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Alter-Ego: Spring has sprung

It's been a heck of a week for DC Universe Online. Not only did the team show off the sweet new trailer for Update 4, cool new screenshots, and the drop of the StationPass subscription price, but we've also gotten a surprise late-week patch with Update 3 going live on Thursday rather than on Tuesday like other releases. The patch notes are incredibly long and well-detailed, offering a variety of things from new content to a heaping helping of bug fixes for existing content, powers, and more.

With the good in DC Universe Online, of course, comes the bad. Certain powers seem to be having issues, a PvP-flag bug allowing players to drop their PvP flags on PvP servers cropped up (as of this writing, this is reportedly fixed), and chat appears to once again be a cornucopia of frustrating issues. However, rather than dwell on the things that are starting to crop up (and because we're not going to have a solid picture of just what's shaken out of this patch just yet), I thought instead I'd offer an overview of the new spring-themed event for those who are curious as to just what's going on and why this one might well be the best holiday event yet.

The nuts and bolts

The initial spring holiday quest can be found tucked away at the bottom of your journal on both heroes and villains. In the hero version, Oracle is apparently suffering hay fever from all the pollen that Poison Ivy is spreading around Gotham and suggests that you speak with Swamp Thing, as he is working to stop Ivy's crazed plant-based mayhem.

Upon reporting to him in the Watchtower (Swamp Thing is in the Aquacultural area, between the Meta and Tech areas), you are sent to Gotham to hunt Columns of Pollen, during which quest you will rescue 12 civillians who have been mutated by Ivy's pollen and take down 18 of Ivy's evil plant minions. There is some variety to the fights, which is a nice touch.

Some of the plant pods will spit out seeds that turn into bug-like plants that skitter away from you and can't be attacked, at least assuming you can't destroy all the seeds in time. (Don't worry -- they appear to disintegrate after they get a certain distance away.) Other plants will spawn nasty mandragore, who seem to be low on hitpoints but can still mess you up if you're not paying attention. There are also men in hazmat suits running around releasing mutated civillians from pods, but they need you to help them out by removing the twisted plant nastiness from the people. While you don't get credit for taking out the plant pod on these, you do get credit toward the quest Daily Dose of Heroism (complete five heroic acts), which is a nice bonus. Releasing civilians from the other spring event pods does not count toward the daily quest completion -- only the hazmat-released ones.

As for villains, Calculator, in his typical lovably snarky fashion, warns you that Ivy -- recently escaped from Arkham and a little unstable -- is looking for people to assist her in "mulching weeds" or "taking over the world" or something. Like heroes, villains also start this quest by activating the holiday event inside their quest logs and heading to the Pit in the Hall of Doom, where Ivy and her friend the Misiving Tree await you.

Apparently Ivy is concerned about all those pesky good guys interrupting her work and would like you to help spread the seed of her evil all throughout Gotham -- and eventually the world. In the villain version of the holiday event, you're required to help the plant-creatures out by planting seeds and protecting them while they grow into a variety of different, completely homicidal plant-monsters. The blue hazmat-suited guys are your enemies (Envirotech Biologists), and they spring up armed with special weed-killing sprays and will do their best to stop you from continuing more brutal botanical breeding.

Once you've managed to finish off your portion of the day's bad guys or good guys, it's back to either the Watchtower or Hall of Doom, where Swamp Thing or Poison Ivy rewards you for a job well done. The quest reward on both sides is $25 and six of the holiday event currency, Seed Pods. As with previous holiday events, there is a new holiday-themed set of gear called Warrior of Spring, which shares some spiky funkiness with the Demonic and Plant sets but is different enough to make it worth chasing if you like funky additions to your costume choices.

Along with this, there are four different holiday tokens available, all of which offer a handful of stat bonuses. All four of the trinkets have a cost of $1260 as well as 40 Seed Pods. Here's how they break down:
  • Nightshade Seed Pod: 33 Health, 12 Power, 15 Precision, 25 Might. On use, item will apply 150 weapon attack critical hit chance to your attacks for 20+ seconds and 150 critical hit to your attacks for 20+ seconds. This works for all level 30 characters, regardless of role.
  • Elderberry Seed Pod: 35 Health, 22 power, 3 precision, 6 might, and 30 restoration. On use, the item will apply 200 heal crit chance on yourself for 20+ seconds and a 200 power boost for yourself. This particular trinket is only equippable by level 30 characters in a Healer role.
  • Purple Nightshade Seed Pod: 20 defense, 65 health, 10 precision, and 10 might. On use, the item will provide a bonus of 15% to base health on the player and 75 Supercharge on self, which could definitely be handy. This trinket can only be equipped by players who are in the Tank role.
  • Mandrake Seed Pod: 38 health, 12 precision, 10 might, 11 vitalization, 8 dominance. On use, the item will grant you 100 power heal received on yourself for 10+ seconds and 200 health to self. This item is only able to be equipped by level 30 players in the Controller role.
The normal holiday snacks are there as well, offering bonuses to damage, healing, and overall health for 30 minutes in return for one of your Seed Pods. Being more a fan of permanent goodies, I don't generally go for these, but I can see how they'd be handy if you love PvP and want to stack as much smackdown as possible.

Finally, there is the usual holiday collection at work, but as I haven't managed to find all the pieces for it as yet, I'm not entirely certain what it will unlock. With the new content out, a large number of people are touring around the cities, so collection items are a bit scarce at the moment. This is a trade-off I'll gladly take, if only because it means the potential for groups to run the content is also higher now that Update 3 is live and everyone's zooming around.

The good bits

In my opinion, this is the most thematically believable event of the holiday content we've seen introduced to date. For Valentine's, we saw Booster Gold fall in love with someone other than himself, and Mxy, while fun, wasn't nearly as good a choice since there's that whole needing to "banish" him thing, which we really didn't get to do. (At least, I never heard of anyone experiencing that by doing the repeatable quests. If I'm wrong here, please do leave a comment.) Swamp Thing showing up because he wants to stop Ivy from abusing nature makes a certain amount of sense, and Ivy... well, she's nuts, so her world-domination planting plans aren't a stretch.

As mentioned before, the fights are more varied and interesting than those in previous events, even if it does get repetitive (as all daily holiday events tend to). A lot of the seed pods seem to be more densely clumped in certain sectors of Gotham, which increases the odds of actually running into another player. (I actually saw a couple dozen heroes and a handful of villains on Zero Hour in the morning Eastern time on Friday!) Also, I simply think the costume pieces for this set look cooler than the Valentine's Shakespearean commedia dell'arte and the St. Patrick's Michael Flatley-Vegas-jester mashup.

The question now is whether there will be enough time to scoop up all those costume bits and trinkets before Update 4 rolls out to send us scurrying toward the Fortress of Solitude. Personally, I'm not taking any chances, so if you'll pardon me, I've got some alts to go get Seed Pods on!

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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