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Alter-Ego: A closer look at Update 2's troublesome trio

Super-hero, Lore, Patches, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

One of the best things about playing DC Universe Online, in my opinion, is the great deal of rich history there is for all the characters. There is also the fact that the iconic DC characters aren't just relegated to the shelves of your local comic book store. Even if you're not the biggest comic nerd on the face of the planet, you've undoubtedly seen at least a few of the iconic characters from the DC universe like Superman or Batman in cartoons on television or at the movies.

With Update 2 now live in DC Universe Online, three more names have joined the ever-growing list of in-game characters who have crossed from popular culture into the online world. The Penguin and Two-Face are busy scheming over the future of Gotham, while Mister Mxyzptlk has taken to the streets of Metropolis to play his strange tricks. This week, I thought it would be fun to look a little deeper into the origin stories of the troublesome trio, as the same popular culture that makes these three characters recognizable may also cause some confusion when you run up against the in-game versions -- and their current motives. I should also note, lest the continuity fiends jump on me for it, that these origins are sourced directly from the DC Universe site.

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Alter-Ego: Five powers that make Ice nice

Super-hero, Classes, Game Mechanics, PvE, Opinion, DC Universe Online, Guides, Alter-Ego

Last week we took a look into the Fire powerset in DC Universe Online, one of the two tanking powersets available to heroes and villains who want to spend their time at the front lines of the fight. As noted last week, the Fire powers make tanking a snap by simply soaking damage through the use of self-healing. Ice, by contrast, is all about mitigating damage through armor abilities, which help tanks shrug off smackdowns that would leave other players knocked out and drooling on themselves.

While my Ice tank is just shy of DC Universe Online's endgame at the moment, I have spent time running her in groups, reading just about anything I could put my mitts on about tanking powerset suggestions, and fiddling with my own build as I progress. I feel pretty comfortable recommending five great powers to consider for an Icy-tanking hotbar, since I've seen these oft repeated. I find them useful in my everyday play now -- even if I'm not quite up to smacking the biggest baddies around yet. So if you're curious as to what much research (and faceplanting) has unearthed as five of the best Ice tanking powers, then join me behind the break!

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Alter-Ego: Five favorite Fire tank powers

Super-hero, Classes, Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

I'll admit it: Of all the powers I've played with in DC Universe Online thus far, the Fire and Ice powersets are undoubtedly my two personal favorites. Normally I'm not so much the tanking type, but there's something about these two trees that just satisfies the comic book nerd in me. I grew up watching my favorite heroes taking on incredible odds, being beaten down, and triumphing at the end of the day. However, as in any MMO involving endgame raiding, no man is an island. While I might enjoy standing toe-to-toe with the bad guys, if I don't have a good group behind me, there's only so much I can do before I'm spending quality time with the defeat button.

This is where I have to note that specific endgame "builds" don't appear to be quite as easy to create in DC Universe Online as they are in other games such as World of Warcraft. As DCUO is still in its infancy, there are many players who are working hard on theorycrafting statistics. This means that there simply aren't any 100%-perfect cookie-cutter builds everyone adheres to as yet. Still, there are some power choices that seem to be fairly popular for Fire tanks in this early stage, which is what we'll be taking a look at this week.

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Alter-Ego: An overview of the trinity in DC Universe Online

Super-hero, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

In DC Universe Online, all of the different powersets can pump out DPS -- however, the trinity is alive and well even in this superhero game. Thankfully, due to the way the powers are designed, our ability to stack effects, and the heavy utilization of combos, grouping or raiding in DC Universe Online doesn't generally feel like you're stuck simply mashing buttons. If you get in with a regular group, you'll learn the ways you can play your powers off each other using synergy, thereby adding an entirely new level of awareness to encounters.

Unfortunately, endgame isn't just about going into an instance and unleashing everyone's max damage to tear through the place. While all characters can do damage in DC Universe Online, roles are still vitally important for group PvE and endgame content. As a preamble to a series that will look at builds for each role in the game and what they can bring to the table, I thought it would be a good idea to take this first week to look at which powersets go with the roles players use in endgame. Join me behind the break as I break it all down for those who are new to the game or perhaps are looking for a refresher.

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Alter-Ego: A closer look at Update 2

Super-hero, Patches, Opinion, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

Thanks to a webcast earlier this week from Game Director Chris Cao and Art Director Mark Anderson, we now have an idea of what's to come in the March DC Universe Online patch, also known as Update 2. As anyone who plays the game can tell you, there are certainly a number of fixes and updates that need to be made: PvP exploits, UI tweaks and fixes, grouping mechanic help, raids and more. As such, I thought it would be a good time to dive into some of the things that Cao and Anderson mentioned during their video chat and take a closer look at what we can expect and at how these changes may bring some good and potential bad into the game.

So gather up your ideas and opinions on DC Universe Online's upcoming Update 2, caped crusaders, and let's get rolling!

