Although I have only been following the progress of DC Universe Online peripherally (and even less so after it was revealed the game is going to adhere to the subscription model), over the past week this title has been pinging increasingly on my radar.
Through the initial release date pushback and the commencement of closed beta, I have seen a tiny flurry of features, videos, and, yes, beta leaks coming across the internet, and I am surprised to say that I like what I see, a lot.
I am also surprised to say that I feel DCUO has more in common with Guild Wars 2 than I would have guessed, from the multiple origin storylines to iconic allies who join you in storyline dungeons, to armor/weapon drops that you can either equip for the looks or the stats, to the ability to revive any ally from unconsciousness without a hotbar skill, to the comicbook cutscenes a la concept art that curtain each story act, to the tagline “The Next Legend Is You.”
Of course, several of these items overlap with both of Cryptic’s previous offerings, as well as the grandaddy of superhero MMOs, City of Heroes/Villains. But when I hear Chris Cao talk about the game, it feels less like a litany of game features and a little bit more like, well, a manifesto. When he declares that the level cap was set at 30 because that was the natural conclusion of the storyline, rather than choosing a level cap and trying to come up with content to satisfy the leveling curve, I feel he’s making a statement about content vs. filler that I can agree with wholeheartedly.
I had been expecting to pass DCUO on by, but the knowledge that pre-ordering before the 15th of this month will guarantee closed beta access has brought Mr. Randomessa and I on board. The fact that the videos we’ve seen are enthralling, action-packed and well-voiced is what tipped our wallets in that direction, as well as the knowledge that we both enjoyed ourselves in City of Heroes/Villains and Champions Online (though the PvP in the former was non-existent at low levels and the art style of the latter grated on our senses).
While I am still leery of subscriptions, there must be something earnest about the faces of SOE’s people that makes me re-consider when I read things like this:
“You’re giving us $15 a month, so we have to give you something in return. Every month we’re going to give you a new episode, a little something more to do,” he said. “It’s not going to be an expansion, it’s not going to be a huge amount, but it’s enough that you’re going to continue to see the expanded and explored DC Universe. Every trimester or so, we’re going to give you a much bigger download, something with new maps, a whole bunch of new stuff to do, new armor to chase and that sort of thing. Really, it’s based on what we can build and how fast we can build it for all of you. We want to make sure anything we add actually adds something to the experience and isn’t simply ‘more.'”
While subscription proponents have long argued that subscriptions net more content over time, and while I question that conventional wisdom, I can accept the idea of monthly content packages – more frequent versions of CoX’s “issues”, if you will – per subscription installment. I’m never going to be pleased with the fact that I am merely renting access to that content, but fortunately that’s not a decision I have to make just yet.
The only decision I have to make is how I can best replicate a Sylvari Elementalist using DCUO’s character creator.