Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beating DCUO

Yesterday, I beat what could be considered the single player portion of DCUO - the Green Armadillo has now completed every story mission from the launch game up to the end of Batman's story arc, all six original "challenge mode" versions of leveling dungeons, and the Catwoman Challenge Mode dungeon that was added in one of the game's few pre-F2P patch updates. 

The World's Greatest Detective checks his notes to make sure that yes, I really did just qualify for membership in the Justice League, while Superman appears to be pondering my death behind my back, perhaps because I made fun of his half of the story content.

I hit "cooperative" reputation with two of the game's three factions, allowing me to purchase entry level gear (blue quality item level 34) that was more than enough to get me through the finale of the Batman missions.  There's one more solo challenge mode zone, where I would face off against The Penguin (though this zone is notoriously difficult, to the point where I gave up after a few attempts), and then it's on to (or to attempt to get to) the DLC.  To borrow the analogy that Tobold dug out of his archives today, I have finished the content and am largely left with the gameplay.  As I wrote last week, that's not necessarily all bad, to the extent that DCUO's combat is fun (and different from your average MMO).  At the same time, as Tobold suggests, new story content is a part of the deal, and that particular part is largely over. 

So, about that DLC that you thought you purchased...
Speaking of the DLC, I did decide to pull the trigger on the new "Lightning Strikes" content when the triple exp sale rolled around last weekend.  This does immediately grant access to the new powerset, which I'm test-driving on a new Villain character.  It also, in principle, contains content.  The catch is that players aren't even allowed in the new zone until they hit a Combat Rating - DCUO's version of the gearscore - of 53. 

Again, my gear right now is sitting at a 34.  To put this number in perspective based on info from the guide forum, the best items that drop outright in hard mode T2 alert content (the best non-raid drops in the game) are item level 52.  The T2 vendor armor is item level 56, but a full set of this requires around 400 T2 "marks of distinction".  These marks aren't available in solo content - I can get one daily from the daily "duo", two more from the daily T1 hard mode alert, and around four per hard mode T2 alert (which themselves require a combat rating of 43 to access).  While it's theoretically possible to meet this bar inside of two weeks, it's likely to take far longer due to the extremely low liklihood that I am going to complete seven T2 alerts and a T2 duo each and every day. 

Prices on the T1 vendor also call for about 400 marks, but these are much easier to obtain - even solo players can obtain a dozen or so per day, and these also drop in greater numbers in small group content.
Two additional quirks:
  • The entry level reputation gear I currently own is geared for DPS.  I have a few drops for healing, but I would need a separate set of Healer-role gear if I wanted to pursue that route, and the need for an additional 400 marks to obtain this set makes that outcome extremely unlikely. 
  • The business model as currently designed makes it extremely challenging for non-subscribers to run content that actually incurs significant costs (either repair bills for wipes or - especially for healers - "soda" potions to restore health and power).  I spent nearly $1000 on a less than full repair after failing to clear the Penguin challenge mode.  I cannot have more than $2000 on my character ($1500 before I spent enough money to flag for premium). 

    I generally keep my bags at least partially full of sell-able items to restore my cash supply after taking this kind of hit to the wallet, but raiding is out of the question and even the hard mode 4-player content may be limited.  In principle, I can pay 200 SC ($2 if there's no sale going) to withdraw $10,000 from my escrow balance (if I actually had the $10K, currently I spend the excess money on cosmetic armor skins to try and avoid ever sending money to escrow), but this is both costly and not a fun thing to spend money on.  Realistically, it's easier to just pass on content that my account level does not support. 
The escrow withdrawal purchase
Overall, my experience is still generally more positive than negative, but it appears that accessing the new content I paid for is going to be a long term goal indeed.  I don't entirely regret the one DLC purchase because I am using the new powerset on an alt, and the purchase did upgrade my account to premium status, but at this rate I'm unlikely to qualify for future content updates if I did want to pay for them. 

In the mean time, I do have the option of replaying the game as a Villain.  There are three story missions that are unique to each of the six hero/villain mentors.  That said, the challenge of leaning heavily on storytelling is that you have to enjoy the story that's being told.  DCUO's take on the Villains of the DC Universe feels a bit less nuanced than I'm used to from the Batman comics - there's a lot of sucking the souls out of the innocent to summon demons into the world and testing mutagens on innocent college kids by the Villains who populate Metropolis.  Then again, at no additional charge I suppose I have nothing to complain about. 

Soonspeeder, my new Electricity/Superspeed Villain, arrives sooner than any MMO patch.  Also, she probably needs to set more ambitious goals for herself.

1 comment:

Gesh said...

Nice post. I've got a question for you, could not find the answers via google. In legends PvP is there any way to check what powers my hero has? I mean, I can't mouse over the power icon to see its tooltip and can't find a list with the power descriptions. E.g. how am I supposed to know whether I want to buy a certain hero or not?