E3 Hands-On: DC Universe Online - Preview

By Chris "Bearded Gamer" Arnone, June 17, 2010
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DC Universe Online, the upcoming MMORPG exclusive to the Playstation 3 and PC, has been in development for a long time now. Finally at E3 2010, VG Chartz got to sit down with the long-awaited comic book MMO and test its mettle.

We got to sit in on a great video focusing on how despite the abundance of licensed characters in the DC Universe, DCUO is about your story. It's about your journey and your choices that can make you the savior or the destruction of the world. The video showed off many of the characters already announced and shown in previous trailers: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Lex Luthor, Joker, Sinestro, and many more.

Following this, the developers ran us through an "Episode." This is how the game is divided up. Each episode is either an original creation for the game against iconic DC Universe heroes or villains. Many of these were scripted by DC's own Marv Wolfman, who made an appearance to see the E3 trailer for the first time. Opening and closing every episode are motion comic sequences featuring the artistic stylings of the legendary Jim Lee, creative director for the game.

This particular episode featured the player as a protege of Batman. The character was wearing a cool suit of armor, wielding a sword and gadgets, and using acrobatics heavily. Batman has sent the player to Amusement Mile to go after Harley Quinn who has captured Robin. After descending into the funhouse, enemies started to come after the player. Combat is done very actively. Basic attacks and combos are accomplished with simple button mashing, while powers, abilities, and gadgets are accessed by holding down R2 or L2 and then one of the face buttons. Blocking was a simple matter of the R1 button and dodging added the left stick to the R1. All this made for a very action-oriented feel. The developers later told us they looked at Batman: Arkham Asylum as a big inspiration for real-time combat.

Next they skipped ahead to a near end-game level section. The same character now has an advanced suit of armor with the Batman logo on it, given to him by Batman. This suit of armor is only earned through many hours of challenging gameplay. The character now has flight due to his armor in addition to his acrobatics. All the powers are bigger and better. The enemies he's fighting are also bigger and better in this PVP section of the game, such as this Superman-themed player pictured below. Great loot is awarded for both episodic content as well as PVP content.

All abilities in DCUO are divided into three categories: movement, weapons, and abilities. The three movement types are acrobatics, speed, and flight. Weapons are primary method of attack and abilities are obviously your special attacks and the focus of DCUO. For instance, Batman would have acrobatic movement, martial arts as a weapon, and gadgets as his abilities. The Flash would have super speed as his movement, fists for weapons, and speed-force abilities. The customization levels are deep and varied in combining these three categories together into your superhero or supervillain of choice.

The game is coming along very well. Being a huge comic book fan myself, the idea of becoming Batman's protege or wielding a Green Lantern power ring is very exciting. Playing alongside and against classic DC Universe characters as well as my friends sounds even more exciting. Best of all, DC Universe Online is looking like it's making good on the promises it's been making through its long development cycle.

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