On June 29th The Secret World head start began, and from that point on I have been pretty radio silent. I’ve mulled over what to post, but each evening when it came down to the decision of blogging or playing… the game has won out. This is the first game in awhile I have had the burning drive to go home and log in each night. At this point, it is a little far past the appropriate time for a launch impressions post, so I’ve decided to completely skew that and go in a different direction.
Quite honestly the game is just so much better than I originally expected it to be. While it is most definitely not going to be the game for everyone, it seems to have nailed pretty much all of my triggers. For years I have said that if a game ever released, that had as detailed of a world as Everquest 2, and a fun combat system I would be hopelessly hooked. So far it is shaping up that The Secret World might just be that game.
It still has some pretty major bugs, both in quests and the game client itself. Right now the chat system is a complete mess, with all of your configuration settings for your chat tabs getting reset every time you zone. Hopefully with times these growing pains will work there way out. They have been releasing patches pretty frequently, and have set a pretty lofty goal of a new episodic content patch each month. Only time will tell if they can live up to these.
Tips for a more pleasant experience
The Secret World if nothing else is a very unique and different take on the MMO game. As a result there is a pretty steep and often times brutal learning curve. There are numerous little things I have come across, or figured out that I think will ease the transition. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but more some bullet points I think are worth mentioning.
Get Your Secondary Weapon Fast
Regardless of your faction, part of the quest line takes you to some sort of outfitter where you can play with the different weapons and pick your primary. The combat system doesn’t really come into it’s own until you have two weapons. Various combinations play off one another, and your builders build resources for both weapons at the same time. You can get some quick burst damage by dumping both weapons at the same time. The problem is that it might take you a bit to acquire a second weapon naturally through gameplay. One poorly documented feature is that after completing your initial weapon quest, you can simply walk right back into the room and pick up a secondary weapon. The NPC tells you that you can come back at any time if you want to change weapons, but it isn’t implied that you get to keep your original choice as well.
Melee and Ranged Together
One of the things I have noticed, is that this game seems to like to present you with conditions where you will need to melee down something, or kite something, and often times during the same encounter. My friends who have chosen a melee/ranged combination like myself seem to be moving through the content pretty seamlessly. However those who have chosen a pure melee, or pure ranged path seem to often times be gimped in some manner. Being able to quickly switch between a ranged encounter and a melee encounter just seems to make life a bit easier.
- Assault Rifle
Personally I have chosen Blades and Shotgun, because it fits my personality and what I wanted in a character. But any combination of ranged/melee seems to work fairly well. Once again TSW seems to be a game that really hates pure melee characters, but I have noticed some limitations on the pure ranged characters as well.
While there are still a few bugged quests out there, the vast majority of the time, we simply don’t know where to look for the answer. The Secret World is a game that prides itself on forcing us to use our noggins. So often we are used to the game providing us a trail of neatly placed breadcrumbs that end up in a very obvious answer. TSW tends to give us some pretty general clues, and then relies on the player to apply some real world logic to determine the results. It is really hard to give some non-spoiler examples, but if you were give a clue about a seat of power, you might end up needing to use a phone book to determine the street address of city hall. Often times during these quests they expect you to use the in game browser to Google the clue, or look up results on Wikipedia. In addition to the in game assets, Funcom has created a wide number of real life websites for the corporations and locations talked about in game, each of them littered with clues. Before you give up and get frustrated, just make sure you are using all of the resources available to you.
Bags Getting Full?
The game really provides us a lot of options for storage. First off, a good number of my friends have missed the fact that London has a bank. It is located through the park, behind Pangaea and beside the Tabula Rasa fight club. In addition to this, both your bank and bags have the ability to add more slots. They start out rather cheap, and by the time you get to where I am at 130 slots, it is roughly 150k to add 10 more. In addition to bag storage, I periodically compact by bags by breaking everything I am not in need of to crafting materials, and then upsizing them as much as possible. Each crafting material can essentially be converted up to a higher level at a cost of 5 to 1. If you need the lower level materials again, you can convert back at a slightly loss getting back 4 materials instead of the original 5. I’ve habitually broken down everything I have gotten that I could not use myself, and have in general had plenty of materials to craft glyphs, weapons and talismans, yet still be able to afford repairs and travel speed increases.
Mobs Too Difficult?
