Friday, January 14, 2011

Beginners Guide To The World Of DC Universe Online

DCUO released on the 11th of January, and since then I've put in lots of hours of gameplay, costume editing, chatting, questing, alerts, grouping, and much more. I now believe that I've played through enough of the content to write my thoughts about the game so far.

This will also be a complete beginners guide to the first few hours of the game, as well as detailed information on the games features, or at least, that's what this post turned into.

Name: NovaFrost
League: Crisis Core
Server: Crisis
Platform: PS3
Current Level: 22
Mentor: Superman
Power: Ice
Weapon: Hand Blast

Upon loading up DCUO for the first time, you'll be welcomed with some installing and downloading. It took me about 45 minutes to get the first 11gb install out of the way and move onto the 3gb download. MMO's are known for huge installs, these games are massive. Give this one a chance to get fully installed and then you'll be all set to go.

Get out that activation code that's conveniently printed on the front of your instruction manual. You'll need to enter this code when the game prompts you to. It's pretty straightforward. After you've followed all the instructions you'll be visited with the games title screen. Here you can create your first hero or villain. Overall it took me about 2 hours (give or take) to get to creating my character from the first moment I brought the game home.

Press the square button on your controller to begin the character create process. You'll be asked which world you want to start in, I'm currently in Crisis, which is a PvE (Player Versus Environment) server. There are also PvP (Player Versus Player) servers, only choose PvP if you want the option to attack (or be attacked) at any time by other players. I highly recommend the PvE if you're at all a new player, at least until you know exactly what you're doing. You can still attack other players on PvE, but you have to turn on a PvP flag first, letting all the other heroes or villains know that you're open for a good duel.

Once you've chosen a server, you'll be treated to a kick-ass video introducing you to the opening story (If you want to skip it, hold X.) Then you'll be able to create your first character. Creating your first character can be a little overwhelming, the options that are available to you are nothing like what was available in games like Final Fantasy XI, or World of Warcraft.

First, you choose whether you want to be male or female. Followed by a body type, which as far as I can tell, there are absolutely no differences between them, otherwise I'm sure they would be mentioned during the character creation process. Next you'll probably want to choose a custom character, otherwise you can choose to have your character be automatically created after one of your favorite heroes or villains. So if you choose this option, you can then select someone like The Joker, and you'll automatically have a character similar in appearance, as well as abilities and weapons. I highly suggest creating your own custom character, makes the game a lot more rewarding.

After selecting "custom" you can now choose whether you want to be a hero for good, or a villain for evil. This will greatly change what quests you're given, which will be what you spend most of your time doing. Next you get to choose what you want your personality to be like. Is your character going to look serious all the time? Comical? Powerful? This pretty much only changes the way your character will act, and perform emotes (press left on the d-pad in-game to select from a wide variety of emotes)

Then you choose a mentor. These will once again effect what type of quests you receive. You have The Joker, Lex Luthor, and Circe for villains, and Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman for the heroes. I should also note that even if you choose Lex Luthor as your mentor, for example, you'll still receive quests from other mentors once in awhile.

Now you get to choose what type of power you want. The options are as follows: Fire, Gadgets, Ice, Mental, Nature, and Sorcery. Fire is a tank type class where your main objective is to soak up damage from other party members. Gadgets is a controller type where you'll have status effects and controlling abilities. Ice is another tank type role with it's own set of unique freezing abilities. Mental is another controller type, but uses telekinesis to move in-game objects with your mind. Nature is a healing type that can also poison. Sorcery is another healing role power. Each power has two unique skill-trees. You also can't change your power once you select it so choose carefully. You're also welcome to make several characters to try out different things and see what you like before you invest a significant amount of time in a single character.

What type of movement mode do you want? Do you want to move with super-speed like the Flash? Acrobatics like Batman? Or flight like Superman or Wonder Woman? Personally, I highly recommend flight. Each of these movement types are equal in usefulness, though I find for beginners, flight seems to work best. When you get surrounded in a fight and need to escape, what better way is there to go then up?

Now for another tough decision to make, what do you want your main weapon to be? There are several weapons to choose from. Weapons ranging from a bow, staff, martial arts, swords, hammer, pistols, rifle, etc. Once you choose one of these you'll be stuck with it for awhile, though eventually you will be able to put skill-points into a second weapon type if you desire to do so. I believe around level 10.

