Choose My Adventure tours a new MMO every month — with you, the reader, as the co-pilot, voting for how the writer plays from week to week. Our current captain is Eliot Lefebvre. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]
So this is an unusual situation for me: I’ve never
actually played a game for Choose My Adventure
that I’ve disliked this much.
Those of you who have followed my writing for a while know that I’ve played some games I didn’t much like before, but that’s different. Lord of the Rings Online and Black Desert, for example, are games that were not my cup of tea but still had obvious merits I could praise. I’ve played games that I dislike or ones that deserved more criticism than praise when I played them (Ryzom, TERA, the beta period of The Elder Scrolls Online), but still had positive sides. (And in the last case, ESO turned itself around quite well and earned plenty of kudos from me.) Heck, I played Scarlet Blade with as open a mind as I could possibly have.
But not so DC Universe Online. No, this game deserves a pretty thorough drubbing. I can understand why it has fans, but it’s still just not a good game. I can only hope it’s an outlier rather than the norm on Daybreak’s overall catalog, because… wow. This is not fun.
I may not be the best person in the world to talk about the stat revamp in DC Universe Online
. Scratch that – I am definitely
not the best person in the world to talk about it because I’m willing to bet there is at least one
person in the world who has been playing for, at minimum, two months. Based on that alone, there is someone with more experience than I have. But I’m still playing the game, so I was bound and determined to try.
And… well. That sure was a stat revamp, I guess?
I cannot comment on the nooks and crannies of the revamp, obviously; I’m not familiar enough with the stats of the game to say with definitive nods how necessary it was. While this particular organization has a bad history with revamps, I am more than willing to believe that it was, in fact, needed. What I’m entirely unsure about, however, was how this was supposed to accomplish the goal of making the game more accessible, as the opposite seems to have been achieved.
Dear readers, today I am going to try something different for all of you. And it’s predicated on the fact that I’m not just
fond of video games; I’m also
fond of comic books. This means that when I sat down for my most recent play session in DC Universe Online
, I found myself of two minds about why I wasn’t super-duper happy with the content I was experiencing… and both of them could easily fill in a good chunk of words by themselves.
So this week, you get to choose the column you want to read. There are two spoiler warnings below: one covering my thoughts of playing the game from a strictly game-based perspective, the other one being my thoughts of playing the game from a comic book fan’s perspective. Read one! Read the other! Read both! Theoretically you could read neither, I suppose, but then you would have clocked out before you were done with this introduction.
Last week was supposed to be when I kicked off playing DC Universe Online
, but thanks to various real-life time obligations, I just didn’t have the chance to dive into it. My original idea of just doing a slapdash job and not actually playing it because Daybreak fans are accustomed to disappointment didn’t go over well, either. So I had to delay until now, when I actually did play some DCUO
. It did, in fact, happen.
And much like the first time when I played, I found myself hit with something right out of the gate: There should literally be no reason for me not to like this. I love superheroes. I like action combat. I enjoy colorful settings. I like the things that this game is doing which are distinctly different from other superhero games. I like the whole idea of movement modes and everything. There’s a lot of stuff in here that should be very distinctly delighting me.
But it’s not.
Looking at the the three big triple-A superhero titles, DC Universe Online
has always felt like the odd one out. City of Heroes
was the first, of course, but it was also the one that wound up delivering and then some, a game people still talk about even when many of them (myself included) have gotten over the loss. Champions Online
, meanwhile, is the disappointment, the Icarus, the one that never quite made it before crashing and burning appreciably.
And then there’s DC Universe Online, which is a game I just don’t think about all that much. Which is odd, as it may very well be the most successful MMO Daybreak is managing at the moment.
Some of this, of course, is down to the fact that it’s a game that seemed to launch almost by accident, with little to no fanfare and remarkably little promotion. But it’s also a game very different from many of its predecessors; where many superhero MMOs seem to be derived, on some level, from the archetypes put forth by CoH, DCUO does its own thing. And that alone makes it worthy of a closer look.
My time with Neverwinter
is done, and it’s a game I find myself in an odd relationship with. It’d be fair to say that despite what some members of the audience expected, I never went into disliking the game; even when I was getting a little bit bored, I didn’t find myself desperately wanting to play something else just to be free of the scourge of the game itself. But at the same time… it never really got its hooks in me, either.
And some of that, I think, is that I’ve played it before.
I’m reluctant to say that every game Cryptic Studios makes is the same because every single one has very clear pieces that stand apart. Star Trek Online’s space combat, Neverwinter’s action combat, and Champions Online’s status as the last relic of a forgotten time. (Probably other things, too.) They’re not the same game. But they do all share the same gameplay loop, which is different… and despite my best efforts, there’s a certain point when all of that just winds up getting a wee bit tedious.
