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Chris Cao: DCUO's Update 2 is all about "chance"

We heard some tantalizing details of what Sony Online Entertainment has planned for DC Universe Online's March patch a few weeks ago when Game Director Chris Cao and Art Director and Mark Anderson sat down on the Stickam chat to offer a teaser of what players could expect. Following up, we had a chat with Cao to find out some more specific details on what exactly our superheroes can expect coming in March.

According to Cao, the primary theme for this update is "chance," which is reflected both in our chance to face off against The Penguin as boss and in the addition of Two-Face/Harvey Dent in Legends PvP play and as an instance character. That fifth-dimensional trickster Mister Mxyzptlk is likewise being introduced to the game as part of a holiday event themed around St. Patrick's Day. We knew most of this from the Stickam chat; that's why we went digging deeper for the scoop on DC Universe Online's development. Check it out behind the break!

Gallery: DC Universe Online | 77 Photos

According to Cao, the first game update was actually designed just as the team was launching the game. The team at SOE took the best guess it could as to what players would enjoy and then designed for that. Cao told us, "It was a sort of a stab in the dark where we said, 'Hey, what are the kinds of things that players might like to do, and what are type of things that are going to go on?' Some people liked some of [that content], and some people didn't."

In regard to the newest update, he said that the devs are looking at metrics as well as their own playtime to better gear updates for what players are actually doing in the live game. He noted that updates from this point forward are being given a number, making the March update "Update 2." This newest patch will bring a variety of content that, as mentioned, is themed around chance, which helps fit in the inclusion of Two-Face as well as the addition of Mister Mxyzptlk to the game.

In the new solo instance, players will have the chance to team up on the side of Two-Face, who will alternate what he does based entirely on the toss of a coin. Heroes will apparently see more of the Harvey Dent aspect, whereas Villains will help Two-Face deal with that pesky Penguin. However, we're told this will be a mutable instance: The idea is to create a challenge that will offer more replayability, since Two-Face's coin tosses will decide how different aspects of the instance will proceed. While Cao wouldn't give us too many finite details in terms of the mechanics, we did find out that players will have the opportunity to confront a giant penguin named "Penguin Maxiumus" in one of the instance's boss fights. The instance will also reveal more information on The Penguin's place in the overall Gotham gang warfare storyline, which should be interesting.

In addition to Two-Face's inclusion in The Penguin's instance, we're going to be treated to his implementation as a Legends PvP character, which Cao and Anderson mentioned in the video chat. Much like the instance, the Legends attacks will be based on a similar coin-flip and will include things like calling a "mob of goons" to fight for you, bullet spray, an oil-drum trap, and a grenade-launcher attack. Cao indicated that Two-Face's addition to Legends is due to that content's popularity with players, since they can jump in at any level and play with friends. We're pretty sure the fun of playing as an iconic DC character might have something to do with it, too!

In regard to fan requests, the team behind DC Universe Online has heard the feedback about Green Lantern and has decided to revamp the mission outside of City Hall so that it feels more like you're really helping the Lantern Corps out in its battle against Sinestro. In the next update, players can look forward to a new version of the mission, which will add Arkillo and Kilowog as bosses for heroes and villains to defeat. The light powers have also been "revamped from the ground up," according to Cao, so players will see all-new attacks like light chainsaws and bomber planes, among others. As he says, "Light powers have arrived in DC Universe Online."

"You'll want close to full Tier 2 -- those iconic battle suits that you've been earning -- before you take Brainiac on, because he's got a whole lot of hurt to [give] you."

Next up, players at endgame will have to make sure they've got their Tier 2 sets complete and ready to go as they face off against the nastiest instance yet: Batcave 3. Heroes and villains alike have made it past Brother Eye but will now have to deal with what Cao calls "Batman on OMAC crack with Brainiac support behind him." It appears that Brainiac is inhabiting the Avatar of Tech (which players saw at the end of beta) in order to assist this OMAC-crazed Batman in tearing players to shreds. Worse still, once you manage to get past Bats, Brainiac has a three-phase fight in which he will shift forms from the armored mecha-Avatar to a scorpion-like beast that whips around the room and from there into a version of Brainiac himself. Better pack a lunch; Cao says that this instance has "a whole lot of hurt" waiting for players who step inside the base built underneath the Batcave.