Now for the costume. Keep in mind that whatever style you create at this point, will most likely change countless times throughout your DCUO experience. This is just how you look upon starting your adventure. I definitely recommend choosing something from every category because you can just simply remove the style once you get in-game. This way you'll be filling out your style selection with free stuff given to you during this section. So even if you don't want to wear a helmet, I suggest you pick one for now, then just go into the style tab in-game and remove it, but still have that style collected for later use.

See, the way DCUO works is quite different from anything done before. When you find a new piece of epic loot, you can equip it, obtain that style, and then while still keeping the stats of the new item, equip a separate style that you like better. This way you can keep a seamless costume from your head to your feet, while still holding onto all the stats of the equipment you've discovered. Pretty awesome, eh?

In the costume select screen you can also change your skin type, hair, eyes, and various colors for just about everything. For your costume you get to choose 3 main colors to fill out your costume pattern. You can change any colors on any piece of equipment you've chosen at any time (even after you've created your character) as long as you use those 3 colors (which you can also change at anytime later on) so you gotta keep that 3-color pattern constant so you don't look like Captain Rainbow.

As soon as you figure out your starting costume (remember, you'll be collecting all kinds of new styles and equipment as you play, so don't worry too much about how you look to begin with) you'll now need to pick a name for your hero or villain. I find this the most difficult part of creating a new character. You may think you've come up with a clever name, only to find that it's been taken by another player. I believe you need to pick a name with 1 or 2 words, and even then sometimes it'll give me an error. That only happened once though, it was actually with my main character NovaFrost. For some reason Nova Frost gave me an error, but NovaFrost is okay. Sure, whatever.

Now you'll be treated to another cut scene, this time from Brainiac's point of view. Shortly after that you'll receive full control of your newly created character. Make sure to follow everything you're told by either Calculator or Oracle, depending on whether you picked hero or villain. They'll help you get used to the game, as well as lead you to the exit of Brainiac's ship.

There will also be on screen messages letting you know how to play. Basically it's square to attack with melee, triangle to attack with ranged (all weapon types have a ranged and melee attack of some kind) X button to jump, circle button to activate things and talk to non-player characters. R1 is to block, and by holding R1 and pressing a direction on the left analog, you'll be able to dodge. Tapping the L1 button once allows you to center your screen to the way your character is facing, but holding L1 allows you to lock your targeting onto an enemy. I really don't use this much because I find the auto-targeting system works perfectly. Just center your screen (using the right analog stick to move the camera, left stick moves your character) on whatever you want to attack and you'll see the red reticule target a nearby enemy.

As you travel through Brainiac's ship you'll notice that you're picking up all kinds of loot and cash (Tap L2 and R2 at the same time to suck in any loot near you.) You may also see that the enemies are dropping blue energy, this energy will refill your power bar (the blue bar under your health bar at the top) which is basically what fuels your super powers. Any loot you pick up will show up on-screen, and the moment you see that you've picked up some equipment, press the start button and use L2 and R2 to check your inventory. In the inventory screen you can equip and un-equip all kinds of stuff. I'm pretty sure the on-screen prompts tell you a lot of this info, maybe not all of it though.

Equip any equipment you find and it will definitely help you survive Brainiac's ship, although it shouldn't be all that difficult to do so anyways. I have a good tip though: When you escape the ship you should have a few Soda's in your inventory. You use Soda's to heal yourself in a pinch. I find that if you sell all the Soda's you get in Brainiac's ship, you'll always have enough money to buy all the level 3 items at the shop. Since the beginning quests aren't really all that difficult, it's definitely worth it to upgrade all of your gear right at the start. If you think you might need the Soda's, then by all means hold onto them.

Now, I'll be writing more about DCUO as the days go by, but I want to end this post with a few things I've discovered:

Voice chat works fine. All you need to do is turn on your headset before loading up DCUO. Once you're in the game, send an invite to a friend. Do this by typing in the chat /invite followed by the name of your friend. So if you were going to invite me to your group, you'd type /invite NovaFrost. Just like that. Once you're friend accepts the invite, then you should see their name on the left side of your screen. This won't effect anything negatively as far as I can tell. You'll actually be able to help each other out at any time with quests. You'll even enter the same buildings when you're reading for a boss fight. Once you have a group started the headsets should activate just fine, that's how my experience has been every time I've grouped up with friends.

