DC Universe Online
|DC Universe Online|
|Developer(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3, Havok (physics engine)|
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
|Genre(s)||Massively multiplayer online role-playing|
|Distribution||Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and download|
DC Universe Online is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) based upon the fictional universe of DC Comics. Developed by Sony Online Entertainment's Austin studio and co-published by Sony Computer Entertainment and WB Games, the game was released in January 2011.
Jim Lee serves as the game's executive creative director, along with Carlos D'Anda, JJ Kirby, Oliver Nome, Eddie Nuñez, Livio Ramondelli, and Michael Lopez. EverQuest developer Chris Cao was the game director through launch up to May 2011, but has since stepped down to be replaced by Mark Anderson, previously the art director. Mark Anderson himself has since been replaced by Jens Anderson. Shawn Lord is also involved. Geoff Johns is the principal writer.
The revenue model was subscription based with a user cost of $14.99 per month, rather than using microtransactions. The UK subscription was £9.99 a month, £19.99 for three months, and £49.99 for six months. The cost for Australian subscribers was $19.95 AUD. It was announced on September 19, 2011 that the game would go free to play. On November 1, 2011 the game became free to play for everyone. There are 3 levels of players: Free, Premium (at least $5 spent on the game) and Legendary, which are ongoing subscribers. DC Universe Online was announced for the PlayStation 4 on June 5, 2013 alongside with PlanetSide 2.
DC Universe Online is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) set in the DC Universe. Sony Online Entertainment's stated goal is to make a different kind of MMORPG, with The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction cited as one of the main inspirations for gameplay. SOE is working to make DC Universe Online more interactive than standard MMORPGs, while trying to keep their key elements, which include a leveling system, raid instances, endgame progression and inventories. The world is mainly shared, public space instead of heroes or villains owning territory. The public space features dynamically-generated content designed for both hero and villain player characters (uniquely created by the player, who cannot choose DCU stalwarts).
Players will choose a mentor for their character whether it be a hero (like Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman) or a villain (like Lex Luthor, Joker, or Circe). Their starting location, principal quest rewards and mob loot will be influenced by that decision. The starting zones are either Metropolis or Gotham City, for both heroes and villains. Heroes can also go to the Justice League Watchtower while villains can enter the Secret Society of Super Villains headquarters at the Hall of Doom. Other safe-houses in the Gotham and Metropolis zones can be reached by teleporters from the two faction headquarters or from the two cities. For the heroes, it's various police stations. For the villains, it's various nightclubs owned by the villains.
Each character is given a communicator appropriate to their faction, via which they receive urgent communications from their mentor and his/her colleagues and subordinates; heroes will frequently receive status updates from Oracle, while villains will receive data from Calculator. In addition to assignments from their mentor, player characters may also receive requests for help from other mentors of the same faction. Player characters may also accept missions from non-player characters (NPCs) in the street, usually minor characters from their faction. There are also opportunities for quick street encounters appropriate to the character's faction: for example, a hero character may encounter a thug robbing an armored truck, trying to break into an office building, or in the process of mugging a citizen; while a villain character may be presented with opportunities to assist NPC thugs with an armored truck robbery, or assault a citizen using an ATM. All NPC interactions are fully animated and voice-acted. Player characters will earn threat ratings that will cause NPC heroes and villains to interact accordingly with the character.
The shared worldspace offers primarily solo and team player versus environment (PvE) gaming opportunities in the form of open air missions and instances, although player versus player (PvP) combat is also possible in this worldspace. Other PvP (and to a smaller extent, PvE) gaming is available in various types of queued instanced encounters: "Legends", small scale PvP combats in which players take on the identities of iconic characters (continued success in Legends combat unlocks additional iconic characters); "Arena", small scale PvP combat in which players fight as their own characters; "Alerts", cooperative team missions; and "Raids", Cooperative PvE missions that are larger than Alerts. Success in PvE missions is rewarded with in-game money, costume pieces, equipment and consumables, while PVP combat is rewarded with unlocks of special equipment sets.
DC Universe Online is set in the present day, but the opening cinematic sequence takes place in a gritty, war-torn future depicting a final battle between the world's greatest heroes and villains.