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Alter-Ego: Nine tips for PvP in DC Universe Online

Super-hero, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, Consoles, Humor, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

First things first: I'm going to admit openly that I'm not even close to the world's best PvPer, as anyone who has ever faced off in PvP against me can tell you. Up until recently, I tended to be the ultra-carebear player who generally avoids PvP combat altogether (outside of EVE Online). However, by ignoring PvP in DC Universe Online, one also ignores a decent chunk of the game's content. Between the open-world Green Lantern ring wars, quests to take on heroes or villains of a certain level range, Arena matches, and Legends play, there's a lot to do -- not to mention the challenge of playing on a PvP server. Worse still, PvE players will find their quest logs become cluttered messes full of PvP-related quests that can't be dropped -- an annoying prospect at best.

So with this in mind, I've compiled a handful of general tips for those PvE fans who don't tend to mess with PvP in DC Universe Online as well as players who have only dabbled in it. Are there I-win-button tips behind the break? Not really. However, it's good solid advice that's helped me improve my skills from utterly noobtastic insta-death to holding my own. If that sounds interesting to you, then join me behind the break for the list!

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Alter Ego: Scarred for life edition

Super-hero, Bugs, Events (In-Game), Patches, PvE, Opinion, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

Earlier this week saw the arrival of the highly anticipated February update in DC Universe Online. Like any other large patch in an MMO, this update not only added quite a bit of great new content and fixed some glaring exploits but introduced several issues that weren't there before. My personal pick for "worst new bug" since the patch? The F9 button no longer takes screenshots. First world problems, I know.

Of course, this means I'll be dedicating this week's column to looking at some aspects of our new patchy overlord. Is it all that we hoped it would be? No. I don't think even Sony Online Entertainment would be boastful enough to make that claim. Still, I do think this first major content patch to DC Universe Online is an equally major step in the right direction. However, the tying together of PC and PS3 patches means that we won't likely see another major game-fixing update until next month since whatever the devs push out has to be able to pass muster on both platforms. That said, there's more than enough to talk about this week (and next, really), so let's get to it!

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Alter-Ego: DCUO's console conundrum

Super-hero, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Consoles, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

With the first month of DC Universe Online now in the past, the time has come for that all-important MMO decision -- is the game worth renewing? For some, the answer is no. The first major patch still has not dropped; it's meant to offer us many fixes and the new content we've been told is coming. Some players have hit the level cap and aren't interested in leveling alts or doing endgame content. Whatever each person's reason may be, the shine is wearing off for some.

Meanwhile, Hal Halpin, President of the Entertainment Consumer's Association, recently wrote a piece that presented another reason that some may not be renewing: Console gamers are feeling that Sony Online Entertainment has been less than open about the game's being locked to a single account. Many are upset about not being able to trade DC Universe Online in for another game now that their free month is up. His reasoning? "The problem, of course, is that console games are sold and the ownership conveyed, along with rights." There's only one flaw in that statement: This isn't anything new -- not even on consoles.

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Alter-Ego: A quick and dirty guide to Area 51

Super-hero, PvE, DC Universe Online, Guides, Alter-Ego

When it comes to taking your first steps in DC Universe Online, the sheer amount of different types of missions and objectives can be a bit daunting. "What is this Alert thing sitting in my quest log?" you might say. "What does it do? It is PvP? PvE? What's the point of doing an Alert?" Well, to help demystify some of DC Universe Online's content for you, I wanted to offer up a basic overview to the very first in-game Alert: Area 51. However, knowing that some of you have already run this instance, I also wanted to make it useful for those who may have popped in but not spent a great deal of time in the zone. That's why this post not only contains a first-timer's overview of this Alert but also gives more advanced players a handy guide to all the Investigations, Player Briefings and Collections -- as well as a couple of other things I found in the Area 51 zone that might have been missed otherwise.

Ready to dig in and help beat Brainiac back from trying to take over? Curious about what kind of extra goodies can be gained? Join me after the break as I take some of the mystery out of the notorious Area 51!

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Alter-Ego: Using a controller with DC Universe Online on PC

Super-hero, Hands-On, Consoles, DC Universe Online, Guides, Alter-Ego

This week I'm actually going to detour slightly from the game and instead feature one of my favorite hacks for playing DC Universe Online. Well, OK, not a hack -- more like a fun project for the nerdily inclined. Part of the reason I've decided to detour is an email I received earlier this week from Rusty, who asked: "I am very interested in trying the controller on my PC and would welcome your opinion on the best way to accomplish this. I'm leery of downloading software to make this happen. Would you mind sharing your experience?"

As such, this week I'm dedicating my column to helping my fellow PC fiends get their controller on in DC Universe Online. Depending on your personal level of hardware nerditry, your extant pieces/parts, and your budget, this can range from incredibly inexpensive on up to ridiculously awesome. Hungry for more? Join me after the break!

