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Alter Ego: Scarred for life edition

Earlier this week saw the arrival of the highly anticipated February update in DC Universe Online. Like any other large patch in an MMO, this update not only added quite a bit of great new content and fixed some glaring exploits but introduced several issues that weren't there before. My personal pick for "worst new bug" since the patch? The F9 button no longer takes screenshots. First world problems, I know.

Of course, this means I'll be dedicating this week's column to looking at some aspects of our new patchy overlord. Is it all that we hoped it would be? No. I don't think even Sony Online Entertainment would be boastful enough to make that claim. Still, I do think this first major content patch to DC Universe Online is an equally major step in the right direction. However, the tying together of PC and PS3 patches means that we won't likely see another major game-fixing update until next month since whatever the devs push out has to be able to pass muster on both platforms. That said, there's more than enough to talk about this week (and next, really), so let's get to it!

A crazy little thing called love

Where to start? The most obvious place is DCUO's Valentine's Event, which is open to players of all levels. In this shiny new holiday event, players are teleported into an instanced corner of Metropolis and turned into cherubs. Players' regular powers are replaced with cherub attacks -- which are really just other powers that have been re-purposed. Also in the mix is a full-heal power, just in case you find yourself getting hammered by the opposing side. Finally, you'll find that your travel power has been swapped to acrobatics.

I have to detour for just one split second and say that the team that designed the male holiday avatars has an incredibly warped sense of humor. While the female cherubs are largely what one might expect in a game -- bubbly, cartoony cheerleaders or angsty goth girls in costumes, all of whom are at least somewhat normally proportioned -- the male cherubs are nothing short of disturbing. There's really no other way to describe the male cherubs in DC Universe Online. Put bluntly: Due to their scale, they look like angry-faced, be-moobed, shaved, middle-aged men who enjoy scampering about, opining on love or alternatively implying you've touched them in an improper or naughty fashion. All this while openly wearing what appears to be adult-sized diapers, in public. The "evil" versions look the same, only with the addition of a reversed red ballcap and a pair of wayfarer sunglasses to go with the diapers.

I'll let the glory of all the pudgy, hairless, wrinky pink skin sink in for a moment.

You're welcome.

Anyway, to get back to the event: Players are told that Aphrodite is unhappy with the current state of mortal love affairs, so it's up to the players to save, or destroy all the mooshy stuff going on. For Heroes, this event also gives you the chance to actually interact with Booster Gold, who is every bit as cheesetastic here as he is in the comic books.

Once inside the instance, you're sent on one of a handful of missions. You'll toss imps or cherubs into a pool, bounce around on platforms to gather hearts of one flavor or another, lure lovers to an aspect of Aphrodite, and complete a race that will suddenly change your avatar's travel power from the acrobatics travel power you've been using to flight.

Completion of all the missions grants players some cash and Aphrodite's heart-shaped love-tokens. Why tokens? Well, you'll need them to unlock all the special holiday gear available to players. Since you can only run the missions once per day for a maximum of three tokens, netting the outfit will require daily runs for at least two weeks. Thankfully, you can complete the three missions that yield hearts in about 15 minutes, even if solo.

Inside the instance, there are also four different collections, most of whose tokens are even with or relatively close to ground level. This is particularly handy since you're using acrobatics as a travel power -- so don't waste your time scaling skyscrapers. With that said, you have another option open to you for completing these four holiday collections...

The Auction House

This is really long overdue and certainly welcome. Players can now clear out all the random loot in their bags and mailboxes. While the UI is not terribly user-friendly and not all features appear to be implemented, it certainly beats having no auction house at all. Even better: Those of us who are collection fiends now have an easy way to finish sets or sell off extra pieces we pick up during our travels. For those who don't care about collecting but want all the unlocks, the auction house provides the benefit without the time spent hunting. So, too, for those who want costume-type unlocks immediately. Find a piece of gear with the style you want -- it doesn't even have to be one with stats you care about -- equip it to unlock the style, then vendor the item. Easy. The only real down-side is that since nobody has the vaguest idea what anything is worth, the prices range from fair to "dude, wait, what?"


Given this patch, its holiday content -- including an endgame raid not mentioned above -- and the fixes implemented, we should see some players returning to PvP again, especially since some of the glaring exploits and bugs were supposed to have been fixed. Much like SOE, I'm not going to list the ones I'm aware of here, but I can say that not only are some still present, but some new ones have come in with the patch. As I'm not the type who parses damage logs or tries to purposely glitch games out, I'd simply say it's not the best sign when I find them. How this will affect PvP... well, it's a bit too soon to say.

Still, with the new Batcave raid, the race in Gotham against Catwoman, the new Bane duo, a host of UI improvements, fixes, and more in the patch, this is a meaty update that thankfully fixes some of the most obvious and annoying issues that have plagued the game since launch. Whether or not it will prove enough to retain all the players who were initially attracted to the game is still to be determined. For now, we are still recruiting at the Massively Overpowered heroic headquarters and plan to be around for quite some time! If you'd like to join us, head on over to Zero Hour (PC only, sorry) and send a message to Shaddoe, Massively Man, or Shambleau. We're always on the lookout for more folks to game with!

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.)

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