This week, I continued onwards and upwards in my DCUO adventures, and the difficulty ramped up considerably.
After defeating Dr. Faust — before cuffing him, he disappeared in an explosion of spectral souls, of course — I decided I’d do some of the “side games” that DCUO had to offer. I ran a few of the races that are spread out through Metropolis, but I mostly focused on exploration.
Exploration consists of flying around and finding hidden info spheres that are scattered throughout the world. These spheres fall into three types — Investigations, Player Briefs, and Collections. Investigations glow green, and upon discovery play a soundclip about backstory or the setting of the game. Player Briefs (blue) are each tied to one of the quest chains a player can run, and they provide news and background information specifically related to the heroes and villains involved in said quest. Lastly, Collections (yellow) are just what they sound like — collections of assorted knickknacks from across the universe. Every info sphere is part of a larger set, and upon successful completion, a new costume item is unlocked.
I’ve really, really enjoyed flying around collecting these different spheres. I love the sense of exploration and discovery that comes with it, though missing only one in a set can get very aggravating. I’ve finished three Player Briefs, about a half dozen Investigations, and a handful of collections. I’m surprised at the quality and length of the soundclips that play — it’s much more engaging (and rewarding) than reading a little pop-up box — and you can listen to them from your HUD any time. In particular, I really like Circe’s voice — she sounds like just the sort of villain I wouldn’t want to cross, which is exactly what I’m doing. whoops
To date, I’ve only looked online for one tip related to exploration — and even then, I only looked a screen capture, not a map, so I still had to identify the place for myself. (And to be fair, it was an investigation sphere right on the seashore, its blue color washed out by the sea, and I’d already looked for it for two hours.) I know, I know — “The lady doth protest too much.” I feel guilty enough that I did that — it’s really important to me that I try to find these things with my own abilities.
A Terrible Taint
But a man can’t explore forever… eventually I plunged back into the quests, taking on the evil, corrupting influence of Trigon. For fans of corrupted heroes and evil doppelgangers, this quest is definitely for you — the entirety of the Teen Titans had succumb to the demon’s taint, temporarily growing horns and getting a bad case of sunburn.
So, I had to take on each member of the Titans, literally beating the bad out of them, in the ruins of a police station, no-less. Society really is predicated on violence. It turned out that Raven, the daughter of terribad Trigon, had been possessed, and her corruption was what turned the other Titans. The entire quest culminated in me going into Raven’s mind — alone, I might add, since apparently I’m the disposable hero! — and helping her defeat her father.
This quest chain was just as well executed as the previous Zatanna-Faust one, and the set piece for its culminating battle was just as cool looking and impressive as the Chinese theater from before. The maps seem really epic, which meshes well with the heroic, comic book qualities of the game.
During this quest chain, the difficulty really started to ramp up. I could still take on any one enemy quite effectively, but as soon as two or three started wailing on me, death was almost certain. I’ve started playing smarter, replacing button mashing with some pretty nifty combos — but that doesn’t always save my life.
As I started the next quest — the evil Circe is turning good Amazonians into “beastimorphs” or something — the difficulty only got harder. That’s when I decided to team up.
In DCUO, each character has two modes: a damage-dealing mode, and a support mode dependent on what type of power they chose at character creation; switching between them is as easy as being out of combat and hitting O on your keyboard.. Having chosen mental powers, my abilities lean toward the “controller” archetype, and when I switch to my support mode, they get really good at controlling the enemy and helping teammates. Unfortunately, my DPS drops, so its nice to have backup.
Which is just what happened. FrostBitten, a nice guy who was also stuck at fighting waves of merciless Beastimorphs, took point, while my support-role Mentalist suspended enemies in the air. We made a great team, and steamrolled through this Circe-oriented quest chain (it really helps that you don’t have to go back to the local police station for each new quest).
This quest chain culminated in the the ruins of the Metropolis Metro station, which had a very sweet art deco flair going for it. Apparently, Wonder Girl had been kidnapped by the villain Giganta, who intended to swap minds and gain Wonder Girl’s Amazonian powers.
Oh, yeah, there are minotaurs, too. I mean, sure, why not? I hear that everyone’s favorite insane talking ape is in this game, too, so nothing’s really beyond the Pale.
The Metro station has been my favorite setting yet. I’m really a fan of the Art Deco style — it makes the whole game feel classier and more “comic book realistic”. I didn’t get any of the awesome loot drops from defeating Giganta (the one pity of being on a team), so I definitely have more than one reason to run the mission again.
In the meantime, though… here’s to the future.