Update 2 Impressions
Be sure to read Drew Wood's thoughts about Update 2.
It was with great anticipation that I logged into DC Universe for this past week’s Update 2 patch. New Green Lantern flavored duo, new and final Batman-themed raid, a new solo challenge highlighting the Penguin, Hush, and Two-Face. A slew of open world missions with an Irish theme starring Mister Mxyzptlk were tossed in with celtic-flavored style items as rewards. Plus you can earn Two-Face in Legends PvP now too. And let’s not forget the laundry list of fixes, upgrades, and exploits knocked-off. It all sounds so good on paper, right?
Let’s forget about the fact that this Update took longer than normal to come out and thus completely missed St. Pat’s. I can understand that DCUO’s overly-ambitious monthly updates are now coming roughly every six weeks instead. It’s still a quick turnaround all things considered. And each update seems like a healthy dose of additional content in between the team’s larger planned “Publishes” which are slated (I believe) to come every three months or so. But here’s the biggest problem facing DCUO right now. It’s not PvP cheaters. It’s not a lack of content. It’s not even the UI. The social UI has been given a decent overhaul and is much more readily usable now. The League interface looks and functions better, and location-sensitive VOIP is pretty cool in PvP too. In fact the whole UI is more responsive and polished. The game as a product is just better now than it was at launch.
The biggest problem facing the game is the lack of population on the PC servers. I’m not trying to sound harsh. Nor am I doing an impression of Chicken Little. When a new smattering of content comes out and I have trouble finding one person to do the duo with at prime time and on the weekend? That tells me we need a merge. I hear the PS3 servers are healthy as can be. That’s fantastic, really. But as a PC player I want to see either cross-server queues added, or more hopefully I’d like to see the number of servers reduced. I want to see Metropolis and Gotham booming as they were up until March or so. And I can’t be the only one feeling the pain of solitude in the open world.
Anyway, enough ranting on that subject. How’s the new content, you say? The highlight of the new patch for me is the Mxyzptlk content. I love the Irish flair, the new race, the fact that you have to scour Metropolis hunting down pots of gold and collecting coins. It’s sill that I’m doing all this half-way to Easter and far past amateur Irish hour, but it’s fun and a damn sight batter than the Valentine’s content. Still, I hope that SOE is thinking of more than just holiday-themed events from now on. If the release is a moving target because of the many channels updates need to pass through, they should probably make the content less holiday specific. Keep the intent, just ditch the seasonal fashion.
The new Green Lantern duo is a favorite. With each successive new instance, SOE’s design gets refined. It’s still sort of a re-skinning of the Green Lantern solo mission, but they spruced up the Lanterns’ moves and skills. One has to wonder if they’re still eager to highlight Hal Jordan this May or June. The Lanterns’ polished new aspects certainly seem to point that direction. The solo Penguin and Two-Face mission is less of a treat. Not because it’s not designed well. You get to fight Hush as a boss, the old abandoned subway looks fantastic, and there’s some bit of randomization because Two-Face flips a coin and tells you which path to take. But the lighthearted fun stops after fighting Hush. The new solo mission is hard. Not “I’m being a wussy, hard.” But rather, “I just don’t care to finish it because the reward’s not good enough hard.” And judging by the official forums, it seems to be a common thought. If you manage to make it past the incredibly hard-hitting Pengbot Maximus, chances are you’ll need to take on Penguin himself before completing the instance. His gun hits like a truck, and unless you’re a Healer or fully decked out in Tier 2 gear, you might give up in frustration. The tokens you get for this lengthy mission aren’t worth repeating the content, and I suspect most won’t.
In the end, Update 2 is really a mixed bag. The St. Pat’s content is fun but very late in arrival. The duo is a blast though. The solo mission is not for the weak-willed. The UI updates are extremely welcome, and I finally feel like the social UI is working well these days. I didn’t get to try out the new Raid yet, but my friends tell me it’s a fitting conclusion to Batman’s struggle with Brainiac. Many do say it’s pretty easy though. Almost makes me wish I could raid the new solo mission (I keed, I keed). I guess my biggest grip with the game remains the state of the thinly-spread PC population. The open world would feel much more alive again if they merged servers. In fact, I’m still holding out hope that somewhere along the line they’ll stop tacking on instances and do some more open world building. I’d love some reason for world PvP to exist, as that’s where I’ve had my personal best times in the game.
Anyway, though DCUO keeps getting better and more fleshed out in terms of its content and level of polish, but there always seems to be a step back for every step forward. If you’re waiting for a substantial chunk of content to come out before you dive back In, I’d keep waiting. But if like me, you just want something new to play with in the DC Universe, I’d say you’ll be pleased enough… just stay away from the solo challenge until they tweak it (which I’m sure they will and hopefully soon). If instead you want there to be some new powers or some more levels or something along those lines, your best bet is going to be checking back for what the larger “Publishes” bring to the table this summer.