We were on the scene to catch these announcements in the various panels for you, and we also got to speak with Design Director Jesse Benjamin, Producer Larry Liberty, and Creative Director Jens Andersen to hear their thoughts on DCL 8, see a preview of the new areas, and get a hint of what's coming in the future.
DCUO's launch story involved Trigon, an immensely powerful inter-dimensional baddy who was trying to use his daughter, Raven, to portal into the world. The attempt failed, but players were left with a cliffhanger and didn't know what happened to him. With DLC #8, coming fall of this year, now they do.
Instead of returning to his own hellish dimension, Trigon is trapped in a pocket dimension that is a melding of our world and his. Upon entering the area, players will recognize Gotham, but they will see it in a whole new way, literally. The approach to art creation was changed with the DLC, with shaders and high-resolution textures, and it shows. Andersen said, "Players will see environments that we think are the best looking we've ever had -- I'm very excited for all the new models that are showing up in here." After touring with him through this open world zone, called Gotham Wastelands, I have to completely agree! When you enter the each area, take a moment to pan around and take in the details, like the stained glass windows near the ceiling of the Cathedral.
But Trigon is not alone in this hellish Gotham -- his sons are also residing there, and players will be able to face them. Each of Trigon's children represents a separate sin; his sons represent envy, gluttony, sloth, lust, wrath, and greed, while his daughter embodies pride. Each of the areas in Gotham Wastelands is themed around one of the sons, who have their own faction and storylines for heroes and villains to play through. For example, Jesse (who embodies envy) is located in the Gotham Knights stadium, Jacob and his Tunnel of Lust is located in the amusement park (and yes, there is a Team Jacob reference in there), and Jarod (the face of wrath) is in the cathedral.
To get the daily tasks associated with each storyline, heroes need to converse with Wonder Woman and villains need to speak with Circe. After completing enough daily missions, players will qualify to do a bonus boss fight in the duo area (which can be done solo).
With the exception of the four-man alert, this entirety of DLC 8 is focused on solo and duo play. Andersen stated, "This is meant to be little general player friendly," rather than being for hardcore, top-geared players only. The missions are balanced for solo, but with 24 other players (any combination of heroes and villains) in each instance of the zone, players can receive assistance from others. There are three duos total, one in each area, one Raven bounty for each side
The alert is Trigon's prison, a mausoleum where players will find (and possibly fight, depending on their faction) ghosts from Gotham's families, from the Falcones to the Cobblepots to the Waynes. The enemy the players face will change each time, keeping the experience fresh.
Other characters besides Trigon's sons are being introduced in this DLC. Cheetah and Gentleman Ghost, who happens to have some of Andersen's favorite lines, will also be joining the cast, which is rounded out with the Teen Titans, Fearsome Five (composed of Gizmo, Jinx, Mammoth, Psimon, and Dr Light), and Constantine. Donna Troy and Cheetah will be added to the list of Legendaries that players can select from for that PvP system. Cheetah introduces the first super-speed power and also has a pretty nifty bound and pounce attack complete with authentic yowl). Each will cost 85 marks of legend.
With Sons of Trigon, players also gain a Celestial new power set, this one focused on healing. With a blessed tree and a cursed tree, players will be able to use each tree individually or combine powers between the two, with blessed powers followed by cursed ones creating a corrupted power and a cursed power followed a blessed one creating a cleansed power. There are a total of eight combinations per tree. Liberty noted that this power set is very active, such that players will have to build up powers and moves using the combos and really be a part of the action.
Two new sets of level 86 gear will become available for purchase with marks of reality. There will be Raven and Brother Blood sets as well as a blessed and cursed set based on the new celestial powers. Players who defeat the Raven bounty will be able to acquire the opposite faction's armor set.
Another important fact is that through this content players will now be able to collect a set of gear that is comparable to the level 85 gear, saving them from spending any more marks to by that level. Instead, the marks can be saved and spent on the level 86 set. The item level of the drops in the Paradox raid is also increasing, so folks who want level 88 gear can farm that. However, those who already have gear from there will find that it will auto-level up to the new level.
Besides the obvious environmental difference in structures, each area has a different color theme associated with the represented sin. All of the demon models have been updated and have their own unique armor, and Trigon himself (who is huge) has been overhauled with a complete visual upgrade that increases the level of detail. Do you like the armor on some of the cultists and demons? Different parts of that armor will be collectable and available as cosmetic armor.
A note on the lust area mentioned earlier based at the amusement park: Before getting to the Tunnel of Lust itself, players will enter a haunted house that some may notice has the flavor of the Disneyland attraction by the same name (which is not accidental, by the way!). There, players will find a maze, and which direction they choose to go each time will determine what experience they have while adventuring through.
Regarding the new art direction, Liberty explained that instead of general assets, for this DLC the devs focused on making custom sets specifically themed to this area (and yes, that does include new furniture items for the bases as well). This allows for more detail and flavor in the surroundings. This new approach will also be mirrored in all future design.
We've already covered that new loot mechanics are incoming, but that's not the only additional news that came out of the panels. While Sons of Trigon will introduce two more Legendary characters to play during that PvP (Donna Troy and Cheetah), there are two more coming that will be independent of the DLC -- namely, Wonder Woman and Circe. Andersen also remarked that more Teen Titans as well as other iconic characters are planned for additional Legendary characters over time, and he is personally pushing for Krypto!
The transition from PS3 to PS4 will also be seamless, according to Liberty and Benjamin. Benjamin added that players from both consoles will "play on the same server, so you don't have to abandon your leaguemates or friends." Since players do not need a PlayStation Plus membership to play, the devs anticipate a larger influx of players with the release of the PS4, especially since DCUO is a launch title for the console. Liberty noted, "We'll be a much more refined product than we were at launch, and we'll be going up against games that are probably going to be rushed to market" in order to coincide with the console launch.
With the release on PS4, the entire game -- both console and PC version -- will get an improved UI. Additionally, and the devs are also developing a companion app that will include guides and a tool for connecting to voice league chat using your phone.
Andersen also addressed what happened to the Halls of Power DLC that was spoken about last year; specifically, he made the announcement that league halls will no longer be a part of any DLC but will instead be given to everyone regardless of account level. Leaderboards are also incoming, both for PvE and PvP. They're more than a list, however. Players will be able to place pedestals in their league halls creating statues of the characters topping whichever list the league chooses to highlight. Additionally, everyone will also place an armory in his base to save builds and appearances.
What's coming in the future? DLCs will come in a prescribed order, with the tier increase happening with the DLCs geared toward smaller groups, and the larger group-oriented DLCs will come along three months later with the new raid-level gear. From here, the ongoing story arcs will be played out in three DLCs, though not necessarily in order.
And what stories can players expect? DLC 9 will be the War of the Light part one, featuring Green Lantern and including a rethemed version of Metropolis (the full city), Saint Walker and the Blue Lanterns, and Mogo and Ranx battling in the sky. Another DLC will be based on Wonder Woman with the working title Amazon Fury. The Halls of Power DLC introduces a much requested piece of the DC lore -- Apocalypse and New Genesis, who will actually be descending upon players league halls forcing players to defend their turf.
What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporters MJ Guthrie and Karen Bryan to this year's SOE Live, from which they'll be transmitting all the best fan news on EverQuest Next, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.