Archive for the ‘The Secret World’ Category
Today Joel Bylos, game director for The Secret World, released the February 2015 Game Director’s Letter and in it details the road forward for the completion of the Tokyo storyline. I haven’t discussed The Secret World in a while, but it is still one of the games I consider myself an avid player of. I even went so far as to purchase a Lifetime sub, figuring why pay every time for every little content update, when a solid one-time payment will net the points I need to continue playing for a long, long time.
My character, a pistol and elemental magic wielding Illuminati darling, is currently parked in Tokyo awaiting the next update, having finished the latest fantastic installment. A long term goal is to seriously update the QL level of my Tokyo gear, but the amount of grind needed to get there is significant and would involve running the same stories over and over, with the only new amusement of attempting to conquer some of the more ludicrous achievements. Not that bad, but playing other or new games for the first time is way better than grinding, and so he sits waiting.
Nothing says The Secret World like a chain smoking detective wearing a rabbit suit.
From hearing players reactions to The Secret World overall, there seem to be two patterns that emerge. 1) Not a lot of players tend to make it past the area of Blue Mountain before quitting, and 2) the amount of time it takes to kill one mob anywhere is exceptionally high. These are linked, though, as the difficulty curve really ramps up in those first couple of zones. Higher difficulty, AND a significant uptick in kill time? Even I didn’t get through it unscathed the first time I played, I remember taking a break around that time, too.
However, it wasn’t until I hit the end of the Beaumont story in Blue Mountain that the game finally clicked for me. That’s when it dawned on me that this wasn’t just another zombie story. That TSW really was much deeper than it was letting on. But I had to get to that point first! Thankfully, improvements are coming.
Let’s take a look at that letter, shall we? Here is a rundown of the impending fixes.
- Reduction in the amount of time it takes to bring down monsters pre-Tokyo. – Hugely necessary. As I said above, this is a large issue for many players.
- Reduction in the mob density in the higher packed areas. – Not as necessary as 1, but welcome. It was very easy to trigger a string of never ending fights, and is one of the main reasons I started using a more AoE-centric build, as did others.
- Loot buff for rare mobs. – Sure, why not? A little extra blue gear, being the step between uncommon green and epic purple, never hurts.
- Overall mission reward restructure. – Nice. This will definitely help new players, as it was possible to hurt yourself in the early game. Understanding how gear works in TSW goes a long way.
- Story mission reward restructure. – Also nice. Leveling gear is leveling gear, though. It could be handed out like candy, it doesn’t matter a whole bunch. Like any other MMO, your gear only really starts to matter when it starts becoming farther and fewer between to acquire.
- Transylvanian story rewards an epic weapon. – Nice, but wait… Will we be able to go back and get this? A piece of epic gear has been awarded for the completion of every mission pack so far on offer. If they’re throwing this in there, will it be a retroactive reward for all? Epics aren’t that common to come by, after all.
- Upgraded tutorials. – Nice, but this may not be as helpful as they think. You can put up signs right in front of peoples faces sometimes, and they still won’t read them.
- Map improvements. – Doesn’t say specifically, but I’m thinking map icons. Can’t hurt.
- More achievements. – Always good for those that want them.
- Fast travel system improvements. – It’s about time. Not that there wasn’t a perfectly good workaround for it the entire time in game. Our characters are very hard to permanently kill as lore, so the fast travel amounted to killing ourselves, and then using the spirit world to choose where to resurrect. Badass, but way too much suicide involved. Now it’ll just be a point-and-click system. Not as badass, but more intuitive. I’m cool with it.
TSW has that way of making you come back for more.
The letter also went on to detail how when we finally enter the Tokyo Orochi tower that we’ll be met with an ever shifting dungeon. One of the downsides of grinding the TSW missions is that the missions are the same every single time, so the entertainment level drops after the first couple of times. So, at the very least, redoing the tower over and over again, at least it’ll be moderately different each time and up its replay value.
Overall, sounds like good stuff. Nothing monumental, but not every update needs to be on par with Beowulf. This will hopefully help bolster community numbers as players aren’t as fatigued when they reach Blue Mountain, and so might improve the overall population. TSW has one of the best communities in any game running, and more players will only make it better.
Funcom, you can drop the act now. Those countdown tentacles? Yeah, you’re not fooling anyone.
