Alter-Ego: Nine tips for PvP in DC Universe Online

First things first: I'm going to admit openly that I'm not even close to the world's best PvPer, as anyone who has ever faced off in PvP against me can tell you. Up until recently, I tended to be the ultra-carebear player who generally avoids PvP combat altogether (outside of EVE Online). However, by ignoring PvP in DC Universe Online, one also ignores a decent chunk of the game's content. Between the open-world Green Lantern ring wars, quests to take on heroes or villains of a certain level range, Arena matches, and Legends play, there's a lot to do -- not to mention the challenge of playing on a PvP server. Worse still, PvE players will find their quest logs become cluttered messes full of PvP-related quests that can't be dropped -- an annoying prospect at best.

So with this in mind, I've compiled a handful of general tips for those PvE fans who don't tend to mess with PvP in DC Universe Online as well as players who have only dabbled in it. Are there I-win-button tips behind the break? Not really. However, it's good solid advice that's helped me improve my skills from utterly noobtastic insta-death to holding my own. If that sounds interesting to you, then join me behind the break for the list!

Take the time to learn your combos

While you can pretty well tear through a lot of the world content if you have decent powersets, trying to buttonmash in PvP will ensure you spend a great deal of time frustrated at how rapidly you are knocked out. By taking the time to memorize which button presses do what -- and what effects those attacks have such as stuns, knockbacks, etc. -- you'll give yourself a tremendous boost in PvP. Also, pay special attention to interruptible powers, lunges, stuns, controls, and any abilities that can be used when under controls or stuns.

Block will not save the day

Short and sweet: Use block wisely. A majority of the people I've encountered PvPing in DC Universe Online have taken the time to learn their powers and know just what will break your block and leave you staggering around asking whether anyone got the license plate number of the truck that just hit you. It's infinitely better to understand how your powers can break other people's crowd control and mitigate the damage you're taking. That said, block is useful at times, so don't dismiss it entirely -- just don't rely on it as a panacea for PvP pain.

Try a little bit of this and a little bit of that

Maybe you don't care for open-world PvP. Perhaps the idea of arenas bores you. Whatever the case may be, don't dismiss all PvP in DCUO because one portion isn't to your liking. There's a fairly solid amount of variety to be found. Arenas offer capture-the-flag, king-of-the-hill, and capture-and-hold mechanics in groups of four players and up. Legends offers the chance to play as iconic characters in well-known locales like Arkham Asyum and the Batcave with two or more players. The Ring Wars offer open-world roaming battles, and of course, pure PvP servers offer constant paranoia. (Kidding!)

Understand that it's not always about level

That's probably the one thing that is different from your experience in other MMOs. PvP in DC Universe Online isn't nearly as dependent on gear or level. From my experience, I'd say it really comes down to who understands tactics and how to play his character well. Case in point: I've had my ass handed to me by people six levels below me because they took the time to figure out their powers and were able to counter my attacks well.

It is not better to burn out

One of the easiest things you can do when matched up with a player of similar level and abilities is simply watching your energy levels. Trying to button mash in PvP is pretty much instant-death; whoever blows all his energy and winds up with everything on cooldown is in a great deal of trouble when those who were careful with their energy start on the attack.

Don't be afraid to change it up

Getting completely hammered no matter where you go? Don't be afraid of changing your loadouts and trying again. Try switching your active role. Part of the fun of having so many fantastic superhero-flavored powers is finding that insanely awesome combo of offensive and defensive moves that makes you truly feel like your character is powerful. Also, don't shy away from playing with character respecs. You never know what a power is like until you've had a chance to play with it; there could be something awesome lurking in your power or skill trees.

Getting stuck in a tree is for kittens

Along the lines of the last tip, looking around other skill trees has its benefits as well. For example, in the Iconic Powers set, players can get some very nice innate abilities at level 22, such as one that adds +50 defense and +100 toughness and another that offers a +10% boost to critical attack. Plus, a mix of skills and powers can provide an element of surprise, which is always handy in PvP.

Fear is the mind-killer

The easiest way to be defeated in PvP is to get flummoxed and revert to mashing buttons. Realize the world will not end, your character will get back up again, and there's no giant book somewhere listing you among the names of "the suckiest PvPers who ever got pwned." Sure, you might only last 30 seconds the first time you head into an arena, and it might take you a number of tries to get the hang of using powers against other thinking players. Don't lose sight of the fact that it's meant to be fun -- and don't let immature nitwits ruin that fun for you.

Understand you will die

No matter how awesome you are, how much you've worked on tactics, how carefully balanced your skills and powers are... there is always someone who will use your face as a dust-mop. When it happens -- and it will -- pick yourself up, dust your superself off, and try again. You never know: You could wind up being the one person everyone on your server fears to face off against!

Get out and enjoy some PvP this week -- and if you happen to face off against me on Zero Hour, I have only one thing to say: "Not in the face!"

Every week on Saturday, strip off the mask of your Alter-Ego and soar through the world of DC Universe Online with Krystalle, then catch up with Larry on Wednesdays as he showcases the superhero game on the Alter-Ego livestream. Send up a bat-signal to ping Krystalle or Larry with your burning questions. (Packages wrapped in green with a purple bow will be returned unopened.)

This article was originally published on Massively.