Archive for the ‘The Secret World’ Category

Age of Anarchy in Conan’s Secret World Online

April 30, 2013 1 comment

Today was the day of the April Game Director’s letter for three of the MMOs I subscribe to/pay for – Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and The Secret World. The reason for that is of course that the Game Directory is the very same person for all three of these games, Joel Bylos.

I like Joel. He has a mix of enthusiasm combined with a no-frills this-is-the-way-it-is approach in his writing, the latter in particular visible when he is replying to comments in the forums. For all three games he has been fairly quick to provide replies to comments and questions people have asked after reading the letter. This is a welcome approach and helps to clarify matters where needed (and possible).

I have read through all three letters and the forum comments made so far; I am going to make a few brief notes about this, going from the most negative to the most positive in terms of player response.

Read more…

The Secret World issue #6 announced

February 22, 2013 Comments off

Funcom has announced that the next content update, Issue #6 – Last Train to Cairo is due in the beginning of March.  The preview announcements includes a poster, some screenshots and a bit of teaser information what will be included in the update.  Given what the previous issue provided with the Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn, I do quite look forward to this one.  Funcom manages to do some quite memorable missions in this game and a bit of Indiana Jones style mission sound quite good.

I am also looking forward to the new auxiliary weapon, the whip. From a style/theme perspective that is just right, I think.

A specific date is not specified, only “beginning of March”. So my guess would be in about two weeks from now, most likely.

Categories: The Secret World

Playing with guns and knives

February 9, 2013 2 comments

This is another build post for The Secret World; this was something that was originally intended to be written shortly after my previous build-related post. But I guess better late than never…

In this case it is about some experiences I have had on my Templat alt, Zenara. She was created pretty much at the same as my main character around the game’s Early Access, but did not get much play time at all. Thus she has not progressed as much and is now roaming around in the Blue Mountain area.


Whereas my main character started out with some kind of idea of a tanke/damage dealer hybrid, Zenara started out more as a healer/damage dealer hybrid. Initially she used a mix of Blades and Blood Magic, using Blood shields for healing & protection and the baldes doing the damage. This worked kind of ok through Kingsmouth, but reaching Savage Coast is started to feel a bit cumbersome and slow. It really was not a good combination in terms of flow in the combat, at least not for solo play.

So in Savage Coast the build was revamped a bit; Blood was thrown out and Assault Rifle was picked instead. Since assault rifle has the ability to do both damage and heal at the same time (leeching), this seemed to be something that could work potentially better. And it did – it worked much better. Much of the blades abilities were kept and a bit of Assault Rifle was added and that worked out quite well.

Part of the equation is also the combination of talismans. With a healer/damage dealer hybrid approach, my choice was primarily a mix of damage dealer and healer talismans obviously.  What have worked well for me with the Blade/Assault rifle combination is to have 2-3 (green) healing talismans and the rest (green) damage dealer talismans.  For a single  normal “single dot” enemy, the health bar has barely dropped if only assault rifle was used.

The current build is almost the same as it when it was set up in Savage Coast and it looks like this:


WEAPONS: blade/assault_rifle (122 AP)

  1. Grass Cutter (Blade->Wind through Grass, 9 AP)
  2. Blade Torrent (Blade->Technique, 1 AP)
  3. Balanced Blade (Blade->Method, 1 AP)
  4. Stunning Swirl (Elite, Blade->Method, 7 AP)
  5. Anima Shot (Assault Rifle->Support, 1 AP)
  6. Fire in the Hole (Assault Rifle->Support, 4 AP)
  7. Martial Discipline (Blade->Technique, 2 AP)


  1. Anticoagulant (Assault Rifle->Support Team, 16 AP)
  2. Sharp Blades (Blade->Method, 4 AP)
  3. Immortal Spirit (Blade->Technique, 1 AP)
  4. Perfect Storm (Blade->Technique, 1 AP)
  5. Regeneration (Blade->Technique, 3 AP)
  6. Experience (Elite, Assault Rifle->Support, 7 AP)
  7. Anima Boost (Assault Rifle->Support, 1 AP)

Essentially Grass Cutter and Anticoagulant are the most recent additions here – I believe they replaced Delicate Strike and Delicate Precision. Except for these two, everything else is from the inner circle and is easy to pick up. In this setup, Blade Torrent and Balanced Blade are the main weapons of choice for multiple enemies at the same time, typically the 3-dot enemies. For single enemies Anima Shot and Fire In The Hole  do perhaps most of the work, with a bit of added Grass Cutter and Balanced Blade to speed things up a bit. This costs a bit of health though, as one is not leeching then. The Blade builders will build for both weapons though, so Fire In The Hole can be used soon again also when using blades – and that one can do a decent amount of damage.

Stunning Swirl is primarily for these moments that tend to go a little bit “oh shit” or when there is a major attack from the enemy building up.  For the “oh shit” moments there is also Martial Discipline, which combined with Regeneration passive can help get out of a tricky situation alive – enemies are less likely to hit you properly and you will also gain health. Anima Boost is there to boost both healing and damage from assault rifle and Experience to boost the healing part from it – fewer healing talismans need to keep up the leeching and thus more can go into attack/damage.


