The Secret World Issue #11 Quality of Life Improvements

The Secret World, Orochi Tower, Tokyo

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.

The Secret World, Tokyo

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.

The Secret World, Tokyo, Inbeda

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Let’s take a look at that letter, shall we? Here is a rundown of the impending fixes.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Loot buff for rare mobs. – Sure, why not? A little extra blue gear, being the step between uncommon green and epic purple, never hurts.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Map improvements. – Doesn’t say specifically, but I’m thinking map icons. Can’t hurt.
  9. More achievements. – Always good for those that want them.
  10. 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.
The Secret World, Tokyo

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.

// Ocho

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In a Secret Holding Pattern #TSW

The Secret World, Polaris

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.

The Secret World, Bugs

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.

//Ocho

The Defeat of the Gatekeeper #TSW

Secret World, Gatekeeper, Emmy

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.

Secret World, Hell Eternal

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.

Eblis, Hell, Hell Eternal, Secret World

=== 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

Weapons: Pistol/Elementalism.

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.

Secret World, Hell Eternal

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!

// Ocho

 

 

 

Switching Builds #TSW

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.

// Ocho

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).

The MMO Winner of Halloween 2013: The Secret World #TSW

The Secret World, Halloween, Stores of Soloman Island

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.

Super Jack, Secret World, Halloween

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.

Blue Mountain, Secret World, Halloween

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:

Stories of Soloman Island, Secret World

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.

// Ocho

Secret World, Cat God, Stonehenge

Awesome Screenshot: The Island in a Sea of Electricity #TSW

The Secret World, Hell Fallen, Ascendant

This shot was taken during our weekly group get-together in The Secret World, in which we decided to run the dungeon Hell Fallen on Elite. As you can see, we made it, with the Ascendant having keeled over behind me, but he REALLY didn’t give us a lot of room to finish him off.

The Secret World, Hell Fallen

I really don’t have much to say on the dungeon itself. It was my first time running through it, we wiped a couple times on the tricky Engine Tyrant fight, but we pushed through it. Although I didn’t run away with any good loot, I’m able to check this Elite off my list and am one step closer to fighting the Gatekeeper.

The Secret World, Hell Fallen

Overall, though, what made the run fun was simply the people. Couldn’t run it with a better bunch and I heavily agree with Rowan’s sentiments, more than anything it truly is awesome to have such a great group to run around with.

So Syp, Rowan, Ten Tentacles, Scooterz, Mogsy, Maric, and the rest, I owe you one.

Signed, your resident dungeon noob,

// Ocho

P.S. – It appears that ability is called the “Electric Smoke Grenade”, and he carpet bombs one side of the room. Huh. Good to know for next time! A guide of Hell Fallen can be found here. Thanks, Dulfy!

Events Everywhere! #STO #GW2 #TSW

Star Trek Online, Crystalline Entity

This is why Free-To-Play is my model of choice. It’s not because I can’t afford to pay a subscription, it’s simply because, when not confined by a subscription, the onus of quality and pulling players in falls onto the developers. This leads to events, and lots of them.

For the past month I’ve been ping-ponging between The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, and Star Trek Online because of these events. Guild Wars 2, of course, has it’s content flowing continuously with something new every 2 weeks. However, not being max level, most of the new content is not aimed at me. So Guild Wars 2 has fallen by the wayside to make way for the following:

The Secret World’s Whispering Tide – The path to Issue #8, The Venetian Agenda, and the prelude to the opening of the new Tokyo region. It looks like Phase 3 is ramping up TODAY as per tweets from Richard Sonnac seem to imply.

Star Trek Online’s Crystalline Cataclysm Event – Our favorite giant, destructive snowflake is back and asking for a beating. In this 10-man instance, the Tholians have suddenly showed an interest in the Crystalline Entity, possibly being due to their species being of similar composition. The Tholians, though, are bad news, and as such, they all need a good whooping. Until October 21st (according to the game launcher), a daily beating of the entity gives a metric ton of Tholian marks, and a 50,000 dilithium pot.

StarbaseUGC’s Purity Foundry Series – Part Two of the Purity Series, Purity: Of Thought by Bazag, has already been released, and it adds a decent amount of back-story to the Obani, Federation, and Sajan people.

The Secret World, Filth, Whispering Tide

And then you know what’s coming up, don’t you? The Superbowl of MMO Events: Halloween.

