After the announcement of Fight for the Light at SOE Fan Faire this year, I took an opportunity late in the day to speak with DC Universe Online's own Creative Director Jens Anderson about the Downloadable Pack. I wanted to see if I could pry a few more specifics about the content directly from the man's mouth to maybe elaborate on some of the details for those of you out there who looked at Monday's announcement with a hint of skepticism.
Fight for the Light is being released at the end of the summer as a $9.99 download pack. When asked about the choice to release it as a small add-on, rather than the full-on expansion that a lot of players out there were expecting to eventually come down the line, Jens was very direct with his answer. The desire was there to have this content to the playing populace as quickly as possible, which isn't to say they skimped on the content necessarily, but that the work it would've taken to create an entirely new zone, or world, would have taken much, much longer than it did to provide the power set and other features that will be coming in the download pack. The desire is there to have a more frequent update cycle in place for the players. A year and a half could've been taken to create a new city (such as Gotham or Metropolis, which are already in the game) or a new planet and, while Jens was insistent that they're not taking that off the table for the future, it isn't something that they wanted to explore at this time. “We wanted to get Light Powers in players hands as soon as possible” He said “They've been asking for it since launch, and we wanted to give it to them and I didn't want to have it tied up in an expansion a year and a half down the road”. The Download Pack allows for smaller scope, a more focused theme and more frequent contributions to the game.
I asked him about the abilities that will be coming with the Light Powers, which are coming in under the Controller umbrella (like Mental and Gadgets). Powers really, at launch, boiled down to either passive or fire and forget, whereas the Light Powers will be working a bit differently. While there will be Controller-like abilities available for you as you level your character up and you will be having access to the fire-and-forget type damage powers that are so prevalent in MMOs, the light powers are different. “There are also constructs that are more like fighting styles”, like the weapon styles that you select at character create (bow, hand blasts, staff, etc.) and these abilities become semi-persistent styles independent of your fighting technique. “The 'light chainsaw' is actually a fighting style with its own combos in it, when you get the 'light whip' construct, it's its own fighting style with its own combos associated with it”. Jens was eager to point out, however, that this is just the tip of the iceberg. When you have access to multiple constructs, you can build combos with one into combos with another, into combos with another, linking together your light construct combos into incredibly effective, incredibly involved combos. Essentially, you're looking at an incredible amount of unique combos that can be executed uniquely from player to player. If you so wish, you can master the proper techniques to go from a regular combo with your chosen weapon style, into a combo with the 'light whip', into a combo with the 'light chainsaw' and so on. Of the 24 new abilities being added per side, half of them (12) will be these fighting style constructs.
In having the Light Powers fall under the Controller role, the developers have made a very clear decision with where they want the power to stand. Obviously, for anyone familiar with the mythos, it would've been possible for them to make the Light Powers appropriate fulfil either the Tank or Healer role as well, so I asked Jens why the decision was made to have them fall into Controller. “It would've been really impossible for us in the amount of time wherein we wanted to get this Light Pack out to try and do every role for the light powers. Also, I don't think we would want to do that”. He talked about how when you face off with an Ice or Fire hero, you know you're getting into it with a tank, when you see a nature or a sorcery, you know you have a potential healer on your hands, to make the Light powers different in that way would add a pretty significant imbalance to the open world PvP of the game. The potential for the most creativity came from the Controller role, as well. “It allowed us to, obviously we can have all the DPS stuff we want because any super power has DPS, but we really felt with the encasements and the physics options that the controller was the way to go”.
I got to ask Jens about the motivation behind choosing the Green Lantern for their first download pack, which I touched on briefly earlier. The motivations behind the download packs are to keep them themed within themselves, explaining why the three new alerts and the new duo are all also Green Lantern themed, in addition to the new power set. Jens explained that the desire to choose Green Lantern came out of not only the audience and the player base wanting that content blended into the game, but also from the content in the game from launch: “So if you go through and you know the game and the various storylines and where they're going, what those arcs are, you notice that some of them are unfinished. That's not an accident”. Right now they're answering the questions surrounding why the yellow and green rings are no longer functioning at their full capacity, but the example Jens gave was with regards to the presence of Trigon in the game and how at the end of that arc the demon actually gets free. These unfinished points, these unanswered questions, are the motivations for the download packs moving forward. The addition of the download packs will work alongside the continuous free content updates, the purpose is not to replace anything, but it's simply an additional aspect of the game that people can purchase to expand their experience.