PC Gamer
Planetside 2

Back in April, SOE launched an All Access subscription service designed to unify membership across SOE's free-to-play games including Planetside 2, DC Universe Online and Everquest 2, as well as the upcoming Everquest Next, Landmark and H1Z1. In Europe, though, it's a less attractive offer. SOE's EU portfolio is more fragmented, as their existing games are managed and distributed by ProSiebenSat.1 Games.

That soon won't be the case. SOE and ProSiebenSat.1 have today announced that, going forward, all ProSiebenSat.1 accounts for SOE games must be migrated to Sony's service. For EU players of Planetside 2, DC Universe Online and Everquest 2, existing accounts must be transferred from July 1st in order to keep playing. In addition, SOE have removed their region lock, so new accounts can be created directly on their system.

"We constantly review community feedback via all channels and want to thank you for your ongoing dialog," write SOE and ProSiebenSat.1 in a joint statement. "On or about July 1, 2014, we will offer PSG players the opportunity to migrate their existing accounts to SOE account management, in order to continue playing SOE games. All earned status, characters and in-game coin will transfer with the account."

Payment details and personal information won't be transferred, and so will have to be re-entered on the new SOE version of transferred accounts. For those currently using both services, however, SOE say they are unable to merge the two accounts.

PSG account holders will have until September 28th to migrate their account.
PC Gamer

As reported earlier this year, SOE are today launching their revised All Access Pass. It's a unified service that, for $15 per month, gives subscribers "top-tier" membership across all SOE games. As part of the transfer, individual subscriptions are being dropped; meaning Planetside 1 is now free-to-play. Or will be, at least, once they finish their maintenance period.

Currently, the All Access membership covers EverQuest, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and will include EverQuest Next, Landmark and H1Z1 when they launch. There are caveats to that list, though, as revealed in SOE's lengthy FAQ.

"Your DC Universe Online and PlanetSide 2 accounts will remain with ProSiebenSat.1 Games and will not be transferred over," explains the FAQ. "You will not be able to start new characters in DCUO or PS2 on your SOE All Access account for these games." For players in the EU (including the UK), that's a big deal. PlanetSide 2 and DCUO are arguably SOE's biggest draws at least until the release of Everquest Next and Landmark. That they're not included for subscribers in ProSiebenSat.1's territory makes for a far less attractive package.

For more on the All Access Pass, head to SOE's subscription micro-site. At least, do when it's back online.
PC Gamer
DC Universe Online Home Turf

Sure, DC Universe Online fits the bill for caped crusading and ensuring the perpetual uselessness of both Metropolis and Gotham City's police forces, but where does an off-duty super-powered type go when not saving / destroying the planet? The Home Turf DLC, set to launch early 2013, answers that question with an abode for each hero and villain to call home and decorate with furniture, accessories, and the blood-splats of your arch-rival after perforating him with an energy beam.

A Mainframe and Generator combo spruces up your lair with perks and bonuses such as new allies and additional character abilities, but the Lair Duels feature far outweighs merely being able to hang up your cape in style after a day at the office. Expect one-on-one, round-based battles with environment damage for that chic "slagged apartment" look. Never fear, any items smashed during duels will automatically restore themselves after the fight.

As with previous content packs, Free and Premium players will be able to grab Home Turf through a download purchase while Legendary players can nab it for free.
PC Gamer
DC Universe Online Hand of Fate

Eager heroes and villains yearning to step into the boots of Doctor Fate and Felix Faust in DC Universe Online's Hand of Fate DLC should strike their best victory pose right now, as the $10 expansion released for download via its official website.

In addition to the aforementioned pair of Legendary PVP characters, Hand of Fate brings additional trinket slots through utility belt attachments, six new Operations in which to sink your costumed fist into costumed stomachs, and 60 new side missions peppering Metropolis, Gotham City, and other locations. This is the fifth major update for DC Universe Online so far following the PVP overhaul of the previous Last Laugh content pack.
PC Gamer

Rather than trickle them out, we've mashed three of today's DLC announcements into one hefty round-up post. Here are the details on extra content for Dishonored, Trine 2, and DC Universe Online.

