Sunday, February 11, 2018

Love In A Cold Climate : DCUO

Until I picked up playing again last year I had no idea DCUO had so many special events. There seems to be a new one every few weeks. This month there are two!

February puts rings around a couple of dates on the Earth-1 calendar. As a close analog of our own world, naturally Valentine's Day falls on the 14th but I was unaware that the 11th is also Flash Appreciation Day. Yes, really.

No, seriously, it is! I googled it and it's an actual thing! Look, if you'd been at the Cahuenga Library on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles at lunchtime yesterday you could have celebrated Flash Appreciation Day with a screening of the animated film "Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox" and some coloring-in. If that doesn't make it a genuine real-world holiday then I don't what to say.

As the website Nothing But Comics explains, the celebration originated in a 2006 episode of Justice League Unlimited. The idea was taken up by fans and has been running ever since - much like The Flash himself. You do have to wonder if some people have too much time on their hands...

There's not a lot to the event in-game this year but it does come with a free Enhanced Speed-Force Spectrum Suit, which in my opinion makes you look like some kind of unholy don't-cross-the-streams hybrid of Flash and Iron Man. Still, free stuff...

Flash Appreciation Day is today but the freebie and the Flash Sale (see what they did there?) run (see, I already did that joke) until the 14th. You might think it would be leaving to make way for the Valentine's event, Love Conquers All, but that's already begun.

A considerably more substantial affair (see what...oh, never mind), Love Conquers All comes with the usual trimmings. There's an open world event with quests and a four person Alert. You can earn another unique currency (Hearts, of course) to spend at a special vendor.

I jumped straight in after I'd grabbed my Flash suit. The message from... hang on, it'll come to me..oh yes, the Hal Jordan version of Green Lantern (always the real GL for those of us of a certain age, I think) gave clear directions for once. I headed to the East Gotham Police Station and it was a matter of moments before I was talking to...Mera.

Wait...what? How did she get into this? I was just about following the plot with the Star Sapphires and Mr Freeze and then out of the blue I'm chatting with Aquaman's wife?

It turns out she's come ashore to offer up her own romance with Aquaman (I'm sorry, I just can't call him "Arthur" and keep a straight face) as a paradigm of the perfect relationship. By way of a scavenger hunt. Naturally.

It's a very good scavenger hunt, too. I originally started looking riverside, using the logic that that's where Mera would have been most comfortable. I did find a couple of updates there but I would have struggled without the wiki. The seahorse statues you have to find don't light up until you get quite close and some of them are on ledges and roofs high above the river. I guess Mera called on one of her many flying friends to put them up there for her.

Each statue comes with a rather good voiceover by either Mera or Aquaman, highlighting aspects of their relationship and incidents from their life together. The vignettes are decently written and the voice acting is solid. I particularly enjoyed the way the anecdotes sometimes presented the same event first from one partner's perspective, then the other. I have a soft spot for Aquaman and Mera anyway, ever since the great Nick Cardy issues of the 60s.

Before I eavesdropped on the Aqua-couple I did the Alert. It was extremely simple for which I was very grateful. I barely know what I'm doing in DCUO at the best of times. A round of straight-up baddie punching is just about my speed.

So forgiving was this particular Alert that the four of us were able to complete it by battering Mr Freeze from the get-go. I think we were supposed to disable two of his machines first but one of them was still untouched when he fell down and the loot pinata popped. A couple of us stayed on and wrecked the remaining machine for a little extra xp but it was very much after the Lord Mayor's Show by then.

As well as the holiday content the new update also brings a revamp of the Leaderboard that pops when you finish an instance. I like to look at that to see just how badly I've done and how much of a dead weight I've been. This time I seemed to be fairly solidly in the middle so I can only assume no-one else was a regular either.

The new leaderboard is an improvement, even if my sound placing on it may be a fluke. There's also a useful auto-sort addition to the inventory that I tried and approved.

All in all a jolly good update. I must find time to go see what the valentine's vendor sells. I can always use more furniture for my base - although whether I want to come home after a hard day's crimefighting to a statue of Aquaman and Mera canoodling in the corner I'm not so sure.

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