Well met, hero! I’ve loved DC Universe Online since its release in 2011, but I’ve always had a hard time figuring out what content I should be doing at any particular level.
After years of googling and pinging people on social media to try and figure it out, I realized that I should just step up and make the definitive guide of what Missions, Solo, Duo, Alerts, and Raids you should be doing (and which ones you should skip) as you level up your Combat Rating in DCUO. I also tried my best to identify what gear you should be buying at each level as well — and where to find the vendors that sell it.
My goal was to make it easy to answer the most common question I have while playing: “My current Combat Rating is X, what should I do?” I hope it helps you!
This first post will walk you through character create to Combat Rating 43.
For other CR level ranges, view these guides:
#2: CR 43-70
Full disclosure: I used to work for Sony Online Entertainment, the company that owns DCUO. Now I work for Blizzard on WoW. But I never worked on DCUO or even in the same state as the dev team that did. All of this info is from my experiences as a player.
- Heroes and Villains have access to (almost all of) the same content. Villains may need to make a few adjustments to this guide.
- Progression in DCUO is based on Combat Rating (CR). This is number just summarizes how good your gear is. You have to meet certain CR requirements to play content, which is why we’ll use it as the measuring stick for choosing which content you should play. Your goal is to improve your CR by buying gear, so you can unlock more content.
- Gear drops from bosses, but all major set pieces are bought via a single currency, Marks of Victory, which are rewarded from all PVE content. The cooler sets cost more.
- Skill Points are the other primary form of progression, which you spend to unlock weapon attacks and gain combat stats. You earn them from Feats (Achievements). Here are some easy ones to start — and a more thorough guide for later.
- The leveling game is free, but once you start climbing the CR ladder after hitting 30, you’re going to have to buy DLC content packs. This guide assumes you buy all of the content packs (which you absolutely should if you plan on progressing).
- Loot lockouts prevent you from looting a boss more than once per day. So this guide will list the content you should do EACH DAY (ordered from most to least efficient). So do the first thing in each list first, etc. You can pay to reset loot lockouts instantly. Do this on days where you’re planning to play for long periods of time. It’s quite cheap and will definitely help boost your progression.
- Prioritize the Daily Bonus Content (stars next to their name in the On Duty menu). These give bonus rewards that usually make them the best option.
- Skip every non-Boss NPC that you can (especially in Solo missions). The rewards are at the end.
- Sell unwanted gear until you have enough Cash that you stop thinking about it. Then, always Salvage gear at an R&D station for crafting materials.
- Don’t invest into crafting and Mods until you’re deep enough into progression that you hold onto gear for a long time, or if you’re stuck just below the next requirement and need a small boost to get over it. CR 70+ is a good rule of thumb.
- Upgrade these slots first: Chest, Legs, Head, Weapon. After that: Shoulders and Back. Then the rest. (Those slots contribution more towards your total CR score.)
- Always keep your Generator powered. Spend Marks on Mainframe Boosts and Utility Belt slots — the extra power is worth it!
- If you want to dive into PvP, start with Legends Mode. There, you play pre-built characters, so you won’t lose because your gear is awful.
- Run the Vault challenge every day for a free Mark of Victory and cool cosmetics.
- When queueing for a Raid, also queue for something that’ll happen instantly. This way you can be doing something while you’re waiting for your Raid to pop — it won’t interrupt your current run, but should pop soon after.
Leveling to 30
The leveling experience in DCUO is short — 5 to 10 hours — and very straightforward. Think of it as a long tutorial where you get to make sure you like your character’s powers and movement type before investing time into them. Don’t be afraid to re-roll and start a new character if you don’t like your current one while leveling!
What To Do
- [SOLO] Main Quests: You’ll need to complete this eventually anyways. Great XP and best content with cool cinematics.
- [SOLO] Side Quests: Almost every Main Quest has one bonus Side Quest to accompany it. When you get to the location, just run a quick circle around it and look for an exclamation point on the minimap to find the questgiver. You can usually do it for “free” while doing the other quests, so it’s just bonus XP!
What To Avoid
- Alerts: Alerts don’t give nearly enough XP and loot to justify the time investment. You’ll be doing nothing but instances after you hit level 30, so focus on the lucrative Main Quests for now.
- Craft/Salvage: It’s not worth investing into your gear at this point, and you’ll want the cash from selling it instead.
- Theorycraft: Focus on boosting your Damage build, and only one set of gear. You’ll lose more time than you save since everything changes at Level 30.
Brand New Level 30
You made it to 30! Congrats! Before you jump into the Combat Rating gear grind of endgame, there are a few things you should do first to make sure that you have REAL ULTIMATE POWER at your fingertips. Most of it revolves around your sweet Lair that you simply must use if you plan to play for awhile.