The Perfect Storm and Anticoagulant passives are there to put Afflicted state and DoTs on the enemies; this seems like a good combination with the perhaps a bit more drawn out/slower damage dealing though Anima Shot to improve damage there. Immortal Spirit is included to take advantage of penetration effects to boost heals a bit.

In terms of equipment I currently have 2 QL 6 talismans, 4 QL5 talismans and one QL 4 talisman – all green. The weapons are both blue, one QL5 and one QL 6. She is a bit slower than my main character were in defeating enemies in this area, but can deal a bit better with some situations. This is partially due to healing capabilities and partially due to the mixed ranged+melee damage also, rather than pure melee.

Categories: The Secret World

Ghostly Quantum Vampires Going Green, at 50%

February 3, 2013 3 comments

The adventures continues in The Secret World, as well as in Real Life – have not left much time for actual blogging lately, so I am trying to squeeze in a bit here with various bits and pieces. This is reflected in the title of the post…

To Transylvania with love

In the past 3 weeks (I think) I have been roaming around in Transylvania, after leaving Eqypt for greener pastures – literally. Transylvania looks like a quite nice place, lush forests and farmlands and picturesque villages. At least if it had not been for various ghouls, ghosts, werewolves and of course – vampires.


The first thing you run into are ghouls, pretty much the same as one sees in Egypt, around the Black Pyramid in The City of the Sun God. Soon afterwards though you end up with a bit of different flavour, forest guardians and gods, and faeries folks – which to some extent are on your side. Except the corrupted ones – there is always Filth and corruption. When I was playing though a number of the missions in the first Transylvanian zone, The Besieged Farmlands, I was wondering when I would meet the vampires. I had actually already ran into them, but did not realize that. It was not until a bit later that what I thought was some kind of cultists, also were the vampires.


When I realized it then, there “cultists” made a lot more sense – how they were dressed and how they behaved. Vampires in a modern setting, adapting to the conditions. I loved it. I also loved that the story sort turns upside down with Bram Stoker’s version of Dracula – he is not a big bad vampire, but rather a hero it seems. It is interesting and I am curious to see where this story is taken.

There is also an element of former Soviet experiments in the area; covered by some missions and possibly expanded on by the local dungeon in the zone. I have not done that one yet, but probably will be doing that later when I am a bit more geared up.

At this time I am geared up with QL 10 green items and various blue items in QL8-10 range, the latter loot from a few dungeon runs. Most of the missions are ok to do solo, although some could certainly be tough. In the Shadowy Forest zone there are some missions with “nightmare” enemies – tougher than the normal enemies found. These were quite challenging in comparison and I have not completed any of these yet – would be easier in a team for sure. However, the toughness can be reduced with certain builds, so this is also an exercise in trying out adapted builds. They are not necessary for the story line it seems, so I will return to them a bit later.


The Quantum Bracer

As can be seen in the picture above (at the right wrist), I have picked up a Quantum Bracer auxiliary weapon. This seemed to be the weapon that from a visual perspective suited my character the most, with Chaos/Fist being the primary choice of weapons. The mission for this starts out in Kingsmouth, from Moose outside the police station. The mission itself was fairly straightforward and fun I think. At the time I completed this one I had a mix of QL8-10 gear. The fights were manageable, but would have been tougher to do at lower QLs likely.

After you have unlocked the weapon, you get a green QL10 Quantum Bracer. This cannot be used right away, one needs to spend 35 SP first and after that also 50 AP to get the first ability – one can equip one active and one passive ability. The auxiliary weapons have their own ability wheel. All the abilities for a weapon cost 50 AP each. Luckily, the XP flows pretty good in Transylvania it seems and it did not take too long to get enough to equip and use it – using the Time Accelerator also helped a bit 😉

While I only use the Quantum Bracer so far, I also unlocked the Rocket Launcher. It was unintentional; I picked up the mission in Seoul and I thought it might be another faction mission. It was not until a bit into the mission that I realized what it was.  This mission was a bit tougher, in the sense that I died a number of times – did not happen with the Quantum Bracer mission. It was a mix of straight fighting as well as a stealth mission, sort of. The stealthy parts were the ones that caused most deaths for me until I figured out where to move.

Overall the mission took much longer time to play though; I would probably have enjoyed it a bit more if I did not get a bit stressed & tired at the end because it was getting too late in the evening/night. At some point I will pick-up the Chainsaw mission also, although  no rush with that – not quite the style I am going for. The weapon that is going to be introduced in the next issue though is another matter – The Whip. I am looking forward to that one.

At 50 %

This weekend I kind of reached a milestone – I have unlocked more than 50% of the ability wheel (50,1% to be exact). I have some points in in pretty much all weapons – the inner wheel is filled and there are bits and pieces in most outer wheel areas – elemental and blades do not have much at all though. The remaining 49,9% is going to cost more AP of course, but that is a goal I am happy to pursue. A nice bonus is that it also unlocks a number of costumes on the way, which also helps with motivation here.

