Creative Hiatus – Some Thoughts on DC Universe Online

Last week I asked Jay if I could write for videolamer. After a long and painful interview process, he said “Sure, I guess.” I have, since then, been forced to go on “creative hiatus” due to overwhelming stress and a debilitating drug habit.

While on creative hiatus (I am recovering well, thank you), I have had some time to check out a little title for the Playstation 3 and potentially the PC named DC Universe* Online.

The DC Universe* is a place where people in tights protect large cities from dumb people who dream big and fail big. It is populated by such well-known fictional characters as Creeper, Spy Smasher, and Hank Henshaw. While you will not be able to play as any of these titanic literary characters, you can fight awkwardly beside them in missions, I guess. Or, if it is anything like Sony Online Entertainment’s critically-acclaimed and fan lauded Star Wars Galaxies, you can visit these people in their trademark homes which are as empty and lifeless as the cold void of space. They will, without emotion, give you missions to deliver a package to Bruce Wayne’s aunt Hilda who needs spare supercomputer parts to help fix her coffee-maker. Little do you know, though, that those computer parts are also wanted by the nefarious criminal mastermind Blue Snowman who also has a broken coffeepot. Can you rise to the challenge and overcome Blue Snowman so that Hilda might once more enjoy coffee made in her own home? Prepare to find out, newb, because on the mean streets of Central City you either bring the pain or you get knocked out and lie on the street waiting to respawn.

Xbox owners do not get to play DC Universe* Online because it is being developed by Sony. Instead, they get Champions Online, a game being developed by the team originally behind City of Heroes. Name one person from the Champions universe. You can’t, because they have not been featured in any movies. Who wants to play a game where nobody is known? Will Superman come help you blow up a truck in Champions Online? Will Batman allow you to check out his Batcave in Champions Online? No, those things can only happen in DC Universe* Online, because it takes place in the DC Universe* and Champions Online does not.

“But Spyder,” you might say to me if we were talking and people outside of the internet actually called me Spyder instead of lame-o Jake, “what about Champions Online’s already vaunted character creation system that bucks the tanker-melee dps-ranged dps-buffer-debuffer model and allows you to make any superhero you want?” In response, I would pimp slap you. As you writhed on the ground wondering what you did wrong, I would show you naked pictures of your sister. It is the only reasonable thing to do, after all. DC Universe* Online does not have those features because the DC Universe* does not have those features. Look, you either were born on Krypton, your parents were murdered when you were a kid, you got an elixir spilled on you that allows you to tap into the pseudoscience awesomeness of the “speed force” or you have a power ring. That is it. Don’t like those options? Get out of my house and never come back, you’re a disgrace to your mother and me.

Go to Youtube and watch one of the trailers for DC Universe* Online and prepare to be blown away. SOE has been working with killer comic book artist Jim Lee day and night to capture to the true feel of the DC Universe* and the hard work is showing results. Yes, to the untrained eye it may appear that DC Universe* has the worst collision detection and fighting animations ever created, but look beyond the fight. Notice the little details of the scenery. The sweeping skyscrapers, the newspaper bins with copies of the Daily Planet in them, Superman’s perfect hair. Who needs awesome gameplay and engaging mechanics when you have that?

Also, DC Universe* will allow you to prove the one thing you have suspected for so long. As you revel in the post-battle high of kicking Doomsday’s pointy, rocky ass, you’ll finally know that your Cheeto and Mountain Dew-consuming self is way more awesome than Superman, who totally had to respawn at least once in his fight against Doomsday.

Fans of World of Warcraft shouldn’t be afraid of this new game. Things will make sense to you, too. Yes, you’ll be wearing spandex instead of a chainmail bikini. And instead of questing bravely into the ruinous Caves of Wenderlak to retrieve the Asimoth Ring of Frost +4, you’ll be treated to an entirely new but still comfortingly familiar task of retrieving the Goggles of Blue Beetle +4 from the ruinous Dockyards of Wenderlak. It’ll be like you never even left your awesome PvP server at all! Only, in the DC Universe* your awesome server will be frighteningly empty.

And since this is an SOE product, just wait until they tell you about their amazing twist that will totally blow the competition out of the water. Mark my words, they will announce the ability to unlock playable superheroes such as Batman and Superman. They will cryptically say it is possible and that some hardcore gamers out there will find out how to do it eventually. They will drop batarangs with notes on them written in haiku form, helpfully explaining that:

The third key is up.
Like a bluebird in the sky.
Water is there, too.

Soon, everyone will be trapped in an all-consuming search for a floating lake and the third key that may be located near it but they will fail. And then Sony will totally tell everyone that they were just kidding and that the key to playing as Batman or The Flash will be patched in later. Everybody will get a good laugh and look back wistfully on all that time they wasted trying to become a Jedi, err, Green Lantern. Also, that patch will totally break the game’s combat system but who cares? You’ll be Superman. You can do whatever you want.

Totally not regretting buying a Playstation instead of an Xbox,

Spyder Mayhem

*The DC Universe currently consists of only Gotham City, Metropolis and Central City. It makes no claims of actually being an entire universe. If you want to explore a wide variety of locations, Champions Online will provide that. But will Wonder Woman be posing for no reason in the middle of a street in that large world full of unique and engaging locales? No. No she won’t.

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15 years ago

Good read.And congrats for your new gig writing on Videolamer.com !

15 years ago

Nice article SpyderJakeMayhem. Having briefly played Star Wars Galaxies, the ghost town references are particularly amusing. SOE never really got it back after Everquest. Everquest was successful because it was solid in an era where nothing else was– but they never innovated or did anything fun with their future MMOs, they just bought licenses and churned out mediocrity. The MMO market is sufficiently diverse that that no longer cuts it.

Spyder Mayhem
Spyder Mayhem
15 years ago

Yeah, an argument can be made that SOE never really had it with Everquest, we just didn’t know better.

SWG was a disaster, but I had some fun with it before it totally fell apart. Everquest 2 was so unfun I thought maybe it was parody. I never played Matrix Online, so I won’t touch that one. Vanguard was pretty awful. I wanted to love it, but I couldn’t. And DC Universe looks, well, like I expected it to. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will blow me out of the water. It won’t. Faith is something that is earned, and Sony Online Entertainment hasn’t earned any yet.

But I can always get Champions Online for the PC, so things will be okay.