DCUO: The End Game Dilemma

End game is coming.  Whether you are trying or not, the level cap in
Universe Online
will manage to get you and there really isn't much you can do
about it.  For many MMOGs, players can stave off end game even with months
of regular casual play.  DCUO, however, has a very fast-paced progression
which leads many to the Mecca of level cap long before they are necessarily
ready to let go of the adventure of getting there. Does hitting end game mean
the party is over?  We'll take a look at what DCUO end game has to offer
and how it stacks up to the competition.


<i>New monthly content helps stave off the boredom.</i>

A simple fact of end game is that once you get there with one character,
you'll probably want to do it again (and again) with another.  For many
games, running through all of the same content for the second time is more of a
chore than a joy which kills the replayability factor.  In games
such as Aion and
EverQuest II where they launched with only two playable
factions and starting zones, leveling up new characters of the same faction was
tiring and for games like
Age of Conan where there
is only one starting
zone, it was downright tedious.  DCUO does a bit better than the two
faction scenario.  Yes, there are technically only two factions, but if you
make use of the various mentors that the game offers, then even playing within
the same faction gives a slightly different leveling experience.   It
isn't quite the difference that you will get from
World of Warcraft's racial starting zones, but it does continue throughout the life of your
character and it is an impressive way to experience ongoing storylines from
every angle.

Player Content

Another aspect of end game content is the PvE that just about all of us
require.  Even after you've dipped your toes in every instance available,
you still need to have a place in which to go to continue player progression. 
This is where DCUO lacks a bit.  As a new game on the market, DCUO doesn't
have the end game variety that any veteran game with a couple of expansion under
its belt will have.  You have a handful of things to do, (raids, alerts,
and duos) and chances are you will be doing them a lot if you play with any
regularity.  The development team is, of course, aware of this problem so
their solution is monthly content updates.  These updates add new
storylines, instances, and events that give players something new to focus on
every single month which is a pretty impressive feat.  It isn't the big
mixed bag of end game PvE gameplay that you get with other games but it does
give players a reason to log in every month.

Players versus Player

You have heroes and you have villains, player versus player gameplay has
to be a major factor in DCUO, right?  It is!  PvP is really a big part
of end game so if you are passing it up, then you are missing out on a lot of
fun.  You can play King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, and Capture and Hold
games which are familiar to PvP in many MMOGs and DCUO's games are pretty on par
with what we have seen before.  The only real bit of innovation here is the
Legends matches which allow players to fight as some of the most well known DC
Comics characters such as Batman and Catwoman.  It is this smart use of
licensed characters that gives DCUO the edge against the competition.  For
those who love these TV, movie, and comic icons, you just cannot find this sort
of gameplay anywhere else.

<i>Iconic armor gives level capped players something to strive for.</i>

Risk and Reward

Playing all of the content at end game really isn't all that exciting unless
you have a reason to do it.  Unfortunately, the popular task of farming for
currency to earn armor sets carries over into DCUO and that is really the only
progression you get at end game.  DCUO offers the typical lineup of super
cool gear for both PvE and PvP players purchased with marks.  You can gain
marks of victory through participating in PvP arena and legend matches (you get
marks for losing and more for winning).  For PvE players, you can earn
marks for duos, raids, and hard mode instances. End game gear comes in tiers so
it is smart to earn your full first set before moving on up to the second or
third tier.  Earning these iconic sets is a lot of hard work, but the gear
looks are amazing and the stats are needed if you intend to do anything in hard
mode.  Future content will likely keep in mind that players are earning
these mega-costumes so if you don't have a set later on, you might find yourself
a bit behind the curve.

Adding it All Up

With a quick ride from 0 to 30, end game is extremely important in DCUO. 
Players who enjoy a mix of PvE and PvP are going to love what the game has to
offer, but players that stick solely with PvE may find that things get very
boring, very quickly.  This game just cannot compare to older games that
have handfuls of expansions included, but pitted against other new games on the
market, players will be delighted with the amount of dedication SOE is showing
capped players.  With the combination of iconic characters and world
backdrops that are far from generic fantasy clich├ęs, and strong monthly content
updates, DCUO end game is looking pretty damned sweet.


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