Arkane Studio's Executive Producer Julien Roby says Dishonored's planned DLC includes new characters and continents. Roby tells PC PowerPlay that Corvo's stealthy missions among the streets of Dunwall represent just the beginning of branching storylines featuring new, playable characters slitting throats and possessing fish in different areas of Dishonored's sprawling world.

"We wanted to build the world around the missions so that it was believable, but it has a lot of elements that we don’t actually use in the game," he said. "So we definitely want to explore more of these things." Dunwall's Victorian flair already imparts heaps of personality into Dishonored's atmosphere, so additional city styles (possibly with Dunwall and Half-Life 2 designer Victor Antonov behind the brush) raises my assassin mask's steampowered eyebrows in interest.

Trine 2's Goblin Menace expansion releases on Steam at 15% off. Frozenbyte's puzzle-platformer gets six new skills and six goblin-infested levels, ready to drown Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief in explosions of color. Steam also chopped the prices of previous Trine games by 75% to herald Goblin Menace's release, so if you haven't jumped into the excellent co-op shenanigans, now's the time.

Sony Online discusses new sorcerous Legends PVP characters Doctor Fate and Felix Faust in DC Universe Online's upcoming Hand of Fate DLC. In a series of sample mock-up matches in the video below, Creative Director Jens Andersen and Systems Designer David Stricker contrast Fate's defensive skillset with Faust's aggressiveness. Both characters will accompany Hand of Fate's six new operations and more...er, utilitarian utility belts when the DLC releases "soon."

PC Gamer

I've been reading a lot of DC comic books lately, and the thing about the DC Universe is that it's quite large. There are a ton of characters and settings that haven't made their way into DC Universe Online yet.

I tracked down DCUO's creative director Jens Andersen to find out what their plan is for the rest of the characters in the DC Universe, and if they're going to be adopting DC's New 52 lore anytime soon. Along the way, Andersen teases some of their focuses for the future.

PCG: When DC Comics’ plan for a complete re-boot was announced during last year's SOE player gathering, DCUO’s dev team assured players that they’d be staying in the “old” DC universe. DCUO recently added costumes themed after the New 52 styles—is this signaling a shift in the dev team’s plans regarding the New 52? Do you have any plans to add New 52 characters or plotlines into DCUO?

Jens Andersen: Great question. We did state that, and I think we’re holding true to it—in spirit. When we have opportunities to give fans something they want from the New 52, and it doesn’t create any significant conflicts with DCUO continuity, then we’re happy to add it.

So, you will see things that are clearly labeled “inspired by” the New 52 popping up once in a while. What we aren’t doing is getting rid of our entire back story including: Exobytes, Brainiac, or Future Lex Luthor and Batman. These elements would simply be too disruptive to everything we’ve built should we remove them, and in order to truly be New 52 we would have to redo everything. But, I love the old and the new, so I for one am happy to try and draw from both where it makes sense.

PCG: DC’s universe is quite broad, but DCUO focuses mostly on the traditional superhero/villain characters. How do you decide which characters to use in DCUO?

JA: That has always been a decision that is influenced by a case-by-case of variables. Mostly, we look at what we need to balance out our current play experience, what we have on hand or need to make, and what DC Entertainment might be focusing on in the comics at the time the content will be released.

It also depends on the type of content; we have seasonal events as well as major DLCs and each one demands a different kind of consideration when deciding what characters to choose. Time can have a lot to do with it to be honest—we’re not going to try and pull off a complicated character addition if we don’t have the time to do it right.

PCG: I’ve got a couple personal favorites that haven’t made it into DCUO yet that I’m curious about. Can you give a Yes/No/Maybe response for whether you think these characters/series will ever make it into DCUO?

JA: Mr. Terrific, maybe. I love the T-spheres, so when we get our pet system perfectly in order I think Mr. Terrific would make a great addition to PvE and PvP content.

Frankenstein and S.H.A.D.E., maybe. Of course everyone has their favorite characters. Frankie seems like one that is getting some major play in the New 52. Perhaps he’ll square off with Solomon Grundy one day in DCUO for an epic zombie showdown.

Jonah Hex, maybe. Sure, if we ever get around to a big Western DLC… why not?

Batwing, maybe. He might be a weird fit right now as he is fairly new and based out of another continent (not that we don’t transplant characters a lot). We’ll see how Batwing might fit in down the road.

