It’s been almost three weeks since exobytes swooped down on Metropolis and Gotham and gave thousands of regular citizens the ability to shoot eye-beams, summon demons, create explosives out of nothing and generally run amok in DC Universe Online. Sounds fun, right? A lot of the time it is. At its core, DC Universe Online is an action game where you beat up villains, heroes and robots for experience and rewards. There are hundreds of other players doing the same around you, which is where the “massively multiplayer” part kicks in and the problems begin to show up.
The opening, where you awaken on the bad guy Brainiac’s ship is well paced but doesn’t reflect the rest of the game, and it doesn’t serve very well to set up your path. If you choose to play as a hero, you begin in Brainiac’s ship with Oracle (Greg informs me she used to be Batgirl until she was shot by Joker) talking you through your actions. If you’re a villain, Oracle is replaced by Calculator (a gravelly-voiced know-it-all). Given that you’re just some guy who has been recently given superpowers, it seems strange that you are so immediately sure of your moral alignment. At no point is there a moment when you distinguish yourself one way or the other on the ship — it’s just “You selected villain so you’re a villain now!” City of Heroes added an alignment system in which you act out at the opening of the game in its most recent expansion, and it made all the difference. The opportunity to betray Superman instead of helping him would have made a far more memorable intro.