Going green in dungeons and lairs

In our cabal we have two dungeon days per week, with a bit of time during a weekend aimed for various dungeon runs. In addition to this I am also part of a semi-static cabal team which do dungeons once peer week. The latter team is aimed at taking things slow, learn the areas and also allow people to try out new and different builds, if they are familiar with a dungeon in one particular role.

Lately I have tried out a different role than I initially played in the team, that as a healer. This was when our original healer wanted to do a bit of tanking instead, so I thought it could be good practice to try it out. While I had already made a healer build some time before this, I had never actually played it. It is a Blood/Fist build, with a couple of heals from Fist, combined with a little bit of Blood shields.

Our first dungeon run where I played healer was Ankh. That was a bit challenging; I barely knew where which ability was in the hotbar initially, plus one needs to move around and and handle the targeting at the same time.  The abilities were a bit revised during the run; my initial build was lacking, but I had some spare AP and a bit of roaming around in the abilities worked out a bit better set-up. It was good to have understanding and helpful co-players; it was quite encouraging and one thing that is key to great experiences in MMOs – great people to play with.


After a while I started to get a hang of it, a bit at least. The next dungeon we did, Hell Fallen, worked out much better. One single wipe, which was due to me getting caught between lava and a wall. This was my second run in Hell Fallen; I quite like this dungeon. One thing I like about healing in The Secret World is that one has to move around and think about positions and where everyone is. This makes it more interesting that just standing in one spot and spamming heals. To be fair, healing is spammy. But you have to be aware of what is happening around you and not just look at health bars – I very much appreciate that.

Our last scheduled run did not do a regular dungeon, we were one man short and had planned to do an elite dungeon. Since people at this time mainly were in green QL10:ish gear, we decided to try out a lair instead – the lair in Kingsmouth. The lair enemies are quite tough, we could pretty much only handle one at a time, with four people. These enemies had high defense and were also healed if a hit on them glanced.  So if people glanced too much the enemies healed back up again. We were looking at abilities to reduce glancing and since I use Fist as a healer, I put Pack Leader in my hotbar. Whenever this was active, the health of the enemy was reduced considerably.

For a long time we only had one Pack Leader though, so it was a bit slow. Out tank switch out one of his weapon to get fist instead; this made him lose some defense abilities. This made it a bit harder to keep up with the heals and shields, but also reduced time to defeat the enemies – they were defeated before our tank’s health dropped to zero.

The lair run did not have the same considerations for the environment that the dungeons had, so this was a more traditional healing situation. In the end we had a good time, but when it comes to healing I do prefer the dungeon runs.

Categories: The Secret World

Experimenting with builds and decks

January 20, 2013 5 comments

This post is about some of my experiences with the Chaos/Fist weapon combination in The Secret World. This is the first post about my build experiences; I start with Chaos/Fist since this is the weapon combination I have used most of the time when playing the game. Later posts will go into other experiments with other weapons. I do not make any claims to have any optimal builds; only writing down a bit about the process with which I ended up with the presented builds.

One of the key features of The Secret World is the ability to construct just almost any kind of combination of combat abilities, plus the option to switch between those. These combinations are referred to as builds or decks – the terminology of choice probably depends a bit on your background.

The limitations are that you can only have 7 active abilities and 7 passive abilities, plus the active abilities has to be from the two weapons that are equipped. And you have to earn ability points to buy the abilities you want. Other than that, you are free to make any combination.

Given the nature of the way you gain abilities, you buy them with ability points, there a game element that you have to change your build as you play. In some cases you may have to change it radically.  I love the flexibility of this system and I love tinkering with it; but at the same time I do not want to have to think about it all the time. So I am also happy to play a build that I like  without changing it.


But from time to time the game throws something at you that you struggle with and at that point may force you to think of a different approach – one of these would be to change your build. Others would be to get help from others, or skip whatever you are doing. But since this post is about builds, that is what I am going to talk about here.

When I initially started playing The Secret World in the beta weekends, I tried a few different weapon combination. The first one was chaos magic + fist weapon. At that point I had no thoughts about any builds or what may be optimal for the game play – these two just had a visual synergy. They looked similar, only one of them was physical damage and the other one magical.  Other weapon combinations did not click in the same way with me, so at launch I picked Chaos + Fist.

Back then I read Yokai’s excellent guide to build philosophy as well as Martin Bruusgard’s blog post about character development. I was certainly inspired to play around with builds by these – getting an idea about the philosophy was important.


However, when I initially started playing, I was not particularly systematic in build development. I just bought the skills as they became affordable for my two weapons of choice and just did a bit of trial and error. I did not think much about saving and documenting those early build attempts. In fact, the only record I have of the very first choices are my screenshots from the very early gameplay, like above.

For the most part this approach worked. After a little while I started to think a bit more about synergies and effects, as well as what kind of talismans I used. I decided to adjust my abilities as well as my weapon and talisman equipment to apply Weaken on the enemies, as well as add boost my Evade, so that enemies would hit me less. Also a mix of single target and Area of Effect abilities was put in.