Dial H for Hero, maybe. I wanted to get the dial in the game at some point, perhaps as a way to get Legends characters into normal PvE and PvP modes. I think it is a great hook. Although, that is less of a character, and more of a device, so it’s easier to put in and get into the players' hands. There is definitely some juice there.

Animal Man, maybe. I love the idea of totemic/spirit powers. Tapping into character concepts like Animal man, Vixen, etc. is very compelling. They could make for some great Legends action!

PCG: That's a lot of maybes, Jens. What other characters not in the game do you want to see added to DCUO?

JA: Wow! No one has ever asked me that before. Perhaps you should let me know how many words you can have in this article so I don’t ramble off the page. It's a hard question to answer because we have so many already in the game.

Well here goes (alphabetically): Amazo, Black Manta, Constantine, Darkseid, Elongated Man, Firestorm, Geo-Force, Highfather, Imperix, Jade, King Shark, Lobo, Man-Bat, Neron, Orion, Prometheus, Qwsp, Riot, Starro, Teekl, Uncle Sam, Vixen, Wally West, Xerxes, Yo-Yo, Zauriel… And yes, I ran out of steam at around X.

PCG: That is the trickiest letter in the alphabet. What characters currently in the game do you want to see play a bigger role?

JA: Well, to be honest, all of them. As a live game that grows over time, it's very important to be able to maximize the work you have already done. Thankfully, our license is serial in nature—Batman comics always feature Batman, usually in Gotham city, taking on new criminals and the schemes they plot. So we intend to have lots of our characters get time in the sun.

You will see much more from some of the other characters that aren’t mentors. In fact, DLC 5 will put players into contact with some Magic characters from DCUO they might be familiar with already; these characters will be re-appearing, but with new adventures for players to explore in the open world.

PCG: Are there any DC characters/books that have no place in DCUO?

Never say never. But, there are some books/characters that, at face value, may not seem to fit. The beauty of this brand, however, is that it can all be justified through proper narrative context. For example, The Endless may seem like a weird fit for DCUO. But I would never say that we couldn’t find a way to get Dream, Delirium and their brothers and sisters involved, if we had a great story to tell that could be supported with our gameplay. So, no, nothing is officially off the table.

PCG: Thanks for your time, Jens.

As always, you can download and play DC Universe Online for free from the game's official site. If you're not quite convinced yet, look at some of our past coverage to find out more about the game. If you're attending Comic-Con in San Diego next week, you can play the game at Sony Electronic's booth on the show floor.
PC Gamer

I've always enjoyed DCUO's PvP. The complex combo, blocking, and interrupt systems for all weapon attacks make player skill paramount, and the Legends system that lets you play as pre-made iconic DC characters provides a gear-agnostic zone to duke it out on a theoretically level playing field.

But while PVEers have gotten three huge updates since the game's transition to free-to-play late last year, PvPers have been chugging on mostly the same content. Yesterday's DLC release, The Last Laugh, makes up for lost time with huge additions that dramatically improve the PvP experience and reward cycle.

PvP changes that are free for everyone
Before we get into the Last Laugh DLC content itself (which subscribers get free, but F2P players need to pay $10 to unlock), let's take a look at the free PvP changes that came to everyone in the last two patches. Game Update 13 upped the skill ceiling by adding a Counter-Attack Immunity buff that grants complete immunity for a very short period after a successful Block Break, Interrupt, or Block Counter.

For those of you unfamiliar with those fighting-game terms, players in DCUO can block at any moment by holding the Shift key. While blocking, the player takes significantly reduced damage and counters any heavy attacks made against them. So if you see someone executing a big attack, a quick tap of the Block key at the right time will not only reduce the enemy blow, but knock them on their butt too. As the attacker, you have to be aware of when your target is blocking and use a specific attack combo or power that has the ability to break through blocks. On top of that, some powers or combos channel over a period of time, and defenders can interrupt those channeled attacks or heals with the right moves. In this environment, the Counter-Attack Immunity buff rewards players who fight smart, watch what their opponents are doing, and actively work to counter them.

And because no amount of content can make unbalanced PvP fun, Game Update 14 brought a huge balance sweep of all the iconic Legends right before this DLC pack launched. I still find myself getting beat down by a few Legends in particular, like Bane, but I suspect that my ignorance of Bane's moves is as much to blame as any balance issues. The same update also added cross-faction PvP queueing to speed up queue times, with an option for roleplayers to opt out if they simply refuse to play on the other side's team.

