Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Alter-Ego: A closer look at Update 2

Thanks to a webcast earlier this week from Game Director Chris Cao and Art Director Mark Anderson, we now have an idea of what's to come in the March DC Universe Online patch, also known as Update 2. As anyone who plays the game can tell you, there are certainly a number of fixes and updates that need to be made: PvP exploits, UI tweaks and fixes, grouping mechanic help, raids and more. As such, I thought it would be a good time to dive into some of the things that Cao and Anderson mentioned during their video chat and take a closer look at what we can expect and at how these changes may bring some good and potential bad into the game.

So gather up your ideas and opinions on DC Universe Online's upcoming Update 2, caped crusaders, and let's get rolling!

What evil lurks ahead

By now we all probably know that the next major bad guy being brought into DC Universe Online is going to be The Penguin. We've seen him pop up in the cutscene that plays at the end of the Bane fight already. Since the team's intent is to continue to introduce more famous characters into the DCUO storyline, it makes sense to use Penguin on some levels. After all, we just saw the introduction of Catwoman in Update 1, so adding in another Batman villain keeps the story within the same general theme as the first update.

We'll also see another Batman character come in via the introduction of Two-Face as a playable Legends character and as part of a storyline instance. We're told that the duality of Two-Face's nature will play a large part in his content, and it's hinted that we'll be working with him to deal with Penguin. There's a lot that can be done with his inclusion, even if it is a bit sad that he seems to be playing second-fiddle to Penguin. Perhaps we'll see a bit more of Two-Face's unique brand of coin-flipping madness explored in-depth somewhere down the road.

More holiday mayhem

Finally, in terms of introducing known characters from the comics, the indications are that we'll be seeing another holiday event for St. Patrick's Day, one that will add Mr. Mxyzptlk. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I sincerely hope SOE is intending to use him as an imp from the Fifth Dimension and not a "gosh and begorrah" leprechaun. I may not be a major continuity nerd, but having Mr. Mxyzptlk dressed in a green top-hat and tails while capering around a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow would just be wrong.

The inclusion of another holiday also raises some concerns from what I've heard in talking to others. First of all -- and in my mind, this is a very important question -- will we be seeing this holiday event go live in the game in time for St. Patrick's Day? After all, we didn't see the Valentine's Day content until February 22nd, quite some time after Valentine chocolates were consumed and flowers had wilted. While there's a certain amount of fun involved in running a holiday event, not being able to run it on the holiday in question seems rather anticlimactic.

Secondly, we have to ask why the team at SOE is bothering putting development hours into another holiday as opposed to using the time to fix glitches, bugs, and overhauls that are needed to improve the core game. In this particular case, I'd wager the team had holiday content planned well before launch, so most of the core code and assets for the event were probably already in.

Personally, I suspect the biggest hurdle the developers will face is whether or not a St. Patrick's day Mxyzptlk encounter will fit the feel of the game world. A lot of people I've spoken to felt as if the Valentine's content was very poorly connected to the game's storyline, so there is a valid concern that we'll be seeing another similarly surreal and disjointed holiday event. Launching another holiday late and with an extremely weak connection to the overall narrative could well turn around and bite SOE in the butt in terms of generating future holiday content excitement amongst the playerbase.

A bug's life

One of the major things promised in the February update was a fix for a great many of the bugs and exploits in the combat system. While some things have been fixed, there are still a plethora of issues that are plaguing the game and stopping people from getting into PvP content. This is one of those things we're going to have to wait and see on since the patches seem to introduce issues at the same time as they fix others.

However, there is one major change coming that has players split down the middle: how groups are going to be handled. Apparently, we can look forward to a kick-voting system that will allow people to punt other members of the group. This can be a really great thing if you're stuck with an AFKer, a foul-mouthed jerk, or that one guy who needs everything just for costume unlocks -- even if someone can really use it as an upgrade.

But there are concerns that we may well see the kick system being exploited; we could see higher-geared groups can punt a "scrub" who may not have had as much time to collect raid gear, reverse ninja-looting whereby the unscrupulous can punt people and deprive them of rewards at the end, and so on. Since we don't know the exact mechanics of this system, it's all open to debate at this point. We can only hope that the DC Universe Online development team has taken a good hard look at the vote-kick mechanic and tested it for all manner of exploits before Update 2 launches to the live servers.

Mind you, it's not all bad in terms of grouping changes. As mentioned before, players will be able to lock their groups in. Also, we're finally going to have a fix for people who go linkdead during group content. The new system will allow players to jump right back into the same instance with the same people (assuming, of course, the group didn't kick the player from the team) and complete the objective. This should stop people from having to do the disband and restart dance every time. This fix is very much needed and appreciated.

For those who haven't quite found a steady group to play with as yet: The developers state that the queue system going into the next patch has been upgraded on the back-end. According to their statements, this will improve times when trying to find a group. With that said, I'd still note that the fastest way to find a group will likely continue to be making friends and/or getting into an active, well-populated league.

Finally, we'll also see new group content released in the form of a Green Lantern duo and another Batcave raid. Phase 3 of the Batcave raid will have players facing off against OMAC and Brainiac, marking a pretty major change in the overarching storyline since we're facing the central bad guy. Add to that SOE's statement that VOIP will finally be fixed to work as a proximity-based chat and there are certainly a lot of things we can look forward to in Update 2.

How it will all play out, and whether or not we'll see it early enough to make a holiday viable, is firmly in the hands of the DC Universe Online development team. In the meantime, there's still some time to get your raid gear in line before the final Batcave raid drops or get into that League if you're looking for a group to run with. (Psst: We are still recruiting heroes for Massively Overpowered on Zero Hour!)

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.)

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr