106 Miles to Chicago

It seems like the Secret World community as a whole is still coming down off the high that was the Monthiversary celebration weekend.  As a whole I think the weekend was a rousing success.  It gave several friends of mine time to get in and see if the game was for them.  I know of at least four converts, and two of those are now proud holders of a lifetime account.

Coup De Grace

Honestly I think the concept behind the weekend was a master stroke.  The 24 hour buddy passes are just simply not enough time to decide whether or not the game really resonates with you.  There have been some discussions in my cabal, namely between myself, MMOGC, and PaganRites… and the basic idea is that it takes at least 10 hours of gameplay for you to really “get it”.  That is to really understand why this game is so unique, why it is worth playing, and grasp the deeply intricate combat system.

Sypster over at Bio Break theorizes that the celebration weekend, is essentially a way to offer a “free trial” without actually saying those words.  I totally think this was the core of the weekend, it let anyone who has a Funcom account try the game.  But even more than that I think it was a great way of building customer loyalty.  While getting to your 30 quest mark, might have been a daunting task for someone brand new to the game.  For those of us who are veterans, we were able to easily cut a path through some of the easier quests.

As a result it also made Kingsmouth an extremely active place.  For all that activity, I was pleasantly surprised in the relative lack of “asshattery”.  People seemed genuinely helpful to the new guests inhabiting our servers.  I know I answered more than a few “newbie” questions, and in my time trying to knock out some of the easy quests, jumped in and saved more than a few overwhelmed players.  So while this was a great trial weekend for new players, for us veterans it became a really easy way to earn enough item shop currency for some spiffy items.  The positive is that there are very few items on the cash shop that cost more than the 1200 points you earned from the quests.  The only negative however is that they are in fact “bonus” points, and will expire in September.

A Mission from God

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They’re not gonna catch us. We’re on a mission from God. – Elwood Blues

Over the last several days since the release of Issue #1, I’ve been on a mission that has completely consumed me.  Essentially I decided that while everyone was off doing the brand new content, and trying to get in their thirty quests for the celebration weekend, I would start my hunt to kill all the rares in the world.  I still have a long ways to go, and some of them have been rather maddening (Mr. Freezie I am looking at you), but I’ve made a pretty massive dent in the total.  I have no clue if I actually get anything for doing this, but it is one of those things that I am obsessing over.

So far I vanquished 27 of the 38 total “achievement rares” in the world.  Here are the ones I have found and destroyed (minor spoilers):

  • Nattfari – Draug in Kingsmouth
  • Mr. Freezie – Zombie in Kingsmouth
  • Soloman’s Omen – Undead Bear in Kingsmouth
  • Father Appleby – Undead Priest in Kingsmouth
  • Dunwich Road Horror – Mud Golem in Kingsmouth
  • Coach Roarke – Zombie in The Savage Coast
  • Lurking Revenant – Revenant in The Savage Coast
  • The Collector – Scarecrow in The Savage Coast
  • Umbral Brood King – Ak’ab in The Savage Coast
  • Penumbral Elevated Caste – Ak’ab in Blue Mountain
  • Algernon – Wendigo in Blue Mountain
  • Bastard of the Brine – Deep One in Blue Mountain
  • Billy’s Muse – Shadow Thing in Blue Mountain
  • Gronarch the Exiled – Sand Golem in Scorched Desert
  • The Lost One – Ghoul in Scorched Desert
  • Deathstalker – Scorpion in Scorched Desert
  • Ainn the Harbinger – Plague Golem in Scorched Desert
  • Corrupted Egyptologist – Filth Infected Cultist in City of the Sun God
  • Kiya, the Pharaoh’s Concubine – Tomb Guardian in City of the Sun God
  • Emissary of the Dead Nations – Ghoul in City of the Sun God
  • Cretaceous Shisocerca – Wasp in City of the Sun God
  • Village-Eater – Troll in Besieged Farmlands
  • Ursine Horror – Undead Bear in Besieged Farmlands
  • Demolisher – Siege Breaker in Besieged Farmlands
  • The Nameless One – Deathless in Shadowy Forest
  • Traitor of Basarab – Vampire in Carpathian Fangs
  • General Blasius – Filth Infected Human in Carpathian Fang

I won’t lie, some of these have already been a massive pain in the ass.  There was one specific spawn that I essentially camped most of the weekend, killing the placeholder every 15 minutes.  It took two full days of doing this off and on before the rare I needed spawned.  Others like Mr. Freezie and The Lost One, spawn in such high traffic areas, that essentially as soon as they are up they have aggro’d onto someone.  I am sure I will take a break before too much longer, since I too would like to se the new content. Up to this point however, I have had a blast tracking down all these dangerous beasties.