What To Do
- Buy the Lair System: In Marketplace, under “Upgrades” category. Not only is it super awesome to have your own Batcave, the Lair is also a primary progression tool that will give you HUGE amounts of power (and decorating opportunities).
- Set Up Your Lair: Pick a location that you like, and a theme that you like. Then run around inside and get familiar with the amenities inside. Be sure to place down all “Amenity” items in yourr decoration mode, so that you can access things like your Bank and Amrory (which lets you dual-spec) and save appaearance/gear sets.
- Look up a Powerset Guide: Try out both the Damage role and your power’s special role (Tank, Healer, or Controller). I recommend the Guides here. You can do both roles in endgame, but this is a great time to make sure that you like the endgame playstyle of your current Powerset before you invest more time into it.
- Get Some Skill Points: Use these guides and spend them in this priority: Buy the passive Breakout boosts in your movement tree, then max out your primary weapon tree.
What To Avoid
- All Content: Seriously, this Lair stuff is super important. Take the time and get it set up so you can wreck face!
What To Buy
- Upgrade Your Mainframe: This is the first, and only thing you should spend your Marks of Victory on. Your Mainframe (in your Lair) lets you buy permanent (and temporary) access to super powerful items. Focus on Backup and Tactical Mods immediately, they are insanely strong for a fresh 30 and will carry you until you get geared. Once you buy the boost, get the items from the Dispenser near your Lair’s entrance.
- Cosmetic Sets: You can find a ton of the cosmetic options available at character create inside the War Room (directly beneath the Monitor Womb, in the center of Watchtower), the Aquacultural area of Watchtower, and Star Labs in Metropolis. Take some time to build a new style for your hero while you’re at it!
Combat Rating 30-40
Alright, this is it! Your first real endgame content! You’re going to do great! There are some traps out there though — Missions or Alerts that are much harder, longer, or confusing than others. So stick to the best content and have more fun while leveling up.
What To Do (Best choices first)
- Whatever You Have Quests For: You should have quests to do all of the Tier-1 content once (sometimes in a particular order). You get tons of bonus Marks from these quests, so definitely do ’em first.
- [SOLO] Mannheim’s Chinese Theater: The Mannheim Guarantee: Your Mark is delivered in 4 minutes or less, or your money back! Only 3 pulls to clear the whole place!
- [GROUP] Ace Chemicals: Good directions to keep group focused, randomized bosses to keep it fresh, and funny bosses to keep it entertaining.
- [GROUP] Area 51: Grindy with lots of kills, but very simple and any group should succeed.
- [SOLO] Toyland World Quests: Get Quests in Watchtower and Teleport. These are WEIRD, so you may hate them — but they’re easy and gear doesn’t matter.
- [SOLO] The Joker’s Funhouse: Use all available levers to detonate bombs that instantly kill a lot of the enemies. You can avoid fighting more than half of the mobs.
- [DUO] Gotham University: Simple and a fun setting.
- [DUO] Gorilla Grodd’s Lab: Who doesn’t like punching gorillas?
What To Avoid (Worst choices first)
- [SOLO] Old Gotham Missions: You can get the quests, but the content is much too difficult for this level. You’ll die constantly (like I did!).
- [GROUP] Smallville: Very long and has a ton of easy-to-fail mechanics, especially if your group is not coordinated.
- [DUO] Hive Base: Way too long. Takes as much time as an Alert — with 1/3 of the reward.
- [SOLO] Meta Research Wing: Dr. Psycho is a sneaky jerk with annoying events that’ll slow you down.
- [SOLO] 8th Precinct: Lots of boss fights without extra loot.
- [SOLO] Lair of the Spectre: For a righteous spirit, Spectre sure loves to jibber jabber.
- [DUO] Metropilis City Hall: Has a lot of forced waiting. Even with an OP partner, it took 6 minutes.
What To Buy
- No Gear: Save your Marks of Victory during this stage. You have to run everything on this Tier once for the quests anyways. After that, I was already at 41 Combat Rating without spending a single Mark. If you get close to the 100-limit on Marks, just dump them into your permanent Lair upgrades.
Combat Rating 40-43
The unlocking system for early Raids is weird. You get access to “Novice” versions of Raids a few CR early, to help you cross that final threshold. As soon as you can do these (CR 40), make them your top priority. And stop as soon as you hit CR 43 (which will likely happen after just one run).
What To Do
- [RAID] Khandaq – Novice: Straightforward and drops a ton of loot.
- [RAID] Inner Sanctum – Novice: Longer, but gives just as many Marks (5) and some sweet Batman-themed drops.
What To Avoid
- [RAID] Braniac Sub-Construct – Novice: Just awful. Only 3 Marks and it takes forever.
What To Buy
- Nothing: Same as above. Save Marks for Tier 2 Gear, and upgrade your Lair when you get close to the cap.