Superhero Showdown! COH vs CO vs DCUO

It’s a battle of superhero titans as City of Heroes, Champions Online, and DC Universe Online square off to see which game comes out on top.

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alt="superhero showdown coh vs co vs dcuo"

It’s the cataclysmic showdown
that comic-book gamers have
been waiting for. Which of the three superhero-themed MMOGs rules the
roost? To determine that, we’ll examine of the three
contenders (City
of Heroes
, style="font-style: italic;">Champions Online,
and DC
Universe Online
) in a variety
of categories and see who comes out on top. Now, let’s don
our cape and up, up, and away!


The visual element of a superhero MMOG is vitally important. Comic
books are a visual medium and the creation of our favorite four-color
superheroes served both as entertainment and inspiration to many a
person. Artists like Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, and Todd McFarlane were a
huge influence upon comic-book (and thus, superhero) culture. Thus, the
visual element of a superhero MMOG is as important as graphics are in
the comics.

While href=""> style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes
recently upgraded their visuals and href=""> style="font-style: italic;">Champions
chose a bold style, the clear winner is href=""> style="font-style: italic;">DC Universe Online.
may not be fair as that style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
is the newest hero in town, but the game
is simply gorgeous to look at. From the majestic skyline of Metropolis
to the gritty streets of Gotham to the orbital views from the
Watchtower, the settings, denizens, and foes are all visually striking.
I’ve found myself spending a good deal of time just looking
at the scenes laid out before me, sometimes not realizing that
I’ve gotten to close to an enemy who’s behind me
and I’ve aggroed him! The various power effects as you use
your abilities really add to the epic heroism feel that any superhero
game should look to aspire to.

DC Universe Online

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alt="dcuo" src="">

DCUO is stunning, visually.


A superhero has to have things to do to be heroic; he can’t
just stand around weaving a carpet. No, sir! He’s got to have
enemies to fight, crimes to bust up, alien invaders to beat back, and
so on, which means that there has to be a great deal of content for our
hero to partake in. style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
has been adding new content since their
launch, CO
has recently beefed up their content with the weekly comic
series, but the clear winner is style="font-style: italic;">City of Heroes.

has been around for seven years, and NCsoft hasn’t wasted
their time. They’ve put out twenty issues of content for
players to enjoy. With adventures spanning the gamut from time travel
to fending off alien hordes, there is a lot to do in style="font-style: italic;">COH.
My personal
favorite is time travel. Going back in time to a lesser-powered version
of your hero is eye-opening. You quickly realize how much
you’ve gotten used to the higher powers in your power sets,
and you have to adapt to being limited to just your first few starter
powers. In addition to their normal content, style="font-style: italic;">COH
really blows their
competitors out of the water with their Mission Architect system, where
players can design adventures of their own and let other players use
them. A rating system helps you wade through the thousands and
thousands of adventures that have been created for all level types. If
you can’t find an adventure in style="font-style: italic;">COH,
then you’re
just not trying.

City of Heroes

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alt="city of heroes"

There are so many
player-created missions to choose from in City of Heroes.

Character Creation

More than any other genre, character creation is key to superhero
MMOGs. Your superhero outfit serves both as a uniform and as your
identity as a hero (or villain!). We know instantly if we’re
looking at Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man based upon their costume.
Thus, it should be the same way in the superhero MMOGs that we play. A
superhero’s look never goes out of style.

set a very high bar with their character creator system with an
almost infinite amount of combinations to create a truly unique hero.
In fact, most new games today don’t has as robust as a
character creator system as style="font-style: italic;">COH.
I’ve href="">written
on how
disappointed I am with style="font-style: italic;">DCUO’s
character creation system. I
know that you can modify the costume as you pick up costume pieces
during your adventures and you can easily choose which options you want
to showcase. In their most recent webcast for Update 4, they also
announced that there will be a greater number of options to character
height, which is a welcome addition. That being said, I want the most
options available to me when I begin my superhero career. Did Superman
modify his costume over time? Has Captain America’s look
changed over the decades? The answer is no. I don’t mind that
there might be some special options only available if I unlock them,
but I want a huge amount of choice when I initially create my hero or

The clear winner in this category is style="font-style: italic;">Champions Online.
They took what
had done before them and added to it. Being able to modify
practically each body part (length of arms, length of legs, chest size,
muscle mass, bust size) really allows you to customize the hero
themselves before you even get into the costume. With robotic, animal,
alien, demonic, and even zombie options thrown in the mix, the
sky’s the limit on what kind of hero you can create.

Champions Online

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alt="champions online"

In Champions Online, you can
modify more than your basic costume.