Last night I logged in to our weekly meeting of The Secret World, and only two others had shown up, Syp and TenTentacles. We briefly discussed what we could do between the three of us. We could run a scenario since the Flappy fight wasn’t going to start for a few hours or we could just farm some AP. Each suggestion was met with a huge wave of “meh”. We’ve done the Flappy fight to death by this point, we’ve done so many scenarios that we could do them in our sleep, and grinding AP doesn’t really sound appetizing either as we’d just be doing content we’ve already done over and over again. The low turnout to begin with also shows that we’re all feeling generally the same way.
In other words, until The Secret World’s Tokyo expansion is released, interest in playing the game at all is very low.
We seem to be encountering technical difficulties. Please stand by.
Between all of us, our best guess consensus is that the first Tokyo zone is going to be dropping sometime in April, which disagrees with the tentacles. To release any later, though, would be crazy. Last time we checked Funcom still needs to make money and outfits and accessories (although some of them are pretty nice) just aren’t going to cut it. Unless they are just going to sit idly by on the sidelines and watch as The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar leech away all of their players, Funcom needs to start the hype train for Tokyo sooner rather than later, and start doling out information.
I mean, a more adult, gritty world where magic is real and you’re fighting demonic hellspawn are a few things that Elder Scrolls Online and The Secret World have in common. There are differences, sure, but the feel is similar enough to draw from the same pool of players. There’s a chance Funcom might be banking on TESO’s failure, which is a bad thing to do for such a huge IP. Even if TESO does the stereotypical boom at launch and 3-month dropoff, releasing Tokyo 3 months from now to compensate you wouldn’t find too many players left that were willing to wait. TSW is not World of Warcraft! Players aren’t simply content to grind for months waiting on the new expansion! Why am I even subbing? Give us some more info already!
And those tentacles above the Flappy portal meant to show how much longer until the portal is cleansed? Yeah, we know they don’t mean anything. You can drop the illusion now. I haven’t checked recently, but in the beginning when the Flappy fight was in full swing, based on the rate that the counters were dropping, it was estimated that the portal wouldn’t be cleansed until around October.
So unless Funcom steps in and alters the countdowns, like they did with the last portal, or finally give a release date for Tokyo, we’re going to be waiting in this holding pattern for quite a while.
I know what you’re thinking: What? Similarities between Star Trek Online and The Secret World? Hey, they’re both fiction, and you’ll find element of everything in everything else if you look hard enough. What, truly, in this world is original? It’s not so much that we use these assets, it’s how we use them that make these stories great.
So, as Richard Sonnac would say when imitating his (probably) favorite British actor, “Engage!”
5) The Weapons: Swords, Dual Pistols, and Flamethrowers
I feel like some of these really shouldn’t be in these games. Star Trek has a flamethrower?! The Secret World, with it’s shotguns and assault rifles has swords?! And dual pistol wielding classes are everywhere these days, so why not, I guess.
Human-like machines capable of performing tasks. In Star Trek, they’ve been given quite a few more personal rights than we see in The Secret World, but in Star Trek mythos, the advanced programming of Androids borders on conscious thought, and in one of the greatest episodes of Star Trek, Next Generation: The Measure of a Man, the court rules in favor that Data, an Android, does indeed have rights and benefits of any other sentient being. If there’s one great takeaway from Star Trek, it’s that you should fight for your rights, and fighting is the right thing to do, be it Android, Hologram, or Klingon, our rights are one of the greatest gifts we hold dear.
3) Portal Transportation
Entering a portal on one side of the world and suddenly being thousands of miles away. There isn’t any teleporting in The Secret World yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it made an appearance at some point (that Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is rather tricky). On the Star Trek side, we have wormholes. Stellar phenomena that link two points in space over vast distances. In The Secret World, we have the portals, linking many different points in the world to the mythical Agartha.
