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.
Full disclosure, as always: It is entirely possible that I’m very dumb and missed something obvious. That having been said, at least one of the major points of the revamp was supposed to create more options about how you want to play your character, whether you want to have a hybrid style between powers and weapon fighting or focus on one or the other.
Where those options are, I could not tell. Which is a bit of a shame, seeing as how I got almost immediately bombarded with new weapon combos, new powers, and new interactions that I was not previously acquainted with. As someone who was still struggling to get muscle memory down with the existing combos, this is what I would classify as “not a good thing.”
It also doesn’t help that the game doesn’t really give you a good idea of how powers are supposed to work into your rotation. They describe what they do, but there’s no sense of parts working together, just things you throw in to shut down your combo for… some reason. I remember being told ages ago that you’re supposed to use them to finish combos, but that doesn’t seem right either, since putting on a DoT effect when you’re done hitting something seems inherently flawed.
That’s also one of the big problems I have with the game’s combat in general; it has no sense of flow. There’s little sense of impact with each hit – lots of animations, but nothing that feels impactful. It feels hard to tell if you’re doing much damage or having an effect.
But it’s the lack of flow, more than anything, that’s a vast difference from other games with action combat. In the past, I criticized The Elder Scrolls Online for having combat mechanics where you could only do X to counter Y (you couldn’t block something you were supposed to interrupt, for example), but combat did, in fact, have a straightforward and comprehensible flow to it. I always felt like I had a clear picture of when to attack, use skills, or just dodge or interrupt. It was, in short, fun.
The combat in DC Universe Online is not proving to be fun. It’s been a mess in which I hit buttons and hope that some of them are having an effect, with less feedback and comprehensibility than I would expect from an action title. To my understanding, this was one of the things the stat revamp was supposed to fix, to provide more clarity. In that respect, it doesn’t seem to have worked.
Heck, one of the powers I had was an atomic-powered dashing shoulder tackle. That should not be something that I look at and find “meh.” And yet here I was, finding it meh. It didn’t feel like it hit harder than mashing the attack button and didn’t have much else in the way of notable effects, so why bother?
Of course, some of that might have also been that I logged in discovering that every enemy had acquired a new power to teleport.
“Teleportation isn’t a power in DCUO,” you protest. Au contraire, my friend, for this insidious teleporting was all over. One minute I would be beating an enemy villain into submission, then suddenly he was several yards away from me. I would turn to him, run in his direction, and then surprise! He’s back where he initially was and he’s been shooting me. Oh, look, his friends have teleported in.
I have no idea why I am beset by technical issues every time I load up this game, but it’s certainly not generating more goodwill on my part. (I haven’t seen other people complaining about this on the forums, so I’m either isolated or just missed it.) Maybe I was just in a buggy area, maybe something is weird with my install, maybe a lot of things. It certainly did nothing to endear the game to me, nor did it make combat more fun because in addition to having a system that doesn’t sit nicely with my muscle memory I now had to execute combos while enemies popped in and out of existence like .com startups in 1997.
The biggest thing I would point to in the game’s defense is that it is older than a lot of other action-combat titles, so a certain amount of this is to be expected. But the technical glitches and wonky combat make me disinclined to give it too much credit in that department. If anything, it’s making me appreciate other games with action combat more, because those titles managed to feel far more tactile and coherent through any five-minute stretch.
It also makes me intensely appreciative for games without voice clips on enemy deaths. This week I found them particularly annoying, for some reason.
We’re moving into the final week here, but there is finally a bit of a new direction available to me that has not been there before. I haven’t actually tried out the game’s instances at all yet, and while I have a strong feeling that I know what I’ll find there, that doesn’t mean I actually know. Thus, a poll!
CMA: Should I try out a dungeon?
- Yes, it's important to see every part of the game (66%, 45 Votes)
- Oh, no, if you don't like the combat now you aren't going to like this more (34%, 23 Votes)
Total Voters: 68
I should note that despite my powerset being one that makes tanking an option, I would not be running this dungeon as a tank because I can only imagine what pain that would be for the rest of the party. “Hey, I don’t like the combat here and find the combos really intuitive. Anyhow, I’m tanking, whee!” No.
Polls close at noon on Saturday, so you have the usual amount of time to get your vote in; I apologize for the delay, but I felt like it would be unfair to not at least give the stat revamp a proper whirl. Feel free to leave your comments down below, or send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d prefer.
And no, I didn’t do the two-columns-in-one thing again this week, but I will in the future. Apparently, it has legs!