DC Universe Online (Europeans Keep Away)

It is the batty man!

2009 is Superhero MMO year, it seems. Which, after the unending plague of fantasy MMOs over the last couple of years, is something to look forward to. We’ll hopefully be talking more about Champions Online, the sequel of sorts to City of Heroes (and, if rumour is to be believed, is new life spawned from Marvel Universe Online’s corpse) pretty soon, but also rearing its cowled head is DC Universe Online.

I have only the foggiest knowledge of who’s who’s in the DCU outside of the Justice League folks, and my attempts to decipher the Wikipedia page about the current big crossover storyline, Final Crisis, almost hospitalised me, but presumably DCUO is a terribly exciting idea.

It’s coming through SOE, and it sounds as though there’ll be a big reveal at this year’s Comicon. There’s to be a DCUO party and Jim “tiny feet, big boobies” Lee will be there talking about his involvement with the game’s art. Fortunately, our own Mister Gillen will be at the show letting Phonogram groupies stroke his beard, so hopefully he’ll be able to bring us a front-line report on the announcements. Meantime, there’s some imagery to run your ocular organs over at its official Myspace page. Which, if you’re in Europe, redirects to the myspace.com frontpage. A sensible decision, really. Imagine if Europeans found out a game was being released – OH NO!

Fortunately, someone’s stuck the a video slideshow of all the released art onto Youtube:

So far so City of Heroes, it seems. Sounds as though there’ll be no playing as the Man of Bats or The Man Who Is Super or The Wonderful Woman, unfortunately. A shame, but creating custom heroes does seem to be the only practical approach to this dilemma. Expect a plague of Batt-Mann_343872s nevertheless.


  1. Jim Rossignol says:

    It’s important to remember that Batman is just a man.

  2. Wholly Schmidt says:

    I’d be way more excited (compared to current “not excited at all”) if this was the DC Animated Universe Online.

  3. Chris says:

    They should really just make it a Legion of Superheroes game.

  4. Kanakotka says:

    Superheroes in games(or other media… really. Think about it) just won’t do. Because the basic concept of a superhero is invincibility, and that’s unarguable. Name any superhero that isn’t, and has managed to “make it big” if you allow the impression.

    Want superheroism? Here’s the buttons you want to press : ~, god, [enter], ~
    It makes games (with a console) equally interesting as any superhero game/MMO the industry will pump out. Not to mention over 90% of MMOs are pure garbage anyway. The category is forever stained since i once touched asian MMOs. Yeah, really. Can’t name any single one that’s even barely enjoyable that came out of that region… i wished they had the same quality as other asian RPGs.

    And yet again, alot of effort and time is wasted for most likely an unplayable unejoyable grindfest.

  5. cullnean says:

    sadly this arouses more intrest than D3 for me :(

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    Kanakotka: Batman? Daredevil? Lots of other ones?


  7. Kanakotka says:

    KG; Yes yes, i know they’ve all had their ‘close deaths’ to keep the ‘tension’ up. Even superman’s entirely invincible to everything completely normal and logical, yet he ends up almost entirely dead every time that old aging tycoon turns up. Yeah.

    Batman’s just a man, we all know. As is daredevil, and even, dare i say, robin, batwoman, catwoman and so forth. But really, have we ever seen them get even near fatally wounded? Or even wounded to make a note of? The superhero damage meter seems obscure in the most cases, either [superhero name here] ends up in strange fits of exhaustion from completely illogical causes, e.g. a green crystal of doom and death that does nothing to biologically 99.998% equal beings, or being ”crushed under a pile of rocks” but never even breaking a fingernail, except once in wonder woman’s case, but… that’s a different issue.

  8. Richard says:

    “Batman’s just a man, we all know. As is daredevil, and even, dare i say, robin, batwoman, catwoman and so forth. But really, have we ever seen them get even near fatally wounded?”

    You mean like Batman getting his back broken, or the whole Death of Superman thing? Or the death of a couple of Robins? Or Batgirl being crippled by the Joker?

  9. Kanakotka says:

    Richard, if memory serves that wasn’t content from the original source, and this was in the comic books, the exact same comic books where the now rather famous panel of batman breaking every single bone in the Penguin’s arms just because he can, and Robin being himself going ‘Golly’ at it as they leave the old man in the pool of blood. They started to get rather… stale eventually, so the kill -> resurrect -> happyflowers cycle started to roll. Managing to last 3 or 4 episodes/comic books at very best.

