January 27, 2014 by Tim

While patiently waiting for Wildstar to hurry up and launch, a friend and I have taken up residence in DC Universe Online. I’d dabbled in it a couple of times over the past three years… at launch, and then again after they added the Hard Light powerset to the game. But I’d always done so solo, and never ended up sticking with it, despite enjoying the game.

This time we’ve made it to the endgame, and started the climb through the various tiers of raid and alert content. Pickup grouping is about as un-heroic as you might imagine, but it’s a fun, button-mashing time nonetheless, and it’s been serving as an adequate stopgap until Wildstar.

It’s not that I couldn’t see myself playing DCUO long-term, but rather it feels a little… sloppy. While it does a lot of things really well, there is a general lack of polish to a lot of the game’s content, especially raiding. The boss encounters can be a lightshow of various particle effects, adds and mechanics, and all without the clean, deliberate execution required to make conquering the challenge a matter of skill, and not of luck.

There are some MMOs, and I’ll use WoW as an example because I led an end-game raid team there extensively for a while, that come up with a very clearly defined set of rules for their encounters. They may get complex and hectic, but they’re structured in a way that you can go in with a plan, attempt to execute the plan, and if you fail, see why you fell short.

I don’t get this feeling in DCUO. In DCUO we’ll be in a raid boss encounter, and random lasers will be firing around the arena, sometimes practically one-shotting you, with no warning, no tell at all. If you’re unlucky, you just get nuked. Your skill as a player has very little to do with it. And then there are times where the game will blatantly tell you, with a text message across the screen, “GET AWAY FROM THE BOSS WHEN HE DOES THE ATTACK HE’S ABOUT TO DO.”

I’m not saying the game isn’t fun… there is some entertainment in the general chaos of these encounters… only that (so far) I don’t get the feeling that these are fights that can be mastered in a reliable way (apart from simply over-gearing them).

That may be by design… DCUO seems to be just as much about farming tokens to buy your gear from a vendor as it does farming a boss hoping for a specific drop.

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