As I try to think about why I find myself so overtly fond of DC Universe Online, aside from my love of all things comics, the main draw would probably have to be the action and physics based combat. There’s just nothing that compares to it right now. But what happens when you toss all that action and chaos into a player versus player environment? One of the things that was sorely lacking in CoH for a time, and one of CO’s main weaknesses (at least in my book) is the PvP content. Luckily, it seems that the DCUO team has done a lot of work to make sure PvP fans get their fill. Let’s take a look at the options for PvP fans in SOE’s upcoming DC Universe Online. Bear in mind this is more of an overview of the PvP features, and that we’ll have editorial comments on DCUO’s PvP at a later date. Now… to the nitty-gritty.
There are plenty of reasons to get involved in DCUO’s PvP systems, but rest assured you won’t be “gimped” if you decide you’d rather not compete against the opposing faction. The main draws for PvP in DCUO comes in the form of Influence (PvP currency) which can be spent on items, additional Legends characters to be earned through Legends PvP, and of course the ever-popular PvP gear sets for the end game. Aside from all the rewards, PvP in DCUO is also just plain fun, and some would say that it winds up being its own reward. But hey, at least there are shiny things to work for when the thrill of combat just isn’t enough.
Legends PvP is probably the most unique of the PvP options in DCUO. Essentially what Legends amounts to is using Justice League or Legion of Doom technology to take on the visage and skills of classic DC characters for the purpose of “training” against one another. At least, that’s the gist of the story behind why players can become Batman, Robin, the Joker, Harley Quinn, etc. The real reason is probably more along the lines of “because it’s freaking cool.” You’ll get to fight against opposing Legendary forces in places like Ace Chemicals and the Bat Cave as well, which each have their own mechanics for victory.
As a for instance, Ace Chemicals is the first Legends instance you’ll get access to. Once inside as your chosen hero or villain (Robin for the heroes by default, and Harley for the villains, unless of course you pre-ordered and got access to Batman), the opposing teams will have to duke it out over several key points in the factory in order to maintain control of each. The best part though comes when the chemicals themselves start turning players into powerful zombies about halfway through the match with their own set of skills and combos. It’s easy to see that Legends wasn’t just a gimmick PvP type for SOE to cling to.
The more character-centric version of instanced PvP on offer from DCUO comes in the form of Arenas. As you level, different arenas will become available to you and carry with them familiar game-types one might have seen in other games (capture and hold, capture the flag, etc.). They take place in DC’s storied locales such as the Austrailian Outback’s STAR Labs facility, the Moon, and the Tomb of Isis. You’re matched up automatically via a queue-system and tossed into matches with level-appropriate teammates and opponents (and the level 30s will have a bracket all to themselves). It’s here that players will truly be able to test out their own characters and skills, while Legends is more about playing with pre-configured characters and offers a more controlled environment. It’s also through Arenas that you’ll be awarded tokens late in the game which can be spent on DCUO’s high-end PvP gear.
In my eyes, the world PvP is easily the most fun (even though it’s the least controlled) competitive play in the game. Luckily for the faint of heart, DCUO will be offering both open PvP and PvE servers where players must first flag themselves to be attackable by other players. In either case, it’s in the true spirit of heroes versus villains that DCUO makes sure there is ample reason to do more than just watch the other side wreck havoc or foil evil plans. In beta so far there have been some pretty epic battles on both the PvP and PvE servers, resulting in large explosions from traffic pileups, screaming civilians, and of course lots of QQ-ing and taunting across the “Versus” channel of chat.
There are also several directed PvP experiences for the open world. One of which is a wanted poster that’s on the walls right outside the police stations and nightclubs which gives you a mission to go out and kill five players no more than five levels lower than you for both XP and cash. Additionally there’s a meteor that lands in the cities which flags the player who picks it up for PvP, and that player then becomes something of a target for mayhem. He or she can bring it wherever they want and try to get more players to touch it, bringing about a sort of gang fight over the thing. It’s great for creating little pockets of PvP on the PvE servers. On the PvP servers it’s not exactly a necessity, but fun nonetheless.
The Wild Wild West
Worth mentioning is the fact that if you’re not a fan of the “Wild Wild West” style of world PvP where any player of any level can be attacked at any time outside of instanced safe houses or mission-maps, then you’re probably better off avoiding the PvP servers. While DCUO is certainly a game that depends more on player reaction and skill as opposed to just gear and level alone, you’ll still find yourself on the receiving end of surprise attacks and gankings from higher level players if you’re out and about solo-ing the PvE. Hunt in packs for safety, is the only advice I can offer.
Still, there’s something about the thrill of playing in Metropolis and Gotham where heroes and villains run rampant and are always at each other’s throat. If you can get past the first few levels and learn the ropes, there’s something to be said for being on your guard at all times and taking diversions off the questing path to engage in some epic PvP battles. And hey, if the open PvP thing isn’t your style that’s what the PvE servers are for where you can quest until your heart’s content and engage in instanced PvP or some of the world events whenever you feel like it. The choice is ultimately yours, and there are plenty of options for anyone looking to beat up on the opposing faction in DC Universe Online.