    The longest ”disablement” of a superhero, when not really even that, was the spiderman turning into a huge mutant spider for 5 episodes after which he was miraculously cured and life continued on. Hoorah.

    There have been also several “replaced by evil twin/bizarrotwin/whatever” cases, but truly never they faced even a notable kind of danger even in those cases.

    The Punisher (my streetname) i remember being the only truly vulnerable feeling ‘superhero’ with a cause, but as suspected, he never died either, but probably has the most notable injury record concidering how long he was ‘active’, so to say.

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    So what you’re saying is… Heroes tend not to die?


  11. dartt says:

    Robin has been Killed at least once (there have been several Robin’s).

    Captain America is dead and I think Superman was killed once (and brought back later).

    A load of superheros got killed off in Crisis on Infinite Earths including Supergirl and The Flash.

    While looking up some others, I found this great list on wikipedia: link to en.wikipedia.org

  12. Dolphan says:

    Or the page in Infinite Crisis where Superboy kills about 20 superheroes in one page?

    Obviously the major characters rarely get killed. Would sort of scupper the titles. But comic superheroes do die, get maimed (the first batgirl – shot through the spine and paralysed from the waist down, permanently), etc.

  13. Richard says:

    And of course, that’s not counting names that get handed down to other characters after the original pegs it/goes evil/stops moving the funnybooks.

  14. mpk says:

    Have they brought Captain American back yet?

  15. RLacey says:

    There’s a huge article about this game in EDGE this month, and that made this look kind of interesting. Console game too, which appears to have informed some of their design ideas.

    Of course, it totally remains to be seen if this can manage to be anything other than a crushing disappointment when it eventually makes it out the door…

  16. Kanakotka says:

    KG; My point exactly. Which is why i don’t understand how one can make a game out of them.

    Dartt, whenever they die or truly brutal injury occurs, hocus pocus. It was an alternate universe, or a character that no one really liked (Robin, really. He’s not even accountable for ‘superhero’.)
    Captain America, eh… what can i say about a comic that was pretty much used for nothing but propaganda?

    Morre to Dartt and some to Dolphan, Infinite Crisis as well as “Last Hero Standing” i would not truly count as a superhero issue here, the main plot is that everyone dies, full stop.

    The seemingly infinite realities/illusions/things/iLostTrack/universes boggles the mind, and oftenmost if someone dies, it’s not of the original author.

    Now, of course, it would be a rather bad blow if the main character died, but that still doesn’t make them less of a horrible plotline. And the longer it goes, the more ridiculous or obscure it will get.

  17. Masked Dave says:

    Spider-Man has died at least twice.

    He regularly gets beaten pretty badly.

    Captain America, eh… what can i say about a comic that was pretty much used for nothing but propaganda?

    Did you stop reading Captain America in the 50s or something?

    Anyway, even if you don’t like the character, you can’t just disregard them.

    Batman doesn’t die in the comic books because he *wins*. In a game, he might lose. That’s kind of the point of the game.

    If he loses then he’s dead. AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT.

  18. Kieron Gillen says:

    So you don’t believe in – say – James Bond games?

    Or – say – Star Wars games?


  19. The Aardvark says:

    Captain America, anyone? One year on and still dead as a door nail.

  20. John Walker says:

    It seems rather crucial to point out that characters in games are equally immune to death. Sort of suggesting that superheroes are perfect gaming fodder, really.

    It would be a bit of a disappointing game if it said, “Sorry, your level 45 character has died. Please roll a new one.”

  21. Richard says:

    “KG; My point exactly. Which is why i don’t understand how one can make a game out of them.”

    Well, for starters, you’re not playing as a named hero with contractual immortality in this one, so it doesn’t really matter.

    I’ll agree, it’s ridiculous to have to worry about, say, bullets in a Superman game, or anything at all when smashing a city as the Hulk, but in the MMO environment, you can easily have the superhero equivalent of red-shirts.

  22. Kanakotka says:

    KG; Have to say, i’m not a big fan of either… The Millenium Falcon was quite good, however, and the first battlefront as well as KOTOR, but i can’t say i’ve played a James Bond game that doesn’t hit me as anything but Generic. Even the fabled goldeneye on N64 didn’t really live up to it’s name for me.

