DC Universe Online is a Brave and Bold Port for Nintendo Switch
While DC Universe Online's Nintendo Switch port is not free of problems, it still does a great job at introducing the MMO genre to the system.
While the Nintendo Switch’s hybrid nature has made it work well as a home for several genres, MMOs are one we have not seen much of on the system. Even though Phantasy Star Online 2 and Dragon Quest X are technically on the platform, those are Japanese exclusive. This means that Daybreak’s DC Universe Online will be the first major western indicator of how MMOs fit on Nintendo Switch. Over the past week, I have been going through this new version of the game and it has transitioned surprisingly well.
DC Universe Online is not a technical powerhouse in the MMO world, but the game looked good in both handheld and docked mode without ever taking a hit when it comes to performance. The fact that we can now play a console-level MMO on a handheld in bed is awesome, though there are two major caveats: the incredibly small text sizes and the fact that there is no cross play or character transfers from other platforms.
For those that have never tried out DC Universe Online before, it is a somewhat standard MMO that stands out by immersing players within the DC Universe as their created character has the ultimate goal to take on Brainiac. The player character is pretty customizable, and players can choose to be a hero or villain. No matter what route players go down, they’ll run into a ton of major and somewhat obscure comic book characters. As an avid fan of comics, this was one of the most enjoyable elements of DC Universe Online when I first played it on PS3 over 7 years ago and it still is today. This new version only has more content as DC Universe Online has been around for awhile, so players should be able to sink a lot of time into this game.
While the game’s repetitiveness did cause me to fall off back then, being able to play in shorter bursts anywhere with an internet connection should hopefully curb this issue with the Switch port. Considering superhero game offerings, specifically from DC, are sparse on the hybrid console, DC Universe Online will likely be a welcome addition to many comic book fans’ Switch libraries, especially when it’s taken into account that the game is free-to-play. If players did not enjoy the intricacies of the game itself on other platforms, this port clearly does not do anything to radically change the game; instead, DC Universe Online for Nintendo provides a solid and technically proficient experience for fans of MMOs or DC comics.
That added portability without the cost of technical problems is really the greatest strength of this port. Nintendo Switch versions of AAA games can vary wildly in quality, and with something that is as performance taxing as an MMO, it is surprising there are not many issues with this port. As I mentioned, DC Universe Online does not look outstanding as there is some aliasing and pop-in, but it is accurate to the other releases of the game. I prefer a Switch port that can strike a balance between visuals and frame rate instead of one over the other, and DC Universe Online has been able to successfully do that. As long as players have a solid internet connection, DC Universe Online for Nintendo Switch should run smoothly.
While the porting job is impressive, the presentation does suffer in a couple of areas. Text sizes for everything but dialogue subtitles are way too small in handheld mode, and we all know how text and menu heavy games like DC Universe Online can get. The novelty of playing in handheld mode is a great strength for this port, but be sure that you are ready to squint in order to read most things or use the Switch’s zooming option. Small text sizes are frustrating in handheld games, especially when it comes to accessibility, and DC Universe Online for Nintendo Switch is obviously not the game that will resolve this issue. If there’s anywhere future Nintendo Switch MMOs can improve from DC Universe Online, it’s in having more legible, or less overall, text.
One other downside to this port is that it is not compatible with other versions of the game. The Nintendo Switch has been a great platform for cross play, and it would definitely help games that need a healthy player base to sustain themselves like this. Not being able to at least carry over character data may also turn off longtime players from hopping into this new version. Hopefully, a large community of new players will form around this game on Nintendo Switch, as that is what DC Universe Online will need to thrive on the hybrid console.
DC Universe Online’s text issues and the decision to isolate the Nintendo Switch port from other versions are disappointing, but DC Universe Online still proved to be a surprisingly solid first outing for western MMOs on Nintendo Switch. It is impressive to see how genres that typically have not been associated with handheld consoles are starting to find new life in the portable scene thanks to Nintendo Switch. Like DOOM did for first-person shooters, DC Universe Online for Nintendo Switch proves there may be potential in the west for technical, competent MMOs on this system.
This port is definitely for those who have never played the game or dropped it several years ago like me as it does not do anything radically different from the other versions and progress can’t be carried over. If this free-to-play game finds the community it needs to be successful, DC Universe Online will be a benchmark title for Nintendo Switch MMOs.