Free for All: Five gripes about DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online screenshot
I enjoy the heck out of DC Universe Online. It's a fantastically fun, action-based romp through a wonderfully drawn universe of wacky characters and amazing adventures. Even for someone who never really enjoyed almost anything that DC Comics has released (Superman? Ha!) the game provides tons of linear, quest-based fun when I want it or loose, open-world destruction when I feel like exploring. I have to admit that the game did not seem that complex or deep when I first started playing it but now I see how much has been added and just how much can be done with what seemed like a limited.

This is no perfect relationship, however. I have some issues with the game. Of course I am not a typical player and have not yet climbed my way to the top of the level mountain, so many of the issues I have will more-than-likely not be the same issues most other gamers have. I just don't worry about stuff like lock-out timers or loot drops. That stuff's all part of the math of the game, and that bores me.

No, my gripes stem from customization or making the game your own. So, at the risk of making it seem like I dislike the game in some way, here's my list of five things I want to see either go away or be remedied.

DC Universe Online screenshot
Weak facial customization

One of the most striking features of DC Universe Online is the fact that everyone looks the same. As I pointed out in my Why I Play column, every player has a unique avatar, but I'm talking about a character's face, specifically. Everyone looks either constipated, upset, or crazy. There are some ways to tweak these settings, by applying one of the limited personalities to your character, but often that results in overly aggressive or clownish looks. I'd love to see tweaks to specific areas of the face, to things like eye size and nose length. Players can create monstrosities by choosing different combinations of body appearance, stance, and skin texture, but my goal is to always create a relatively ordinary looking character. I want to make me, plain old me. I bet I'm not alone in this pursuit.

Lack of cash shop previews

This is another minor gripe, but this one has to do with spending real money. When I shop in a cash shop, I want to be able to view what I am buying, from every direction and zoom level if possible. Many items in the DC Universe Online cash shop have a preview, but because I cannot zoom in on the character when he is trying on a new skin, for example, I am not confident buying the item. I want to be able to see and manipulate every single item that has a physical representation in the game. If not, I will not spend any Station Cash.

It would great to see items categorized better, as well. Tops are mixed in with bottoms, for example. That's confusing.

DC Universe Online screenshot
Where are the glasses?

I have brought up this issue with some of my favorite titles like Glitch and Free Realms, but why are glasses not readily available from the very beginning of character creation in DC Universe Online? I could even understand selling them in the cash shop only, but everything I have found in the shop or through drops seems to be from the school of thought that says "Sunglasses are the same as regular glasses" and "Goggles are cool, huh?" I agree that both sunglasses and goggles have uses, but what about those of us who want to make a character who looks like a regular old human, bad vision and all? I know it's a superhero MMO, but even DC comics hosts plenty of heroes who don't run around in capes and who look a bit wimpy.

Where are the disabled heroes?

The fact that many readers would giggle at the suggestion that disabled players need to be represented in every title -- even superhero ones -- is proof positive that we need more disabled options in our MMOs. I brought this up years ago when Free Realms first came out; I'd like to see the same issues resolved in DC Universe Online. Why isn't there an option for a player character to be in a wheelchair or use a cane or be blind? These would not only be great opportunities for disabled players to create something akin to themselves but also a good opportunity for a non-disabled player to roleplay something he is not. I know it sounds sort of strange and is possibly a sensitive subject, but it's a chance I'd love to see SOE willing to take.

The fear of offending someone or of allowing some random troll to use disabled player features for nothing good means that we have no options at all for players who want to make a character who has a disabuiity. Yes, I know this is a superhero MMO... that's the point. Superheroes should no more be only about physical ability as they should be about good looks or skimpy outfits. If there is one place we need variety, it's in the superhero world. Stephen Hawking is easily a man who has superhuman intelligence, yet he can barely manage to move a finger to type anymore. We should be able to see characters -- even just NPCs if that helps the developer feel safer -- who have similar abilities even though their bodies might not boast superhuman strength.

I'm sick of my glowing skin!

One of the oddest decisions in DC Universe Online is the one that forces me to stick with my original skin color choice. Well, in some ways it does. I want to change my character from having glowing blue skin to having the same color skin I do in real life, or close to it. Players can purchase skin changes, but again most of them are not the type I need and none changes my color. Almost every one is just another variety of superhero skin. I can change to an older person or a person with stripes, but I simply cannot go back to looking like a human. On top of that, the choices in game cannot be viewed easily or zoomed into.

These are just some of my gripes about DC Universe Online. Call them pet peeves as well. I know we all have particular issues with some of our favorite games, and these are mine. DC Universe Online seems like a game that is just getting started, so I can only hope that my particular issues get fixed soon. I would simply love to see more flexibility in certain parts of character creation even though it is very robust now, and I would love to see better options for viewing character changes and upgrades.

What about you? Do you have any particular gripes about the otherwise wonderful game DC Universe Online?

[UPDATE] Concerning a few issues above, I'd like to clear up what led me to think there were no proper skin changes in game. I went to Researcher Quinn, the NPC who sells skins. (The first screenshot is of her pop-up.) Sure enough, none of them change the color of my skin but add effects or designs on top of my current skin color. I had been told she was the only source for skin changes, which was true, but in asking I was not clear about what I wanted.

You can change skin color in the style tab, something I was confused about because the former color changer was more than confusing and I believed it to be permanent. It seems I am not the only one who has an issue with the former color-picker. (The patch went live after writing this column.) So, my complaint about a vendor not being able to sell me a color change still stands, but only on top of the fact that I was a bonehead about skin color changes in the first place. My apologies, supers!

As for glasses: yes, you can find these in the character creation as well. I made my character so long ago I cannot remember if I saw the glasses or not, but I cannot find where these glasses are available in game or in the Station Cash store. My complaint still stands unless they sell these glasses after character creation. If so, I would love to know where.

Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to!
This article was originally published on Massively.