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DC Universe Take Two: This Time It’s Personal (And Free!)


Well as some of you might now (by reading GamePlayer’s Facebook page), Sony Online Entertainment’s less than stellar (in terms of reception not quality) MMO DC Universe Online went free-to-play yesterday, offering a tiered system of rewards depending on how much money you have paid in the past or are currently playing.

Basically it goes like this:

  • Free – 2 character slots, no in-game trading, can’t join guilds, no extra content
  • Premium (at least 5$ spent ever) – 6 character slots, item trading, can join guilds, no extra content
  • Paid (you are paying per month) – 10 character slots, item and cash trading, can form and join guilds, all extra content free

Not the most player-friendly approach to free-to-play, after all this isn’t League of Legends, but still a surprisingly effective one – especially if (like me) you are returning to the game instead of playing it new. But even for a completely new (and thus free) player, there is a surprising amount of content on offer for the 0$ pricetag.

14 gigabytes of content to be exact. Yeah, this may have capped the office internet yesterday. Oh well.

As someone coming back to the game, I can tell you that a few things have changed. For one, there seems to be only two servers instead of the original 20 or so – one for PvE and one for PvP. Also all my previous characters seem to have been deleted, something I might care about a lot more if I hadn’t quit this game more than a year ago and if I wasn’t so starved for an MMO to play until the The Old Republic comes out.

That’s right Bioware, you have me in your pocket.

But coming back to the game, I did get a nice little twinge of nostalgia which (surprisingly) wasn’t accompanied by the myriad of reasons I quit the game in the first place.

Probably because when something is free, you don’t expect World of Warcraft quality.

For anyone considering playing DC Universe Online, here were my initial thoughts (well, second set of initial thoughts):

The game starts with a glorious cinematic (which I reported on a few weeks ago) and then abruptly shuffles you into the character creation menus. Which are easily the most expansive of any game I’ve ever played.

I mean, I’m not talking “Oblivion let me design my specific chin to nose ratio” specific, I’m talking about the sheer volume of different characters this engine is able to produce. In DC Universe, more than any other game I have encountered, you can look as unique as you want all of the time. It would be cutting for me to say that the character-generation menu is where this game peaks – but it’s definitely up there with its best features. This was the third character I have made and it still took me an hour and a half.

I started wanting a loan Samurai-type swordsmen, with fire abilities and acrobatic movement.

I ended up with a flying, luminous woman (she glows so brightly that the in-game sun seems under-rendered) with a shock of red hair and the ability to shoot beams of energy from her palms. Also she shoots fire, I at least kept that much true to my vision.

Not quite the tall, dark and Japanese look I was going for – but I was satisfied. And so Wyld Fire (yeah most names are taken) started her journey into Gotham.

I should clarify here that depending on what mentor you choose (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, The Joker or Circe) you start in either Gotham city (perpetual night time) or in Metropolis (perpetual day time). I’ve always been a bit more of a night wolf (in my dreams) so that’s where I ended up.

From here, the game was much as I remembered it (even the server population seemed similar). It’s a typical kill-and-fetch MMO with the various movement methods (flyng, super speed, acrobatics) serving to set the experience apart.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, PvP 200 feet in the air above Gotham with two flying heroes is one of the most cinematic moments I’ve ever experienced in an MMO.

The quests are fairly typical, if you are hero you are saving cops from robbers, if you are a villain you are saving robbers from cops. Really the best element here is that as you acquire new items you can continually augment the design of your character – and you are never forced to wear an item model you don't like.

This is particularly effective if you are inspired by, say, Killer Croc and it wouldn’t make much sense for you to be wearing anything but pants (or even pants depending on your attachment to realism).

Unfortunately I had to stop fairly soon into the game, but I can safely say that DC Universe still managed to touch me the second time around (that came out wrong). It’s an MMO with heart, even if that heart has been jammed awkwardly into a slot which doesn’t quite fit.

If 14gb is an easy download for you, I would definitely recommend giving it a try – if only to make a superhero with one of the most advanced generators I’ve ever come across.

If 14gb isn’t an easy download for you… I feel your pain.

Oh, and Star Wars: The Old Republic? I. Am. Coming for you.

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