2) Time Travel
It wouldn’t be Star Trek without some time travel. Though the Department of Temporal Investigations tries to keep all altering of the timeline to a minimum, shenanigans still happen. My favorite Star Trek time travel episode: Deep Space 9’s Trials and Tribble-ations. Hands down. Not a lot of gravitas, and the episode leans on the side of humor, but boy is that episode candy to a Star Trek fan. In STO, time travel also occurs quite frequently. One of my favorites is the mission Everything Old is New, part of the Devidian Featured Episode series. In Secret World, time travel happens quite a lot less, except in the Last Train to Cairo, Indiana Jones styled missions. The mission A Time To Every Purpose sends the player back in time to recover an artifact for the ever stylish Said, and starts the player on a pretty kick-ass journey through time to prevent another Tokyo disaster.
I thought I would never see this in The Secret World, but again taking a page from Star Trek’s futuristic books, the Council of Venice creates a series of, well, Holodecks. You use them in the game’s latest Scenarios to provide extra training and ways to augment your own abilities. So in TSW, they’re not used as a way of relaxing, but I’m sure the Council, when they have a few minutes, might program in a Jamaican vacation or two when the boss isn’t looking. I know I would.
In the realm of fantasy, nothing is absurd. Sometimes, it’s great to let our willing suspension of disbelief have free reign.
Do you think I missed any? I’m sure I did.
P.S. – Whoops, I missed a day of Listmas. Bah humbug.
So, yeah, I beat the Gatekeeper in The Secret World and can now start doing Nightmare level dungeons.
I know, right?! I mean, this is me we’re talking about here. A soloer extraordinaire, a known noob, not only completing every Elite dungeon, but then taking on the Golden Gearcheck itself and prevailing.
I, of course, was far from alone in this process. With the help of the Knights of Mercy over the past couple months of Mondays, we have taken down one dungeon after another, for whoever still needed to complete them. So systematically, with their help, I finally completed the last dungeon I needed, Hell Eternal, and then the only thing standing in my way was Big ol’ Goldy. Like a walking Emmy that hits like a truck, I had heard tales of his difficulty, of how it had taken some people days or weeks to take him down.
TenTentacles offered up videos and strategies he used, but I politely declined them. I have a thing when it comes to games, and for some reason I think this train of thought is becoming less and less common, I like to experience and try to figure out the content on my own first before I look up guides and walkthroughs. You know, give it a real good try, and then only use online solutions if I really can’t figure it out. Now, I’ve only had to resort to this in The Secret World on maybe three occasions. Some of those investigative missions are just dastardly.
So, not to make this post entirely just a “Hey Look How Awesome I Am” post, for anyone looking to go at the Gatekeeper without assistance, just a fair warning: SPOILERS AHEAD. Just skip past the next section if you don’t want to hear about how it is done.
=== How To Kill The Gatekeeper in DPS Mode ===
So I went in with my only knowledge being remembering others talking about an insta-kill attack. I did a little rearranging of my skills, and went at him… I lasted about 9 seconds. You see, I chose the DPS route, which means that if you are hit once, just once, you die. Every hit he delivers is for around 1 Million health, which is a little outrageous, considering the max health while wearing all DPS gear is 1970 health. 500x max health is a little excessive. So, simply, don’t get hit.
Not getting hit isn’t easy, though, you have to dodge multiple AoE ground targets. Be like Ali. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Going clockwise, and sticking close, I hit and backed up between circles, then move to the next open lane, backed up and kept hitting. When he starts to do a massive attack, he stops shooting ground AoEs. At this time, smack him with a purge. He starts sending AoE’s at you again. Bob and weave through them, damaging all the while. As DPS, you have about 5 minutes to take him down, which is plenty of time, so you don’t need to keep hitting him continuously. Just try not to get hit yourself.
When he got down to about 30% health, he stopped and summoned an add. If that add came anywhere near you, it is instant death. So, run. If you see the little guy coming, turn away from the Gatekeeper and run for it. I’ve heard he despawns eventually, and that gives you time to beat on GK some more, but, honestly, I didn’t get that far. When the little guy started coming, I placed a few AoE’s of my own on GK and bolted, and the AoEs finished the job for me.
With that, after only about 30 minutes, the Gatekeeper was defeated and now I can move onto Nightmare difficulty.
