FLASH FACT! The fastest man alive is coming to DC Universe Online and he is bringing quite a few friends along for the ride.
In the second downloadable expansion pack for DCUO, "Lightning Strikes," Barry Allen, The Flash takes center stage with a new adventure, a large new area, new villains, new heroes, and of course a new power set. This time it's Electricity, which was essential to Barry activating the speed force to become the fastest man alive. The DLC will be coming "this year" and will cost $9.99 for those on the free-to-play or premium models, and free for the "Legendary" subscribers of DCUO.
That origin story is what you'll be playing, with a little help from a device comic book fans know very well: the Cosmic Treadmill. Using the device, players will travel back in time to Central City and will take part in Barry Allen's origin as the Flash in a new Duo story mission. Outside the story, fans will also get to play around in a "large portion" (though not full-size like Gotham and Metropolis) of Central City, including seeing outside the vaunted Flash Museum. The new map will support around fifty players, and will have map-specific content and bounties.
Back in Gotham City and Metropolis, other characters are joining the fray as well. Hero players will find the Rogues, such as Trickster, Pied Piper, Abracadabra, and the Top running around. Villains will find Titans such as Raven, Starfire, Cyborg, and Static in the mix. Also jumping into the game are characters like Weather Wizard, Professor Zoom, and Kid Flash (Bart Allen… Sorry folks, no Wally- more on that later), and new "Inspired By" characters Black Lightning and Livewire, along with some flash-inspired costume styles.
The electricity power set itself will of course have its damaging abilities, but is focused more as a healing power set for support-style players.
For more on electricity, The Flash, guest stars, and when Aquaman is getting his own DLC dagnabit, we chatted in a conference call with Sony Online Entertainment creative director Jens Andersen and executive director of development Lorin Jameson for the scoop on the game. [Note: Most questions were asked by Newsarama, with the other question simply noted as "question."]Newsarama: If I recall correctly, lightning was one of the powers worked on before the game's release. What made now the right time to actually bring that into the game?
Lorin Jameson: Obviously we had a lot of powers that we were prototyping before Beta, when we were back in Alpha. Light was one of those, and that ended up getting cut and we put it into the first DLC pack. I want people to understand that the powers that they saw during those periods of Alpha are nothing like what we ended up with in release. And the reason those were cut, it wasn't to hold them back or save them for later: they were not completed. They were never done to the standard a superpower was gonna be in DCUO.
So we started over on those and the reason we wanted to do it now was because we knew electricity was going to be a popular power and people were really looking forward to it at launch. We knew it was iconic and important. We added the controller class with Light, and we needed either a tank class or healer class, and we chose healer class with electricity powers, because it made sense and fit the Flash theme perfectly, given that he was created by a lightning bolt.
Question: I know that lightning will have a huge focus in this pack, but the Flash is obviously also known for his speed. Will new speed abilities be introduced down the line?
Jameson: Well, right now we're focused on the superpowers. We do have the movement modes in the game like Acrobatics, super speed, and Flight, and each of those have the special trees with powers associated with them as well. But no, we don't have plans for adding anything with this DLC that's speed power specific. However, we do have a really cool item coming out, a neat trinket, it's a secret ring compartment. How the Flash carries his costume, players will be able to get that and get some cool speed force powers through that trinket.
But no additions to super speed itself. Super speed will play an important part in some of the quests that you do in the Central City Flash Museum map, you'll be dealing with a crisis there that has to do with the Speed Force and you will be granted the Speed Force for certain tasks.
Nrama: What makes the Flash a unique standout member of the JLA to you at SOE? Why him before say Aquaman?Jens Andersen: Wow, I can really tell that I'm talking to comic book people here! (laughs) First of all I want to say that I'm a huge Aquaman fan. But I'd say you and I stand out there against the masses if we were to say "Hey those of you who'd rather see The Flash step on this side of the line, and those of you who want to see Aquaman step on this side of the line," I think we'd be alone on that side of the line.
Nrama: I know of a few people on Twitter that would be with us there!
Andersen: Oh hey, the Aquaman book is really good! Geoff (Johns) is working really hard along with Ivan Reis to really make Aquaman the hero that I think he deserves to be. There's a lot of negative perception around him but he's super cool.
Aquaman is definitely on the table as a prime JLA character, but it's The Flash. The Flash is one of the most iconic DC Characters there is. He's had his own TV show, he's a major part of the Justice League Unlimited animated show, he's a senior member of the JLA. If we're gonna throw Green Lantern in there the next one for me to do obviously is The Flash. He's a huge fan favorite, totally popular, our forums, facebook, twitter, light up all the time with Barry Allen, Wally West, when are we going to see more Flash in the game, and it just seemed like the perfect time to do it with Electricity powers coming in.
Jameson: I can assure you that Jens brings up Aquaman constantly.
