Day three begins with me making some drastic changes. Every forum I read over the course of the weekend had confirmed that my character build was flawed from the very beginning. A sorcery- melee build will always be an uphill battle. I could focus on damage dealing and be fine in PvE but with power points being a rare commodity in the game, my role as healer would be unviable. This means the chances of me performing well in a raid or instance would be negatively affected. With a heavy heart, I decided to axe Shadeheart.
Time for a second character then. This time around I have a good idea of what I want my role to be. So I choose “Fire” as my power of choice and “Martial arts” as combat style. I’m keeping acrobatics as movement style as I love moving with the aid of a grapple gun. I am sticking with Batman as a mentor. Just for kicks, I choose a PvE server called “Brave New World” to house the new hero. As much as I like PvE, the long wait times on a heavily populated server are not something I’m willing to put up with. The creation process is a lot quicker as I know exactly what to do. In a few minutes, Dreadknight is born.
Almost immediately I can see how combat is going to be a lot easier. Leveling up is a breeze as this guy is just devastating in battle. The downside is having no self-heals. This is a temporary situation as I can see some powers further down the chain that do provide healing. As I’ve already done these quests before, it takes a much shorter period of time to go through them. I know exactly where to go and what to do. At this point I realize that one of the advantages of being on a PvE server is not having to scan the area for possible threats. I can just concentrate on getting to my objective without having to take longer and possibly safer routes. Before I know it, I’m already battling Scarecrow and compared to the last time, I handily whoop his scrawny ass. Oh yes, Dreadknight’s future looks very promising indeed.
At level 10 I also have the option of choosing an additional weapon style. I’m tempted to give dual pistols a shot but the martial arts tree is proving to be a lot of fun. The combos seem easier to pull off and the animation is excellent. Besides, even though there is nothing to stop me from picking all the available weapons; it is worth focusing on one. At higher levels, weapons skills can give you innate stat bonuses. Martial art for instance, has good critical damage skills that can be further improved with more points.
A note about skills, it turns out gaining skill and power points have little to do with levels. The deciding factor is “feats” or in game achievements. In the beginning, these come hard and fast so you will find yourself gaining points easily. But soon enough, the process slows down. The game has a level cap of 30, which by most MMO standards is pretty low. Hitting this cap should not take long, but what makes a character truly powerful will be the amount of skill /power points one has. Hitting the cap for skill points (I believe it is 80) is not going to be easy. But those feats are going to be critical if you want to handle the end game raids. Speaking of which, I should probably keep my eyes open for a good “league” (DCUO’s term for guilds). So far I have not had to team up with anyone for any of the missions but then, I’m only about a third of the way through.
At level 9 Dreadknight is also eligible for “Alerts” which are essentially repeatable dungeons. Queuing up for one of these is easy. It’s just a matter of clicking a tab and the game automatically puts you in a team of four. As I understand it, this is the standard team size. Only the end game raids allow for a team of eight. At level 30, a player becomes eligible for “Duos”. As the name suggests, these are two man teams for smaller dungeons. It will take a while before little Dread has a go at one of them. In the meantime, something interesting has happed. Oracle informs me that I’ve been invited to the “Watchtower” or in other words, the JLA headquarters! The Alert can wait, this, I HAVE to see.
To anyone that in not familiar with DC comics lore, this would look like any other generic space station, albeit, a huge one. But to a comic nerd like me, this is big deal. The HQ looks fabulous and once again I’m amazed at how the devs have made judicious use of the Unreal 3 engine. This is by far, the prettiest MMO in the market. I spend more than a few minutes just looking around the place and getting lost in the process. Impressive as this place is, it is a little confusing to get from one part of it to the next. I later realize that the HQ also acts as “bridge” of sorts, allowing players to move from Gotham to Metropolis.
My curiosity sated, I head back to Gotham. My primary focus is now getting to level 30 asap. So far, I must say leveling certainly feels a lot quicker than any other MMO that I can think of. This makes the quests seem less of a grind than they should be because honestly speaking, there is not a lot of variety here. The boss battles are a highlight for sure but the rest of the quests are not much different from anything else in the MMO sphere. Nonetheless, I did jump into a couple of the alerts and these were decidedly fun. The battles do need some amount of team work but since these are starter level dungeons, I expect them to be easy. One thing that did stand out was the way party wipes are handled. If an entire team does get knocked out, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the instance needs to be repeated. There are several respawn points across a level and so long as even one person is standing, team members can join in an ongoing battle. In some cases, a party wipe will mean having to do a small part of the alert again (usually the bosses)and even then not the entire level. This to me, is an excellent design decision.
One last thing I did before logging off for the day was try my hand at some PvP. DCUO has a unique mode in which players can battle each other in simulated arenas as famous characters in the DC universe. If you want to fight as Batman and faceoff against a human controlled Joker, this would be the place to go. At the moment, the only character I have access to is Robin. I did not spend too much time in this mode so my impressions will have to wait. It certainly is a cool idea though.
By the end of the day I have hit level 17 and feel a lot more confident in my abilities. More alerts have been unlocked and I cannot wait to see more of what the game has to offer.
EDIT: Unfortunately, shortly after this post, Sony’s server’s got hacked. No one was allowed to log in for a couple of weeks (at least, I couldn’t). Eventually, I did get back in, only to find the servers deserted. After this, they got hacked again. At this point, I gave up. The game was fun while it lasted and the fact that it is now free to play means anyone can at least give it a shot. I personally, have not jumped back in. Primarily because I lost all my character names and my friends.