How information is presented to you and your interaction with NPCs can
really immerse you into the comic-book universe of a superhero MMOG.
While both COH
and CO
have good presentation and style="font-style: italic;"> COH
has a really good
contact system (where you can just call them after you’ve
done a mission or two with them), style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
is the winner here. I absolutely
love getting a mission as that the contact’s image will
appear in your quest log and there’s a full voice-over
describing the mission to you. While not only bringing that contact to
life in the player’s eyes, it also helps to immerse you more
deeply into the game’s setting. Call me a geeky fanboy, but I
still get jazzed when I see, and hear, Superman congratulating me and
giving me details on a follow-up mission. If that’s not
immersion, then I don’t want to know what it is!

DC Universe Online

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alt="dcuo" src="">

Superman is talking to me!
<fanboy squeal>


Powers are the heart and soul of the superhero MMOG. What would a hero
be without his powers or abilities? If the Hulk didn’t have
his super strength, Batman didn’t have his numerous gadgets,
or how about Superman without flight or X-ray vision? The powers a hero
has define him just as much as his costume does.

This category has a tie. Both style="font-style: italic;">COH
and CO
have excellent power sets from
which players can choose from. Since style="font-style: italic;">CO
went free-to-play, players can
follow an archetype (preset powers) or choose the standard free-form
option (for subscribers and those willing to pay for this option) of
picking what powers you wish. In both games, players can choose powers
from various power sets, with some limitations. In style="font-style: italic;">COH,
you have to be
certain levels to grab a power from another set and in style="font-style: italic;">CO,
you have to
have a certain number of powers in your main power set to be able to
get new powers from a different set. Both games also allow you to see
what powers are available and when. In contrast, style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
has you locked
into a single power set from the beginning without any real information
given to you. While each power set has a lot of options to allow you to
really define your role as a hero, the systems in style="font-style: italic;">COH
and CO
are more

City of Heroes and Champions Online

href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 600px; height: 450px;"
alt="champions online"

Hmmm...a choice of powers and
a description.


How fighting and world interaction is handled is paramount. Superheroes
need to throw down constantly to beat back the hordes of evildoers.
Throwing righteous punches of justice into the faces of black-hearted
villains is how us sensitive heroes express ourselves. Superheroes show
their mettle through mighty deeds, which usually involve whipping the
butts of many a bad guy.

Both COH
and CO
have similar fighting styles, but style="font-style: italic;">CO
adds an extra
layer with the ability to block and generate energy through a special
attack. DCUO
takes blocking and layers it with the fighting style
commonly found in console games. The result: an easy to get into
fighting system that has multiple combos to be used for specific powers
and is fun as hell. style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
wants you to get into the fray right away and
start pounding evil into the ground and they succeed in doing this.
Battling villainous foes in style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
is tremendous fun, which is what any
game should strive for: fun. It’s quick, easy, and enjoyable.

DC Universe Online

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alt="dcuo" src="">

Smashing bad guys has never
been this much fun.


This category is for those small extra things that really enhance your
gaming experience. The winner for this category is style="font-style: italic;">COH.
The little
things like in-game events such as the Ghost Ship or the Rikti
invasions help bring players together. style="font-style: italic;">CO
has added their Blood Moon
event and hopefully they’ll add more in the future. Also, style="font-style: italic;">COH
has bases for supergroups! A supergroup can fully customize their base
with useful areas such as work stations and teleporters and the design
options are almost limitless. You want a base that looks medieval and
magical? You can do that. Do you prefer a sleek sci-fi base with
technology dripping off the walls? You can do that too. Plus,
supergroups can raid other supergroups’ bases and they can
duke it out. How cool is that? style="font-style: italic;">CO
has just added player bases to their
game with some ability to customize it. While not on the scale of style="font-style: italic;">COH,
it is a welcome addition to the game.

I also need to cite style="font-style: italic;">COH’s
Mission Architect system again.
Being able to design your own adventures and play the missions created
by others is tremendous. While you can create your own nemesis in style="font-style: italic;">CO,
you can do that one better in style="font-style: italic;">COH
by creating whole story arcs around a
specific foe if you choose to do so.

City of Heroes

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alt="city of heroes"

The base creation process in
City of Heroes. Where do I want my mini-bar?


So what game is best? Well, my answer is….none of them and
all of them. I’m not copping out on making a decision. I
enjoy playing all three games for different reasons. style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
has a more
dynamic fighting system that I enjoy, but I do enjoy fighting in style="font-style: italic;">CO
too. Missions are more varied in style="font-style: italic;">DCUO,
but through player-created
content, there are tons of cool adventures in style="font-style: italic;">COH.
Perks like housing
in CO
and bases in style="font-style: italic;">COH
appeal to me as well. Plus, each game has really
cool bad guys to fight, each with their own unique styles.

If certain specific categories are more important to you than others,
then you’ll gravitate towards one game over the others.
Personally, I like the whole ball of wax so I can’t really
choose. I enjoy my adventures in all three games and hop from one to
another on a regular basis. The choice is really up to you…

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