Here is the build that I used, please use it if it will help you:
Pistol / Elementalism Gatekeeper Build
Active Abilities: Hair Trigger, Shootout, Anima Charge, Blaze, Lightning Manifestation, Fire Manifestation, Hard Reset (Elite), Cremate (Flamethrower)
Passive Abilities: Lightning in a Bottle, Mad Skills, Molecular Exploitation, Running Circles, Bloodsport, Aidelon, Live Wire (Elite), Assiduous Burn (Flamethrower)
This build has a lot of strengths going for it. Every hit afflicts and deals extra damage (Bloodsport + Molecular Exploitation). Every crit builds more crit (Mad Skills), which triggers extra damage (Live Wire) and causes you to move faster (Running Circles). You will need to move faster to avoid the add. Lightning Manifestation not only deals no-look damage to the stationary GK, but also purges his big attack (Lightning in a Bottle). Anima Charge enables an extra Blaze to be thrown in, which has about a 50/50 shot of critting (Aidelon). Hard Reset has a 60-second cooldown, but it deals a huge purge as well, in case Lightning Manifestation is on cooldown. Cremate is a simple DoT that lasts a little longer (Assiduous Burn). Finally Hair Trigger, Shootout, and Fire Manifestation are all multi-hit abilities taking advantage of Molecular Exploitation and Bloodsport.
All said, the Gatekeeper was downed in about 1 minute 20 seconds, well before the 5 minute timer had lapsed. Of course, the purple 10.1’s from the latest Issues and a couple augments from the Scenarios helped, but what really helped is all the people who helped get me through all of the Elites to get here.
They helped take this known soloer, this anti-grouper and anti-dungeon runner, a noob-king among noobs, and helped make it possible for him to take down one of the biggest baddies in the game.
So, to you all, and you know who you are. Thank you.
Now let’s get the rest of the team to the same level and start taking down these Nightmares!
So, these new Issue #8 scenarios, they are something else, huh?
On the day of release, I, like a great number of my Secret World brethren entered the next step of the game’s evolution. And, like a great many other players, got my virtual behind handed to me in a sling. The first night I played the only scenario, Seek and Preserve, and the only one I didn’t fail was the Hotel, with only one survivor left. Despite going in with my all blue, QL 10 DPS, elite-level gear. I couldn’t keep the mobs from rushing the survivor groups and I couldn’t keep myself alive long enough to stop them, but my gear was of high enough quality to do so. So, it was me. Totally me.
Something needed to change, and that change was an entirely new build. A build that would allow me to survive longer, be able to heal myself, and grab the mobs attention quicker.
Here is the build that I was using, a very fun DPS Elementalism/Pistol build, a build that didn’t need a lot of survivability as mobs would fall quicker. Only one health talisman was necessary to stay comfortably alive:
Active: Hair Trigger, Shootout, Anima Charge, Blaze, Lightning Manifestation, Ice Manifestation, Overload (Elite), and Dragon’s Breath (Flamethrower)
Passive: High Voltage, Increased Focus, Mad Skills, Elemental Precision, Mind Over Matter, Aidelon, Big Bang (Elite), and Searing Magnesium
This is a fun build that piles on the critical hits, and is good for groups and single targets. For single targets, the high damage from Shootout, mixed with the high critical chance of Blaze, caused them to not last long. For groups, Ice Manifestation and Overload cause hinder, which keeps the mobs out of arm’s length, and then Lightning Manifestation and Big Bang bring them low very quick. But it’s a terrible build for these scenarios.
So, I started with TenTentacles advice, and then took a look at the Illuminati Goon tank deck (Blade/Hammer) that I already had unlocked. I find that, in this game, you should at least unlock a build of each style, DPS/Tank/Healer, as you never know when those would come in handy. It worked, it had the survivability, and mobs jumped off the groups easier, but it’s AoE damage output just wasn’t up to snuff. I could do better. So, I switched out the Hammer and replaced it with Elementalism, something I already enjoy and have experience with, and started rolling with this Blade / Elementalism build:
Active: Forking Paths, Steel Palace, Lightning Manifestation, Fire Manifestation, Martial Discipline, Point of Harmony, Silver Streak (Elite), and Dragon’s Breath (Flamethrower)
Passive: Perseverance, Enervate, Regeneration, Agitator, Riposte, Chain Reaction, Sixth Sense (Elite), and Assiduous Burn
This build has a lot of defense in damage reduction and glancing, and then punishes the attacker for glancing as well. It draws AoE damage with Lightning Manifestation, Steel Palace, and Forking Paths, with the Fire Manifestation adding a bit of burst on single targets. Every attack heals, and Point of Harmony gives a dedicated self-heal, too.
