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On the right track, but still doesn't do enough.
I tried this game on the PS 3 after it went Free to Play . The combat system is really good, it actually involves the player, unlike other MM Os. The character customization is very solid, but it isn't perfect, the clothing options are pretty good, and appearance has the option to not be affected by the gear you have. However the male body types are either "hulk" "disproportionately large chest" or "lanky 12 year old", a more average body type for guys would be appreciated. Some gear, such as biomech and demonic, and the spiky hairstyle make you look like a douchebag, but you don't have to use them or anything. The powers don't feel super different, but do have a fair bit of difference, and the weapons do gain quite a bit of distinction in their playstyles. The movement powers are also fun to use, which makes you feel like a super hero. The cities feel a bit bland, but you can't exactly make every block in every city a special snowflake when you need enough space for 1000s of players.

However, it fails because it stays to close to the fundamentally flawed nature of MM Os. The enemies are all the same thing, regardless of how different they look; they stand still until you walk near them, then then just walk towards you firing projectiles. As with most MM Os the combat has far too much emphasis of statistics. I want to win because I had a good strategy or good reflexes, not because I had higher numbers than whatever I was just stabbing. The missions are also all the same thing, and because the game is based on stats and death has no penalty, outside of having to walk back to where you died, it becomes a contest of endurance, not of skill.

The game just feels like it is making me jump through hoops for rewards, but dressing up the hoops as something cool; like fighting Brianiac's invasion, and dressing up worthless rewards as +25000 XP and the "Epic Gauntlets of Devastation".

If the server sizes were reduced so that they could have better AI, combat where you and your enemies actually need to connect attacks to hit and missions that are "Kill X amount of enemies, break Y amount of objects and activation Z amount of swtiches for XP and gear", this game could be worthwhile. But it panders to the World Of Warcraft crowd, who just want to be spoon fed a false sense of accomplishment and nothing more, so it ends up sucking.
Decent enough review, but I have some counterpoints to your last paragraph:

1. Server size and AI: I am decently certain that server allocation would not affect an AI routine in the slightest; you would write the new code, add it to the game, and enemies would follow it. How many people are running around is only going to affect the enemy's top priority target. Worse yet, I think the servers are only region and platform divided (USPC implies all US players on computers, and the PS 3 version's servers are likely called USPS 3 in similar fashion, and so on for other regions); I doubt they could afford to reduce server size.

2. Connecting attacks: You aren't accounting for ranged characters in this. As is, my dual pistol character is able to float enemies long enough that they are half dead before they hit the ground, and go right back up in another second. If all I need is a clear line of sight to launch them, and they can't ever get close enough to actually strike me, whether I'm floating them, Slip Shotting backwards, or shoving them with Full Auto, then my character and other Dual Pistol users might as well be removed for balance issues. That this game even has a combo tree puts it several strides ahead of other MMO combat systems; the changes you want would be best for single-player action games, not an MMO where fighting other characters is so emphasized.

3. Mission Structure: Actually, whenever you get sent into an area by a major character, there are often minor characters found around the area (or, in the case of dungeons/instances, outside of them) who do give you separate missions that are almost exactly of the "Kill X amount of enemies", "Break Y amount of objects", "Push Z buttons", and the occasional "Use Q experimental tech on downed enemies" for minor XP and usually healing items. At least, it's been that way for my Villain character.

Like it or not, MMO is a formula, and one that isn't going to be changed up any time soon. Where you see it as "fundamentally flawed", companies see it as "money", and there's enough people out there who will pay to play that formula. That this game doesn't break the conventions of its genre doesn't make it bad, it just makes it the same. What does make it bad is that, in my opinion, it's not as good as the other "Superhero MM Os", Champions Online and City Of Heroes. Tough act to follow though, and you can't blame this game for trying.
comment #12176 Oblivion4568238 3rd Jan 12
I'm not really an MMO person, but I have to say it's the mission mechanics that are the biggest problem with the game, not quite your complaint about the missions being 'kill x enemies', most missions will have an instance at the end that is more complex than that, and at least every mission tends to be multistaged with plot and progression if you're able to find the space to listen to it.

But the real problem (which can feel like kill x enemies) is that nothing changes at all. Your actions seem futile because enemies respawn as quickly as you kill them. They're there before you start the mission and instead of you making any difference, changing the world in the slightest, they just tell you to go away and stick your head in the sand and pretend the enemies are gone after you've allowed them to spawn a certain part more.

No wonder the mission feels pointless, because you know that as you're trooping back to the police station you're going to accidentally run into the same brainiac invasion right behind it that you fought right at the beginning, and the enemies will still be there fighting and killing endless spawning NP Cs and you can do nothing about it. Even the instances do this and you can't actually see an instance when wandering around the city. You don't even get to feel invincible coming back and duking it out with the people you fought right at the beginning, because they spawn as quickly as you can kill them and all though you're a one hitting powerhoue the area is going to be infested by the same amount of henchmen by the time you reach the zone boundary as it was when you entered.

And if you can't change anything, what can you do but follow the trail and watch them pat you on the head for achieving absolutely nothing
comment #12180 Tomwithnonumbers 4th Jan 12
In reply to the last comment toward this review, I would first like to say that I am not much of an MMO fan myself. DCUO is the first real commercial MMO I have every played, and even my experience with free online ones is extremely limited. But as for the respawn thing, I really can't complain about that myself.

Since it's an MMO and lots of people have the same quest, the enemies have to respawn in order to have a good number for all the potential players. Now how fast this respawn rate is for any given enemy is another issue entirely, and sometimes they can respawn too fast and make things frustrating, but I would never say they make things seem pointless or that you aren't making a difference.
comment #12960 Reynard531 23rd Feb 12
Okay fair enough, I don;t know what I was doing differently. I just had no sense that the area would be exactly the same as I left it immediately after I left. I think they needed to do more instancing or make the areas wider with slower spawns. If they were really clever they'd set it up so there were a couple of default spawn positions, and if everyone in the area was doing well the enemy would begin to 'retreat' to a last stand place (with same amount of spawns) and gradually creep back if not a lot of people were fighting.

comment #12965 Tomwithnonumbers 24th Feb 12
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