This battle takes place in the ruins of Metropolis, and features the deaths of several well-known DC Comics characters. The battle culminates with the death of Superman at the hands of Lex Luthor, leaving him and the Joker as the apparent survivors. Lex Luthor stands back to proclaim his victory, only to see Brainiac's war fleet fill the skies. The scene then shifts to the present-day Watchtower, where the future Lex Luthor is telling the story to the present-day Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Lex Luthor explains that the deadly final war between the heroes and villains was triggered by the subtle manipulations of Brainiac (who had been slowly downloading their powers over time). With the planet's most powerful beings dead, Brainiac intended to use the pirated data to create an army of metahumans under his control, facilitating his conquest of Earth. As the only survivor of the war, Lex Luthor could do nothing to resist Brainiac's subjugation of the planet. Lex Luthor explains that he was able to survive in secret and eventually steal the stolen data and energy from Brainiac's mothership in the form of "Exobytes" (nanobot-sized devices that can bond to a living host and give them their own superpowers). After finally designing a time machine (or possibly stealing one from Brainiac's technology), Lex Luthor has traveled into his past to release the exobytes into the atmosphere of present-day Earth. The heroes are outraged, but Lex Luthor explains that because he has done this, soon thousands of new metahumans will be created from ordinary humans (becoming the characters that players design and play with). He implores the Justice League to find and train these new metahumans, because Brainiac is coming and the Earth must be ready to succeed where it was once doomed to fail.
In the second trailer to the game "In Lex we Trust", we find that Lex Luthor's description of events leading up to his arrival in the present time is not as he described to the heroes. The trailer begins with Lex Luthor reviving his companion Fracture from being unconscious. Lex Luthor explains that Brainiac's forces have already penetrated the Fortress of Solitude and that their time is running out. As they approach a time portal chamber, a Brainiac Eradicator attacks and Fracture destroys the robotic drone with a small grenade. The two arrive at the portal which is being stabilized by Batman (whose face is disfigured and arm is replaced by a robotic prosthetic due to injuries from the battle of villains and heroes). As more Eradicators enter the chamber, Lex Luthor lies saying his armor is damaged and that he can not hold them off. Batman tells Fracture to take the canister that contains millions of Exobytes and go through the portal attacking the Eradicators and buying him more time. Fracture thanks Lex for using the exobytes to give him his powers. Seeing the opportunity he had been waiting for, Lex Luthor kills Fracture describing him as "an excellent lab rat." As Lex Luthor is about to step into the portal, Batman calls to Lex Luthor warning that "I'll be coming for you" to which Lex responds "No, you won't" and activates a self-destruct sequence. Lex Luthor enters into the portal and the Fortress of Solitude suffers massive explosions. He arrives in a dark alley, presumably present day. He is greeted by his present-day self who describes him as being late.
It is then shown at the end of "The Prime Battleground" raid that Future Lex Luthor and Lex Luthor are working together to steal Brainiac's power. Lex Luthor is then betrayed by his future self as Future Lex Luthor wants the power for himself. It is then seen that Future Batman survived the explosion at the Fortress of Solitude and has been chasing Future Lex Luthor through time. Future Lex escapes and Future Batman follows him. In the following cutscene, Future Batman is said to be the last hope for humanity.
While the game has shown a DC Universe largely similar to the pre-New 52 DCU. Notable differences exist, such as the absence of Damian Wayne and Stephanie Brown. Dick Grayson as Nightwing and Tim Drake still operating as Robin, Cassandra Cain still operating as Batgirl, Bane's continued use of the Venom steroid, Black Adam's return to super-villain status despite recent comics changing him into an anti-hero, and Ralph Dibny still active.
It seems as though Final Crisis has not occurred, as Batman has not apparently endured trauma at the hands of Darkseid and the Martian Manhunter is alive, but Barry Allen appears to be serving as the Flash. Jonathan Kent is also alive and well, unlike his mainline DC Universe counterpart. Several story-arcs used for alert and raid instances are based upon content that occurred in-continuity that pre-dates Final Crisis and occurred, in some cases, as events in 52 and Countdown to Final Crisis. Examples include the Oolong Island instance and multiple story-arcs centered around Black Adam as well as Darkseid being currently absent from content. Also, certain key events from the mainline DC Universe are still referred to as history in the world presented in the game, including the Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Death of Superman, and Knightfall.