Gear + progression changes
Without this DLC pack, PvP is a fun diversion in DCUO, but the progression path and the breadth of activities simply aren't wide enough for it to be a "lifestyle" within the game. You could technically PvP all you wanted, but you really had to do other activities if you wanted to stay sane while playing the game regularly. The Last Laugh pack tacks on a lot of extra goodies to the PvP lifestyle: new quests, gear, and—of course—maps.

The quests are my favorite addition to the PvP package, giving you mini-objectives within PvP matches to keep each session feeling different. I've gotten straightforward quests to KO 30 villains in PvP, but also quests to take out specific iconic characters like Harley Quinn in Legends matches. Quests come from the other big addition to your daily PvP activities: reward boxes. Completing the daily PvP Arena or Legend will give you two reward boxes.

One box will contain a piece of low-tier PvP gear and the other a consumable item. The gear will be useless for anyone already decked out in fancy PvP duds, but it's a great way for noobs to get competitive quickly. The consumables, on the other hand, will be incredibly welcome for everyone. They're the perfect mix of useful and fun to keep me using them constantly. Just some of the consumables I received are a healing barrel summon, explosive oil barrel summon, buff cola, healing cola, seeds that cause AoE freeze, an explosion with AoE knockdown, and good ol' Mark bundles to help you purchase gear more quickly.

The new tier of PvP gear (tier 4) included in this pack that you'll be working towards is modeled after the Checkmate security firm in the O.M.A.C. comic books. It looks great, but it's still as out-of-reach as ever, priced way too incredibly high, it seems, to simply to keep you playing the game. The stat difference between Tier 2 and Tier 3 PvP sets is less than seven percent, but the cost is more than doubled, with each piece of the Tier 3 set costing at least a week's worth of effort in PvP tokens. Each piece of the Tier 4 set costs a month's worth of effort.

A full set (minus weapons and trinkets) of Tier 4 gear costs 270 Marks of Strategy, and in the past week I've earned four. It feels completely out of reach as it stands. At the very least, the lower Tier items should be given at a faster rate to help motivate us PvP noobs to press onwards.

A new challenger approaches!
Robin, Harley Quinn, Joker, Two-Face, Batman, Cat Woman, Huntress, Nightwing—have you noticed the trend yet? Every playable iconic in the Legends PvP mode before this pack is a part of the Batman family. The Last Laugh DLC almost doubles the roster size by adding seven new iconics, all from the Superman and Green Lantern families. Kilowog, Power Girl, Arkillo, Jon Stewart, Bizarro, Ursa and Amon Sur all join the fight, and you get one for free with the DLC pack (via the opening quest). Unlocking the rest doesn't take too long as their Marks of Legends costs are quite reasonable.

Being a Batman fan myself, I wasn't too excited about these characters before they came out, but I've really grown to appreciate them this past week. Even if you don't like playing as the new Legends, it's refreshing to have a whole new set of enemies to face off against. Ursa has become my new nemesis, constantly flying around and punching me in the face.

Don't tell Two-Face, but Bizarro has actually become my new favorite Legend. A flyer with knockbacks and AoEs is a great change of pace. There's a sense of incredible force behind his punches that gives a similar satisfaction of the Barbarian's corpse-punting in Diablo 3. I burst into laughter the first time I KOed Robin in the Batcave with Bizarro's charge ability and his tiny, helpless body went flailing off the edge of the platform into the stalagmites below. Take that, Boy Blunder!

The voicework is as amusing as ever, with Bizarro throwing out quips like, "Bizarro kill you with kindness!" as he sends his foes packing. I was impressed by how many interactions the iconics have between each other that at least seemed to be custom-tailored to who they were fighting.

On the next page, we look at the new arena PvP maps, the Shield weapon type, and the new Duo.

