The Quarter Bin

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Hands-On: DC Universe Online

Posted by Chris On February - 5 - 2009

This week, Sony Online Entertainment will be showing off their superhero-themed MMO, DC Universe Online.  Despite the fact that the game probably won’t be finished until at least 2010, this super-early look at the game just wasn’t early enough for us.  We needed to get our hands on it a few days before the rest of the press, so we traveled to Sony’s suite in New York for an exclusive hands-on with a very early build of Sony’s first attempt at a console MMO.

In addition to an extended play-session with DCUO, the creative directors answered many of our combat-related questions about the game.  They explained that player-vs-player combat would happen in one of two ways; there will be “Contested Zones” where any hero and villain can attack one another at will, as well as safe zones where no pvp would take place.  In most areas, however, pvp would be based on a threat level.  What this means is that villains will actually need to do something illegal in order for a hero to engage him.  We also learned that in the game’s main worlds, many missions will involve pvp, with heroes attempting to stop villains from completing objectives such as recovering stolen technology or defeating a certain amount of security guards.  It’s a very cool mechanic, and one that, to my knowledge, isn’t being implemented in any other MMO in quite the same way.

While many details about the game were kept under wraps, we were able to confirm a few things about DCUO.  In keeping with the all-ages appeal of the DC Universe, there is no death in the game. Instead, downed characters are considered knocked-out, and can revive themselves either right where they fell, or, if the situation is too hairy, a safe distance away.

Sony’s reps focused mainly on the game’s action game-style combat mechanics and physics engine, as well as the chaotic multi-sided battles that often occur.  They were also nice enough to let us get some footage that shows off both pve and pvp combat.  Take a look.

Even this early in the game’s development cycle, it’s clear that Sony is attempting something very ambitious and unique for the MMO market with DC Universe Online.  The established universe, home to some of the world’s most recognizable characters, brings with it a built-in audience of comic, tv and movie fans, and has the name recognition to draw in those who are less familiar with obscure characters like Blue Beetle and Saturn Girl, but are aware of Superman and Batman.  Sony is hoping that the game’s unique combat style, visuals, character customization, and mission structure can draw in the rest of the gaming world.  From what we’ve seen so far, they are definitely on the right track, and can’t wait to see what kind of final product comes from their efforts.

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