Metropolis Now: Get Your Feet Wet with DC Universe Online’s Opening Levels
By Stephen Boyd, OnRPG Journalist
Once you have escaped from Braniac’s ship with the assistance of Superman or Lex Luthor (depending on your allegiance) you are thrust into the main game world.
For heroes you will either be sent to the east End of Gotham or, in this case, to Little Bohemia in Metropolis.
Unfortunately for this usually peaceful area, it has become infested with giant gorillas. Superman tasks you with shutting down this invasion by defeating X number of gorilla soldiers and retrieving X number of information disks. And this sets the tone for the vast majority of the early missions in DC Universe Online. Killing and fetching will need to be done until you reach the boss at the end of the chain and so the early missions can tend a little to the grindy end of things.
Levelling up happens fairly quickly though at this early stage so you will be given a few new abilities during these early missions. As you reach Level 3 before leaving Braniac’s ship, you already have one of your abilities slotted, but now you get to decide on which direction you want to take your character. In the case of this character, The Mummy, I have chosen a Nature power set this gives me an option of taking a Plant Mastery or Shapeshifting path. I think a werewolf Mummy is something we would all like to see, so that’s the way we are going with this one!
Each of these start missions will run around three chapters and, in a change from the MMO norm, you will gain mission progression if an ally is running the same quest in your vicinity, even if you are not grouped. This mechanic makes the game world seem cohesive and lets you complete your missions a little more quickly. In another little tweak on MMO standards, you will receive partial XP for every task as soon as you accomplish it. For instance, here I was tasked with taking out 20 gorillas and collecting 10 battle plans. Once I had collected the battle plans, I was granted XP and that got me to Level 4.
Once the full mission was completed I then moved to the next step on the quest chain and was awarded with some snazzy new gloves.
The one thing that is a little overwhelming at this point is the sheer speed at which enemies respawn. In this first mission enemies were reappearing literally seconds after I had dispatched them. The mobs also have a tendency to swarm. If you try and aggro one, chances are you will pull half a dozen, and that makes for one dead, or in this game ‘Knocked Out’, hero. I have to assume the developers have these respawn rates ramped up for all the new players, so they don’t have to hang around too long to complete quests, but this is something they need to look at soon.
Along the way you will come across several citizens of Metropolis (or Gotham) that need your help. These little side quests are normally integrated into your main missions and provide a great way to level up faster. They can also provide new weapons, armour and health drinks for your character. They will also boost your renown with the varying factions in DC Universe Online which will enable you to purchase exclusive weapons from the vendors associated with those factions.
Also scattered around the world are Information nodes.
These come in three flavours; Green, Blue and Yellow.
Green denotes details and information relating to the backstory of the mission you are running and will fill in some of the lore of DC Comics.
The Blue information nodes provide items. As far as I have been able to see, these don’t scale with your character, so best to search an area while doing the mission rather than returning after the fact.
The Yellow nodes are for Collectibles. There will be six for each area and collecting all of them will result in a nice reward being sent via your in-game mail from your mentor or another DC hero.
Collecting these Info Nodes will also count towards Feats, DC Universe Online Achievement system. However, in a twist on the usual Achievement or Trophy system, these Feat points can actually be translated to Skill Points which you can use in game to build up your character.
All this leads us to our first Boss encounter, in this case the villainous psycho-ape, Gorilla Grodd. After running through his army of simian soldiers, we must free his arch nemesis, The Flash and assist the Scarlet Speedster in taking him down.
This battle involves just battering the damn dirty ape until he releases his mental attacks, then running and avoiding them. The Flash does most of the heavy lifting in this fight, so ranged attacks and using the explosive barrels scattered around the room are your best bets.
As with the majority of the boss battles in Dc Universe Online, tactics are really not necessary. Just getting in there and keeping yourself healed seem to be the best strategies. Taking down Gorilla Grodd will bring on the first of the Motion Comics that follow these Boss Encounters.
These vary in both artistic quality and content. Grodd’s is basically an insight into his Ape Rage. However the Motion Comics that follow the encounters with Harley Quinn and Raven later in the game give nice little insights into the characters and are artistically impressive. Completing these missions will raise you to Level 6 and this, along with giving you more Power points to spend, will open up The Vault for your character.
The Vault is a nice little daily ‘Bonus Round’ that sees you enter the Joker’s Funhouse and smash presents that contain cash and sweet loot. The loot drops seem to be random and can contain useful weapon Power Ups or cosmetic items. So far I have received Flash T-Shirts, Superboy Hoodies and other DC Hero themed merchandise. Not particularly useful in-game, but a nice little nod to the Fanboys out there.
This covers the earliest stages of DC Universe Online. In our next feature we will look in more depth at the Skill Trees, Character Development and the introductions of PvP.