The heroes of DC Universe Online have faced many threats, but the game's next major content release brings "an invasion of universe-devouring magic" that can only be stopped by the combined power of the Justice League Dark--and the champion of magic himself, Shazam. And we've got your first look at the episode's art, and a look behind the development with DCUO Creative Director SJ Mueller.
The fighting power of John Constantine, Zatanna, and Billy Batson's magical form as the mighty Shazam needs no explanation. As three of the most iconic magic users in the DC Universe, it makes sense for the developers of DCUO, Daybreak Games to put them in the spotlight. But players are going to be getting a whole lot more once the Justice League Dark content releases on March 28th, 2019. Doctor Fate? Check. Felix Faust? Check. A villainous Lord of Chaos and a dimension-tearing, tentacled demon? You better believe it.
Now celebrating its eighth year, DC Universe Online has made the most of the DC's rising franchises. When the Aquaman movie stormed into theaters, DCUO's own "Atlantis" episode was there to give fans more of the undersea kingdom. And with Shazam outgrossing Aquaman in early screenings, the developers are once again giving the fans what they want. But it's going to take more than just Shazam, or even the players, to deal with the "giant rift" that has torn open the skies of Gotham City.
But first, check out out exclusive look at DCUO's new Justice League Dark key art below, and our interview with Creative Director SJ Mueller:
You've offered an incredible tease for Episode 34, with the sky tearing open and unleashing tentacled demons, and "an invasion of universe-devouring magic" in Gotham City. That explains why the usual Justice League might be out of their depths, but just how bad is it going to get for our heroes?
Our heroes and villains are going to come face-to-face with an ancient horror so terrifying it will literally drive them mad being close to it! The mere presence of this terror will actually impact gameplay in the final raid – and drive them so mad it will endanger their characters’ very lives!
DC fans are obviously going to be thrilled to see the Justice League Dark brought center stage for Episode 34, and some fans have been hoping to see them for years. So what makes NOW the right time to do it? Was it something you or others on the team have wanted to tackle before, but were waiting for the right time?
Justice League Dark has been echoing among the players’ requests for years, and with DC’s focus on Justice League Dark in the comics and the Shazam film coming out, we figured it was the right time to do a deeply magic-themed episode. Constantine has become extremely popular in recent years and Zatanna is always a fan-favorite with her unique style and powers.
How much do you look to those other adaptations when crafting your own story? Or how much of your team's development is from a game-first, story-second perspective?
It certainly inspired us to do the Episode! There are many touchstones from the comics that we’ll hit, such as the House of Mystery and Constantine’s relationship with Steve Trevor at A.R.G.U.S. However, this episode is actually a wholly unique storyline for DC Universe Online. So if you’re a fan of Justice League Dark, and want a completely new experience, download DC Universe Online and embark on an entirely new storyline with the Justice League Dark within minutes!
It's easy to say that Episode 34 is based on "the magic side of the DC Universe," but fans know that encompasses a LOT of characters, lore, and locations. How did you decide which characters - and villains - were going to make the cut? And is there a fan-favorite character or location you're excited to let loose on the players?
We started with the question “Well, who do you think of when you think of Magical-themed DC stories?” But then I had to couch that with “that isn’t Wonder Woman or Circe” because despite being the Magic-based mentors in our game, they’ve been featured so heavily, I wanted to focus on some other characters. This naturally led us to Constantine, Zatanna, Felix Faust, Shazam, and our new big bad, Mordru, immortal enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the 30th century! That’s not the end of the list though, there’s so many more to discover. I’m most excited to see players uncover the truths of the House of Mystery.
The Justice League Dark episode is going to be telling a story using several characters who have been in the game already. Have you made any changes to the returning cast that fans should look out for?
It’s been an exciting time to be a player or a developer for DC Universe Online – over the past few years we’ve been improving the gameplay and adding quality of life improvements across the board, but last year we got to do something really exciting and started updating our iconic character models – starting with Superman. This was so well-received, we’ve been updating more and more characters over time and will continue to do so. These updates use better textures and modernized looks for the characters. I mean, just check out Constantine, Zatanna, and Shazam in the promotional art. They’re amazing!!
As always, a new episode means new gear. I understand that Justice League Dark is going to be a favorite for fans of Etrigan the Demon? How did you decide on him over the other potential candidates?
Frankly, his armor in New 52 just looked so freaking cool we thought players would love to wear it. We actually started designing the player suit over a year ago, before we even started on the episode, and was waiting for the perfect time to put it in the game. And here we are!
DC Universe Online is now in its eighth year, which is longer than most MMOs get to enjoy--definitely with new content coming as often as your team is putting it out. So with this episode basically completed, and another story/team/realm of the DC Universe crossed off your bucket list, are you already thinking up the next batch of content (or year nine... or ten...)?
I certainly have story ideas that go to year ten and beyond – there are so many amazing tales to tell! But, we’ve settled on a pretty epic storyline for the next adventure. It’s big, and it’s badass. SJ Mueller, Creative Director, DC Universe Online
The Justice League Dark Episode also includes a level-agnostic event version of content available to all players Level 10 and up for a limited time:
- New and returning heroes and villains, including Zatanna, John Constantine, Mordru, Doctor Fate, Felix Faust, and Shazam!
- A variety of single-player and multiplayer adventures set in several magical and otherworldly locales, including the Limbo Town, the Rock of Eternity, the House of Mystery, and more!
- Player rewards, including an A.R.G.U.S. Operative gear style inspired by Steve Trevor and the Son of Belial gear style inspired by Etrigan.
In JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, a giant rift has opened in the sky above Gotham City. A massive, tentacled Daemon is tearing through from another plane as the helpless citizens of Gotham confront the insignificance of their pitiful human existences. Ancient magic is at work, revealing truths perhaps beyond human understanding, truths that threaten madness in the face of the infinite unknown. But Earth is not without defenses against such dread, fright, and terror. Experts in the occult recognize the magical origins of this new chaos, and must now work together and with players to discover the secrets that might turn back this invasion, at least for a time.
DC Universe Online is a free-to-play action-combat MMO set in the fictional universe of DC Comics and is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Register with DCUO to begin playing today.