He also noted that this third Batman instance will mark the end of Brainiac's attack against Tech, which will appease those wondering why it's been all Batman-themed bosses to date. While Cao didn't state specifically what the next villain content will be, he did reveal that the last Blur cinematic indicates the direction in which Brainiac is likely to head -- which means Superman is aiming for center-stage next.

As for the holiday content, Mister Mxyzptlk is indeed heading for DC Universe Online and will be dressed as a leprechaun. The idea is that Mxyzptlk is fond of chaos and has decided that, since all hell is breaking loose with Brainiac, now is the perfect time to show up and cause some chaos of his own. Mxy also feels that all that green-beer-drinking and merriment the Earthlings do is a very silly, so he's out to mock the whole concept by firing off enormous rainbows all over the place and leading players into open-world danger themed for the holiday. Players who decide to take part will not have to mess with instancing as before and will have access to a new limited-time Celtic costume set as well as other fun items.

Noting the reception of the Valentine's content, Cao stated that this holiday even is going to be much more focused on making the event make sense in the DC universe and much less on the holiday itself. Also, he let us know that while SOE did not get the holiday content out prior to the holiday, the team is putting in a great deal of new content very quickly compared to other games at launch -- an enormous challenge he's very proud of.

Finally, there's the staggering number of bug fixes going in, as with any game immediately post-launch. Cao revealed that his team has caught and squashed a lot of the PvP exploits. Furthermore, players can expect one major change coming in: the introduction of a system he refers to as "chat 2.0." This will add push-to-talk functionality for players using controllers via the Dpad (remappable!) and an opt-in spatial chat using the in-game VOIP. Update 2 also involves a major overhaul to the entire social system within the game. This will be reflected in some very noticeable shifts for the game in terms of overall UI locations.

While players used to have to control most commands through the Social tab in the PDA interface, the commands to create groups, vote-kick from groups, and other things of that nature will now be located in the quick-chat menu. Set-it-and-forget-it features such as text color changes have moved under the game's settings, which keeps them from cluttering up the chat menus. League controls have moved to their own tab in the PDA, giving an overall boost to usability that some players felt was lacking in terms of creating/running leagues. Also, we're told that chat tabs will separate different chats, giving players the ability to toggle back and forth between league, group, and so on, which is great if you're in a group or league that tends to skip off the text chat.

In terms of other overhauls, Cao noted that the devs have worked hard on teams, such that anytime a player gets punted from the group, she won't automatically be replaced by someone sitting in the queue. This particular tidbit is definitely welcome news to players who set up their own groups, since their disconnected friends will be able to get back in without a huge fuss. Cao also explained that SOE is hard at work identifying system issues that were causing disconnects in the first place; he was glad to relay that the majority of the issues have been fixed. The devs are now down to hunting those oddball disconnects that only happen when you combine a strange series of criteria together, so if you're still experiencing disconnects, be sure to leave them feedback through /bug or on the forums!

Players can also download DC Universe Online directly from the PS3 store if they want to purchase a copy but aren't interested in running out to a real-world brick-and-mortar shop.

As for updates in the future, we're told that players are spending the majority of their time in 4-mans vs. the 8-man content, and as such, we can expect to see 4-man alerts. Cao also hinted mischeviously that players can expect to see the homes of the mentors invaded as well, so if you've ever thought it would be awesome to head for the Fortress of Solitude, you've definitely got something to look forward to in the months ahead. Overall, it sounds like there are some great changes coming to DC Universe Online. Hopefully we'll see Update 2 launch in the very near future.

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