You can change your styles and colors at anytime during gameplay. I listened to a podcast recently that was complaining about how you couldn't change your colors or styles once you've selected them. As I've mentioned earlier in this post, you can absolutely change everything at anytime. You will have a "styles tab" when you press the start button. It should be located right next to your inventory tab. Once you're here you can press up and down on the d-pad to select any area of your body. Head, hair, eyes, chest, feet, back, etc. As long as you've obtained new styles, then you'll have them permanently collected. You obtain new styles by equipping new pieces of gear. Gear that was either purchased at the store, obtained as quest rewards, given to you in an in-game email, or dropped from an enemy. Each piece of equipment will tell you exactly what type of style you'll receive, as well as whether or not you already have that style collected. You can also change your 3-color costume pattern here in the style tab, as well as individual colors on each piece of equipment. Move your cursor to, for example, chest, then press triangle. Now you'll be able to select different colors from the 3 pattern colors that you selected for your character.

There are plenty of interesting ways to use voice and text chat. Although it's a little complicated right now, you can create tabs and "chat rooms" of sorts, and then filter out which players can hear who. Let's say you have a League created (create a League by starting a party with friends, then press square to create a League after selecting "Social" from the start menu) and let's say you have plenty of members. Move your cursor over to the drop-down menu on the top left of the screen, it should say "chat", click that and select "voice" (if you want a private voice chat room, separate from the rest of the general League chat) In the social menu you're able to use that weird "Plus" looking icon near the top left (move the cursor to it with the d-pad) and then fill in a name for your "chat room". You'll then see a new tab pop up above with the name you created, select this tab and then any other player that creates that same tab with the same name, and selects it as well, will be able to chat privately with you and others in that room. Voice chat included. If this sounds really complicated, It is, and shouldn't be. I highly suggest you read this while you're actually doing it on screen. It is needlessly complicated at the moment. I'm sure the DCUO devs, Sony Online Entertainment, are working on an easier and more convenient way for us to change these League options. For now though, that's how you do it.

If you're in a party and you suddenly see a big safe looking icon pop up on the bottom of your screen, press up on the d-pad, then select "group loot" (I think that's right, I'm not actually in the game at the moment) and then you'll be able to try and obtain that loot by pressing either X to select greed (you roll a dice, if you beat everyone else out of a roll then you automatically get that item) or press triangle to pass on the item. In the MMO world it's very rude to select greed on an item that you don't even need, especially if you can't even equip it. Let other players take what they need because there will be plenty to go around. When that moment comes where an item pops up in the group loot menu that you really want, you definitely don't want somebody else taking it if they have no use for it, press square for need if that's the case. Keep in mind that some higher level equipment can only be used by certain role types. So if you are a tank type character, and you see that new sword in the group loot vault, and it says it's for a healer or controller only, just pass. It's the polite thing to do. Besides, all you could do is sell the item for a little cash anyways.

If I think of anything else that I've missed in DCUO, I'll be sure to write another post about it. Currently though, these are just some of the things I've been helping people with through the in game chat (type /shout followed by a message if you're having problems, nearby players will hear it, assuming they're paying attention to the chat box.)

If you need any help with anything just write something out in the comments below. If it's quest related or something like that, I might not be able to help, but you're certainly welcome to ask. You never know. You can also add me on PSN under Zemus101. Anybody is welcome to join us on the PS3 DCUO sever Crisis. I have a League started with a handful of members already, it's called Crisis Core. As long as you have a decent headset, can speak proper English, and you're not a jerk, you're welcome to join up with us. Enjoy the game everyone.

EDIT: After writing this all out, the game received a 132mb patch (that was quick!) addressing some issues with the game. Get used to it guys, this game should continue to receive updates with new content and on a regular basis. I've included all the patch info below.

All versions
  • General: Added some client performance optimizations.
  • Alerts: At the end of Area 51 players should now always find themselves in the same final boss instance as the rest of their group.
  • Missions: In the Pest Control mission, Queen Bee has lost her ability to teleport through walls thus preventing player’s from defeating her.
  • UI: Elements of the UI should no longer be visible during cutscenes.
  • UI: After shape changing the style tab should no longer have “N/A” appearance slots.

PS3 Only
  • Gameplay: Addressed an issue where players could occasionally fall through the world when zoning or moving around the cities.
  • General: Improved client performance and stability.
  • Missions: What’s the only thing worse than running into your character’s nemesis in game?  Running into a door that won’t open.  Players should no longer be foiled by those dastardly doors not opening in instances.