It’s nearly been a month since the launch of DC Universe Online, and as the last of the free thirty days of play time begin to dry up, we look back at how the game has been been received, how it has changed, and what lies ahead.
If you are someone who has been sitting on the fence for the past four or so weeks, wondering whether to take the plunge, you will find that casting a glance at Metacritic and Gamerankings won’t help you make the decision. Though most reviews have been honing in at around the 70% mark, the overall reception has been somewhat scattered. At one end of the spectrum you have the critics who curse upon DCUO for its sluggish interface and failure to cater towards the PS3 playerbase directly. However, at the other end are reviewers, including myself, who saw past the minor and mostly cosmetic issues, to actually “finish” the game and get a clearer sense of the big picture.
That’s not to say that anyone is right; DC Universe Online is a completely unique experience to the home console and though it may enlighten some, it can just as easily ward away others, which makes the task of passing judgment an incredibly tough one. The best advice I can give is to actually take the time to read through some of the reviews on the web (including TSA’s feature-length analysis) and not just glance over the scores.
As mentioned before, when DCUO went live for the PlayStation 3, a plethora of issues were uncovered, including the awkward interface and crippling bugs. Sure, it was a mess, and sometimes unplayable, though as MMOs of the past have proven, there is no such thing as an easy landing, no matter how many beta stages the game goes through. Needless to say, the majority of these problems have been fixed; the menus are speedier and easy to navigate, with the frame-rate having improved radically. It’s still far from perfect, and Sony Online Entertainment have acknowledged this, vowing that future updates will refine the interface, making it more streamlined for console players.
When it was announced that DC Universe Online would be tagged with a monthly subscription fee of £9.99, many were in doubt that it would ever find a foothold, especially among the PS3 community. However in its debut week the game managed to break into the sales charts, and since release, it has been reported that there is almost an equal number of PC and PlayStation 3 players.
Though it looks to have been a success, there is always the looming question of whether people will eject themselves from the streets of Gotham and Metropolis as soon as their free trial is over; after all it only takes around a couple of weeks to hit the max level.
To draw the crowd back in, SOE have announced that there will be monthly content updates and seasonal events, with a new Catwoman episode and Valentine’s instance becoming available later this month. There is also a limited time offer to bag 90 days of play time for £19.99, though this could have a dual meaning: Sony could be treating its playerbase, but cynics would argue that the MMO is already in a state of decline.