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Behind the Mask: The mysteries of UNITY

Patrick Mackey

If you've never made the trip to level 40 in Champions Online, the endgame is somewhat of a mystery. I remember prior to getting my first level 40 that people would talk about things like "Nemcon" and "dailies." I found it kind of strange that a level 35 character couldn't sidekick or otherwise experience anything similar to these things. That all changed for me when I journeyed into the UNITY building for the first time.

It was a little confusing -- there were no easy guides telling me where to start NemCon or what the "Qliphothic research" was for. Fortunately, you guys don't have to feel as much like a noob as I did.

Warning: This article includes some spoilers for the plot of NemCon.

They're in World of Warcraft so they must be good

Daily missions are probably my least favorite thing to do in the CO endgame. I dislike indoor missions in general, and UNITY forces me to do a bunch of them all at once. I'd like them a lot more if heroes under level 40 could get access to UNITY, especially around level 30 when mission density is a little light.

Daily hotspot missions can be done by interacting with any of the open terminals in the main UNITY lobby. Once you've got your assignments, they'll be marked on your maps, and you can tackle them in any order.

The main rewards for dailies are UNITY merits and UNITY intelligence, although neither is very useful in the current economy. Because the rewards for UNITY merits are trumped by the drops from Serpent Lantern and Demonflame, few people bother with dailies anymore. Since the only use of UNITY intelligence is to get more UNITY merits, dailies are not very rewarding.

Another drop is Qliphothic energy, which can only be obtained by doing daily missions. Qliphothic energy can be exchanged for high-tier crafting components, which makes it quite a bit more valuable than the UNITY merits. If you're interested in doing endgame crafting, dailies are a decent option. However, the same items can be obtained from high-level blue drops, which can be farmed in Serpent Lantern.

I just hit random a few times when I made my Nemesis

The real fun from UNITY comes from NemCon. Nemesis Confrontation is one of the cooler team instances in the game, and that's not just because you get to share your Nemesis off to your team. NemCon has a cool final boss fight, and a fair bit of teamwork is required to make it through. It's still pretty easy, and most people only run it "for fun" since the rewards for NemCon are kind of on the low side (again, especially compared to SL/DF). Still, it's pretty fun. I imagine it will get a lot more action when F2P launches (since F2P players won't be able to run adventure packs without buying them).

Nemesis Confrontation pits five heroes against some of Shadow Destroyer's toughest minions and all five heroes' evil nemeses. To start it, just talk to Mentiac in the northeast wing of the UNITY base and start the mission Skipping the Rift. There's also an optional mission from one of the lobby heroes to get some extra UNITY merits if you have a lot of UNITY intelligence. Once you've got the mission and your team of five heroes (all need to be level 40), head to the teleporter directly south of Mentiac's room and teleport to the Moonbase.

Things go south a little right from the start; your party is separated and captured. You'll need to break out of your cell by banging on the door. Once your guard gets fed up, it's time to start a prison riot! Take out all the guards in your wing and set as many prisoners free as you can.

The next part is tricky. You'll come out in a big common area, and all four of your friends are coming here too. The problem is that this room is packed with extremely tough prison guards, and your team is still separated. If possible, try to assemble with the rest of your pals and take the guards out together. Because there are so many dangerous enemies, you may want to avoid mass AoE, especially powers like Gigabolt.

This room is an absolute nightmare for healers. If you ever restore anyone else's HP, or have a healer pet, you will draw a ton of aggro, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. If you're a squishy healer (Seraphim-style), you may want to avoid healing and focus on single target attacks. Tank healers (possibly a very tanky AoRP build, or any with a defensive passive) can get away with healing a little to draw aggro and blocking like a madman, stopping only to activate self heals. Your team can benefit a lot from the reduced mob aggro; it's really easy to die in here if too many guards aggro on heroes instead of the rescued prisoners.

Once you've finished that trial, give yourselves a pat on the back -- that's probably the most likely part of NemCon to wipe on, assuming everyone knows how to do the next parts.

Your team now has to handle four different rooms packed with guards and headed by a nemesis at the end of each one. Once you finish the wings up, you'll have to do one final battle with a nemesis before plowing through a few more guards and taking on Shadow Destroyer himself.