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Alter-Ego: Working together is hard to do

Super-hero, Bugs, PvE, Opinion, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

Wake me up when chat is working.
The news earlier this week that DC Universe Online is now Sony Online Entertainment's best-selling game probably won't come as much of a surprise to anyone who has actually played it. There's an enormous amount of fun to be had in running through the game, and the storylines are incredibly well thought-out. However, for all that I personally love the game, there is one thing that I and many other people I've talked to find to be incredibly lacking, and in this case, it's something so integral to the MMOG experience as to essentially make or break parts of the game.

Essentially, what point is there to an MMO in which you can't really reliably interact with the other people you're playing with? It's also rather eye-opening just how much your enjoyment of a game like this can be impacted when you can't effectively talk to other people. As such, this week I'll look at several crucial problems with the DC Universe Online chat interface, as well as things that can be done to improve the overall experience.

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Alter-Ego: Building a better costume

Super-hero, Opinion, Consoles, DC Universe Online, Alter-Ego

In last week's Alter-Ego column, I went over some of the basics of creating a character as well as my own view on the costume creator. This, in turn, set off a small firestorm of remarks in the comments both for and against the way DC Universe Online's designers have handled costuming. One thing was made fairly clear to me -- there are lot of people out there who don't entirely understand just how costuming and stat-based gear in DC Universe Online actually work. While you do start off with a limited number of options in the creator for costuming choices, a great many open up once you actually start playing the game. As such, I wanted to take some time in this week's column to really dig into how gear and costuming works in the game. Hopefully, it will help to clear up some confusion for people who haven't had a chance to actually play the game as yet.

So if you're curious about how to build your super costume choices or how the nuts and bolts of stat gear work for heroes and villains, then join me behind the break for this week's edition of Alter-Ego!

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Alter-Ego: Let's get this character started

Super-hero, Consoles, DC Universe Online, Guides, Alter-Ego

This week, I'm going to start off with a bit of controversy. Are you ready? Here goes: I actually think the DC Universe Online character creator makes sense in terms of its costume limitations. Now, before you come at me armed with pitchforks and hateful comments, hear me out. Looking at DC Universe Online as part of the greater DC Universe, I note that not all heroes are welcomed by the public -- and villains even less so. There are no "Costumes R Us" on every street corner, and there aren't copies of "Superpowers for Dummies" one can snag from the shelves of the local bookstore. As much as we may know as players ahead of time, our characters are assumed to not have the same level of knowledge from a story standpoint. In short, new characters are not going to roll out of the creator as a fully realized Captain Badass or Madame Awesome.

Instead, new heroes and villains would probably be highly confused about any powers that showed up out of the blue. Once they've come to grips with the basics, only then would they likely be trying to piece together a new secret identity with all the gusto that someone with a glue gun, duct-tape, and half-remembered sewing lessons from 7th grade home economics classes could muster. To a character starting out with basic knowledge, character costumes would probably look like someone threw a goth and a cosplayer in a blender and then added a dash of drag queen for extra fierceness. Call it an edge of realism. Thankfully, SOE has saved our characters from their first embarrassing steps involving costume malfunctions by offering a number of cool-looking yet basic options in the character creator. As you level, so do your powers -- and your gear.

Now that I've gotten your blood boiling (or hopefully a chuckle or two), it's time to dive into the first days of being a hero or villain in DC Universe Online. For those of you who have already jumped in and are well on your way, don't worry -- I haven't forgotten you. I'll also be adding in some tips and tricks I've picked up from playing as well as telling you how you can join up with us in-game as part of a heroic new League: Massively Overpowered!

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Alter-Ego: A community guide to DCUO

Super-hero, New Titles, DC Universe Online, Guides, Alter-Ego

You don't know me. You think you do. You think you have me figured out. I keep to myself. I do what I'm told to do. I'm the one whose name people forget instantly. I'm average. Boring. Forgettable. That's what I want you to think, if you even think of me at all. They called me a masked vigilante. They're wrong. The mask is the face I wear during the day. The one you see when I'm flying over the streets of Gotham on mechanical wings? That's the real me. All else is Alter-Ego.

Whether they love all things heroic or prefer the dark and twisted ways of the villain lifestyle, DC Universe Online players know by now that their characters' powers have been granted by a time-traveling Lex Luthor -- or more properly, from exobytes he carried back. As the story goes, Braniac had traveled back to Earth at various times and stolen powers from the world's greatest heroes and villains. As a means of reversing the future, Lex has also traveled back in time, scattering exobytes holding those stolen powers. Welcome to a new day, full of all manner of new heroes and villains around the world. Will this stop Braniac? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, allow me to welcome you to Alter-Ego, the newest column here on Massively, which will deal with all things DC Universe Online! I'll be your host on this adventure, covering all the details players are curious about when it comes to this action-packed MMO. Also, our very own Larry Everett will be taking charge of the official Alter-Ego livestream on Wednesdays, offering a fast-paced look at the game. However, as this is our first week, allow me to get things rolling in fine Massively tradition -- a community roundup!

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