When you ask Creative Director S.J. Mueller and Executive Producer Leah Bowers what makes them passionate about DC Universe Online, their reasons are as vast as the game itself.
There is a definite shimmer in Mueller’s eyes as she recounts her comics-filled childhood memories with her sister, or the moment she was thanked by a deployed servicemember for creating a game that allowed them to not only keep in touch – but actually play – with their kid from across the world.
The just-announced Nintendo Switch version of DC Universe Online will be arriving this summer, and we had the chance this week to not only get our hands on the real thing, but also pick the brains behind this very unique newcomer in the Nintendo world.
Going into the demo, you can be sure we had our share of questions. As the first full-fledged MMO available in the US on the Nintendo Switch (Dragon Quest X was ported over in Japan), our curiosity abounded around details such as servers, online features, load times and cross-play. How could it all possibly work on this platform?
What we discovered was a carefully planned strategy for the release of this game on new platforms – one in which slow and steady will (hopefully) win the race.
Right off the bat, the biggest elephant in the room was the lack of cross-play with other systems. As DC Universe Online is now over 8 years old – and the core of its appeal is the ability to play with massive numbers of other players online – it will be difficult to sell this version of the game to those who wish to play with users on PlayStation or PC (Xbox does not currently support cross-play either).
The response to this concern is one that has clearly had its benefits weighed against its costs. Bowers explained to us that, as the game is already very established on other platforms, they want to ensure that any new version first has parity before it is added to the mix, so that it does not jeopardize the enjoyment of others. Therefore, as they did with the Xbox release, they have decided to (likely temporarily) give the Switch version its own server, in order to be able to work the kinks out in a controlled environment before releasing it into the wild.
The possibility of cross-play with other platforms is being investigated later this year – and based on what we saw of the game’s initial performance on Switch, it definitely looks promising. As we explored the vast new map of Atlantis, we noticed smooth rendering and texture loading – little if any lag, and running at a steady 30 fps in handheld mode.
With a nervous chuckle, the team told us we were actually playing on the hotel’s guest wifi network – which they weren’t sure would be able to handle the game until they arrived. Not only that, but they’d also been testing it on a mobile hotspot previously, and found that it worked well then, too. Even they had surprised themselves.
This bodes very well for the possibility of cross-play on the Switch in the future, as it appears the game performance is definitely on par with the other systems it has more established on. They also said Nintendo and Microsoft are both “very open” to cross-play opportunities on their systems, and are hopeful about the upcoming discussions.
The next question we had was regarding Nintendo Switch Online and the game’s integration with this service. Although there are no concrete plans right now, talks are happening, and it will hopefully be in the works soon. For now, voice chat is integrated into the game itself, and can be used with an external mic.
On the topic of subscriptions – for those who are unfamiliar with DC Universe Online – the game itself is free-to-play when purchased; however, it is also constantly being updated with new maps, episodes, visuals, and other features – often on a weekly basis. Players have the option to either purchase these updates à la carte, or to opt into a $14.99 per month subscription, in which they automatically receive all new updates as they release. For Nintendo fans, who are generally used to this format with DLC in other games, this is a flexible option that allows for users of any level to play what they want, as much as they want.
As Bowers and Mueller made very clear, their end goal with this game is to bring as many players from as many walks of life as possible together to enjoy an ever-changing and growing experience with each other. The ability to now reach a brand-new audience in Nintendo, and enable players to take this MMO wherever they go, is something completely new and exciting for many fans – and while it still has quite a few hurdles to jump in order to achieve success here, it’s clear this dynamic duo absolutely has the experience and passion to follow this game through to its realized success on yet another platform, potentially for years to come.
Have you previously played DC Universe Online on other platforms? Do you plan to give it a shot on the Switch this summer? Let us know in the comments below.
Aren't there already at least two other MMOs already on the Switch?
if I have to start all over No thanks
You know what else could have paved the way? FF14
I thought this had died off.
They need to just let the PC players log-on with their account on Switch.
I would be more excited for FINAL FANTASY XIV 🙄 (this is not even my "B" option)
Looks good but I'll wait to see it in the real world!