The Nightmare Begins

guardian

A few weeks back the little five man team I have been running with, finished all of the elite dungeons and with much effort especially on the part of the dps, managed to get through the Gatekeeper encounter.  I have to say, that even looking back the dps version of The Gatekeeper was insanely difficult, and I am still shocked I managed to get through it without lowering my standards and changing to one of the more standardized builds.  I still plan on doing a write-up for exactly how I managed to down The Gatekeeper as Shogtun/Blades, but I just haven’t had the time to finish it up.

Getting our Asses Kicked

As difficult as the encounter was, I have to say it really did nothing to prepare me for the difficulty of nightmare dungeons.  This week our little team finally started attempting the hardest mode of the dungeons currently available.  At first we decided to dip our toes into Darkness War, since so many of the instances have a number of little painful bugs right now.  We were completely overwhelmed by the amount of damage taken, and the amount that we needed to output.

After some regrouping, we decided to start working on the first instance, Polaris.  I think we were a bit gunshy in trying to assume that the first dungeon was going to be the easiest.  We attempted that login in SWTOR, and found out that honestly The Esseles ended up being one of the most difficult of the hardmodes.  Thankfully Funcom did not do this to us, and we’ve managed to make a pretty big dent in the dungeon.  It is funny that we are treating this 5 man as though it were a raid essentially.

OHGODSQUID

On our first night, we struggled our way through the encounters, learning the mechanics as we went.  All of us are pretty reluctant to try and look up strategies for the encounters.  It is so much more enjoyable to have those “aha” moments for yourself, than to try and do things the way someone else says you have to.  Honestly most of my raiding career was this way as well.  We invested in taking the time to find a strategy that worked for our specific groups makeup.

Last night we returned and had most of the bosses “on farm”, as it were.  We are still struggling massively with the “OHGODSQUID” as I refer to it.  I think towards the end of the night we were formulating some new ideas on how to beat the encounter.  Hopefully we will go back in tonight, make some adjustments and dine on some mutant calamari.  Then of course will come the real challenge, but I won’t go into it for sake of spoilers.

I Has Purplez

The awesome thing that makes the struggle worth it, is that pretty much everything in the zone drops much better gear than we have seen to this point.  So only going in and being able to kill a few bosses is completely worth the effort.  So far we have managed to outfit our tank in a number of really massive upgrades, and our healer in a new headpiece and weapon.  The amount of difference this has made has been significant, in the difficulty of the encounters.  They have gone from “OMGWTF” to hard but manageable with a lot of work.

Last night we got our very first purple dps item, and through the luck of random numbers I managed to win it.  So I have a little purple tint to go with my blue tones.  The funny thing about gear in this game, is that always before people would link the item and dressing room it, and there would be a chorus of “man that looks cool”.  In The Secret World, these items are just better stats, so in a way you just don’t get nearly as attached to any one item as you did before.

Honestly I am completely okay with this.  My emotions are wrapped up in my outfits, my cosmetic items, and the ability to mold any weapon to look like whatever happens to be my current favorite.  The talismans, simply become a means to an end, a way to perform better and make life easier on your friends.  Always in the past I was reluctant to upgrade out of full sets of gear, because I hated looking like an unmatched hobo.  But now when the gear comes down, with slightly better stats, swapping it out becomes a completely no-brainer.

Linkspam

Going to wrap up this post, since I have the development live stream going in the background.  I still have to give a shout out about how badass it is that they have been giving us a semi-weekly view into the inner workings of the game team.  In closing going to throw out a series of links.  There have been some great articles posted about the game, so these are definitely ones you should read.  Please note, not all of these are super positive about the game, but that is completely okay.  I’ve always said this was not going to be a game for everyone.

  • First up we have a review of the weekend by Kadomi at Live Like a Nerd.  She went into the game expecting nothing, but got completely hooked.  Talks about the “missing time” concept many of us have experienced while playing the game.  I swear it was only thiry minutes!!
  • GC over at MMOGamerChick, also a guildie, does a great write up about her post celebration “hangover”.  Great read, because really the weekend was so much fun it was draining.
  • Maeve over at Multiplaying, gives a great review of the game that has become her latest addiction.
  • Kotaku gives a pretty even-handed review of the game.  You can tell the writer actually played it in production, unlike some of the other reviews I have read.
  • Psynister and Fynralyl are a husband and wife duo that tried the game together this weekend.  While they liked some things, they were overall turned off by the game.  Both are well worth the read, because a lot of the things they mention, are things some of the TSW diehards love the most.
  • Rowan over at I Touched the Sky, posted a rebuttal of sorts.  Not in the sense of trying to state that Psyn and Fyn are wrong by any means, but to answer some of the points they brought up.  Also extremely worth the read.
  • The new episode of Enochian Frequency is ready to go.  I highly suggest listening to the podcast regularly especially if you are interested in the real world lore behind the lore.
  • Lastly I wanted to give a real quick shout out to Scarybooster and Feliz.  Feliz has created a beautiful new skin for Scaryworlds.com, I highly suggest you check it out and tell them what you think.