At an early stage in Savage Coast that resulted in a build that I actually have a record of. The reason for that is that I used this build pretty much all the way from early Savage Coast to most of Blue Mountain and this was the build I used when I returned to the game in December, after my focus time on City of Heroes. The build uses was this:


Total: 62 AP

  1. Hand of Change (Chaos->Theory, 1 AP)
  2. Escalation (Chaos->Chance, 1 AP)
  3. Call for Eris (Chaos->Theory, 1 AP)
  4. Wild at Heart (Fist->Primal, 4 AP)
  5. Hog Wild (Fist->Feral, 1 AP)
  6. Illusion (Chaos->Chance, 2 AP)
  7. Go for the Throat (Elite, Fist->Feral, 7 AP)
  1. Intensity (Chaos->Chance, 1 AP)
  2. Paradigm Shift (Chaos->Theory, 2 AP)
  3. Predator (Fist->Feral, 4 AP)
  4. Gnosis (Chaos->Chance, 1 AP)
  5. Chaos Adept (Chaos->Theory, 4 AP)
  6.  Master of Illusions (Chaos->Chance, 3 AP)
  7. Probability (Elite, Chaos->Chance, 7 AP)

You can also look at the details through this link. The power Escalation was the key damage dealing power here – it affects multiple targets and it applies weakened when it hits. The other four bread&butter damage dealers (Hand of Change, Call for Eris, Wild at Heart, Hog Wild) were powers that I put there to have a mix of single target and AoE as well as a mix of chaos and fist abilities. Illusion was my save-my-behind power to use in a pinch, either to survive long enough to defeat the enemy, to flee or to use a healing drink. Go for the Throat was for interrupting enemies when they were about to do Something Really Bad.

For the passives, Predator and Chaos Adept were added to increase damage. Intensity and Paradigm Shift were added to take advantage of the Weakened state from Escalation to both protect me as well as increase chance to hit. Probability was added to take advantage of the increased hit rate as well as my Evade boosts to increase survival even more. Gnosis was also added to add some extra damage from the Weakened state and Master of Illusions to make my evades with Illusion even better.

This one served me well I think, for solo play.

When I finally decided to change the build I started to put more emphasis on damage output and and also considering damage subtypes. Burst is a subtype supported by both Chaos and Fist, so I picked such abilities with the hope that I may take advantage of that at some point – I did not see much immediate synergy with the amount of ability points I had available. I also reduced emphasis on the evades and wards to put more into damage output, which resulted in this build (also viewable from this link):


Total: 201 AP

  1. Deconstruct (Chaos->Teorama, 9 AP)
  2. Prey on the Weak (Fist->Feral, 3 AP)
  3. One-Two (Fist->The Wilderness, 16 AP)
  4. Four Horsemen (Chaos->Teorama, 16 AP)
  5. Go for the Throat (Elite, Fist->Feral, 7 AP)
  6. Amor Fati (Chaos->The Value of x, 12 AP)
  7. Illusion (Chaos->Chance, 2 AP)
  1. Follow Through (Fist->The Wilderness, 21 AP)
  2. Fixation (Chaos->Shell Game, 9 AP)
  3. Predator (Fist->Feral, 4 AP)
  4. Breakdown (Chaos->The Value of x, 9 AP)
  5. Chaos Adept (Chaos->Theory, 4 AP)
  6. Cutting Thoughts (Chaos->Teorama, 12 AP)
  7. Probability (Elite, Chaos->Chance, 7 AP)

In general I have not been looking for someone else’s build to use – however, I do look from time to time on other builds to look for names of abilities. If I see the name of an ability often enough I have a look what it actually does, if I am not already familiar with it.

Three abilities that got my attention this way were Adrenalise, Twist The Knife and Improved Bursts. The two latter were in weapons I had not put that much points in and the first one was an Elite that cost 50 AP. Step-by-step I changed the build slightly; with Adrenalise in the picture the damage got more focused on Fist Weapon – only a resource consumer for Chaos remained eventually. Since I had dropped the evades and ward and at this time also use more of talismans with higher attack rating to boost damage, I also added a self-heal for those slightly tricky moments. The result of this was this build below, which is pretty much what I use currently for solo Chaos/Fist play (see also this link):


Total: 612 AP

  1. Prey on the Weak (Fist->Feral, 3 AP)
  2. One-Two (Fist->The Wilderness, 16 AP)
  3. Four Horsemen (Chaos->Teorama, 16 AP)
  4. Bushwhack (Fist->The Outback, 34 AP)
  5. Go for the Throat (Elite, Fist->Feral, 7 AP)
  6. Amor Fati (Chaos->The Value of x, 12 AP)
  7. Turn the Tables (Green->Survivalism, 16 AP)
  1. Follow Through (Fist->The Wilderness, 21 AP)
  2. Doom (Blood->Possession, 12 AP)
  3. Predator (Fist->Feral, 4 AP)
  4. Improved Bursts (Assault Rifle->Squad Duty, 21 AP)
  5. Chaos Adept (Chaos->Theory, 4 AP)
  6. Twist the Knife (Blade->Wind through Grass, 12 AP)
  7. Adrenalise (Elite, Fist->The Outback, 50 AP)

This build was part of an effort to look for useful passives from other weapons – in this case the passives have been collected from 5 different weapons. During this process I also made an effort to increase penetration and hit rating attributes on talismans and wear more attack/damage focused talismans. I used Advanced Combat Tracker (ACT) to look at the result of using these different abilities – I was a bit surprised when I first started using this how much of the damage came from the fist abilities – more than I had expected. The results from these tests were also one reason that I did focus a bit more on first abilities for damage. However, it also depends on the type of enemy you face. Using the ACT also gave some insight into how different types of talismans affected damage and other things.

