It took nearly seven years, but “DC Universe Online,” a massively multiplayer online game packed with iconic DC superheroes and players imbibed with their own special abilities, finally lets supports underwater swimming.
The new action comes with a major update to the game that delivers all of Atlantis in an ocean teeming with Atlanteans, aquatic life, and, of course, Aquaman.
“Atlantis is underwater which is actually a big deal,” said S.J. Mueller, Daybreak Games’ creative director on the update. “If we’ve ever done water before you are either swimming on it or running across it.”
The new underwater map, which comes with episode 33 due out on Nov. 8, is one of the largest maps the team has ever down. “It’s not Metropolis large, but it’s very large and entirely underwater.”
In a short, pre-launch tour of the new space, a character was able to swim above the spires and rooftops of the underwater city, dive under tubes and into deep channels. There were also caves, aglow with pulsing rivulets of lava.
Mueller noted that the map has a lot of verticality and that the development team worked to pack that space with a variety of inhabitants from the traditional Atlanteans to the mutated, animalistic Sea Changed.
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Atlantis brings with it not just a bevy of new missions, but also an overarching storyline that pulls it all together.
The story opens on the players being tasked with helping to quell a bit of a rebellion. It seems that Corum Rath has decided that Aquaman spends too much time on the surface and isn’t the right ruler for Atlantis and a lot of Atlanteans agree. If players are heroes, they can choose to work with Aquaman and Mera to try and save the throne. If the player is a villain, they work with Ocean Master who has his own designs on the throne.
Other notable Atlantean figures in the episode include Aqualad, Black Manta, and King Shark.
“This is King Shark’s debut in the game,” Mueller said. “He considers himself the leader of the Sea Changed.”
The new location and its missions will be open to anyone once they reach level ten. The area is also available to those not paying for access to the game, for a limited time, Mueller added.
The team took the opportunity to rework some of characters in the game with this update, refining the look of folks like Aquaman and Black Manta. They also created a new sort of creature, a massive sea monster that players will have to contend with as they play through the episode.
“Every time we have a big update we try to do something big and new and I couldn’t think of anything bigger than a big sea monster,” Mueller said.
The massive creature looks like an amalgam of a number of unsettling and notable sea creatures and even has an animated tongue. Creating it will now allow the team to create other massive enemies in the future as well.
“DC Universe Online” remains one of the top ten downloads on PlayStation 4 and has more than 18 million registered accounts. Episiode 33 hits next month on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.
The team decided to create an Aquaman level both because they liked the idea of opening up underwater swimming in the game, but also because of the upcoming Aquaman movie.
“We’re doing Atlantis because Aquaman is becoming a huge character in popular culture, in the Justice League and in DC in general,” Mueller said. “So we chose this year to feature him as a top character.”