Guild Wars 2 is looking like it’s kicking it’s usual Halloween event up a notch, which seems impossible as it was already at 11. This year, instead of the event simply focused around the Mad King, instead we will be seeing Prince Edrick take center stage in the “Blood and Madness” event. I’m seriously excited to try the Clocktower jumping puzzle, and even if you’re not max level, it sounds like there will still be plenty to do.

The Secret World is also kicking their Halloween celebration up a notch by bringing back the Cat God event from last year, which is going to be new to me, but then adding on something that sounds amazing: Stories from Soloman Island. Soloman Island is one of my favorite MMO locations ever, competing with LotRO’s The Shire for top spot, so I CAN NOT WAIT to check this out.

I like to try new games, but I don’t think I’ll be able to leave the grasp of these events for quite a while.

// Ocho

The Whispering Tide #TSW

Filth, Secret World, Agartha, Whispering Tide

The past week in gaming for me was quite interesting. Starting with an unheard of full-noob guild run of Ascalon Catacombs in Guild Wars 2, and culminating with fighting back the filth with members of the Beyond the Veil Podcast! The events going on with The Filth in The Secret World really took center-stage, though.

We were aware at the conclusion of Issue 7 that business was certainly left unfinished. The latest revealed antagonist Lilith was launched through the Tokyo portal, which the Filth, a black oozing substance intent on madness and destruction, was seeping out of.

The Filth, all things considered, is the real true menace of The Secret World. It is everywhere, in every zone, and seemingly unstoppable. How does one stop the ocean? Especially an ocean, controlled by a maleficence, intent on destruction. In-game Lore points to the Gaia Engines. These enigmatic, powerful devices that have seemed to be keeping The Filth in check, are failing. Their failure, possibly brought about by the Tokyo Incident, in which a Third-Age device was detonated, is allowing the Filth to move. … or at least that’s what I THINK is going on. In The Secret World, you can never be sure. Things are rarely what they seem.

Filth, Agartha, Secret World, Whispering Tide

Starting last Friday, September 20th, (which I totally called, by the way) the Filth decided to make it’s move and corrupted one of the portals leading into Agartha, the heart of the world used for instant transportation to many other locations around the globe. The corruption was instantly repelled by the forces of Gaia, and had the players collecting the crafting material Pure Metal (great band name, by the way) to get it done, turning it into something, which turned into a new currency. This lasted until the playerbase gathered enough Pure Metal to open the portal, which took, oh, all of 3 days.

Sezmra, Secret World, CM, Whispering Tide

Funcom’s newest CM, Sezmra, announcing the end of Part 1.

I have no idea if this was an expected timeframe to Funcom or not, but I’d hazard a guess on ‘Not’. It seemed ridiculously quick. But really, a great majority of players are at “level cap”, either running dungeons, farming or being bored, and have been doing nothing but hoarding these materials, so a fast turnaround from something based on crafting mats is kinda to be expected.

So on Monday, September 23rd, the next round of the defense of Agartha commenced. The guardians of Agartha cleaned the entrance to the portal, and players were able to step through, onto a branch of Agartha that had already fallen. The instance is not that tricky to complete, and comprises essentially trash mobs, an endurance fight, more trash mobs, a mini-boss, even more trash mobs, and then fighting the big boss, a bird/spider looking Filth monster, all to get a more special piece of currency.

Rowan had the thought, and I agree, that Funcom may have learned from the sheer speed of the first part, and put this mission on a 30 minute cooldown timer. Not a long cooldown, but long enough where you can’t complete it over and over and over again and to give the rest of the community a shot at earning some of the new currency. So, it may be a few more days until we see the next part, which is fine by me.

I just hope these currencies don’t disappear on us. I’m all for specific currencies for specific rewards. I do this one special thing, I get special coins to spend on special items to show others that I did this specific special thing. Awesome. However, if you’re going to have a ridiculous amount of currencies, then PLEASE make a way to transfer them back into a the standard currency. Any of these leftover Extant Third Age Fragments, for example, I’d like to convert into PAX somehow. Not saying it has to be a lot of PAX, but the same way I don’t carry around Yen or Euros in my pocket, I don’t want to be stuck with leftover fragments that can’t be used post-event.

So, what do you think the next step is? If we beat back this bad guy over and over again, is the next step going to be going on the offensive and prepping for Tokyo? Or do you think we haven’t seen the last of the Filth invasion into Agartha and it’s only going to get worse? (My money: worse)

Either way, it looks like TSW has pulled my attention back into it’s grip. Which is alright by me because it’s such a fantastic game. So if you’re not playing it yet, the real question is:

Really, why not?