With this build it was also easier for me to get a good builder-consumer rhythm; it flowed better simply. Good as it is; for dungeon play I change this build a bit – Bushwack, Go for the Throat and Turn the Tables are dropped.  The first two because I do not want to include Impair effects; dungeon bosses tend to get immune against those if they are applied to often, so that gets reserved for the tank-type person(s). I might not need the self-heal if there are people that can heal the team.

Instead these have been replaced with other abilities to deal more damage (e.g. Do or Die), or to reduce hate towards me (e.g. Confuse).

There has been times when this build has not been that useful, for example some elemental golem fights in Scorched Earth. For these I ended up with a build like this (see also this link):


Total: 335 AP

  1. Run Rampant (Chaos->Building Blocks, 9 AP)
  2. Four Horsemen (Chaos->Teorama, 16 AP)
  3. Domino Effect (Elite, Chaos->Theory, 7 AP)
  4. Nurture (Fist->Primal, 1 AP)
  5. Surgical Steel (Fist->Warming Up, 9 AP)
  6. Pack Leader (Fist->Primal, 2 AP)
  7. Turn the Tables (Green->Survivalism, 16 AP)
  1. Chaos Adept (Chaos->Theory, 4 AP)
  2. Nurturing Gift (Fist->Primal, 1 AP)
  3. Lick Your Wounds (Fist->Primal, 1 AP)
  4. Improved Bursts (Assault Rifle->Squad Duty, 21 AP)
  5. Hot Iron (Fist->Warming Up, 12 AP)
  6. Twist the Knife (Blade->Wind through Grass, 12 AP)
  7. Out of the Woods (Elite, Fist->Primal, 7 AP)

The main idea here was to focus on magical damage, since the golems were resistant to physical damage, and to use more of a kiting approach, due to the environment and the abilities the golems used. Thus instead of Fist damage, I picked abilities from the healing side of Fist instead – which are pretty good ones. Domino Effect was quite useful here to interrupt and get a bit of breathing space in addition to dealing some damage on enemies as well.

This concludes my first post on build experiences; hopefully there has been something of interest here. I can also highly recommend the build tool that I linked to for the builds above, TSW Builder. It is a very nice tool I think and is quite helpful in finding synergies good combinations.

Categories: The Secret World

In the City of the Sun God

January 13, 2013 2 comments

In roughly the past week I have been spending my time in The City of the Sun God, the second Egyptian zone in The Secret World. For me, this was a noticeably different experience from the other zones. The reason for this was primarily the NPCs that I met in this zone.

The entrance to the City of the Sun God

The entrance to the City of the Sun God


Contrary to other MMOs, many of the NPCs one meets and talks to are people that I remember and/or relate to them and their situation in some way. In the City of the Sun God that was a bit … difficult, I found. They do have certain personalities and I remember some of them because of that and the dialogue is well written. But ancient Egyptians trapped into statues in a zone that did not have much to indicate that this is a contemporary setting… no, this was not my favourite zone.



I still like the zone though, it has been fun to play through a lot of the content. It just that many of the other zones simply were more fun to me. I did skip a couple of the missions, so I might have missed some     of the good stuff.  At some point I will probably return to do those later – I know there was at least one investigation mission that I skipped and I want to try out these at some point.



As perhaps expected the zone contains more of the same type of enemies that are found in the previous Eqyptian zone; cultists, ghouls, locust and some golems, with a splash of Jinns. And filth of course. And there are mummies also, can’t have an ancient Egyptian city without mummies.

There are some tricky fights and that is quite good. I do like it when the majority of the fighting is going rather swift, but without getting tedious. Then from time to time there is a fight that I really stuggle with and I sometimes perhaps die. In those case there may be because I made a mistake, or it gets me thinking how I can do this better. And then try again and in the end be successful. These are the victories that feels the best – I think The Secret World is going a pretty good job with providing these moments from time to time.


Tonight I decided to finish the main story mission in the zone, which I almost did. I succeeded with the expected battle (after a few attempts, i.e. one of these moments I mentioned), but the whole thing seems to have bugged out after completing that tier and I believe I ended up in the wrong spot. It has been petitioned, so hopefully it will sort itself out eventually.


For now though I feel that I am done with the ancient city and I move on to an area slightly closer to home – Transylvania.

Categories: The Secret World

Dungeon Day

January 5, 2013 Comments off

My cabal (or rather the group of cabals, one for each faction) that I am member of runs a weekly Dungeon Day. This used to be a time slot once per week (now twice per week) that is geared towards supporting each other to run through dungeons, be it normal, elite or nightmare mode. Dungeon runs can of course happen at other times also, but with people spread out across a few different time zones and at different stages in their character development it certainly helps to have a scheduled time.