The four wings are each done in a very similar fashion. Kill everything on your way to the nemesis room, but don't rush in! Instead, you'll need to pull the elite minions in each room, separately if possible, using a long range power (100 feet is ideal). Defile makes a great pulling tool, as do most tier 0 blasts. One of the rooms makes doing this particularly difficult (the Nemesis is on a platform flanked by minions), but you'll need to do the best you can. For the most part, pulling the entire room is extremely suicidal, so do your best to avoid a Leeroy Jenkins.

Once you've thinned out the elite minions, defeating your Nemeses should be fairly easy. All of them are Super Villain rank and thus are pretty easy to take out for a solo hero, let alone a full team.

The final Nemesis has a few additional considerations. The room is filled with spikes, and these used to be immediately fatal, making this Nemesis largely a joke. Now the spikes deal minimal damage to the Nemesis but a fair amount of damage to players. Some Nemesis power builds, particularly Force and Munitions, make this encounter very hard. Also, this Nemesis features continually respawning normal minions. This is nice for people looking to get the minion kill perks, but also adds a bit of strategic difficulty to the fight since someone in your team has to be constantly working to kill the sea of expendable lackeys. That being said, because this fight has no elite prison guards, it's a lot easier to handle.

After a bit of an intermission, you'll be off to battle Shadow Destroyer. He's a full-on Legendary boss and comes with his own set of unique purple drops. Are you ready?

Shadow Destroyer has three different stages, and he'll cycle through them at different stages of health. His default stage has a fair number of powerful attacks; if you're not a tank and you grab aggro, you'll want to block until someone pulls SD off of you. If you are a tank, you'll still want to block if he does any of his charged attacks; several of them do many thousands of damage points, and he has a PBAoE shadow nuke that hits all around him for a ton of damage. If you're a squishie, stay clear of this range.

After taking some damage, Shadow Destroyer will fade away and an evil minion will spawn every 10 seconds. The enemies spawned are Super Villain class, so alone they aren't too much trouble, but you'll need to work fast -- many teams that do NemCon can easily defeat them before the next one spawns, but an "average" team can have some trouble here. High DPS helps tremendously!

After eight waves of Super Villains, Shadow Destroyer will return with a bang. He'll immediately shift into his Dimensional Destroyer form by unleashing a massive PBAoE nuke that does a ton of damage and holds everyone inside its radius. He'll then follow up with more AoE dimensional attacks. The tricky part comes shortly after; he'll summon a series of crystal orbs that heal him rapidly. It is completely impossible to DPS through this healing, so the orbs must be destroyed quickly! Once they're destroyed, he'll revert to his normal form.

Shadow Destroyer will loop through each stage four times, then he will remain in his default form until he is defeated. There is a fairly difficult perk to get from him: If you defeat him while he's in his Dimensional Destroyer form, he'll give up a perk as well as a couple of very nice-looking cape unlocks. In order to get the perk, you'll have to carefully avoid the initial AoE hold as he transforms, then unload all the DPS you can muster into him. VIPER Rampage Serums, Punji Stick Traps, temporary pets, and switching to damage-focused roles are just a few of the ways you can squeeze out a little extra DPS. Once you've got the perk, it unlocks the capes for your entire account.

I have yet to unlock the capes myself, sadly. The one time I got close, I accidentally got hit by the PBAoE hold just as Sigils of the Primal Storm was activating, and the power went into recharge without spawning the sigils. We went on to bring SD to a tiny sliver of health before the orb healing kicked in. I felt pretty bad, since I'd screwed up the perk for at least a couple other people who also wanted the capes.

NemCon is the main attraction at UNITY, and it's a load of fun. It's a good place to test the team-oriented functions of your builds, which is ironic since it's a level 40 lair.

One of these days I'll unlock those capes.

When he's not touring the streets of Millennium City or rolling mooks in Vibora Bay, Patrick Mackey goes Behind the Mask to bring you the nitty-gritty of the superhero world every Thursday. Whether it's expert analysis of Champions Online's game mechanics or his chronicled hatred of roleplaying vampires, Patrick holds nothing back.

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