ZAM's DC Universe Online Gameplay Impressions

Editor-in-Chief Darryl Gangloff got the chance to play through the early areas of DC Universe Online at SOE's recent press event. Read on for his thoughts on combat, character creation and more!

Last week, at its Austin studio, Sony Online Entertainment held its first DC University press event to give journalists a behind-the-scenes look at DC Universe Online. To go along with the school theme, we actually got our hands on the game during the “study hall” portion of the day. I took the opportunity to create a couple of characters and run them through the early areas of the game. Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to the villainous ZAM Man:

Yeah, I probably should have made a character that bears the ZAM name a hero instead of a villain, but I really wanted to try out the evil end of the spectrum. As I explained in my overview of the DC University event, the character creator gives you ample opportunity to make your hero or villain a true individual in this universe. Even something as simple as choosing a personality completely changes your stance and emotes. From a distance, you can tell if a character is supposed to be a primal villain or a humorous hero.

For powers, I decided to go the sorcery route. It seemed evil enough. You'll have six powers to choose from when you start a character: fire, ice, gadgets, mental, nature and sorcery. While some players may be disappointed at that number, it's important to remember that each one also has two skill trees that give you different abilities. Toss in some iconic powers like x-ray vision that all players can choose to unlock and you should have ample ways to make your alts stand out from each other.

Of the three travel powers, I chose flight for my first character. I assume most players will go the same route. Super speed and acrobatics are interesting way to move around, but a bird's eye view is a great way to soak up everything that Metropolis and Gotham City have to offer. However, I definitely recommend that you try out all three methods of travel. Running fast is just plain fun, and fans of The Flash should appreciate that it truly feels like you're tapping into the Speed Force. Acrobatics may seem difficult at first, but you'll be climbing buildings and jumping from rooftop to rooftop in no time.

When you're creating a costume, you can choose to select similar pieces from various sets for a uniform look, or mix and match to create your own unique persona. As you earn new pieces of gear, you can keep the improved stats and save their designs in your style tab. This allows you to change your costume on the fly without weakening your character. This is certainly a great option, and I found myself changing my outfit often as I played through the early areas of the game. I didn't bump into any characters who looked even remotely like ZAM Man, but that could certainly change once the game launches and more characters are flying through the sky.

Once you finalize your character, you'll find yourself on Brainiac's ship and will need to fight your way out. Consider this the tutorial newbie zone of the game. It's just you against a wealth of enemies, which gives you ample opportunity to try out your combat abilities and powers. It's pretty difficult to be defeated in this instanced area, so I just focused on wrecking my opponents. It took me a moment to get a grasp on my attacks and travel power, but it soon became second nature as I was swinging my staff and casting damaging sorcery spells.

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