Additionally, the events of Flashpoint and The New 52 reboot which ensued have not been reflected. Hero and villain design as well as in game canon all continues to be based on the pre-flashpoint DC Universe.
The following heroes, villains, and other characters appear in this game:
The game's voice cast is very large, and is inclusive of many known characters in the DC Universe. Sony Online Entertainment released a complete voice cast list on January 18, 2011. Some cast members, such as Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, were announced early. The high-profile heroes and villains include:
- Adam Baldwin – Superman/Clark Kent (Previously voiced the character in Superman: Doomsday)
- Corey Burton – Brainiac (Previously voiced the character in Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League and Legion Of Super Heroes)
- Kevin Conroy – Batman/Bruce Wayne (Previously voiced the character in Batman: The Animated Series and numerous other productions)
- Michelle Forbes – Circe
- Mark Hamill – The Joker (Previously voiced the character in Batman: The Animated Series and numerous other productions)
- James Marsters – Lex Luthor (Previously voiced the character in Superman: Doomsday)
- Dwight Schultz – Flash/Barry Allen and Martian Manhunter
- Arleen Sorkin – Harley Quinn (Previously voiced the character in Batman: The Animated Series and numerous other productions)
- Susan Eisenberg – Wonder Woman originally voiced by Gina Torres until the introduction of DLC 8 Sons of Trigon when Susan Eisenberg took the role.
- Wil Wheaton – Robin/Tim Drake
- Jens Hartvig Andersen – Aquaman, Gorilla Grodd, T.O. Morrow
- Alexander Brandon – Black Adam, Black Lightning, Cyborg, Major Force, General Zod
- Tracy W. Bush – Calculator, Booster Gold, Deathstroke, and Ambush Bug
- Charlie Campbell – Kilowog, Ace Factory Thugs, Brainiac's Robots, Civilians, Joker's Goons, Spectre's Possessed, Zombies
- Bruce Carey – Bruno Mannheim
- Claire Hamilton – Huntress/Helena Bertinelli, Zatanna, Police
- Samantha Inoue Harte – Isis, Zombies
- David Jennison – Penguin, Green Arrow, Jeremiah Arkham, Solomon Grundy, Heatwave, Manhunters
- Brian Jepson – Felix Faust, Ultra-Humanite, Sentinels of Magic
- Robert Kraft – Mr. Freeze, Sinestro, Spectre
- Jason Liebrecht – Bane, Eclipso, Hawkman
- Robert Matney – Doctor Psycho, Green Lantern Corps, Hive Drones, League of Assassins
- Edwin Neal – Two-Face, Killer Croc, Harvey Bullock
- Robert Newell – Doctor Fate, LexCorp Troops
- Shawn Sides – Fire, Arena Announcer, Green Lantern Corps, Police
- Mike Smith – Pete Ross, Atrocitus, Ace Factory Thugs, Atlanteans, Bane Thugs, Black Adam Priest, Circe's Bestiamorphs, Civilians, Freeze's Goons, Green Lantern Corps, Grodd's Gorillas, Guards, Joker's Goons, League of Assassins, LexCorp Troops, Mutants, Poison Ivy's Minions, Police, Prisoners, Robots, Scarecrow's Goons, Sinestro Corps, Zombies
- Brian Talbot – Vandal Savage, Kyle Abbot
- Ken Webster – Commissioner James Gordon, Wildcat, Sinestro Corps
- Ryan Wickerham – Captain Cold, Metallo, Flash/Jay Garrick
- Cyndi Williams – Poison Ivy, Queen Bee, Advertisement Voices, Civilians
DC Comics announced in January 2010 that they will be releasing DC Universe Online: Legends, a 52-issue weekly limited series (along the lines of previous similar series like 52, Countdown to Final Crisis and Trinity) which would be based on the game. Rather than a weekly series, the format was changed to a biweekly series, with comic book writer Tony Bedard and game writer Marv Wolfman, and with artists Howard Porter and Adriana Melo. The title launched in February 2011.
