DC Universe Online Lightning Strikes preview

DC Universe Online players have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming Lightning Strikes DLC. For the first time, players will get to run through Central City, which can be reached from the Watchtower or Hall of Doom. While not as large as existing cities, like Gotham or Metropolis, Central City will offer players a brand new style of map. It’s about eight-by-four city blocks in size and can hold up to 50 players at a time.

“Central City will not be cross faction,” clarifies DCUO creative director Jens Anderson. This means, there will never be a case where you’ll find four heroes and forty-six villains in Central City. “Consider it like a raid for 50 people that you don’t necessarily need to group with.”

Here, players will find the Flash’s stomping grounds under siege by paradox reapers and can look forward to earning Marks of Momentum for their heroic or villainous deeds. These marks can be turned in for new types of gear introduced in the new DLC, like spark weapons. Spark weapons all have special “procs.” It’s a pretty common MMO term for weapons that have a chance-on-hit to produce a special effect.

The neat thing about spark weapon procs is that they will work with other players in your group who also have a spark weapon equipped. And they stack. Anderson shows us an example of a spark weapon that offers a small chance to restore health to yourself and three allies equipped with spark weapons. “Basically, they’re group weapons,” explains Anderson. “If I have a spark weapon and it procs, anybody else that has a spark weapon gets that proc. So you actually want to start stacking people with spark weapons in your group.”

Above: With the cosmic treadmill, the Flash creates a speed force tunnel that takes you and a friend back in time so you can ensure that his origin happens

But before we could get too consumed by our loot lust, Anderson introduces us to Lightning Strikes’ new Tier 3 Duo, taking us into the heart of Central City’s Flash Museum where we find the Flash powering the cosmic treadmill. Here, we learn from the Flash that someone has prevented the events that led to Barry Allen becoming the Flash years ago. This has led to ruptures in reality and the swarms of paradox reapers tearing apart Central City outside. With the cosmic treadmill, the Flash wants to send you back in time to investigate the night when Barry Allen experienced his origin, turning him into the fast-running man he is today.

Anderson takes us through the speed tunnel, which challenges players with clearing through waves of reapers to reach the end as the tunnel collapses behind them. You can charge forward to dash past reapers. But rush too much, and you will be overwhelmed and outnumbered by the reapers. The trick is to find the right balance for the strength of your group by working your way through the mobs at a steady pace while staying ahead of the collapsing tunnel.

Above: Charging forward into the past via the speed tunnel the Flash created with the cosmic treadmill

Reach the end of the tunnel, and you’ll find yourself in the Central City police station on the night Barry Allen became the Flash. There’s a nice old timey feel to the environment with a bit of a sepia wash over everything. Anderson powers through the trash and faces the Pied Piper and later, we find that Abra Kadabra has trapped Barry Allen in a force field, ensuring that he will not be struck by the bolt of lightning that granted him the powers of the Flash. After defeating Abra Kadabra, you’ll get to witness Barry Allen’s origin happen as it was always meant to, but the end of the Duo is just the beginning of a larger story arc that will eventually reveal who is behind the scenes, pulling the strings, and doing everything possible to prevent the Flash’s origin from occurring.

“Lightning Strikes is about origins and destiny,” says Anderson, describing the DLC as the launch pad for future origin stories. He hints that next time, someone might be messing with Bruce’s origin as an example, sending players back to Crime Alley. “Next time, who knows where you’re going to end up.”

Scheduled for a December 6 launch, the DC Universe Online Lightning Strikes DLC will be free for Legendary members and $9.99 for Free and Premium members. In the meantime, check out our complete bounties list and some exclusive screenshots of the heroes and villains you’ll be hunting for those momentum marks.