    John; That’s why i’m a rather heavy user of shmups, and used to play countless of hardcore characters on Diablo 2. FPSes and RPGs are just fine. It doesn’t break the cycle when you can actually die, even if you would face possible resurrection using the load mechanism, but that’s practically just rewinding time á la Prince of Persia – Sands of Time. Not to mention dwarf fortress, of course. Everything dies in that game.

  23. Ian says:

    @John: or in the case of many superhero “deaths”;

    “Sorry, your level 45 character has died. But fear not! We’ve replaced him/her with a similarly-dressed one with almost-as-good statistics!”

  24. Masked Dave says:

    I think you’re missing his point.

    James Bond never dies in his films (for long anyway) so surely a health bar there doesn’t make sense either?

  25. Masked Dave says:

    Hrm, it appears the time has come to flee this increasingly stupid discussion.


    Edit: Okay, one final thought: Doesn’t Mario work under the same ‘never-dying logic’? I mean, I’ve killed him countless times and yet there he is, always ready to go off on another adventure.

  26. Phil says:

    A Vertigo Universe MMO could be fun. On the strength of Hellblazer, Constantine-themed mages causing enemies to destroy each other with other more than lies would never get old.

    @Jim – Batman might just be a man, but Frank Miller’s gonzo nuts, Superman stomping Batman is the single scarist thing DC’s ever published. Working from bog standard caped crusader to iconic titan of camp could be a fun leveling process.

  27. Kitt Basch says:

    I’m reading Final Crisis and I can’t bloody work out what’s going on. All I know is that Jean Paul Valley is coming back, woot.

    Comic books probably have more similarities to soap operas than anything else. They’re both prone to completely barmy comebacks. I think everyone in the comics industry acknowledges it, but somehow they can’t avoid it, it still happens (Spoiler coming back is probably the most recent example). Maybe it’s because they have regular scheduling and they’re open ended that they have to resort to extreme measures to keep things interesting.

    I have no idea where I was going with this post. Damn you afternoon boredom.

  28. Meat Circus says:

    “You’re beginning to get the idea, Clark. This is the end for both of us. We could have changed the world! Now look at us — I’ve become a political liability, and you…
    You’re a joke.”

    Frank Miller WINS.


    Yay to that. Can I play one of the Endless? I think being Death would be great. I like her hair and gothy taste in trousers.

  29. Dolphan says:

    “It would be a bit of a disappointing game if it said, “Sorry, your level 45 character has died. Please roll a new one.””

    Do you want your possessions identified?

  30. Jonathan says:

    Reply to Kanakotka
    Batman once had his back broken by Bane and was paralyzed for a while.
    One character, forget who, becomes a paraplegic in The Killing Joke
    The whole crisis on Infinite Earths thing
    Rorsarch, The Comedian and half the cast in Watchmen don’t survive to the credits.
    Most of the old villains are long dead or missing in Batman Future
    Spiderman got really badly beaten by his clones last year
    I also hear there are plans to properly kill off batman.

    I don’t even read comic books, apart from Watchmen and Phonogram obv, these were just the ones mentioned in Nuklear Power.
    But really I think you’re just hankering for a Johnny Cash reference link to youtube.com so there you go. Remember heroes often fail.

  31. John Walker says:

    Also, the comic wot I like, Powers, starts each story with a dead superhero. Which is in a huge part why I like it.

  32. domicius says:

    Has nobody read Astro City: Confession (or Tarnished Angel, for that) by Kurt Busiek? Superheroes do die…

  33. Yontan says:

    Just thinking of the lotro world, characters don’t “die”, they are incapacitated. You don’t have a “health bar” you have a “morale bar”. No one dies except the mobs…which works out pretty well, and I think would work wonderfully in a superhero mmo.

    And just to add to the superheroes dying in their series, seems like a pretty endless debate when there are, as mentioned, potentially an infinite number of universes in which characters can kill each other, save each other, be anything…

    In my made-up-in-my-head-universe, superman dies, batman dies, everyone in marvelverse dies, everyone dies eventually, but gets resurrected if the story needs them to be alive. Easy, I have just solved the problem of death by becoming God. There is no logic, except my own. Except this or die, and don’t worry, if I need you, you’ll live again.

    *I am not God really..just before anyone starts worshipping me by accident, I’d hate to be the cause of a crusade*

  34. Kieron Gillen says:

    To paraphrase my argument on this one: Characters can die. Corporate trademarks can’t.

