Interviews

DC Universe's Origin Crisis: An Interview with Jens Andersen

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While DC Comics has never been loath to slice, dice and paradox crisis its narrative, the story DC Universe Online has remained pretty linear. Until this summer, that is, as DCUO gets just a little bizarro.

Origin Crisis, DCUO's 7th downloadable content offering, takes place primarily in level-cap Operations (DCUO's 4-man and 8-man instances). Whichever side of the hero or villain line your character falls on, you'll be fighting over key artifacts (Gorilla Grodd's helmet or the clay statue that eventually turns into Wonder Woman, for example) that shape the world of DC Universe as we know it.

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In Origin Crisis, players will prevent (or augment) pivotal moments in DC Universe history; the Wayne murder or Superman's takeoff from Krypton, for two. Most deal with origin stories, so should you prevent that fateful moment in Crime Alley, for example, the Dark Knight loses his vengeful fury and just might turn a few shades darker with the same riches and technological toys.

The impacts of stolen artifacts arenÂ’t limited to Operations, either. Players will vie for control of a brand new Metropolis map that alternates between good and evil control. This zone appears to be in a constant state of flux. "This isn't the sitcom format," Jens quipped, noting that the zone will never resolve and reset. "We can't allow one player to completely change Metropolis." Rather, players will alternate outcomes between, say, a benevolent Lux Luthor and an oppressive Bruce Wayne.

"We set up an Ouroboros, a closed loop. At the point where it meets, you can alter it. You can alter it for a villain or a hero." City of Heroes fans might remember Recluse's Refuge from Issue 7, and this version of Metrpolis sounds similar.

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If you're wondering whether your favorite alternate version of Batman or Lex Luthor will make an appearance, the answer is no. "We didn’t use existing versions of Batman and Luthor, because a) there weren't enough of them to have parity, and b) it would devolve into a lot of questions about why one version or another wasn't chosen.”

DLC 7 will also introduce tier 5 of iconic gear and, of interest to all players, Quantum powers. New Quantum characters will be able to channel their inner Captain Atom or Dr. Manhattan by "warping time, space, and gravity."

Regarding quantum powers, I asked Jens how we'd be able to warp time without, say, causing a rip in the fabric of reality (or maybe just losing sync with the server). One answer: players can borrow from the future. "You can use the power from 20 seconds in the future, recharging your abilities but facing a power dump when the timer expires," Jens explained.

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So isn't the name of the game to use that future power as fast as possible? Jens wouldn't say, but fully expects players to come up with interesting quantum tactics. Quantum powers will also allow players to use gravity to levitate or hold down enemies.

Speaking more broadly, DC Universe Online is among an elite cadre of MMORPGs to perform at least as well on the console as the PC, so my last question to Jens was whether or not DCUO would be making its way to the PlayStation 4. While not making any commitments, Jens stated he'd love to port DCUO to the PS4, but perhaps not for the reasons you'd think.

"We're really excited about what the PlayStation 4 has to offer," Jens explained. "The biggest reason I say yes [to interest in developing a PS4 port] is because I don't want to create angst for our players - what's going to happen to my characters or my game? Why would I buy a PS4 if I can't play the game I love? Those feelings and comments from our community are what drive me to say yes - of course I want to see DCUO on the PS4. But it's not entirely up to me."

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Origin Crisis is slated to unleash anachronistic anarchy on DCUO players in early summer 2013. Our thanks to DC Universe Online Creative Director Jens Andersen for a brief look at DLC 7 and his thoughts on taking DCUO to the PlayStation 4.

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