DC Universe Online
From: Sony Online Entertainment
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3 (Console exclusive, also available on PC)Click here to read part one of this review, covering basics and levels 1-19! Click here to read part two of this review, covering teaming-up, PVP, & more easter eggs! When looking at an MMO, the rise to power, the classes, the story-line, those things are all well and good. But what will keep players playing a game for months and even years beyond its release, paying a monthly fee no less, is the "end-game" content, the monthly refresh content, and the general built-in replayability of the original game.
We'll start this third and final part of our review with the latter of those issues. While some powers were cut out from the original plans (like electricity) and others are missed by fans (like hard light), there is certainly no dearth of variety in the initial offerings here. Beyond the huge variety in powers and weapons, which all slightly alter the playing style of the game, you have six full origins to play through, 3 hero and 3 villain. Some of the missions crossover, but many are unique to individual mentors, making it worth checking out the other options after hitting level 30 for the first time.
When you hit level 30, the current max level in DCU Online, you don't have to just stop playing with that character. In fact, the most fun in the game can be had here, as you have some very real challenges that open up to you once maxed out. There are advanced missions against characters like Toyman and Mr. Freeze, there are the new options of doing alerts with only one other friend, greatly increasing the difficulty. There are raids, and of course there are endless PvP challenges where you can show off why your hero or villain is the most badass of them all. The higher-level, and especially level 30 missions are in fact the absolute most fun in the game - now you have a true powerhouse who is taking on the big dogs, and you will absolutely struggle and break a sweat in these tough battles. There is also a unique thrill for DC fans when you get to stand around that big round table of the JLA for the first time, and take missions face-to-face from Batman, Wonder Woman, or Superman. It's just a cool moment that makes you feel like you've truly accomplished something.
Sony Online Entertainment also has touted their plans for monthly refresh content, centered each month around a specific character. The first spotlight shone on Batman's longtime foil/romantic interest, who coincidentally was announced around the same time as appearing in the upcoming Dark Knight Rises film, played by Anne Hathaway. Catwoman gave players a new villain to chase after in Gotham City, a full new mission, a new character to play as in Legends PvP mode, and even, if you were savvy and quick enough on the DCUO facebook page, a new weapon. In addition, a new raid and a whole new Valentine's Day themed zone were included in the update. The Cupid zone was admittedly a little on the silly side, but it was still entertaining, and it's nice to see the developers are having a little fun and taking some risks. It's that sort of thinking that might see an eventual stint in the 5th dimension, or a more significant appearance by Ambush Bug. The key to refresh content is focusing on that second syllable, keeping things fresh. While a little goofy, this first month's offering got the job done in that regard, and made it worth playing.
So what will keep this game going in the future? Well, there are still quite a few "bottled" buildings that can internally expand the already existing cities. The character of the month spotlight is a near infinite content farm, as there are literally thousands of characters in the DC Universe. New alerts in new locations are always welcome, again, with so many landmarks throughout the DCU, one of the hardest parts for SOE would be choosing which to do first (my vote is a series of Batman, Inc. themed alerts. London with Knight & Squire, Paris with Nightrunner, etc. Feel free to use that, SOE/DCE).
Ultimately, there is plenty of room for full-scale expansion packs, as well. We could see whole new cities added, like Green Arrow's Star City, or the twin cities of Central and Keystone. Thanagar, Oa, the various Lantern Corps, the New Gods, maybe even a time bubble that zaps you to the Old West with Jonah Hex or the 31st Century with the Legion of Super-heroes. This game already has a lot to offer, but one of the best offerings it has is possibility, and what the future can hold for loyal gamers.
As a truly "console" MMORPG, this ever-expanding action game that you can play with a few thousand of your closest friends looks like it is taking full advantage of the ability to constantly improve, constantly add, and even sometimes outright surprise its players. I know Peerless will be fighting the good fight along the Justice League for many adventures to come.While this ends our 3-part megareview, we will be back each month to take a look at the new content, and new chats with the developers behind the game. Also, check out the official DCUO Facebook page tonight, March 9 at 5PM PT, 8PM ET for a live chat with the developers.