New places to fight
The best new content isn't for Legends, though--it's for Arena PvP, where everyone plays as their own character. Seven new maps focus on including NPC iconics like Superman, Deadshot, and Mr. Freeze as powerful variables or direct objectives. Both sides' headquarters, the Watchtower and the Hall of Doom, are turned into multi-stage 8v8 arenas stuffed with tons of NPC heroes and villains helping you take it over. Your objectives in these maps and their related scoring system aren't explained well (I'm still not entirely sure if success on the first stage actually does anything), but having the iconics fighting alongside you adds a lot to the combat and strategy. Your attention is constantly split, almost like a MOBA, between guarding your NPCs, attacking the other teams' NPCs, and dealing with enemy players.

The City Safehouse maps are equally terrific, and bring an element of randomness that boosts repeatability. All four maps (two set in police stations and two in nightclubs that players frequent) are lumped into one queue and each map can have one of two different modes. In one mode, you're stealing gravity emitters that spawn all around the room. Iconics and squishy mobsters/policeman join the fray and create plenty of mayhem as a backdrop for the players' fight over the gravity emitters.

When my team got close to winning, Harley Quinn jumped on the loudspeaker and started making gravity puns. A crowd in the background groaned after every one, but she kept going. After about six attempts all met with disapproval, she finally gives up and throws away the mic. This is the sort of thing that might get old over time if it's played too often and with too little variation, but for now it adds another layer of fun to the experience.

The second mode in the safehouses has no iconics roaming free at the start. Instead, teams battle over a single force field disruptor item, which they must carry/throw to the NPCs trapped around the building. Get it to an NPC of your faction and you free them and earn a ton of points for your team. NPCs close to the disruptors spawn location are simple civilians that'll run away, but if you can manage to escort your team's disruptor-carrier to the far away NPCs, you'll free powerful iconics like Huntress or Parasite to help you fight.

In both of these modes, player kills are worth almost no points, encouraging teams to play strategically and focus on objectives, rather than mindless killing in the middle.

The final arena added is The Pit: that central area in the Hall of Doom that villain players will be familiar with. The terrain is different, but the objective is straightforward. There are enemy players, and you must kill them. The first team to 20 kills wins, so it's at least over quickly if the teams aren't balanced.

Legends also got a token new map, although it's basically an identical copy of the Fortress of Solitude arena map that's been around for a while.

The Shield
Let's not be coy: DCUO added shields so we could pretend to be Marvel's Captain America. And being Captain America is awesome. The weapon has some pretty fun combos that are easy to memorize. Basically, you click the left mouse button like crazy and hold the left mouse button at any time to perform a combo based on how many clicks came before it. It's definitely one of the more simple weapons to play as, but the terrific animations make it fun to watch. All of the melee hits are single-target, with lots of CC and knock-ups.

The ranged attacks are the real reason why I'm keeping my shield equipped for the long haul, though. Once again, the combo is incredibly simple: do hold-clicks on the right mouse button repeatedly. You will cycle through a series of three attacks that send your shield whirling like a boomerang in front of you, dealing AoE damage and stunning everyone caught in front of you. Best of all, each of the three attacks in the combo are block breakers. The animations are once again magnificient, letting you picture the shield bouncing off the enemies' heads before returning to you. Most importantly, it gives my healer a great way to contribute to the fight from a safe distance. I can AoE stun the enemies and break through all of their blocks from afar, allowing my up-close DPS buddies focus on unleashing maximum pain.

I haven't seen all of the appearances yet, but there seems to be a pretty healthy variety. I've been bashed in PvP by spikes, gears, lion crests, and—my personal favorite—a trash can lid.

The other stuff
There's not a lot in this pack for PVEers, but there is one nice nugget on top of the Shield weapon type (if you're into that sort of thing): the new Duo. Shady Nightclub is the first Tier 3 Duo in the game, meaning that it gives Marks of Krypton, which are used to buy gear from the Fortress of Solitude raids. Unfortunately, that also means it comes with the same obnoxiously high Combat Rating requirement (a system that locks you out of endgame content based on the quality of your gear). You need a whopping 53 Combat rating to enter the new Duo, which means I wasn't able to test it out.

The few reports I've heard from players that have gotten to try it out so far have been fairly positive, for whatever random chat channel hearsay is worth to you.

Bottom Line
The Last Laughter DLC is a must-buy for anyone that PvPs for a significant amount of time in DCUO—its new maps are the best in the game and the Legends characters and rewards structure jump on to easily make this pack worth more than the $10 price tag. However, if you don't like PvP, you can easily skip this pack—there's not much here for you outside the new Shield weapon type.

