Friday, January 14, 2011
MMORPG? MMOAG? MMOARPG?
The new shiney is here and it is DC Universe Online, the latest attempt by SOE to wow the MMO market (hehe, see what I did there...). After Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies, Pirates etc. we know that SOE know something about the MMO genre and after Champions and City of Heroes/Villains there are some expectations of the superhero genre too. Hey, after reading the comics for decades, I have my own expectations!
I got the game through a new source - direct2drive.co.uk - and the process was reasonably easy. There was some issues with phone verification of credit cards but I eventually just used my paypal account to pay and left it downloading overnight. I woke up expecting a nightmare, but after a small driver patch I was playing the game. Whoo hoo. Thats about as smooth as I could expect so I am very pleased.
The game itself is different from the other MMOs I have played and it took a little time to accustom myself to the controls. Essentially you move with the WASD keys but you steer with the mouse. This works very well for flight etc. but I have had to get used to not pressing the mouse keys when doing this. Powers are activated using the number keys and weapons attacks are accessed via combos of mouse clicks. I find this a lot of fun. All of the crucial keys are around the WASD interface and this too appeals to me as a newbie-non-clicker.
I'll go into the aesthetics of the game in another post - here I want to talk about the experience and how it impacts upon my perceptions of the game. The game, essentially, has all of the staples you would expect from a MMO (except an Auction House, which was not included from beta) and operates in much the same format as many MMOs - with quests, reputations and the standard four quest types (kill x, collect x, find x, escort x). All of this is wrapped up in a very action orientated interface with a LOT of combat involved. Which is FANTASTIC. Kicking ass and taking names is a very good thing to do and this game does it well. I've even had some mid air battles which were great!
However, this familarity has lead to some downsides. I've come to the game from WoW - a game that I can confidently say I have a decent grasp of many of the mechanics and I can even more confidently say I could walk around with my eyes closed. Now, I am faced with a new world and its filled with uncertainty. Will the things I expect be there when I want them? Will there be an endgame? Will there be sufficient content? Its a curious set of thoughts considering I have had the game installed for all of one day but it is a sense of foreboding that a number of people seem to be sharing. We shall see. I am reminded of the fact that Dire Maul was not in the original launch of WoW, of you know what I mean.
This leads me nicely to the community and how it has panned out. Guess what? Its the same old bitching, complaining, entitled bunch of doomsayers as you get everywhere. To highlight one example, there are no official RP servers (yet) so a bunch of RP guilds ganged together and after some consultation decided to announce a couple of servers as the (un)official RP servers. Now, whenever they do it, someone will pipe up 'Who told you that? Who decided that? You can't tell me which servers have been unofficially chosen! You're not the boss of me!!' - its laughable.
Finally there is some teethgrinding about the designation of the game as a roleplaying game, as in an MMORPG-style of roleplaying (i.e. none). Its too action-orientated to be a RPG, surely, people are saying. Which implies that to be a RPG, you have to be slow, ponderous and dull. Again, I laughed.
Looking good so far.