The team behind DCUO is calling DLC 3: The Battle for Earth their "best DLC yet." We jumped in on a roundtable interview to find out the details behind this big content update.
This afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit in on a roundtable interview with DC Universe Online Creative Director Jens Andersen, SOE Executive Director of Development Lorin Jameson, and the most recent addition to the DCUO team, Executive Producer Lawrence Liberty. The topic? DCUO's biggest downloadable content (DLC) update yet: The Battle for Earth (DLC 3). With the update launching on Tuesday, March 13th, have an advanced peek at what's to come!
We kicked things off with a rundown of the big content making its way to DCUO, namely the new tanking power, Earth. Aside from contributing to the very cheesy title of this DLC update, Earth powers feature some very cool new tanking mechanics for players tired of choosing between Ice and Fire, like utilizing pets to help mitigate and diffuse damage taken while tanking, or the ability to summon totems that heal your pets. Earth tanks can also defer ally damage to themselves (or their pets), which gives them a little more complexity beyond standard tanking roles. I should have asked what happens if an Earth tank tries to mitigate damage being taken by another Earth tank, who then tries to mitigate that damage himself, but I suspect it doesn't get that complex.
Aside from being a horrendous pun, The Battle for Earth does, in fact, focus on DCUO players banding together to defend Earth, as this DLC update concludes the story arc of the game's original premise: defending Earth against Brainiac. In DLC 3, not only will players be able to take the fight to Brainiac himself, but there are also non-instanced areas, like the new South Gotham, where the fight will spill out into the streets and beyond. In previous updates, the team noted that they were "leaving the city behind," which was something they wanted to change with this update. Now South Gotham is crawling with Brainiac's forces, and players will need to keep tearing down the proto-avatars being erected, or the streets could get overrun with these powerful foes.
There is also a new zone being introduced, Themyscira, which is a fictional island of Amazons that also happens to be the place of origin of Wonder Woman. In a rare moment of urgency, the Amazons are allowing men on the island in order to fend off Brainiac's avatar of magic who has gained new powers from the gates of Tartarus: the Flame of Change. Here, DCUO heroes will get to team up with Wonder Woman and Circes to take on Brainiac once more.
With Brainiac all but defeated, some players might be wondering what will happen to the world of DCUO if its primary nemesis is vanquished, and Jens Andersen notes that they've got a lot of loose character storylines to focus on for the future (not to mention new ones that can be introduced down the line), including Spectre, Black Adam, Trigon, as well as the introduction of Future Lex and Future Batman in this update. Later, when pressed for upcoming content information, it was noted that a few hints had already been given, so perhaps these are the core characters that will rise to the spotlight in future updates.
We also managed to speak about the team's ongoing work with DC Universe Online and how they have to evolve from their previous updates. Here, Jens and Lawrence note that this update is really their first big content update that fully addresses the wide audience they've picked up since going free-to-play. In particular, DLC 3 brings a lot of in-game content in the form of three duos, an alert, two raids, a whole new tier of equipment (Tier 4), while players of all levels can try out the new Earth power set to see if it's more their style.
There was also a brief discussion on DCUO's DLC 4 update and, while the focus of this interview was on The Battle for Earth, it was said that SOE will be paying attention to movement powers and weapons in future updates, as well as reaffirming that DLC 4 would be a PvP-based update.
Ultimately, SOE is really putting its reputation on the line with DCUO's DLC 3: The Battle for Earth. Jens noted that their first DLC was being worked on at launch, so they were still in the process of learning what would really resonate with players, while their second DLC update came right after their shift to free-to-play, so their audience was in transition at that point. With DLC 3, however, SOE is really coming into its element as it learns its tools and simply gets better and faster at creating high quality content. So if it turns out that you're a big fan of DLC 3, it looks like there's even more coming in 2012.
Chris "Pwyff" Tom, Editor-in-Chief