Exclusive Interview: Terrorizing the Green Lantern with DCUO's RadarX

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Exclusive Interview: Terrorizing the Green Lantern with DCUO's RadarX
It isn't often that I get the opportunity to play a game with someone who is actively working on it. Even more rarely do I get to play a game before it is released. So when Sony Online Entertainment asked whether someone at Massively would like a virtual tour of its newest innovation, DC Universe Online, how could I say no?

Community Manager Tony Jones -- or as most players on the DCUO forums may know him, RadarX -- met me on the sprawling streets of Metropolis (home of Superman), where the Sinestro Corps was absolutely convinced the Green Lantern Corps was draining the power of its rings. Sinestro and his gang began feeding off the fear of Metropolis citizens to empower the rings again. Now, when the Green Lanterns heard about this, of course, they attempted stop the terror, and RadarX, in all his villainy, couldn't let the Lanterns get away with that. I was invited to join in the fun.

My tour of the game gave me the chance to ask some questions about what's in store for the community in this exciting game, as well as the chance to beat up some good guys. Follow me after the break to ride along on my adventure!
OK, so... I played a woman. Wanna make something of it?

Gotham City had been my major hangout in DCUO, so Tony figured that a quick tour of Metropolis was in order. The visuals and expanse of the city were absolutely incredible. We started at the Little Bohemia safe and cut across the broken Metropolis bridge to the city's mid-town.

As I looked off in the distance, I noticed that certain groups of buildings were covered in an impenetrable shielding. During the intro to the game, I learned this was Brainiac's bottling. Eventually, these sections of the city will be assimilated into Brainiac's construct. I asked about the bottled buildings, wondering whether we'd ever be able to go into them -- or better still, unbottle them. Tony told me that "the bottles themselves are an integral part of the game. We can't comment on any future expansion content, but the bottled areas are bottled for a reason. As the player moves through the cities' storylines, the ultimate goal is to fight back against Brainiac and retrieve those areas." The official word, he said, is that someone will have to unbottle them. "A good example is the Daily Planet. The very center of Superman's city has been taken over. Now, it's up to the players to see what they can do about it. You will be an integral part of taking back Metropolis and Gotham City from Brainiac."

We made our way to the center of Metropolis, where a statue of Superman loomed over us in Centennial Park. We spoke about the lore of the statue. Superman was once killed by Doomsday, and the statue was erected in memory of him. Of course, the Man of Steel eventually returned. Being in that park prompted me to ask later about the immersion of DCUO. Tony responded with excitement in his voice: "I think one of the biggest things DCUO has is this storyline. Some people really do care about story, and others don't. This is the first game that I've really been drawn to the story in a while. I played other MMOs where I kind of read the story. Yay... I'm going to go kill a monster who's going to destroy a village. At the end of the day, in DCUO, I'm going to help Superman. I'm going to stop Brainiac. I'm doing these things that make me feel heroic. There is an opportunity there to make people feel that they are a part of something great."

Today, of course, we were going to help the Sinestro Corps. The Green Lantern Corp was stealing energy, and the battle had culminated downtown, right near city hall. In fact, city hall had been all but destroyed, but we found our way in. John Stewart (no, not the one from the Daily Show) had placed a Green Lantern power regulator in the ruins of the building, so our first stop was to destroy that.

We wove through the hallways and rooms fighting Green Lantern Corps the whole way. The Sinestro Corps NPCs assisted us as well. In fact, it seemed as if we could have leaned back and watched the whole battle unfold in front of us, but what fun would that be?

While in battle, a player cannot help but notice the difference in combat mechanics of DCUO versus that of other MMOs. Tony mentioned the mechanic's appeal, especially to console players. "The mechanics of this game are very action-based; they feel very fluid. When you play it on a PS3, it feels very comfortable to you. A console gamer who plays action games is going to be able to pick this right up, and they are going to be able to fight. They are going to have fun doing it. It's interesting, with the feedback we get from the PS3 players -- sure they see some bug and there are things they want fixed -- but I haven't heard that it's not fun." He agreed with me when I suggested that even a lower-level player could hold his own against a higher-level player if he was able to coordinate the right combination moves, just as I was holding my own against some of the NPCs who were several levels above me. Later, he expounded on traditional MMO mechanics vs. DCUO's: "This isn't the traditional MMO turn-based mechanics. I'm not trying to bash old MMOs, because I play old MMOs. This isn't something you can sit down and have a have a slice of pizza while you play. This is a very, very involved action-oriented game."

We destroyed the giant lantern regulator in the center of city hall, and then we were off to find Stewart. We couldn't let him get away with this treachery!

We fought our way to one of the courtrooms, only to be surprised by a stand-off. Sinestro was in a heated verbal battle with Green Lantern John Stewart. It was obvious that a huge fight was about to begin, and of course, it did. All battles I have joined in this game are extremely intense. You cannot let down your guard for even a moment. Chairs and pieces of pillars flew around the room as these super-powered beings attempted to defeat their opponents. At one point, I had three Lanterns on me. RadarX was quick enough to save me, and we witnessed John Stewart fall.

The game's group content is quite fun, as I can attest to, having just finished a team battle. This answered my question about interdependence within the community, but I was curious what interdependence developers had with the community. Tony talked about this when I asked what role the community had in the developement of this game. Without hesitation, he replied, "Community is, obviously, very important to us. Recent examples would be the costs of soder colas and how much it costs to repair your items. Like changes to the controller class, we've made adjustments on player feedback."

Then he continued to express some divisions in the community itself: "The interesting part of our communities is that we have two different ones: Our PC community and our PS3 [community]. You would think, since it's the same game, you [would] actually get two different forms of feedback from those two different groups. What the PS3 community is super concerned about isn't necessarily what the PC community is concerned about. That may be just because of [the PC players'] experience with MMOs, whereas the PS3 players are more familiar with console games. But it's a very different sort of vibe."

It was incredible to play the game with RadarX. I hope to do it again sometime. Thank you, Tony!

If you're in the beta, look this week for events in which you can fight alongside more of your favorite iconic heroes, like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The game launches next week on January 11th, and as Tony confirmed, the team plans themed monthly updates. "We are going to see a sizable amount of content being added to this game on a regular basis," he said. Until next time, it's up, up, and away!
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