    A superhero character can and does die, across all creator owned superheroes. If the characters is a corporate trademark… well, you may as well wonder why we never get A Death Of Mickey Mouse or Ronald McDonald story.


  35. Alec Meer says:

    That Jean Grey’s definitely dead. No way she’s coming back.

  36. Yontan says:

    “That Jean Grey’s definitely dead. No way she’s coming back.”

    I don’t know bro, maybe she moved bodies to some crazy almost dead guy.

  37. Dexton says:

    That Kanakotka guy seems to have a pretty weak arguement. I would say superheroes stories tend to be more about their weaknesses than their super powers.

  38. The Guy says:

    DAMNIT!! My internet dies for an hour and I fall behind.
    Wish this was a forum.


    Sorry to say this, but you [have a different opinion to me].
    Your point is that games can’t be about superheroes because of the cyclical nature of their storylines and that they have super strength and tend to not die, or be permanently injured.

    That’s all story issues that you personally have against superhero comics and says absolutely fly spit about gameplay, which is the real factor in wether any game based on any property can work. “Can you make a good game from the source material?” And yes, there have been several enjoyable games based on superheroes (it doesn’t happen very often, but it’s possible.)

    Not to mention your same critique can be applied to video games as well. Metroid? How about Megaman? Sora, Mario, Jack and Daxter, Lara Croft, Master Chief, Gordon Freeman, the Prince of Persia. They all have super-human abilities, can take more damage than a normal human, constantly become weak, loosing all of their abilities then regaining those abilities (as well as new ones) and triumphing over evil. Hell, Cloud was an government experiment to create a super soldier, and aside from being a DID-schizo-whackjob, he’s conceptually a shield throw away from being Captain America.

    I understand and can kind of relate with the whole superheroe invulnerability thing, though the mainstream cape comic industry isn’t about selling comics and telling a good story anymore really. Despite that, your arguments hold no sway over if superheroes in other media can work (since they have and continue to work.) Your whole point is centered around your own personal opinion, and not actual facts or reasons why.

  39. terry says:

    Since when do games have Myspace pages? How….fashionable.

  40. cullnean says:

    superhero’s excite me far to much for a 28 year old man

    also see green lantern rebirth! hal jordan ftw

  41. Pseudonym says:

    The reason I just can’t get excited about CoH, Champions or DC online now, is that they make superheroics too common. In a city full of superheroes, being one just isn’t special.
    I guess when all is said and done, that’s one of the main reasons I finally quit WoW, I want to be the hero of the story, and that does not happen in multiplayer games.

    Man, I miss Freedom Force.

  42. Phil says:

    @Meat circus – Death was always too perky, life affirming and Camden gothy for me, she was like a universal constant crossed with an Alisha’s Attic album.

    Thinking about it, a Spider Jerusalem adventure/stealth/shooter, were you plant bugs, bellow righteous insanity and cause guards’ bottoms to prolapsed with your bowel disruptor, would probably be my Vertigo franchise extension of choice.

    Edit: @Pseudonym, have you tried Marvel Alliance/X-men Legends? Its easier than going cold turkey.

  43. Pseudonym says:

    I played X-Men legends with a friend on his PS2 which was fun, mostly for the co-op multiplayer, and I tried the demo of Marvel Alliance on the PC, and realised that it’s almost impossible to play without a gamepad, which I unfortunatly don’t have.
    But yeah, I agree, they were some fun superhero stuff, especially for a Marvel geek like myself.

  44. Zeno says:

    Screw DC. Where’s my Dark Horse online?

  45. chesh says:

    I think what Kanakotka wants is a superhero Roguelike.

  46. Steven Hutton says:

    I just had the best fucking idea in the world. Thanks RPS!

  47. houseinrlyeh says:

    This is exactly like a Newsarama thread. I beg all participants to now reach for their next goal: The famous John Byrne message board quality while I go and get myself some popcorn.

  48. darkripper says:

    In a city full of superheroes, being one just isn’t special.


  49. Kieron Gillen says:

    Houseinrlyeh: I was thinking that re: Newsarama.

    Who is stronger? Hulk or Thor? GO!


  50. Arathain says:

    Hulk strongest there is.

    I never had too much trouble feeling special in CoH. The writing of the missions helped, as did the powerful feeling abilities and the comments you’d get from random passers-by. It’s an issue, but one that can be mitigated by good design.