Experiencing Legends PvE with the DC Universe Online devs

MJ Guthrie
M. Guthrie|12.10.14

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Experiencing Legends PvE with the DC Universe Online devs
DC Universe Online fans who've long wanted Legends PvE learned at SOE Live that the feature was finally on its way to the game. And now patience is about to pay off! Legends PvE is launching with GU43, along with plenty of other goodies like new underwater bases and a new legends character. There's even something for the PvPers: revamped arena award rules. Executive Producer Larry Liberty and Creative Director Jens Andersen recently led a media tour of this upcoming content, showcasing Deathstroke in all his Legends glory along with sharing a few other tidbits of news (like the release window for Amazon Fury Part II). As Liberty put it, "Game Update 43 wound up becoming quite a bit bigger than we initially anticipated."

Living the Legends in PvE

Andersen acknowledged that a huge portion of the playerbase has been missing out on a very iconic part of the game. "So many of our players -- a huge number of our players -- don't PvP," he said. "And so they weren't able to enjoy the feeling that the PvPers got of stepping into the shoes of these iconic characters." He explained how the team tried to put a bit of that in game already with various DLCs using iconic anomalies where players got to relive the civil war memories (Wonder Woman and Circe) or go through the origin stories (Bizzaro and Huntress). However, players wanted more choice and wanted to play themselves. Thus was born the Legends PvE system. Now players can pick the legend they want to play.

As a feature, Legends PvE is in the game permanently. However the events that comprise the feature will rotate monthly/every five weeks. Liberty emphasized that the PvE will be kept to alerts that already exist; the first one is South Gotham Courthouse, followed by League of Assassins Stronghold.

When you go into Legends PvE, you can select any character that you've unlocked, regardless of whether anyone else on your four-man team has selected the same character. That means there can be four Batmans in one match, providing every player owns him. However, there are feats and achievements built into legends PvE that help encourage variety; certain team-up achievements are for grouping with a certain character (say, Joker) when playing a certain other character (Harley). The only time an unlocked character will be unavailable to players is whether that character actually shows up as an NPC during that particular alert.

So how do you get the characters? Everyone who plays gets one free starter Legend character: Robin for heroes and Harley Quinn for villains. Others are premium and can be acquired only via the Marketplace. Still more can be unlocked using the Marks of Legends currency that players earn playing while doing either Legends PvP or PvE. Members will be able to purchase all legacy iconic characters in-game using this currency, but free players will still have to purchase them via the Marketplace.

Additionally, every week during the first event there will be a new Legend character unlocked temporarily that players can try for free, giving folks the chance to try it out whether it has been unlocked or not. Players who find they like that character can then purchase it to unlock it permanently. One note: Although the free trial characters will count for some achievements, they don't work for the team-up feats. Those will only be possible for folks who put in the time/effort/coin to secure the Legends character permanently. "We don't want to hand people the feats when other people have had to earn that character in order to get them," Andersen said.

What about the actual play? While showing off Deathstroke (who happens to use a one-handed sword and has a stun grenade, a sniper shot, a leaping slash, stealth, a back flip, and more) Andersen explained that there are no actual modes in Legends PvE, just as there isn't in the PvP version. Instead, the role-less buffs from the main game (buffs that are applied if you are missing a certain role in group, like defense if there's no tank) are incorporated into the Legends play. "Players will have the tools they need to survive," Andersen pointed out, "but it will require a lot of tactics and group coordination in order to do it."

Achievement collecting

There are a load of other achievements and feats, both general ones that span all events and event-specific ones. These include completing legends PvE as male or female legends, heroes or villains, and even specific family group of characters (like related to Batman, related to Green Lantern, etc.). One instance will actually update an achievement in each of these categories at one time. Anderson explained, "Every time you play, you are getting updated on four of these general feats in different combinations depending on which character you played." If you happen to miss completing certain ones, don't worry: Each event will cycle back around in time.

Need another reason to dive into Legend PvE? How about the fact that you get unique housing items for defeating bosses on top of your Marks of Legend? Andersen notes that there are approximately 80 new base items not available anywhere else. When you complete the instance, you also get prestige that you can spend in your league.

Under the sea

GU43 also introduces a new underwater base theme, complete with two new views. Leagues can choose to look out a window at sun-laced reef just under the surface or the deep darkness of a trench. The new league hall is available to everyone at the cost of 25k prestige.

For the PvPers

PvEers won't be the only ones happy for GU 43. Andersen said the team is aware of the issue whereby people who don't want to PvP but still want the rewards for doing so just stand around AFK in the arenas to the detriment of everyone else on the team. Now there will be participation thresholds, and players will have to actually do something in order to get the reward. That doesn't mean you have to win or excel at PvP, however; Andersen explained that the minimum needed to get the reward won't be extreme, but it will entail folks participating instead of taking advantage of others and AFKing.

And still there's more

GU43 doesn't end there, either. This update creates advanced mechanics for ice and nature powers, adds features to make powers more power-efficient, and allows players to see group members' as well as their own equipped CR (combat rating). Additionally, a new feature will allow players to unlock loot locks so people won't have to wait until the next Thursday raid reset to get benefit from helping others do a scenario again. This system, however, will be restricted just to friends and league-mates and will cost replay badges.

Serving up seconds

The final morsel of news the devs shared is that Amazon Fury Part II is coming in the first half of Q1 2015 -- or as Andersen put it, "Januaryish". It will be the second DLC trilogy to unleash the middle part; War of the Light Part II came out in November.

When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!
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