Exclusive behind-the-scenes look at DC Universe Online's next weapon type, the Shield

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 [powers, weapons, movement, etc.] 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 [combo] 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 [left-clicks]: L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, etc. Heavy attacks would be [left-holds]: 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 [value] 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.