If you encounter an area of the game where the mobs simply feel too difficult, there are multiple variables you can tweak to improve your performance. The game seems to gauge difficulty on a murky scale of multiple factors. Essentially you are likely being held back either by overall weapon quality, or your weapon and talisman skills. One of the things I wished I had done from the very beginning was run my primary weapon, secondary weapon, and all 3 talisman skills all the way to 10. Maxing your talisman skills gives you a massive buff in your overall hit points, and maxing your weapon skills greatly reduces the occurrence of glancing blows. As a result you have better survival, and can kill your mobs faster.
Any given weapon has two different skill paths. In the example of blades, there is a damage path that increases the damage you deal, and a survivability path that heals you back a little bit now and then. One of the mistakes I did early, was try and level both blade skills, both shotgun skills and keep my talismans even. While it added a bit of survival, it simply meant I was slower to max out any one skill. If I had it all to do over again, I would level shotgun damage, blade damage, and the 3 talismans equally until I maxed them. I plan on going back and eventually maxing out the secondary skill for each weapon, but getting to 10 on any one has the effect of reducing your glances, and allows you to equip those higher level weapons.
No Shame in Farming
If you are still struggling, then likely it is the other side of the equation…. your gear. At several points during my leveling I have found some sweet spots for collecting gear. Each zone you encounter has a certain level range of drops. Kingsmouth of example has QL1, QL2 and QL3 drops, Savage Coast is QL3, QL4, and QL5, and Blue Mountains has QL5 and QL6. In each case there are some relatively easy spots to hunt mobs that drop the highest level loot in the zone. I spent large amounts of time in each zone trying to fill out my gear before moving on. In Kingsmouth, the best place hands down is the field near the junkyard full of Mud Golems. You should be able to start soloing these pretty early on, once you learn their tactics, and they reliably drop QL3 gear or at least cash/runes. In Savage Coast, the sweet spot for me seemed to be the Draugr just off the dock near Red’s bait and tackle shop. These guys can be solo pulled, and pretty reliably drop QL5 greens. Blue Mountain was a bit more difficult, but there are camps of Deep Spawn near the Agartha portal. Several of these are easily single pulled, and pretty reliably drop QL6.
One of the big complaints I have seen against the item shop, is the impression certain players have that this is the only way to change your outfit in game. First up, there are many ways to get new clothes without spending a dime on the cash shop. There are many items that you can pick up through quests or through skill unlocks. Dulfy has a compilation of all the items and how to get them, that she keeps pretty regularly updated. In addition to this, there is the Pangaea store in London. In it you can choose from hundreds of items, purchased using the in game Pax currency. Dulfy has a nice compilation of the various fashions for women, but I assure you there are just as many cool looking options for guys. It is reported that in the 31st patch, we will be seeing additional clothing stores, with hopefully more options.
Keep That Weapon Graphic
If you find a weapon that you really like the look of, you can keep that appearance indefinitely, it just takes a little work. In every zone, there will be a camp (usually several) of Council of Venice personnel. These camps sell various items for the token currency you earn through completing quests. This is a great way to get blue weapons and talismans, as well as various crafting kits. In addition to all these things, there is a rather unassuming item they sell.
Casting Kits cost 30 tokens, and are used in changing the appearance of an item. A word of warning, using the kit will consume the weapon you are “stealing” the appearance of. Essentially you purchase a casting kit, and open your crafting window with Y. Place the kit in the tools slot, and the weapon you want to take the appearance from in the materials window. This will destroy the original weapon, but give you a blade mold in its place. Finally take the weapon you want to apply the graphic to and blade mold into the materials window, just like if you were swapping a glyph. The end result will be the appearance of the weapon you used to create your mold, applied to your current weapon. I’ve used this process numerous times now to keep the Tyrfang appearance from Polaris on whatever I was using as my current blade.
Tacos are Tasty
Finally I have a super important tip, at least if you like Tex-Mex. In the Haitian Market, which is located in the Darkside neighborhood of London, there is a vendor that sells Tacos. If you have perused your achievements you will notice an achievement called "Tex-Mex T. Rex" for eating 7,460 tacos. Thing is this is not just a vanity item, anytime you eat a taco, it massively buffs your out of combat regeneration for a short time. Always keep a stack handy for those situations where you might be getting another mob any moment. You can regenerate back to full pretty quickly while aided by their crunchy goodness.