Yesterday was one of those times and I ended up running through three dungeons (normal mode) in The Secret World in that session – Ankh, Hell Fallen and The Darkness War. From a QL perspective this was perhaps not the optimal choice to do them in the mentioned order, but they were all enjoyable experiences nevertheless.



Of the five people in the team, which stayed the same through all three dungeons, there were two of us that had not done these dungeons before. The other three were a bit overpowered for these dungeons, since they normally were doing the nightmare mode versions of these dungeons. Thus the whole thing probably went through a lot easier than it would have been if all had been geared in line with the difficulty of the dungeon and/or new to these dungeons.

I must say that I quite enjoy these dungeons, compared to some other dungeon/instance experiences in other MMOs. They are reasonably short in time and does not require a couple of hours to get through. Part of the reason for that is that there is not much trash mobs between the bosses. In those case that there are such mobs, they seem to typically be there to teach the players something.  There is also mechanics of various types in play, rather than just a big bunch of hit points that need to be reduced to zero – it makes the encounters more interesting. And they are also for a single team, only five players.

Hell Fallen

Hell Fallen

I like the single team/small group experience much better than big raid groups. Although I did a fair amount of “raiding” in City of Heroes during a period, with the incarnate trials and some other regular events, like Rikti Mothership raid. Still these were typically quite short in time and at least in the trials typically had a few objectives to perform with a few mechanics involved.

Our experienced members in the team were very good and helpful to make the dungeon run an enjoyable experience and we good a fair amount of nice loot drops. So from having purely green items in QL7-8 range my character now has decent set-up of blue items mixed in with the greens also, in QL7-9 range.

The Darkness War

The Darkness War

I learned a few things running through these dungeons, which should help to prepare and adjust my builds for future runs; this is all part of the fun – learn and adapt. I am looking forward more Dungeon Day runs!

Categories: The Secret World

Investigating Egypt

January 4, 2013 6 comments

I have played through most of the missions in the Scorched Desert zone in The Secret World now; in this zone there are three different investigation missions:

  • The Big Terrible Picture
  • Angels & Demons
  • Unburnt Bush

I am not going to go into details about the puzzles in these missions; I do not want to spoil anything for anyone that has not played them. At least not in clear text, there are some comments in bullet points below, but you have to crack the puzzle of decoding them if you want to read them.

The order in which I played these missions were in the order they are listed above. I did figure out the way to solve the puzzles in all three of the missions, but there was an increasing about of frustration with these missions, from no frustration with The Big Terrible Picture to a fair amount of frustration with Unburnt Bush. In the last mission it part of the frustration came from a technical issue so to speak.

The mission The Big Terrible Picture takes place in some Egyptian ruins, which happens to be inside one of the Lair areas in the game. Fortunately if you are not at an appropriate QL to handle the mobs in there you can still do the mission without running into any of these enemies. Just do not stray off the path that is given to you by the mission. There is a spot near the second puzzle that will get you close to some enemies in the area; just watch your step and you should be ok.

The second mission, Angels & Demons, takes place in and near the town of al-Merayah and is the one with the fewest tiers. It was interesting also because it added some pieces to the puzzle of the overall story around the area; although perhaps it raised more questions than it answered from that point of view – but in a good way.

The third mission takes place in various places in the zone; this one I ended up looking up on tier 2 after quite a while – I was quite sure I had a proper solution, but was not able to progress. It turned out that my solution was correct, but there may have been an issue where I was standing perhaps that caused problems. Moving a bit resolved the problem – that was frustrating because it had nothing to with the puzzle itself.  Once I managed past that point the rest was quicker to do.

A good thing about these investigation missions is that you may learn something; in two of the missions I learned some new things and in the remaining mission I dusted off some old knowledge revisiting some texts that I had not read in decades.

Despite some of the frustrations I very much enjoyed playing these missions; it was enjoyable in the end. I put a few comments and hints below, although the text below has 1-2 levels of obfuscation. For most of you there are two levels to deal with; these have also been inspired by the missions themselves.

  • Xbzznaqbg ‘/cenl’ xna inen alggvtg. Uåyy xbyy cå ine qrg svaaf ywhf bpxfå
  • Naiäaq xelcgrevatzrgbqra fbz svaaf v Cbr’f irex
  • Unaf rsgreanza äe unaf yöfrabeq
  • Uroervfxn bpu nenovfxn naiäaqf. Rsgre gvre 1 sbxhfren cå uroervfxn grkgra bpu bztviavatnean.
  • Xunyvq bpu Zbfrf une ra qry trzrafnzg
Categories: The Secret World

Wrapping up 2012

January 1, 2013 1 comment

Another year has passed and it is time to look back a bit on my MMO gaming in 2012.

City of Heroes

For most of the year, City of Heroes was my base game, the one I always fallen back to after excursions to other MMOs. Except for the months July and August when I had a break from the game, this was one I played to the very end. I do very much miss the game and community, in particular on my main server Defiant. I still get sad about it from time to time. There has been a lot of discussion and speculation why it was shut down; it would be good at some point to hear actual reasons and a bit more specific than “change in policy”. It would also be good to hear why they handled the shutdown the way they did, but I guess that is not something we will ever hear.


