Thursday, November 10, 2011

DCUO Powers, Weapons, and Roles

The first week of DCUO is in the books, and the game now has some of the longest, but fastest moving, queues I've seen.  On the lone US PC server at 9:30 PM Eastern on a Thursday, my queue number was  2600, but I was in game within 17 minutes.  I'm not sure what's going on here - is the bottleneck the login/zone server, or are there really 150+ people logging off or disconnecting every minute? 

I spent the queue time writing the below, intended it to be part of a longer post, but it's long enough that I decided to hit publish as is. 

During the first week, I have advanced Green Armadillo to level 14 as a Sorcery character with Flight.  I also have a level 6 villian mentalist on the PS3 side.  Here are some more details about the game's character building options.  DCUO source has the only character builder I'm aware of, and it hasn't been updated since the Green Lantern powers were added, but it has the six powersets that free players will have access to, so it will do for the purposes of this discussion.

Powers and Roles
One of the two trees for Sorcery characters.  Yes, that is the entire tree, not just a portion. 

Characters gain one power point every even level, for a total of 15 at the game's level cap (currently 30).  You can spend these points on one of three trees - two specific to your class with a dozen points available in each, and an "iconic powers" tab with 22 choices that include generic powers and and passive stat boosts.  These choices apply to both of your two roles (damage and one of tank/heals/crowd control), but some powers have different functions depending on which role you are currently using.  For example, I have several spells that do AOE damage in my DPS role and AOE healing as a healer.  You may only have six powers on your "loadout" bar (there's a separate one for your other role), so beyond level 12 you are either picking for versatility, your off-spec, or you can just dump the points in passive stat boosts.

Powers drain your energy bar, and do not appear to be designed to be spammed indefinitely, though I see horror story posts of how much healers spend on "colas" (the game's version of an energy potion).  There's also a "supercharge" bar used to run or enhance certain powers.  I assume this is the thing thermometer-like line on the bottom of the character health UI, but none of my current powers consume supercharge and thus I have yet to figure out how this works. 

Weapons and Feats
A standard looking achievement page... but what's that meter on the top?
All characters start with one of three travel powers - speed, acrobatics, or flight - and one of the ten types of weapons.  You get skill points on your odd numbered levels, and additional skill points for completing the game's version of achievements (yes, this is the first game I've played that actually uses your number of achievements for advancement). 

Skill points can be spent on special attacks (either from your weapons or your travel power), passive stat boosts, or unlocking new weapons you don't know yet (starting at level 10).  There's a core path for each weapon type that grants both some baseline attacks and passive stats.  Personally, my plan is to unlock most or all of the weapons first and then go back to pick up more specialized attacks. 

The bow skill tree.  The top point unlocks the weapon and a passive stat boost, the next three below it unlock both an attack and some stats.  The panel on the left is the tooltip, and also depicts how to activate the highlighted combo attack.  Each tree has four places to sink three points each (the four that say 0/3) for passive stats. 
Weapon attacks, including "combo attacks", do not cost any resource other than time.  All attacks are executed by some combination of clicking and/or holding the melee and ranged attack buttons (L/R click on your mouse, two of the buttons on a game pad).  You will be spamming these, even as a healer, because the number of hits you have in your attack combo (which is lost after a few seconds, or if you use a power) determine your power regen rate. 

All weapons have some form of both ranged and melee attack - your bow can be used to beat people, and your sword can be used for an unspecified form of energy attack.  They also differ in terms of speed of attacks and how click-happy that combat style is.  My first selection was the hand blaster, which is very clicky, with rapid but weak attacks that build combo counts quickly.  This is good for a healer because I frequently stop attacking to heal.  I decided to go with a bow next because I'd looted one and it had a good reputation as a DPS weapon.  It does indeed seem to do more DPS, with slightly slower and more reasonable attack click commands.  On my villian, I have dual wielding, which also seems to be click-heavy, but fit with the more agile concept I had in mind.  I need to try something bigger and slower - e.g. the rifle or the two-handed weapon - to see how that feels. 

Overall, the system is fun, but I am a bit disappointed that I'm suddenly carrying around a bow (and apparently infinite supply of arrows).  This type of choice is pretty big from a cosmetic standpoint, and it's unfortunate to be forced down specific paths based on what archetype you want to play. 


Bhagpuss said...

If I have one major complaint about DCUO it's how unsuperheroic it is. There are hardly any superheroes that use bows, or swords, but weapons in DCUO are as common as in fantasy mmos.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you think about it, almost all the DC universe heroes use some form of weapon represented in the game, even if it's just brawling. Superman uses brawling. Wonder Woman uses brawling and occasionally a sword. Batman uses martial arts and brawling. Robin and Nightwing use martial arts. Green Lantern, Starfire, Cyborg, et al all use energy beams (aka hand blasters). And so on.

Now, very, very few heroes actually use two firearms at once, and certainly not as often as you see them in the game. But if you stop and think about it, it's not nearly so weird as it looks at first blush.