Daybreak Studios has finally brought DCUO to Xbox One – five years after its initial release – but was it worth the wait?
There’s something magical about the idea of playing as a superhero (or super-villain) in Metropolis and Gotham. It feeds the same power fantasy as Call of Duty; the same escapism as Star Wars Battlefront.
DCUO – A Game for the Rogues Gallery
Gamespulp generally has no real issues with free-to-play games – we played Neverwinter and enjoyed it, even with its hokey circa-2000 graphics, until it became an absolute grind. It was the social aspect that elevated it from dodgy one-play-only game to one that we returned to again and again (But not again).
And there are definite parallels between the two, not least the F2P delivery method, which almost always means paying over the odds for a sub-par game.
The character customisation is straightforward, and has enough options to ensure that your chosen hero/villain is different enough from everyone else’s idea of what a superhero should be, so that you can truly make it your own. It’s not just looks, you can decide upon the types of powers you use (nature, gadgets, and so on), with even more offerings if you pay.
Gameplay and Graphics
The controls in DC Universe Online are just so sloppy, to the point where you never feel fully in control of your character. You sense the devs want you to feel liberated, but it feels like ice-skating without blades. This is true, too, of the fighting – you may land a punch but unlike in other, better games, it never lands in such a satisfying way. You might as well be dusting the sideboard for all the impact it makes.
For more casual gamers, the button layout can be confusing, since you’re limited by the number of buttons on a controller. This isn’t a problem for PC gamers, where the keyboard gives you more than enough options, but on the controller it can be fiddly to hit a series of buttons just to pull off a basic move.
Graphically, DCUO is precisely what you’d expect: cheap, early Xbox 360 style. Despite there being an abundance of police officers getting into scrapes. Gotham – where you start – feels empty. It lacks the atmosphere of, say, the Arkham games. Sure, they say this is Gotham, but it could be any city in any world. Beyond the on-the-nose references to WayneTech tower, the Bat signal, and the GCPD, there’s nothing particularly DC-ish about DC Universe Online.
Having said that, most DC fans will adore it. Missions are given by some of DC’s biggest stars, and dedicated comic book readers will recognise the names of NPCs bodding about the GCPD, which acts as a main hub for the game. For anyone unfamiliar with this universe, that’s ok, it’s not off-putting enough to hinder play. When you actually get to play it.
Free to Pay, Not Free to Play
We made the grievous error of coming back to DCUO after a few hours.
And then gamespulp loaded up the game again and was faced with this.
We waited 15 minutes but still couldn’t access the game unless we stumped up the dollar.
Like we said, we generally have no real issue with free-to-play games, and we set our expectations accordingly, but with the free comes the play – and DCUO allowed for neither. This is a serious issue with a game that purports to be free to play: How can gamers know if it’s worth spending money on, unless they can, y’know, play it?
Based on the limited amount of time we spent with the game, we can’t fairly score it (But if we did, we’d give it a solid 5/10). Our final opinion is that this is worth a download, but don’t expect to play unless you’re willing to pay.