It’s back! The Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series has launched Episode Two, and that means Massively OP’s MJ is back with another round of Choose My Adventure. Where will the story lead? A good part of that depends on the audience, which happens to make all the decisions about what to do and what to say. The fate of the galaxy is in your hands, so join us live at 4:00 p.m. to decide what happens!
What: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 4:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 19th, 2017
I’m going to be honest, before playing Neverwinter
I had a very different picture of this game in my head in some ways. Not because I didn’t expect the game’s core gameplay loop; I’d gotten that from demo events. And it’s not because I thought the game would feature a different set of mechanics or a different aesthetic. I did think that the animations wouldn’t be quite so dreadfully stiff for poor Ceilarene, but even that’s not enough to really throw me off of my game.
No, what I really pictured differently was the eponymous city of Neverwinter. I pictured, well, a city. What Neverwinter more closely resembles is a superheroic hometown after the most recent event storyline. There’s exactly one district that seems to actually be suitable for human habitation, and everything else is crawling with stuff that wants to kill you for various reasons. Also, every single part of the game is filled with people insisting that the city will soon belong to them.
In other words, it’s Paragon City without the superheroes.
If you thought I was enjoying my time with Neverwinter
as a whole, you would be right. I am
enjoying my time with the game as a whole, and while there are bits and pieces which don’t totally sell me, my initial impressions have been positive. Heck, even my impressions from the last week or so of play have been mostly
positive, with a lot of good experiences and a few which are…
Yeah, I could say “less good,” but I’m going to go with just plain “rage-inducing.”
Here’s the weird thing: At least one of the things which inspired a rage-spike from me was something I had been waiting for from the moment I started playing the game, and people who have read my work long enough probably know what that means. So join me as I find the item I dread more than any other in games by Cryptic, an item that appears in both of the other titles run by the studio that makes me start shuddering with rage every time I see it.
You are no doubt staring at the title image above and thinking to yourself that it really does not look like a Neverwinter screenshot. And you would be right; it doesn’t look like a Neverwinter screenshot because it isn’t a Neverwinter screenshot. My schedule has been hectic enough that rather than trying to cram in a rushed play session without much meat in it, I elected to have a brief delay and push the next Neverwinter installment back a week. Not to worry, though; it’s an extension, not a cancellation, and Neverwinter still will get its full four weeks in the spotlight.
Instead, I wanted to be a bit more meta and discuss a few things I see coming up in the comments from time to time as well as covering some ideas for the series moving forward. And yes, it contains polls for the compulsive voters in the audience, you charming folks.
When we last left off in Neverwinter
, I was finding out whether or not people wanted me to purchase the game’s subscription-but-not-really. You voted a resounding no, although quite a few of you voted no on the basis of this making me angry faster or something like that. Guys, is this a thing? Do you just want me to be sad? I don’t think we can be friends if that’s the case, and I’m usually sad anyway. It’s not a long walk.
Also, Ceilarene was hot on the trail of the thieves who stole the crown of Neverwinter. Or somewhat warm on the trail, at least. The crown in question isn’t a magical artifact, though, it’s just a crown. I think it’s just a mark of office, anyhow; it might be magical after all. Either way, it does confer a certain degree of status and it looks really neat, so presumably I should actually chase after the jerks who stole it. That means heading to another district of the city, the Blacklake District. If that sounds like a bad part of town… well, yes.
There are games that simply do not hold up past the demo, and frankly I’ve played a lot of those in Boston. Usually those are non-MMOs that promise big but don’t wind up delivering; I was excited about Rock Band Blitz
, but it didn’t really pan out as being as fun as a standalone game compared to a quick demo station. So I was aware that however much I liked Neverwinter
from demo kiosks, it was entirely possible that sitting down to play the actual game would be something of a disappointment.
But it wasn’t. Made you look.
Far from being less than it had seemed when I tried out the demos, I quite enjoyed my first week of time spent in Neverwinter. Not that it’s going to tear me away from all other games forever, but it’s a fun experience with plenty of things to hook you into the gameplay quickly without forcing you to dive headfirst into lore in order to find your commitment to the story.
Well that didn’t end well. At the end of the last Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series Choose My Adventure, the team didn’t get paid and Starlord (aka Massively OP’s MJ) lost possession of the artifact that suggested that his mom needed his help. So now he (she) has to retrieve it. The audience voted to bring Gamora along for the mission. Will it be successful? Join us live at 8:00 p.m. to not only watch the story unfold but decide in which direction it unfolds.
What: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017