I remind any PvP fence-sitters forget that a huge chunk of PvP is completely free to play. Download the client and give the free PvP content a shot--if you enjoy the combat system and the rulesets, you can get a ton of enjoyment out of DCUO by only picking up this DLC and ignoring the rest of the packs until you crave endgame PVE content.
PC Gamer

Shields and epic PvP battles are the big themes of DC Universe Online's next DLC Pack, The Last Laugh. This exclusive new video from the dev team shows off some of the new weapon type's animations-in-progress and talks about their goals for Shields in the game. I talked with the game's creative director, Jens Andersen, about the most iconic shield-bearers in DC comic books and exploded in happiness when I heard who we'll be fighting alongside in the pack's PvP arenas.

PC Gamer: The Shield weapon is a part of the huge PvP update, but is it designed for PvP primarily?

Jens Andersen: We always want to add something to the player package when we release a new DLC. In The Last Laugh, we added Shield as a new weapon option. Even though the new DLC focuses on PvP, Shield can be used effectively anywhere in the game, just like the rest of the weapons.

PCG: In your opinion, who’s the coolest DC character to ever wield a shield?

JA: There are lots of characters that have hefted a shield in the DC universe. For example, Wonder Woman uses one in battle all the time, but typically she does so with a sword in her other hand. But this new weapon is different: it is all board and no sword.

The character that it was modeled after is named The Guardian. He was created by Jack Kirby in 1942, so he's been around for a long time. The Guardian is a super soldier, with superior strength, speed, endurance and regeneration. He wields an indestructible shield and is a master of hand to hand combat. The coolest part of the character is that he is a clone, and when one version of The Guardian dies, it's replaced by another clone. This process has been going on for decades.

I think people would really like the character if they checked him out and I hope we see more of him in the comics in the years to come.

PCG: What are one or two combos that the Shield has access to, and were they inspired by any particular comic book scenes?

JA: The combo tree for Shield is really cool. It's kind of like Staff, but it takes the chains to a new level. Each basic attack can transition into a heavy attack, but rather than having that heavy attack end the combo chain, players can keep it going by jumping back into the light attack change. They can go back and forth until they reach the end of the attack chain.

For example, light attacks would be : L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, etc. Heavy attacks would be : H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, etc. So players could string the following combos: L1, H2, L3, L4, H5 or L1, L2, H3, L4, H5, L6. It’s a very versatile combo tree and players are going to love it. The attacks range from bashing opponents with the shield, striking with the open hand and even powerful kicks.

PCG: Getting into the PvP side of the update, a lot of the new PvP content seems to be based in the opposing side’s strongholds. Are these instanced Arenas, or are we actually invading the other faction's police headquarters and night clubs in the open world?

JA: Players are not invading the public versions of the HQs and Safehouses. These are Arenas. Players will use the queuing system to enter the Arena with random players or a pre-made group if they like.

PCG: Did you consider opening up the Safehouses in the open world, and why did you ultimately decide not to?

JA: We didn’t want these to be public spaces for a few reasons. First, we want a balanced experience so the matchmaking system is important. Second, we wanted very specific game modes, rather than just a raid on the HQ where you may or may not run into resistance. In that scenario, you simply kill a particular NPC. By using this approach, we can make custom game modes tailored to the space and then expand on those in the future without messing up the previous versions. Third, there's no way to get into the HQs without zoning—you can’t travel to them in the open world—so there were many complexities to queuing invaders into the space that didn’t add much at this time so we didn’t pursue it.

PCG: Assaulting the Watchtower or Hall of Doom is a momentous feat. Will there be iconics showing up in the fight to help, like in the Arkham Asylum Legends map?

JA: Our goal with The Last Laugh was to bring the iconic characters to the forefront of PvP like never before. Legends PvP is getting a huge increase in the roster—oh yes, there are more!—and the new arenas will pull from a large roster of legendary heroes and villains to take part in the battle. Each team will have three iconic allies each match. Characters like Professor Zoom, Black Adam, Gorilla Grodd, Solomun Grundy, Cheetah, Superman, Shazam, Kilowog, Power Girl, Raven and many more will be making regular appearances. It’s an iconic slug fest, and the players are right in the middle.
PC Gamer
A while back, an OCD DCUO player put together a detailed map of the game's main hub for heroes, The Watchtower. Today, another industrious fan took it three steps further by building detailed interactive maps for all of DCUO's two major cities, Gotham and Metropolis, inside of Google Maps. And now he's in the process of adding icons to help you locate everything you could possibly want to find in the urban sprawl.