// Ocho

P.S. – The fine folks over at Holosuite Media, the Beyond the Veil podcast team, Funcom, and WeLoveFine.com even have a contest running: Send in a screenshot of the fight against the Filth and the best ones win in-game prizes! Click HERE to see details. All you need is a good screenshot (so please don’t steal mine 😉 )!

P.P.S. – Are you reading this, do not own Secret World, and it’s before 1 PM EDT on September 28th, 2013? Yes?! THEN GO PICK UP THE GAME WHILE IT’S STILL ON SALE ON STEAM!

My First Secret World Dungeon and I Didn’t Make a Complete Fool Out of Myself [TSW]

Okay. I won’t lie. I’m not the most sociable when I play MMOs. I never really adhere to a set gaming schedule because, as summer is fast approaching, my schedule becomes more and more hectic and my gaming time takes a back seat to real life. Then on top of that I like playing the new games, or a sudden craving might hit to play a game I’ve never played before. And I’m not one to let my cravings go unheeded. So, I’m not the most consistent gamer in the world and as such I make an absolutely terrible guild-mate. Recently I found I was even kicked out of my fleet in Star Trek Online for not playing the game on a regular basis. So sue me. I enjoy that I can play with other gamers playing all around me, like going to the movies and experiencing a film as a collective group, but I’m definitely more the solo player.

So, it even shocked me to an extent that last Monday I joined along with the Knights of Mercy gaming crew, who I consider myself a fringe member of, and joined them in their pursuit of the “phat lootz”. I popped my Secret World dungeon cherry, running my very first dungeon ever in the game: Elite Polaris. Yes, my first dungeon was one of the hardest 5-man dungeons in the game and takes experienced and coordinated players to accomplish. I was neither.

 

This is why I appreciate the Mercy crew. Their gaming perspective is one of pure camaraderie. They didn’t demand to see accomplishments that I had previously run the dungeon. They didn’t demand that I must be fully geared. They didn’t demand that I even remotely know much about the game. They just demanded that I join them and have fun. This… I could do.

Thankfully, I was in one of the easiest positions: a damage dealer. In my old World of Warcraft days, I was the tank for every dungeon I ran, and let me tell you that is some stress right there. Wipe? Tank’s fault. Can’t keep aggro? Tank’s fault. Going too slow? Tank’s fault. So, whenever I run any group content the LAST person I ever blame for anything is the tank. I know what that job is like, and I give tanks out there a lot of credit.

So how did it all end?

WITH THAT BIG OL’ TENTACLED CTHULHU MOFO FACE DOWN IN THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL!

How did it happen? Really… I have no idea. I give all the credit to my fantastic group-mates, MMO Gamerchick, Husband-to-Gamerchick, TenTentacles, and Pid, as their experience and awesomeness won the day. Since this was my first TSW dungeon ever, I could not judge to what effect my support/damage did. I could’ve been helping a lot or I could’ve been helping very little. No clue.

So, heady from this big win, we delved into the next dungeon, Elite Hell Raised, and…

 

WIPED THE FLOOR WITH THOSE BOSSES SO HARD THAT THE DEVIL HIMSELF WAS IMPRESSED!

So not only was my first dungeon run a huge success. My second dungeon run, also Elite, was a huge success.

Maybe I’m not as bad a dungeon runner or as anti-social as I think I am…

// Ocho

P.S. – Sadly, my TSW character, Ocholivis, is unguilded (uncabaled?). I joined the Knights of Mercy for the run, but since they are all Templars and I am Illuminati, I can’t join in their guild. How sad is that? Funcom, seriously, work on that.

P.P.S. – Also, my STO character, @Ambrose99 is also unguilded (unfleeted?). If there are any STO fleets looking for an off-again, on-again member who doesn’t mind donating a great majority of his lifetime-membership resources, hit me up. I’ll definitely be looking for a new fleet once Legacy of Romulus drops in 9 DAYS!

P.P.P.S. – If you’re not hovering your mouse over my images yet, you’re missing out…

A Few Suggestions for The Secret World [TSW]

There is a saying: MMO’s would be so much better if it wasn’t for the other people. It’s funny because without other people, it wouldn’t be an MMO… and yet, it’s true in so many ways. It’s because other people can do simple innocuous actions that won’t benefit and actually hinder other players, even if their intention is good. This is what happens when multiple players play the same game but have different reason for playing, or different goals in the same game.  So here are a few suggestions to make The Secret World much better for everyone.

Open Mob Tagging

I mean, really. This is essentially the future of MMOs and needs to really be here now. Guild Wars 2 has this, and people who aren’t grouped together can tag and get loot and experience from the same mobs, and here’s why The Secret World needs it, too.

