Hi, DC Universe Online! I mostly want to say, “Great job and keep doing what you’re doing!” What a fantastic variation on the MMO theme, not to mention the superhero theme. I like that you have more in common with Crackdown, Infamous, or Prototype than you do with World of Warcraft or some sort of Aquaman comic book.
However — Let’s see, where are all my notes? Ah, here we go! — I have a few, uh, “suggestions”. I make these primarily because I love the game, but also because I’m surprised you don’t know better, being the creation of Sony Online Entertainment, a company with a long and storied history in online games.
After the jump, the nerd rage begins.
12) Fix the quest journal
Whose idea was it to sprawl out all the quests in a long random list with no way to sort them? Or even delete them? Is that a console thing, to make the game fit on the PS3? Because I’m pretty sure I’ve played PS3 games with quest lists that aren’t awful.
11) Fix the chat
Let me add my voice to the chorus: The chat system SUCKS. Yes, that’s right, I yelled the word “sucks” in all caps. You made me that mad. If I was more calm about the whole thing, I’d just say it was “utterly incompetent”. This is the sort of thing I’d expect from a company making its first MMO. You know it’s broken and you know what you need to do to fix it, because you’ve made MMOs before. But I’d like to give a brief example of one of the many ways the chat system SUCKS. I logged on last night and the chat channel was being spammed with looping messages from a gold seller. To ignore the gold seller, you had to friend him, and then choose the option to ignore him. The only way you can ignore people in DC Universe Online is if they’re your friends? That both SUCKS and is “utterly incompetent”.
10) Provide better documentation
Last night, during a two-player instance, I took the time to show another level 30 player how to tank. He wasn’t even aware that he could do this. Sony, showing that guy this stuff is your job, not mine. I’ll be invoicing you. Alternatively, you can save the money you’d spend on my exorbitant rates by explaining important features like roles, breaks, PvP, and even how skills work. Also, how about something other than NPC vendor chat to introduce the endgame content? Hitting level 30 shouldn’t feel like being thrown into a whole new game unless you’re going to explain to me how this whole new game works.
9) Fix the controls
The controls are mostly great, except for the places where they’re not. If you’re going to let me rebind some of the keys, why not let me rebind all of the keys? Furthermore, why not let me configure the buttons on the gamepad I’m using? And why isn’t there a hotkey to jump to the deeds page, which is where I’m focusing all my OCD these days? And why does pressing the / key that precedes chat commands not open a chat window? And why doesn’t the return key, which is supposed to open a chat window, sometimes do exactly nothing?
8) Provide a toggle for sets of gear
In DC Universe, you eventually accumulate two sets of gear. One is for PvP combat that stresses your “toughness” stat, and the other is for PvE combat that stresses your “defense” stat. These stats are utterly useless when used in the wrong situation, so the game needs an easy way to toggle two sets of gear, the same way it lets you toggle two sets of skills. Furthermore, the game encourages the use of different weapons, but there’s no way to toggle weapons without futzing around in the interface screen. Sony, please make sure your interface supports the game you’ve actually designed.
7) I don’t have a square button on my PC
This isn’t really a suggestion, but I thought you should know it anyway. You keep showing me a Playstation button indicator when I’m playing on the PC. I have no idea what I’m supposed to press when the game tells me to repeatedly press the square button, which only happens at exactly the moment timing is so important that I shouldn’t have to try to figure it out. There have been at least a dozen patches since the game went live and this prominently careless oversight has survived them all.
6) Let people on the PC play with people on the Playstation 3
Put cross-platform compatibiity back in the game. Your head honcho, John Smedley, says it’s an issue of being unable to get the Playstation Network and the Station to work together. Frankly, that’s pathetic. It’s something I’d expect from Microsoft’s Games for Windows Live. When you can’t even clear the low hurdle set by Microsoft for cross-platform compatibility, you should at least lie about why the two versions can’t play with each other.
5) Do something — anything! — with leagues
Make leagues matter somehow. Give us some sort of option to advance our league. Or some sort of league emblem. Or something. It’s a great way to facilitate chat, since chat sucks so bad. But once you fix chat, where does that leave leagues?
4) Talk to your player base
It’s telling that right off the bat, as soon as the launcher appears and before the game has even booted up, your communication with your players is the pits. The launcher tells me nothing about the state of the game, so I have to log in to find out that servers are down. That’s just the first example of your poor community communications. But what I really have in mind is that I’d love some sort of indication about the future of the game. Right now, having hit the level cap where I can browse all the gear and instances and quests, I feel like I can see the whole game. It suddenly looks a bit small. There is no sense of a distant horizon with something cool on the other side, which is largely what drives an MMO. Tell us a little bit about what’s on the way, Sony. Just a little hint.
3) Support cross-server instances
Whatever wonkiness is going on with the instances, which are the bulk of gameplay once you hit the level cap, I suspect setting up cross-server instances would solve the problem. It’s absurd that I have to wait so long to queue up for a specific instance when I know for a fact that someone somewhere is also waiting for that instance. And for Pete’s sake, fix the queuing! Don’t tell me the waiting time for an instance is 3 minutes if I’m going to wait two hours.
2) Tell me what Nightwing does
The PvP legends instances let us play famous superheroes from actual history. One of the game’s cool goodies is the ability to save up special medals to buy more heroes. However, there is no way to get information about what the different heroes do. Why would I save up 85 medals to buy the Joker if I can’t see what he does? And once I actually buy him, you’re still not going to let me see what he does? I’m just supposed to guess what these powers are based on popping them off in a frantic PvP instance and maybe taking notes?
1) Kick Mhun from the Cry for Blood server
Ace Chemicals is one of the longer and more difficult 4-player instances. Me, a pair of fantastic healers, and a tank named Mhun make it all the way to the crazy difficult end boss consisting of clowns made from different metals who then blend into one giant alloy clown. He kills us once, so we plan the order to attack the component clowns. That doesn’t work, so we’re batting around different plans. It’s been probably over an hour in the Ace Chemicals instance and we’re determined to see this through. Except for Mhun, who just leaves the group without a word and runs off to do something else. At which point, there’s not a chance in hell we can finish the instance, and the odds are against a random dude jumping in at this point, although I’m sure there’s someone somewhere who’s been stuck in the Ace Chemicals queue for well over an hour. And since this is endgame content, it’s not like I earned anything along the way, so I get no reward for my time spent. People like Mhun make MMOs what they are only when you let them, Sony. So, okay, maybe you don’t need to kick him, but you do need to fix it so that guys like Mhun don’t make me and those two fantastic healers waste our time.