Going by the name Happy-Cat (located in "The Happy Cave" according to his profile) on DCUO's official forums, this hero didn't make the original maps, but has done a tremendous job of migrating and updating them to reflect the new positions of collections, briefings, bounties, and races as the game gets patched. He's still in the process of updating them with new information, so be sure to jump into this forum discussion to let him know what you'd like to see on the maps next.

You can find all four versions of his maps here:
Gotham map, no legend
Gotham map, with legend
Metropolis map, no legend
Metropolis map, with legend

As always, you can download and play DC Universe Online for free, and I highly recommend you do--especially after the latest content patch.
PC Gamer
Like 'em or not, lockboxes are the latest craze in free-to-play games. These little chests of mystery show up on your fallen foes sealed alarmingly well, and often require a special key purchased from the cash shop to open them. DC Universe Online will be the latest to jump on this trend with next week's patch, but it will at least allow subscribers to open all of them for free. In addition, subscribers will be getting a few other nice perks starting next Tuesday.

My favorite of the new perks is the monthly stipend of 500 Station Cash, roughly $5 worth of cash shop currency that can be used to pick up all sorts of goodies. Also awesome: SOE is adding the ability for players to reset their instance loot lockout timers, which'll let you double-up on gear rewards if you have a free weekend. Resetting a lockout will cost a different amount of Replay Badges, depending on the type of content: 12 Replay Badges for a Duo, 29 for an Alert, and 87 for a Raid.

Subscribers will get 150 Replay Badges dropped into their bags every 30 days to let them run their favorite content more often, with additional Replay Badges costing about three cents a piece. The reason I like this new perk so much is that it adds an option that wasn't in the game before, and lets subscribers sample it for free without changing the experience of free-to-players at all. These two new subscriber perks are terrific, and are a show of good faith on SOE's part.

The third perk is more of a mixed bag: it's great for subscribers, but will likely annoy the majority of free players. Starting Tuesday, Promethium lockboxes will have a chance to drop off of every enemy in the game above level 10. These will contain random pieces of new, unique gear and Marks that can be used to purchase endgame gear. Subscribers will be able to open them at will (yay, free gear!), but free players will need to purchase keys from the cash shop to crack 'em open.

I'm not a fan of this kind of lockbox system, which fills free players' inventories with potentially useless items that constantly remind them that they're not paying money. But some free players will want to pay for these boxes and subscribers will definitely be happy to receive the extra loot and Marks while playing. And to be fair, no other free-to-play MMO is as generous with these lockboxes to their subscribers as DCUO is. Most other MMOs with a similar system require their subscribers to pay for the keys, just like free players. The big problem I have with DCUO's system is the price tag on the keys: $2.50 is abnormally high.

For comparison, Allods Online, which doesn't have a subscription option, has been dropping lockboxes that require cash shop keys to open for over a year, charging 50 cents per key and allowing them to be traded between players in-game. Since December, Lord of the Rings Online has run a similar gambling-style game with its lockboxes and treasure-hunting system, but it requires subscribers to purchase keys at $1.33 a piece, on top of their monthly fee.

Star Trek Online added Cardassian Lock Boxes back in December, which can hold anything from a super rare spaceship to crappy consumables, and charges $1.25 per key to open the little buggers—also not free for subscribers. And more recently, City of Heroes added some random looting with its Super Packs, which give five random items for $1. But CoH's super packs don't drop from creatures and can only be purchased in the store--a good compromise that keeps the packs from pestering those players not interested in playing a little gear-roulette with their money.

The big non-MMO to use a similar lockbox mechanic is Team Fortress 2, which also charge $2.50 for players to open a single lockbox, which will contain a random item.

So by comparison, DCUO's system treats susbcribers extremely well, although it isn't doing free players any favors with steep key prices. For more info on the changes to DCUO next week, you can see the official community post and FAQ.

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