Nrama: Tell us a bit about the new content that comes alongside this; You mentioned the Rogues jumping intro the fray, and Static joining the cast; what about the other obvious one Black Lightning, is he going to be in there? Can you get specific at all about which Rogues?
Andersen: Yeah, Black Lightning is definitely in there. He's gonna be one of the featured bounties inside the Central City map. So we'll be adding some in there, and also the ones that will be appearing in the open world as well, because bounties are pretty popular.
All players will be able to see the new bounties out there, but only those who bought the DLC will be able to take advantage of the maximum rewards for beating them.
But let me get back to Black Lightning, he'll be the inspired by character for when you create a character that's electricity based. Livewire is the villain version of that. You'll be able to collect the style similar to him as well.
Jameson: Black Lightning, Static, Weather Wizard, Professor Zoom, and Flash are all inside Central City. Outside Central City you'll see some of the Titans becoming bounties, so Raven, Starfire, and Cyborg will start making appearances in the open world, then also we've added the Trickster, Pied Piper, Abra Cadabra, The Top in there.
The reason we went with the Titans, by the way, is because we added Kid Flash as well as a bounty, so we wanted to get the rest of the Titans out there supporting him along with Static as well. We're really pulling out the stops in terms of characters players will be interacting with in Lightning Strikes.
Nrama: So if Flash is Barry Allen, then this is Kid Flash Wally or Bart?Andersen: Oh no, I knew you guys were gonna ask that question. Okay, so I'm going to get a lot of hate mail out of this but Kid Flash is Bart.
Wally is not a cast member in the DLC at this time. This will continue the conspiracy that DC hates Wally West, cause he's not in the books right now, and not in our thing…
I can't speak for Jim (Lee) and Geoff, but for our part, we want to make it the most special, the heavens part and here comes Wally West into DCUO. So we'll make it epic when it happens!
Nrama: Are the power/character expansions the way you plan to continue DLC sets, or do you have other things you want to be adding in in this format?
Jameson: We have lots of plans for types of DLC that have different focuses. I think powers are going to be popular, but definitely not the only thematic content that we're adding in the future.
Andersen: We always want to add content, people need things to play! How heavy the ratio is of content to some new system, that's going to vary depending on the theme of the DLC. The player package is always one of the most important things that people want to upgrade. For us that goes into three things, the weapons, the powers, and the movement modes. So while we might not always add a superpower in the DLC, we'll always try to get something in the player package whenever we can.
Nrama: Moving specifically to free-to-play, does that change the way you approach new content for the game?
Andersen: You know, there are some differences, but in terms of the type of gameplay we add, the new areas or adventures to have, we are pursuing the same sorts of themes and types of content. We do have a very broad audience with the free-to-play market, so we're always looking at what they want, what they're doing with the game. We try to be responsive to what our community is asking for, so it's always open.
DCUO first and foremost is about being a superhero and going on adventures, no matter what access level you're at. And that's what we want to make sure we always hit.
Nrama: For those who just jumped in (and there were a million of them!) what are the benefits for them to become a paid subscriber instead of just sticking to free play? Are there any DLC specific benefits?
Jameson: One of the benefits of being a Legendary access member is you get access to the DLC for free. There's no additional cost, the day it comes out you can play the new content, create a new electricity power character, so you have an all-you-can-eat access to the game.
For premium or free-to-play players it'll be offered at the same price as our first DLC which is $9.99 or 1100 stationcash. Free access to the DLC is an ongoing benefit to being a member.
Nrama: To wrap-up guys, is there a specific part of this DLC that each of you can briefly tell fans you're excited about?
Andersen: Well considering your more comic-book knowledgable audience, I'm really excited about the niche thing we put in there, the Cosmic Treadmill. That's the vehicle we'll use to send you through the speed force and back in time to witness Barry's origin.
One of the things we're trying to do with these DLCs, because they happen so frequently – quarterly each year, we want to make sure that they're setting us up for great adventures for people to explore in the future. So the Cosmic Treadmill is exciting to me because it's a vehicle to go and look back at different origins of heroes and villains in the DC Universe and explore that story.
Jameson: I have to agree on the time travel aspect, this opens up a lot of doors for us in the future, and we have a lot of great ideas on how to use that. Also, I really like bounties. it's exciting to see the iconic characters out in the open world and test your mettle against them. Playing online, you get tons of folks saying "Oh, we just took down Bizarro and it was fantastic!" and people group up just to do that, it's one of the best pick-up activities in the game. It's easy to do, to access it. You might be a new player but can play part of a pretty cool encounter.
Andersen: I have to say too, I'm very proud of the team, that they made Pied Piper one of the coolest fights that we have. And to see the Trickster running around with his air shoes! He's a flier but we gave him the running animation and we drop little energy foot prints in the air as he's going around. We re-invisioned the Trickster, modernized him a little. Jim did a good job redesigning him.