Sunday Bits

TODAY: Discover how you can revisit a classic real-time strategy with this week’s Blast from the Past – Learn the first steps you should take in DC Universe Online with our Getting Started Guide for the Switch.

Blast From The Past

Rise of Nations was a Big Huge real-time classic

A long time before THQ acquisitions and the co-development of fantasy RPGs with a former US baseball star, Big Huge Games made their bread by marching to war with Rise of Nations. It set out to forge destinies for PC strategists back in May 2003.

Rise of Nations brought to the table what was traditionally found in turn-based franchises like Sid Meier’s Civilization, and applying them to a real-time strategy setting. It succeeded, thankfully, and was a major part of my own multiplayer shenanigans with friends as we took on rival AI empires, and inevitably backstabbed ourselves to glory.

Instead of sending our settlers and founding new settlements on a turn-based campaign map, you would instead just send off a brave soul to go found a small little village or town on the real-time map and start building it up to increase its contribution to your cause. It also let you snatch territory away from others and clearly marked out your sovereign domain. This helped apply attrition to any unwelcomed visitors unless they came ready with supply wagons or trucks, which usually meant someone’s in for a spanking.

”…for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. Save often.” – Sun Tzu’s Art of War: Gamer Edition

Rise of Nations was really able to take the usual turn-based civilization-building fanfare and not sacrifice too much of it in the translation to RTS. It led to some mighty battles as you churned out the troops and ultimately unleashed your full might on your neighbours, only not with stacks but whole troop lines. This could also go hilariously wrong and wipe out everything you had. It was awesome and my friends and I would often set the game rules to stop us reaching the Modern or Information age because we found them a little too overpowered. Nukes – ‘nuff said.

Ultimately half the game was a battle of resource management and they even had their own rare resources to exploit on the map that could dramatically alter the balance, and you could hop over into enemy lands and pinch theirs with Merchants if they weren’t looking. At its heart Rise of Nations was a 4X game, so it wasn’t always just about the frontline battles though being an RTS that’s where it would mostly end up. Why build up a war machine if you’re not going to use it? Wasteful! Nations didn’t rise up by asking nicely about it.

It’s a nation eat nation world out there, or was – now I’m full… and alone

It wasn’t all multiplayer or skirmishes either as Rise of Nations had campaigns to complete which explored various time periods and areas of the world. You could also go for broke and try to take everything in global conquest, but wouldn’t settling the Cold War be a little more fun? The single-player campaigns actually worked similar to Risk on the world map, but battles would happen in real-time. Sort of how the Total War series functions with its hybrid of the two, except Rise of Nations didn’t let you build or define settlements until you were in the RTS portion of it.

There are 18 nations to pick from and each has their own special ability and selection of units to give them an edge. You get the full gambit of warfare too by fighting on land, sea and in the air – technology permitting of course. There’s also the race to building the Wonders and, no, the Terra Cotta Army never really did manage to turn the tides of battle much despite spawning free units every 30 seconds. Still, better I had it than those ‘friends’ of mine – they couldn’t be trusted.

Where to get Rise of Nations today

Easy! Thanks to the love of the game at launch and its subsequent expansions from Big Huge Games, the series remained popular enough not to be forgotten. In fact a special Rise of Nations: Extended Edition was released in June 2014 on Steam – featuring full Steam integration, improved visuals, multiplayer and both expansions. It released later in September 2017 for the Windows 10 Store. Today the Rise of Nation IP is owned by Microsoft. Could it rise again?

Getting Started Guide

DC Universe Online (Switch Version)

DC Universe Online – the MMO based on the world of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and the rest – has been going strong since 2011, but only debuted on Nintendo Switch earlier this month. For any Switch owners intimidated by the idea of playing an MMO, we’re here to help with everything you need to get going. So let’s get started in DC Universe Online on the Switch!

1. Get a Nintendo account and download the game

The first thing you have to do is set up a Nintendo account, if you haven’t done so already for another game. You can either do it here and just login on your Switch, or you can set one on your Switch directly.

Then it’s just a matter of installing DC Universe Online. Head to the Nintendo eShop then simply search “DC” and press the ‘+’ button. It should be at the top. It’s completely free, and you don’t need to be a member of the Nintendo Online program to play it – unlike most online games on Switch. You will, however, need around 24GB of space free to download it – if you haven’t got a Micro SD card installed, now’s the time to get one!

2. Set up your hero or villain

Once the game’s finished downloading – which can take a while depending on your internet speed, feel free to dock your Switch and leave it be until it does – you can head in to DC Universe Online. After watching the awesome but rather harrowing future-set cutscene, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up your character. This is the fun part…

You can choose your character’s gender and general appearance, and can fine-tune the appearance later in customization. You can speed things up by making direct “inspirations” of major characters like Superman or The Joker, if you don’t want to fine tune things and just want to get in. You can choose your specific power sets – Flight or Super-Speed, for example – so create the hero you want, but the key decisions are whether you’re a villain or hero, and your Origin. Villains and Heroes have very different missions, characters, and goals, and your Origin determines which major DC character will be your mentor! Choose wisely!

3. Play the tutorial and test your abilities

You’ll then be thrown into a tutorial scenario, where you’ll fight alongside other heroes and villains against Brainiac and his drones. You’re pretty safe this entire time, so use this opportunity to explore the game’s controls and your powers. The tutorial will introduce some of these – such as how to do short and long-range attacks – but it won’t tell you everything. For example, a Flight character can fly by pressing Jump (the ‘B’ button) twice – but how do you land again? It’s by clicking the left-stick! Experiment, or check the control scheme if you’re not sure (‘+’ button, ‘ZR’ to the Options screen).

4. Follow the story missions

From the tutorial you’ll be dumped back on Earth at either Metropolis or Gotham, and there either a nightclub or police station depending on your hero/villain alignment. Hopefully you’re now fully (or at least competently) adept in the game’s controls, as you’re now in DC Universe Online proper! You’ll get a ping from someone, such as Oracle if you’re a starting hero, with a story mission – and you can check this out on the Quests tab of the menu. We advise you stick to doing the story missions for a little while, as it will help introduce you to the game gently – and allow you to get some gear and level up a bit. Speaking which…

5. Remember to check your inventory and loadout

While we’re not going to dive deep into the world of character management here – as there’s a lot to think about later – there are two pages of the menu that you’ll have to look at every time you complete a quest, or level up: Inventory and Loadout. The Inventory should be self-evident – every time you complete a quest, you’ll probably get a piece of gear you may want to equip immediately – but that’s up to you, of course. Loadout, however, shows your various powers – which you’ll need to assign to a button if you get more than four – and your weapon skills. Head here, and this is where you spend your skills from levelling up.

6. Explore the world of DC!

And in general, that’s all you need to know to get started in DC Universe Online! However, this is a gigantic MMO, so there’s absolutely no way we could cover everything here. What about Leagues? Things you have to pay for? Augments? Gear sets? PvP? Don’t do that last one for a while, but you may want to dabble eventually. We suggest that you just explore, use any fun icon you see, and just try things out. Watch those micotransactions though, there’s a few of them to catch you out. Otherwise, enjoy DC Universe Online!

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