Development and updates
A Beta was released on December 14, 2010 and was closed on January 5, 2011. There were a number of technical issues that came to light when the beta was closed which were only partially resolved by the game's release.
In August 2011, there was a global server merge implemented by the developers to consolidate all PC servers and PlayStation 3 servers into 4 individual servers, one for each platform per region. In mid-2013, as part of a hosting deal, accounts for the European PC version were sold to ProSeibenSat.1, however they are still capable of using the US Servers, and the PS3 accounts are still hosted by Sony Online Entertainment for all regions.
On September 6, 2011 the first downloadable content pack was released, called Fight For The Light. This pack included a new, seventh power, Light, and the ability to join the Green Lantern Corps or Sinestro Corps as reservists. It also included three new Group Combat Alerts and a Duo. The pack was free to all current subscribers.
DC Universe Online is a free to play MMO as of November 2 of 2011. There is Premium as well as Legendary memberships available. All new players are created with Free membership. All existing lapsed paid accounts were transferred to Premium membership. All current paid accounts were transferred to Legendary memberships. Premium membership requires a single purchase equivalent to $5, Legendary members pay a monthly fee.
The second downloadable content was released on December 6, 2011, called Lightning Strikes. This pack included the eighth power, Electricity, the new Central City zone, along with new gear, characters and a duo. Like the first DLC it is free to all Legendary subscribers and can be purchased by Free or Premium members. A third downloadable content entitled Battle for Earth was announced for release soon after Update 10. Along with a new, ninth power; Earth, the DLC introduced new raids, duos, alerts, and gear. The Brainiac story arc finally reached a conclusion in the South Gotham zone, which was filled with new content, while a new arc arose. DLC 4 was made available to all players on June 19, 2012, entitled The Last Laugh and featuring a storyline twist by The Joker. In this storyline arc, The Joker has stolen and made public the access codes to Police headquarters and nightclub safehouses for opposing factions, giving access to them in duo and arena scenarios. The DLC also features the introduction a new weapon type: Shield. Also, new legendary iconic hero and villains were made available for Legends PVP play, featuring Kryptonian and Lantern Corps related characters. The fifth DLC, The Hand of Fate was released in September 2012. This new DLC added Doctor Fate and Felix Faust as playable characters in Legends PVP and introduced a new type of mission – Operations – which are carried out in the open world in groups of 4 to 8. This update also expanded the number of slots players can use to carry trinkets and consumable items with the Utility Belt Attachment item. The sixth DLC title Home Turf was announced, which will include secret lairs and one-on-one battles to protect them. In late December future DLC packs for 2013 were announced titled Origin Crisis, Halls of Power, and Sons of Trigon. With the later to feature a brutal hellscape of Gotham City. On May 14, the seventh DLC went live, which introduced Quantum powers and Tier 5 Instances. On September 3, 2013, the eighth DLC, Sons of Trigon launched. It included a new "Gotham Wasteland" open area, three duos, an alert, and the Celestial power set. The storyline features battles against the demon Trigon and his sons. It also featured the inclusion of characters such as Superboy and John Constatine.
DC Universe online was announced as a free-to-play title for the PlayStation 4 on June 5, 2013.
DC Universe Online received generally positive reviews from critics. Nick Kolan of IGN said, "I wish I loved DC Universe Online, but instead I just like it. It's got a lot going for it – a great license, some superb voice actors, a lot of well-crafted settings, fast action-based combat, and an entire market of people who, so far, have barely been exposed to the MMO genre." GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd wrote, "PC players will be immediately struck by the console-focused interface and the overzealous profanity filter, which inexplicably couldn't be turned off (this was later added in through updates). However, loading times on the PC are zippy, and the game runs smoothly as you soar across the skies. The PlayStation 3 version is noticeably more sluggish. Menus take too long to pop up; the frame rate chugs along every so often, or the game might freeze for a second or two; and the telltale texture pop-in common to games using Unreal 3 technology is all too prevalent."
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