So far, my success with this build, with 4 damage talismans, 2 health, and 1 heal, has given me a Gold rating in both the Hotel and Mansion scenarios, and a Silver in the Castle scenario. Booyah. It also has started allowing me to crank out these Hard missions in Transylvania I’ve been avoiding, too. I’m still not a fan of using the Sword (personal preference), but boy does it work.
So my big suggestion is if you are having trouble, take a tank deck of your choice, and then tweak it to your liking. It’ll work wonders, at least for the first Seek and Preserve scenario. I’m sure the other scenarios are going to require different tactics, though.
As you can see, this is one of The Secret World’s strengths. If you want to only use one character and tank, heal or deal damage, you can. And that’s awesome. But with the ridiculous grind necessary to create these new augments that drop in the scenarios, having multiple characters and making progress on all of them is quite a tall order.
Rowan… I don’t know how you do it.
P.S. – Have any fun builds you designed yourself? Go ahead and post them! Share! (I really think there should be a way to view and vote on builds INSIDE the game, as any reason to check a wiki or look outside the game can be better designed, but I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon).
When I was a kid, I was totally into Halloween. I’d dress up in some costume, and my parents would take me and my sister out trick or treating, and, like any other kids, we’d go from door to door and collect a big haul of bite-sized candy. And life was good. But then I grew up…
In college, Halloween took on a whole new meaning, it went from being about dressing up and candy, to getting hammered and hooking up with cuties in costume. There was one time, the student house I was living in, which was affectionately called the Love Shack, had a Halloween party so big that it not only encompassed our house, but our neighbors house as well and although we weren’t in any fraternities, we had many offers to join some that night. We turned them down, of course. Our parties at the Shack were more legendary than anything they could muster up. But then I grew up again…
These days I spend my days working, and my nights in hobbies and hanging out with my wife. When Halloween comes around, we generally grab a drink, have some traditional White Castle, put on a movie, and kick back and wait for trick-or-treaters to come to the door. Our tastes have changed over the years.
So what does this have to do with MMO’s? Well, you see, my gaming tastes have also changed since I was a kid, too. Now, I could be playing World of Warcraft, and go trick or treating. Or I could go play Guild Wars 2 and get dressed up in costume and brawl. And this is fun! It takes me back to those times when I was a kid, and dressed up, and went from house to house trick-or-treating.
But as an adult, I want more. I want something that doesn’t feel like it’s aimed at a much younger demographic. I mean, these are MMO’s, they not only take a time investment, but they also take a significant monetary investment, too, and so MMOs naturally have more adults playing them. According to this site, and this doesn’t sound that off, the average age of MMO players is 26 with a third of players married, and half working full-time. We’re not kids anymore.
I played the Guild Wars 2 Halloween content. I zerged and attacked giant monsters made from candycorn, because that made sense. I climbed the clocktower, and helped smack down the whiny Prince Edrick. I even opened trick-or-treat bag after trick-or-treat bag. I carved pumpkins. It was pretty much everything one would expect for Halloween… and yet it didn’t really scratch that Halloween itch.
Then I played The Secret World, and my Halloween itch has been thoroughly scratched. Finally, here is a game that doesn’t just treat us like kids. The Cat God mission, the main event of the holiday, is a tough investigative mission involving possessed cats, family crypts, creating pungent incense, performing ancient rituals, and defeating none other than Baron Samedi himself at the home of Halloween, Stonehenge, as he attempts to rend the veil between worlds.
Then this year, they topped it by adding the amazing Stories of Soloman Island, a collection of horror short stories, penned by Joel Bylos and Joshua Doetsch, that are pretty amazing reads. Here’s a quick sample:
So, the winner of Halloween 2013, in my own humble opinion, of course, is easily The Secret World. Instead of playing with the commercial versions of Halloween, of costumes, candy, and decorations, it shows the more mature meaning behind Halloween: that we enjoy exploring our disturbing side. We like the macabre, we enjoy the chills down our spine. We celebrate the unknown and embrace the supernatural. But you can already tell that Funcom gets this, the supernatural runs through the very blood and fabric of The Secret World.
So, MMOs take note: the bar has been raised. We’ll see what they come out with to top themselves next year.