10 years of DC Universe Online: How it started vs. how it’s going
January 11, 2011, was a monumental day for DC Comics fans around the globe. It saw the release of DC Universe Online, an expansive massively multiplayer online role-playing game that had the impressive task of allowing you to create your own unique superhero or villain in the same universe as Batman and Superman.
Now, 10 years have passed since that fateful day and DC Universe Online is still going strong a decade later. With new platforms now available for it as well, there is a whole new audience of players who are checking it out for the first time alongside the veteran players who have been around since the PS3 days.
Your Own Superpowered Story
Other DC Comics games like Batman: Arkham City put you in the shoes of existing characters but DC Universe Online allowed you to craft your own unique superpowered story. The base game in 2011 allowed for two factions, heroes and villains, with a slew of powers and weapons to choose from.
You don’t just get to customize your character’s look, from personality to skin type to costume, but you can also pick the type of hero that you want. Do you want to soar through the skies like Superman or blast around town at the speed of light like The Flash?
The choices were impressive, including the superpowers that you could choose from. You could pick to be an ice user, mental fighter, gadgets user, and so on. Couple that with the different weapon options and DC Universe Online had one of the most exciting character customizations at the time.
For me, personally, that meant creating Sam Kaar, a comical flying superhero who blasts enemies away with his magical hand and mind powers as he ventures through Metropolis, The Watchtower, and other iconic locations.
With really no other superhero MMOs here 10 years later, DC Universe Online still remains one of the most unique experiences that you can enjoy online. With veteran Everquest developers Chris Cao and Shawn Lord involved, it was clear that this was going to be a special MMORPG and it has succeeded in that, leaving a legacy that has impacted the genre, especially on consoles.
Gameplay That Actually Works on Consoles
MMOs have been notoriously kept away from console players, for the most part. If you wanted to check out World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic today, you’d still have to boot up a compatible PC to play them. But that isn’t the case for DC Universe Online, a ground-breaking game that has been built from the ground up for consoles just as much as PC since day one.
When DCUO came out 10 years ago, it did so for both PC and PS3 at the same time. After participating in the brief closed beta, I was astonished that there was an MMO that I could download for my console and play without having to borrow my high school’s computers.
More surprising than that, though, was the fact that I could play the game with a controller and it worked really well. The main reason MMOs don’t work with a controller is because of hotbars, but DCUO didn’t dumb down its gameplay to work on console, keeping that same general hotbar gameplay.
Dividing the hotbar essentially in half, and using a mix of the left and right triggers and the face buttons to execute various abilities, ensured console players could enjoy a complete MMORPG experience. Better yet, combat felt fast and frenetic no matter which combination of abilities and weapons you picked, making for a more fluid and fun game compared to its slower competitors.
The focus on consoles never lost sight as it went free-to-play, gained expansions, and new platforms emerged. DCUO was there once again on the day one launch of the PlayStation 4, being one of the few experiences available for new console owners and also allowing you to seamlessly continue with your PS3 save file.
Though Sony Online Entertainment was heavily involved at the start of the MMO, this didn’t stop DCUO from eventually expanding to other consoles as well. An Xbox One version came out in April 2016, followed by being available through backward compatibility for the recently released Xbox Series X, S, and PlayStation 5.
It was even released for the Nintendo Switch in August 2019 as one of the only MMORPGs available on the hybrid console to date. No matter which of the modern consoles you own currently, you are able to download this MMORPG and play it right now for free, which is something that can’t be said for other games in the genre.
Tying the Different DC Universes Together
As the premier MMO in the DC Comics brand, DCUO has done a solid job over the years of paying homage to every aspect of the various universes. There are so many different elements of the franchise, from the main comics to the DCEU movies to the Arrowverse and more.
The ability to fight and take quests from beloved characters like Batman and Wonder Woman is one thing but it was expanded over time to even include costumes from the Supergirl TV show and DLC episodes inspired by movies like Birds of Prey.
These are characters and projects that have been notoriously independent of one another over the years but you are able to experience many of them and more in this single video game. It is an unbelievable feat that developer Dimensional Ink Games and publisher Daybreak Game Company have been able to accomplish.
The Future Is as Bright as Ever
But the best part about all of this is that DC Universe Online isn’t just looking back at the past 10 years but looking forward to what’s to come in the future. With more than 27 million unique players across the past decade and 69 million superpowered characters added to the DC universe, the dedicated fanbase has so much to look forward to this year and beyond.
The whopping 40th episode of DLC content is coming this year, using the beloved Flashpoint arc from the comics as inspiration and further expanding the lore in the process. Later on in the year, a dedicated PS5 version of DC Universe Online will be released as well, offering the best-looking place to play the MMO.
With 10 years under its belt, there is a wide spectrum of players enjoying the game today from veterans from the very beginning to newcomers picking it up for the first time. To help with this, changes are coming that will smooth out the rough edges and better handle the vast amount of content released over the years.
Ten years may be behind DC Universe Online at this point but it is already looking ahead at the next 10 years and what it will bring. And when new platforms inevitably come out, I’ll be there to once again soar through the skies of Gotham City, participate in races, join the Green Lantern Corps, and immerse myself once again in one of the deepest MMORPGs ever made.