Champions Online

I did also play some of the competition to City of Heroes in the superhero genre, both Champions Online and DC Universe Online. After all, I am a lifetime subscriber to Champions Online. There are certainly good things in Champions, but for me that is a game that I can only enjoy during short periods of time. Part of the reason for that is because some of the features and elements of the game felt like simple money-grabbing features – the crafting/harvesting is one of those. I initially liked the change they had made, but realized it was a broken design from a game-play perspective – which could be overcome somewhat by spending plenty of money. I am ok with spending money on a game that is “free to play”, but not when design seems to be broken on purpose for people to spend money.

DC Universe Online

Very late this year, after the shutdown of City of Heroes, I also tried out DC Universe Online again briefly. Previously I had played in on PS3, but this time was my first experience with the game on a PC. I liked it a little bit better on the PC, but in the end the controls and the horrible character creator and tutorial turned me off that game. That, and that I could not use my SOE acount either, but had to use a ProSieben1 (Alaplaya) account – plus that it was not possible to merge these two accounts either. Maybe I will give it ago at some point later, but the controls does put me off this game.


Star Wars – The Old Republic

During spring-time I also ventured into Star Wars – The Old Republic. It was really a great and fun game to play – at first. In the beginning it was very cool and fun to play and I enjoyed trying out most of the different classes available, up to the point that it was time to leave the starter areas. For continued play, I stuck with my Sith Sorcerer and it was a quite enjoyable ride for some time. In the long run though the non-class-story missions started to feel grindy though and even getting to the different points for the class story missions became grindy – which is when I lost interest. I reached about level 30 I believe. Maybe at some point I will give this game ago again; I did not read up closely on the details for the “free to play”, but it did not seem that it would require much or any money spent from my side really considering how I expect to play. This is probably a game I will return to at some point in 2013.

Anarchy Online

Early this sping I did play a bit of Anarchy Online as well and enjoyed it quite a bit; at least for some time. The setting is marvelous, even though the graphics are dated. While there are many nice people in the game, many are long time veterans that have played the game for years. Most of them started playing the game long after I initially played the game, so in calendar time I am “more veteran”, but a newbie in terms of played time in comparison.  We do not quite play at the same level, unfortunately. I do hope for a revamp of some of the combat mechanics; it is too much reliant on auto-attack for my taste at the moment. I did sign up for a 12-month subscription close to the end of this year and I hope to jump back in the game during spring, hopefully when there may be some beta testing of a new New Player Experience and the new game engine.


Age of Conan

Late this spring I also jumped into Age of Conan. I do like this type of fantasy setting better than the typical high-fantasy-with-elves-and-dwarves settings one see in a lot of MMOs. I am not too keen on fantasy settings, but this one is at least more tolerable. In the end though it felt a bit empty – most active people seemed to be doing high-end raids and dungeons. The gold seller spam was also quite annoying. Plus, another Funcom game craved for some time and attention in the summer-time, with a more contemporary setting. Similar to Anarchy Online, if this game gets a bit more people playing in my level range and experience level I might try it out again.

Guild Wars

I played Guild Wars a bit on and off during spring. This is a game I love returning too – every time I do I realize why this was my favourite fantasy MMO-type game. For some reason I do not stick around though – I have yet to figure out why that is. While I have completed all of the main campaigns in the game, there are other story-oriented content I have bought but not yet played and a number of things on my to-do list. Remains to see how many people still play this when Guild Wars 2 is the new kid from Arenanet.



One game that I played briefly in the beta, but did not write anything about, was Raiderz. For some reason I got an invite to the beta for this game, so I tried it out for a short time. I did not expect to like it, but I quite enjoyed the tutorial/starter area. It was a bit different and it was fun. Then I got to the main land and to me the game transformed a bit from quite fun to more of a normal fantasy MMO-with-a-bit-of-grind from Asia. Perhaps the launch version is better, but the fantasy setting did not thrill me though.

Steam Angels gathering at the Xmas tree?

Steam Angels gathering at the Xmas tree?

City of Steam

Industral Age fantasy with steampunk elements – that is how the setting for City of Steam is described as. This game have had four closed beta weekends during autumn/winter an d I have played a bit in these four weekends. A notable feature of this game is that is is a browser-based game – there is nothing to install (except for the Unity3D web player plugin). The game looks great for a browser-based game; I think it compares favourably to for example Runes of Magic (at least as I remember Runes of Magic). I thought the combat was pretty fun (dual-wielding “wands” that throw lightning balls – what is not to like… 🙂 ). There are some design elements that I do not quite like or am on the fence about; but the interaction betweent he developers and the community is top notch I think. I would be happy to provide some support to the game because of this, even if I would end up not playing it so much.  There will be an open beta later in 2013, but no dates are set yet. I will try it out again then.

Guild Wars 2

A big game of the year, but one I only played for about a week. Pre-ordered the game and played for almost a week – then NCSoft announed that they were going to terminate City of Heroes and Paragon Studios on August 31st. My focus switched to City of Heroes then after that weekend and I have not played Guild Wars 2 since that. I pretty much lost my urge to play the game during that period. Perhaps in 2013 if I get some cravings for fantasy settings I will try it out again. I am not sure that I will spend any money in the game though; I do have a bit of a trust issue with NCSoft corporate.


