Ice
    Control == Gadgets and Mental
    Healer == Nature and Sorcery

    You can switch between the two roles for your powerset whenever you’re out of combat, can have two sets of abilities on your bars (called Loadouts) and the various abilities often have different behaviours in different roles.

    For the first couple of Alerts, you don’t really need a tank, but you definitely need one for Gorilla Island and beyond as the bosses and elite mobs get much much tougher.


    • Is that what that means? I’ve been looking at power descriptions, and I saw where it would say “In control this power does X, in combat does +25% damage for 5 seconds”. I wondered how the heck it knew whether I was trying to control or damage something.

      My character as displayed, Nightbear, is the one I played last night. I have Batman for a mentor, so he’s the one giving me quests for the most part, and I’m in Gotham. I finished the first big storyline, The Scarecrow, and it was very impressive, and the combat against the finall boss was very difficult, I died several times (knocked unconscious) just on the way to him. Difficult as in, felt challenging and forced me to stretch myself and learn new ways of using my powers and skills to win.

      The character is a martial artist Mental acrobat, because I liked the idea of having a strog will to dominate the minds of my enemies, very much like The Shadow, over being yet another gadget-driven dude. I hit level 7, and am a member of the Massively Overpowered guild on Zero Hour, and they’ve got a vent server to chat on. 🙂

      My single biggest complaint, really my only complaint so far, is that the in game chat options SUCK horrendously. It just doesn’t work well. I’ve been told they’re working on a fix in the next big patch, but right now, ick. Far better to just chat on a mic.


  4. I wish I could play tonight, bought it and installed it, now downloading an 8G update. I knew there’d be an update but 8G? That won’t finish until morning. I should have just bought it online. I think the era of buying dvds is over, especially if you have to download as many gigs or more as you just installed off the disks.


    • You are very welcome.

      The reason I’m posting about the game instead of, you know, PLAYING it, is that Alex has totally taken over my computer. He saw super heroes and went nuts.

      And what’s more interesting, because the game is designed for ‘button mashing’ and controller chat, he’s actually playing it very well…. I mean, he doesn’t block or anything, but he’s right on top of movement, attacks, specials, and locking onto targets.

      What is more embarassing… he plays console platformers like Spyro and Super Mario Galaxy all the time, and I play WoW. He’s sitting here running rings around the bad guys with fire and manuever tactics, and I stand there all lazy and blast away toe to toe. It’s a sad day when you realise your 8 year old is better at manuevering in a game than you are. Damnit.


  5. Some additional things that you’re probably aware of, but just in case…

    You can learn more than one weapon style, this unlocks at level 10.

    You can learn iconic abilities, like laser vision, at level 10.

    You can customize your palette after character creation by choosing the “Colors” tab from the style (mask icon) menu. You can also customize the colors of individual worn items according to the palette. For example, say your three colors are gold, green and red and your hammer is a fugly rainbow mallet, you can set the pallet to use only gold in all three color slots so that you wind up with a mallet of bling.

    If you really like your starting costume, you can lock individual pieces, allowing you to keep the looks even when you upgrade the item.


    • Those are really good tips, Lokyst, and I wish i’d seen them before I found out myself and gushed about the style tab in my screenshot pic. 🙂

      I do like being able to customize individual items colors, it helps make sure the Emblem, for example, contrasts just right with the costume. And I love love LOVE being able to display the costume I want, no matter is equipped, AND have loot to seek out for upgrades! Hell yes!


    • This sounds… excellent. Such simple things to do, really, from a design standpoint, but such a nice gift to players who want customization.


  6. Looks really interesting. I looked it up, but I couldn’t find a free trial. I’m guessing you have to actually get the game to even try it out? 😦 I’ll do some more research and try to find a friend that has it so I can check out some of the gameplay. Thanks!


  7. I wrote that at speed, between giving my son a bath, dinner time, and having a vacation planning conversation with Cassie at the same time. You know what? All those spelling mistakes? Screwit. If you can’t get mah meaning, then that blue tick hound jest won’t hunt, I reckon.


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