Dragon Quest X would have worked to pave the way as well.
Paved the way for the Pokemon MMO?!
...Phantasy Star Onl...never mind.
FFXIV on switch would get me playing again for sure. Easily my favorite mmo to date
MMMO mobile massively multiplayer online
Not a fan of online games in general but kind off played this back in the day as a single player experience, as I am a fan of the characters, was alright to be honest
Played it on XOne and it sucks.
Give me FFXIV or even FFXI. Much better.
I’ve said this for YEARS!!
The future of online gaming in general is mobile. I can play doom and fifa on switch literally anywhere. NHL on Xbox? Only when I’m home in an evening
"Players have the option to either purchase these updates à la carte, or to opt into a $14.99 per month subscription, in which they automatically receive all new updates as they release. For Nintendo fans, who are generally used to this format with DLC in other games, this is a flexible option that allows for users of any level to play what they want, as much as they want."
Name one Nintendo game that uses that format
Sega should have decided to make an actual Switch port and bring it west but no they had to be Xboned.
@GrailUK LOL well streaming doesn't count for now right? None of the streaming games have left Japan (for switch).
@Ryu_Niiyama You're right. And when you're right, you're right, and you? You're always right
Do people really want MMOs on the Switch? Won't it defeat the purpose of being a mobile system, if I can't play the game anywhere without WiFi?
@Rogueleader76 What's wrong with playing the game wherever you can have free Wi-Fi (home, cafes, trains, busses, squares etc.) instead of the expensive mobile internet?
@Rogueleader76 People travel with wifi and to locations with wifi all the time, in Japan MMOs on switch do fairly well so far. Since google is trying to lead the streaming brigade they might pick back up with google fiber as a project. Especially now that isp are having fun starting to set tiers based upon usage.
@frogopus I do like DAoC myself. Maybe it's just me, but I don't always have access to WiFi outside of my home.
@Cosats yeah I guess if you live in areas that offer better wifi. I just don't have access to WiFi a lot outside of my home where I live.
@Ryu_Niiyama well maybe infrastructure will be better, it's hard when you don't live in a bigger city to find access to good WiFi outside of the home.
Well, to be honest I live in Athens, Greece. It's a big city of around 5 million people so it's easy to find free wi-fi around here.
Could be neat, I’ll be keeping an eye out.
I’d definitely be down for some Star Trek Online, enjoyed that on XB1
@Rogueleader76 Well my reply was more with thoughts to the consumer base and not my personal situation. My internet is horrible but that doesn't mean that metros and travel don't make online games work. I mean we have the battle royale games...they are just as persistent online and they are selling/being downloaded like hotcakes.
@Ryu_Niiyama yeah good point. I just know I get disappointed when I have to be connected to the internet to play a game on my Switch. But this game does interest me, so we'll see.
@McEhret1 I really want 14 for Switch. Ah well.
I just need a release date for this and I am ready to go. Hope my kiddos like it. I think it will be a great game to play together.
Personally I rather have ESO, Neverwinter or if Blizzard is nice WoW Classic on the Switch.
I liked DCUO back on the PS3. Most people had outlandish costumes and weapons, that didnt look particularly superhero like to me, so I always just kept my character as close looking to a green lantern as possible.
@zionich yes this would be fun with the kiddos, I play Diablo 3 with mine sometimes, and it's fun
My issue with MMOs is the same it has always been: I don't see the enjoyment of playing them by myself and don't have a group of friends who are interested in playing with me.
If even one of my friends was like "Hey, let's play this MMO together!" then I would jump at the chance. But we have trouble setting up times to play a couple rounds of Splatoon together. Forget a consistent MMO thing!
That's no insult to the genre. I'd like to get into it. I just don't have people who'd be interested in getting into it with me.
MMOs aren’t a great fit on Switch.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see this game come over. But online only kinda kills the advantage of hybrid portability. Granted you can still take the system with you and then reconnect online at a hotel or something. So it’s not like you can’t play these games and still take advantage of portability, but it does reduce the extent of portable play.
Sorry DC Universe, I'm gonna let you finish, but Phil Spencer has just said Phantasy Star Online 2 will eventually hit all platforms.
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