SOE really knows how to win me over (even more so than EA). Iím a big comic book geek, particularly when it comes to Batman. Iíve been digging on DC Universe Online, SOEís upcoming comic book-based MMO, for some time now, but Iím not much into MMOs. When it came time to get some hands-on time, however, they were instantly able to grab my attention by teaming me up with Batman to help stop a mutant outbreak at STAR Labs.
DC Universe Online lets you become a hero in the DC Universe. SOE is keeping some of the details about character creation under wraps, but gave me a good idea of what players can expect when it comes time to create their own hero. At the start, players can create their character by choosing an elemental base and one movement ability (super agility, flightÖ). These choices form the base for your characterís growth. As you earn experience, youíll increase your power set and develop new powers stemming from your original choice.
When it came to addressing players wanting to create characters that are just like existing heroes but arenít, I was told SOE isnít ruling out the option but is still making decisions about how to handle the situation. One idea being tossed around is an ďarchetypeĒ option. In other words, if a player wants a character thatís just like Aquaman (and who wouldnít), they can choose a pre-set Aquaman-like template.
For my demo time, I got the chance to spend time with two pre-made characters, a hero and a villain. The hero was a silver-and-white clad flyer with an affinity towards electricity. My hero was a melee-based character and used a sword to dispatch evil. With a click of the (L3) button, he could instantly take flight with his wings. The villain, on the other hand, was fire-based athlete with enhanced speed and the ability to jump high and cling to walls.
Right now, SOE plans to offer Metropolis and Gotham City as Hub Worlds where you can take on cases (quests) from citizens and DC characters. Most of the cases doled out by DC characters will lead you on multi-quest hunts around locales in the both cities. My hands-on took place in STAR Labs and, based on my alignment, required me to either steal or protect a large mutant that some overzealous scientists were experimenting on.
SOE is aiming for a faster, action-oriented experience. I played the PS3 version, but noticed the PCs on the other side of the room were also using PS3 controllers. Face buttons control your melee (or ranged depending on your character build) attacks while holding (L1) changes them to super-powered attacks. My lighting hero was able to toss lighting bolts and unleash an EMP-like area blast while the villain was able to spawn a variety of fire-based attacks. Each power has a recharge time, so you canít endlessly spam your most powerful attack, but I was never left in a situation where I felt powerless.
DC Universe Online is still in its Alpha stages, but already looking incredibly sharp. Thereís still a lot of balancing left to do, but DC fans have a lot to look forward to when the game ships on PS3 and PC sometime next year.