Scenario 1: The other night I was playing The Secret World and ran across a guy taking down a few mobs. He wasn’t having any trouble, but I was nearby and could’ve easily helped out. I didn’t. I ran right past like I didn’t even care. And I hate myself for it. My helping him would not help me in any way, as once a mob is tagged by a player, and they are not grouped, that mob becomes theirs. Any loot or experience gained from it would only benefit the first player to tag it. I would receive nothing for helping him out and still cost me my time. Also, there is the chance that helping them out angers the other player, like my interference is a judgement against them. I have received this numerous times in numerous games, and so, when I see another player fighting mobs, my first instinct is just to pass on by.

Here was also a lost chance at loose grouping, meeting someone new, and essentially taking advantage of the sociable side of the game. With the standard tagging rules in place, though, there’s the chance I would be hindering them, interfering, by helping out. And if there’s even a chance at causing more harm than good, it’s better to pass on by.

Individual Loot

Scenario 2: Then, not more than a few minutes later I encountered another player. I was doing a quest where I had to take down a lot of mobs in a small area. Another player showed up and I assumed they were on the same quest, so out of courtesy I threw them an invite. They accepted and sweet, we took down the mobs together. Loot dropped, as it does, and the Need/Greed randomized system came up. Since all the items were dropping wouldn’t help me directly, I was rolling “Greed”. The other player, obviously better geared than I was, and obviously didn’t need the gear either, was rolling “Need”. They were acquiring every piece of gear and there was nothing I could do about it except to roll Need too, despite not actually “Needing” it. They could’ve been collecting crafting materials, or just looking for fodder for lower alts or something, but in either way, I was annoyed. They weren’t playing by friendly social conventions and yet they were entirely playing within the rules.

So, although the system is “fair”, unless I were to essentially lie that I needed every item, it really isn’t fair. So, what is? How about ALL loot being individual to the player, not just basic normal quality stuff, but everything. This would be the way for all items that are Bind-On-Equip. The system in place already chooses items for the players to get, and they can still be traded back and forth without barrier, so why still have this other layer for people to essentially grief on each other?

Flavor of the Month Builds In-Game

One of the hallmarks of a good system with multiple skills but few skill slots is in the creation of builds. The Secret World has these and has some suggestions with their decks, but the decks are far from perfect. So, players create their own builds and some of these builds are so efficient, due to a skew in balance, that others pick up on them and use them as well. This leads to websites designed to help people who want to use the strongest and most efficient builds. When certain skills are nerfed or buffed to make them balanced, this process starts over again as the theorycrafters search for and make the best builds. The elite then turn to those who don’t use these builds and claim them to be lesser players.

So, why not cut out the middle man? Have an in-game system where players can submit their builds under different categories, and others can pick and choose to use them along with the multitude of decks created by the developers. This one is more of a stretch as I don’t believe it’s been done before, but where the “Flavor of the month” builds essentially defined Guild Wars 1 and it’s hardcore players, having player-submitted decks could make The Secret World more of an elite deck-building game, like it seems like it was intended to be.

Cross-Faction Cabals

This one wasn’t on my list originally, but after reading Rowan’s excellent post on cross-faction cabals, I totally agree.

Scenario 3: I’m an Illuminati character. My gear is almost to all QL 10 greens and I’ve been working on the same character for a long time now. I only recently found that most other people I know playing The Secret World are all Templar. I know, I can group with them and run dungeons with them, and communicate with them, and everything else in the world I can still do with them… but I can’t join their guild. So, my choice is either to just put them on my friends list and try to join up with them when I can, if I remember to look, or to give up on my character and roll a Templar. Both options aren’t that enticing, or making me really excited to keep playing.

I think Rowan sums it up the best when he says:

“I understand the importance of separate factions in PvP—or different servers in the case of GW2. However, in most cases, limiting cross-faction cooperation only fragments a playerbase that could not care less about interfaction rivalries.”

It’s true. Right now, I could care less about PvP, and the only time I care about the different factions is when it comes to the storyline between them.

Essentially, Funcom, your game can be so much more than it is. Your storylines and missions are some of the greatest from any game I’ve ever played. Your settings are fascinating and your attention to detail is top-notch. But by holding to old MMO conventions that keep the casual playerbase apart from each other, you’re holding yourself back.

Make these changes, and I can guarantee you’ll see an increase to not only your playerbase, but their overall enjoyment of the game.

// Ocho