Metropolis Now: I’ll Get By With A Little Help From My (Super) Friends
By Stephen Boyd, OnRPG Journalist
Sometimes, when the forces of evil are rallied against you, one hero is not enough. From the Justice Society of America and the Seven Soldiers of Victory in the 1940’s through to the Teen Titans of today, hero teams have been an institution in comics.
And DC Universe Online has not ignored this tradition.
Now, it may not come as a surprise, being that this is a Massively MULTIPLAYER Game that group content is a part of the DCUO experience, but how much fun is it? What is it all about? And, perhaps most importantly, how successful is it?
There are both PvE and PvP servers for DC Universe Online. As you would expect, PvP is one huge battle of Good versus Evil all the time, so I will be focusing on the Mutiplayer, both competitive and Cooperative available on the PvE servers in this feature.
From the very earliest levels in DCUO your character will be given multiple opportunities to team with allies against NPCs and enemy players. Let’s break it down to see what your options are.
In Legends mode, you get to shed the skin of your character and fill some of the most recognisable boots in the DC Universe. Here you will team with up to 3 other players in King of the Hill type matches. Currently there are three locations available for these battles; The Batcave, Arkham Asylum and Ace Chemicals, birthplace of the Joker.
In these matches you get to play as Nightwing, Robin and the Huntress from the Hero side and the Joker, Bane and Harley Quinn from the villainous side of the fence.
Batman is available to play as well, but unfortunately only to those that pre-ordered the game. This seems a trifle unfair to have one of DC’s most iconic characters permanently unavailable to new players, and I would hope that SOE rectify this situation in the future. All of the above mentioned characters are available to both factions, can have multiples in each match and are not exactly balanced. Bane, for instance, has a devastating AOE attack that will suck away half your health bar. So if you are in combat against two Banes? Well, you can see what I’m getting at.
In last week’s press release regarding the February Issue of new content, game director Chris Cao indicated that Catwoman would be made available as a playable character in this mode. While it is nice to see a new character, it would be even nicer to see the developers stray from the Batman Universe a little. A Superman or Doomsday in these matches would be fun, and may cure the problem of all Bane, all the time that seems to be taking over this mode.
In the Arena you have straight up Death Matches and Capture the Flag style contests. In the Moonbase Arena, players score time bonuses for taking down opponents or capturing the Kryptonite samples in their enemy’s base. In my experience, the Capture the Flag element is pretty much ignored and this is basically Deathmatch Mode.
In the S.T.A.R Labs Arena, King of the Hill rules apply. Capture and hold one of the three nodes and points are removed from your opponents’ total. When the total hits zero, your team wins.
The rewards for both of these modes come in the form of Marks. These tokens can be used to by powerful Armour from the vendors in your respective faction’s safehouse. It takes a LOT of these Marks to purchase your gear, but the full sets do offer bonuses specific to your chosen class, and are themed upon the big guns of both the Justice League and their villainous counterparts in the Legion of Doom.
The DC Universe Wiki lists the full explanation of these tokens here.
Instances in DCUO are known as Alerts. In these four player missions, you and your team will go up against some of the biggest names in the DC Universe.
Area 51 is the first Alert unlocked by players. Here you will be tasked with stopping Braniac’s forces mining Kryptonite deposits in the Nevada desert. It is in these Alert missions that your class choice will really come into play. Teams that are made up of pure DPS characters will have a tough time getting through these.
In the Gorilla Island Alert, you and your team will go up against the finest soldiers Gorilla City has to offer, leading up to your final confrontation with the mad scientist in the giant ape body, the Ultra Humanite.
Bludhaven Alert sees the city devastated after the Injustice Society dropped the walking chemical bomb, Chemo on it in the classic Infinite Crisis storyline. You and your team must rescue valuable emergency supplies, fight mutated citizens and ultimately guide a team of HazMat troops into a final confrontation with Chemo. As befits an instance set in his former hometown, the former Robin, Nightwing will show up to help you take out one of the mini bosses in this mission.
More alerts will be made available to you as you progress through the game. As soon as you hit the level cap at 30, all new instances will be opened up to you including Smallville, where your team will have to take down Kansas citizens infected with the Doomsday virus and Arkham Asylum, where the inmates are running loose and you will face off against the Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy amongst others.
All of the modes I have talked about are accessible through your communicator by pressing Y.
The only other PvP option currently in the game is the Ring War PvP mission accessed through the recruiters in the Midtown area of Metropolis. This mission requires you to face off against your enemies while collecting Power Batteries that are scattered around the area, Green Lanterns for Heroes and the Yellow Lanterns of the Sinestro Corps for the villains. You will, of course have to work as a team if you want to complete this mission and rewards will be given for taking out enemy players.
While none of these multiplayer modes is hugely innovative, they are rewarding if a trifle grindy. The main problem is that without a solid base of Realm versus Realm, and the bragging rights that go with that, the missions tend toward the repetitive and having to score 400 Marks, of which you get two per alert, to get your PvP Helm can lean toward the tedious.
With so many little twists on the standard MMO formula in this game, it would have been good to see a slightly different currency system set in place in DC Universe Online.
Next week I will give my overview of the entire game and my opinions and feelings off what DCUO needs to do to survive and thrive in the MMO marketplace.