Five years ago, WB Games and Daybreak Game Company launched “DC Universe Online.” The action-packed massively multiplayer online game allowed fans to create a custom hero or villain and fight alongside DC icons like Batman, Superman, the Joker and more with character concepts from Jim Lee and stories by Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman.
With the game celebrating its fifth birthday this week, many were expecting something big to celebrate the milestone, and the MMO definitely delivered. In addition to in-game anniversary gifts, the game’s 21st episode has been announced, and it’s inspired by the CW’s upcoming “Legends of Tomorrow” television series. As if that weren’t enough, “DC Universe Online” makes its Xbox One debut this spring, letting even more gamers get in on the comic book-based action.
To find out more about what’s planned for the MMO’s anniversary and future expansion, CBR News spoke with Daybreak Creative Director S.J. Mueller about how the company is celebrating the milestone, what fans can expect from the new “Legends of Tomorrow” installment, and what the Xbox expansion means for their online world.
CBR News: This week marks the game’s fifth birthday. How has “DC Universe Online” evolved over the last five years?
S.J. Mueller: The game has grown so much. We’ve released twenty “Episodes” of new content, allowing players to experience storylines that centralize around The Joker, Hal Jordan and Wonder Woman, as well as explore such locations as the planet of Oa, Crime Alley in Gotham City, The Flash Museum in Central City and Nanda Parbat. We’ve added eight new super power sets to go with the original six, and have released many new features and systems, such as the Base system, which basically lets players create a Lair like the Batcave or the Hall of Justice. We’ve also released Armories, which allows players to hotswap between costumes and power loadouts, and a crafting system called R&D that lets players modify gear.
A couple other cool additions are Survival Mode, a rotating event that tests the mettle of our top players, and “Legends PvE,” which allows players to play as such iconic characters as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in certain PvE [player vs. environment] content. Before this, players were only allowed to use these really cool characters in PvP [player vs. player].
Along with celebrating your birthday, you’re about to launch Episode 21, which will focus on “Legends of Tomorrow.” For those who don’t know, how do Episodes work in the game?
Episodes are our story-based add-ons. We’ve recently switched to a monthly schedule which offers two pieces of content per month for $4 dollars. If you are a member, you get access to the Episode content at no extra charge.
Obviously, the “Legends of Tomorrow” Episode is related to the upcoming TV show, which is a spin-off of “Arrow” and “The Flash.” But how does the game’s Episode connect to the TV show?
In Episode 21, one part, “The Final Piece,” introduces a mysterious Time Traveler that is putting together a team for an urgent mission. Like the TV series, this mystery figure is recruiting heroes and villains. Episode 21 features Hawkgirl, Hawkman, Captain Cold and Heat Wave, but it also introduces the Atom to the game. The coolest part of all this, though, is that this hero/villain team in the game also features the player character, meaning players will basically get to become a Legend of Tomorrow too.
But while this Episode is inspired by the show, the characters’ costumes aren’t based on the way they look ion TV. Is there a reason for that?
We are our own universe with our own style, based on Jim Lee’s designs from the comics, and we want to make sure we stay true to that for our players. We have a strong relationship with Warner Brothers, and there are definitely times where we are inspired by certain aspects of other events going on in the DC Universe as a whole, such as updating our Supergirl model to coincide with the launch of the TV show. But ultimately, we are our own extension of the DC Universe and strive to make a world that is deep and immersive, not just a reproduction of another.
Does that also mean that the actors from the show won’t be voicing their respective characters?
While we love the television series, we want to ensure that “DCUO” stands on its own. Our existing cast is extremely talented and really brings the characters in “DCUO” to life. We, and our players, love the work they have done over the years, so we aren’t actively seeking to replace the current cast with actors from the TV series.
Whose idea was it to do the “Legends of Tomorrow” Episode? Was it something generated internally or something DC suggested?
Ideas definitely fly both ways, but this one came from our team. We love to talk about the comics, movies, and shows as much as anyone else, and I was talking about how awesome the mix-match of heroes and villains in “Legends of Tomorrow” is going to be, and how it reminded me of our game, and it just took off from there.
Does the existence of a “Legends of Tomorrow” Episode mean that we can expect to see a “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” Episode when that movie comes out in March, and then a “Suicide Squad” one in August?
The DC Comics universe is extremely vast, so there is a ton of content to work with. Sometimes it makes sense for content to reflect current happenings in the greater universe, and other times it just doesn’t fit with current plans. Our development team is really creative and has produced some great story arcs over the years, some inspired by events in the comics and other DC properties, and others just from our own imaginations.
That said, while we don’t have any current intentions to create a “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”-inspired Episode, players have been asking for more Superman content, so that is in the pipeline for this year.
“DC Universe Online” is currently only available on PCs and PlayStation 4 and 3. Are there any plans to bring it to other systems?
I’m glad you asked that, because that’s another thing we’re doing for our anniversary. We’re extremely excited to announce that “DC Universe Online” is coming to the Xbox One this spring.
Nice. For fans of “DC Universe Online” comic book series, are there any plans afoot to revive it?
We don’t have any plans to revive the “DC Universe Online” comic book series at this time.
“DC Universe Online” is currently available on PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. It will be released for Xbox One this spring.