The Secret World

And finally, the game that for me has been the best still remaining game of the year. I played it a fair amount from early access to a few weeks after launch, then due to Real Life interfering activity dropped significantly during summer-time. The City of Heroes situation forced a pause from the game as well and now in December I picked up up for real again. The stories and missions are for the most part really quite enjoyable and I have gotten back into making builds/decks for my character, trying out different abilities and play styles & weapons. Contrary to most other MMOs I have mainly played melee-oriented combat in this game and I am quite enjoying it.

I have a lifetime subscription for the game and with the recent change I will get monthly bonus points to buy stuff for from the store. I will probably spend more than those points in the end – not because it would be necessary, but because  I am more inclined to buy stuff just because I love the game and want to support it. The same thing happened in City of Heroes, so I suspect it will happen here.


Mayans, Egypt and Blue Mountains

December 30, 2012 2 comments

I started playing The Secret World in the pre-order early access (plus in the beta weekends), but until just a few days ago I never got past the Solomon Island zones. Part of the reason for that was a busy Real Life during summer, but also that NCSoft announced the termination of City of Heroes and Paragon Studios. During those three months from that announcement, I focused only on playing City of Heroes.

So after the termination it was time to resume playing again, but I postponed it a bit – partially to try out some other games also first (Planetside 2, DCUO on PC, Vanguard, Perpetuum). But once I got back into The Secret World I was initially somewhat intimidated – how was it things worked now again? But after a slow start things started to come back and after running a couple of missions I knew again why I love this game.

Is it just me, or is it a bit hot here?

Is it just me, or is it a bit hot here?

Before my 3 month pause of playing the game I was playing in Blue Mountains and had around 110-120 unspent AP. Thus two of my initial objectives where to finish the first story mission (Dawning of and Endless Night) and also work a bit on my Chaos/Fist build – it worked ok as-is, but had been the same for a quite some time, since early Savage Coast.

Completing the story mission was easier than I had anticipated – in the back of my head I remembered some comments about difficulties with some missions in the Blue Mountain part, but it was pretty manageable. The end raised some new questions and it was quite good in that regard – eager to find out more what is going on.

Beautiful Eqyptian moon...that was certainly what was on my mind then

Beautiful Eqyptian moon…that was certainly what was on my mind then

The next story mission was shorter and quicker and lead the way to Egypt, which was nice and exciting to see some new scenery. Not that I was tired of Solomon Island and Blue Mountains; in fact I quite enjoyed most of the time in Blue Mountains. I have been going back and and forth between Scorched Desert and Blue Mountains a couple of times lately, doing both new and old missions in Blue Mountains as well.

But Eqypt has been quite enjoyable as well and it is nice to see new challenges, enemies and people to interact with.

In most MMOs I am an altoholic – I create many different characters. Part of the reason for that is because I enjoy the variation, different play styles, different outfits, different roles. But since The Secret World allows most of that in one character and that I can repeat pretty much whatever mission I want in the game, all those altoholic tendencies have gone into the same character. Right now I have unlocked the whole inner ability wheel and I have a couple of different builds to work on and some skill points in a couple of different weapons.

I promise, there actually _is_ a big monster behind you!

I promise, there actually _is_ a big monster behind you!

This is contrary to what some people think is the optimal way to play the game, but as Funcom says – “you can become anything you want to be, without restrictions”. This is an approach that works for me and I am quite happy with that. Although I think I will need more Gear Manager slots…

I have some more team-oriented builds I have created, but will need to get a bit more team play with those to learn and practice, so I hope to do more dungeons. In fact, I havce only done one dungeon once so far – Polaris, which was pretty much during the first week I played. So I have a bit catching up to do in that department. Luckily I think with my Cabal conglomerate and that Funcom dropped the subscription fee will create good opportunities to play even the early dungeons in normal mode.

MayanEqyptRight now there is an “End of days” event going on, since it is the end of the Mayan Calendar. This includes some big monsters wandering around, some dungeon and Mayan zombies that spawn wherever you go. The last part is something you really cannot avoid – as soon as you stand still in one place for a short while, a Mayan zombie will spawn and you may need to fight it. I have not looked into all the details of the event, but some of the things it drops are QL5 blue weapons (blades and hammers primarily – would not expect the old Mayans to use assault rifles…), plus drops to allow your self to change into a Mayan zombies of different types, for 20 minutes.

If you keep defeating the spawned Mayans there will be a bit tougher spawns until the final one, which conned red to me and was too tough for me to defeat on my own. The big monsters are three different Harbingers of Nameless Days. It seems one gets a mission to defeat them if you are nearby one of them and the other day I did just that with my cabal conglomerate. It was a pretty fun experience, especially since I had not played together at the same time with as many in the cabal(s) at the same time as during this occasion.

As it is now The Secret World is by far my favourite game to play now and any other games will probably suffer a bit because of that – there is only so much time for playing games.


Categories: The Secret World