Updated Fri, Mar 25, 2011 by Savanja
End game is coming. Whether you are trying or not, the level cap in DC 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 clichés, and strong monthly content updates, DCUO end game is looking pretty damned sweet.