Gaia Rocks: TSW’s 2nd Anniversary

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Playing The Secret World during events highlights a part of MMOs I don’t usually experience. I know what the MMO stands for, and yet I find myself playing most of them solo. When I run dungeons or do other group activity, it’s through in-game LFG or just random chat connections. I’m a loner, mostly, never really joined a guild or anything I could stick with long term or carve out a lasting identity for myself. This doesn’t really bug me, since I play a lot of games and don’t end up sticking with MMOs long enough to be reliable. TSW is the rare game that makes me want to change that.

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It’s a small enough community you start recognize the names that pop up in random grouping. Join the #Event channel and you’ll see the same people chatting, calling out guardian encounters, and answering questions about the event. TSW may not have flight paths, or an easy solo travel system, but with meetups I can hop from zone to zone in seconds, join the fight and follow everyone to the next one.

Since I’ve been spending more time in-game, I’ve realized how much I haven’t seen. I’ve started Nightmare dungeons, but never progressed beyond 18s. I’ve never seen the NYC raid. I’ve never done anything with raids. I’ve still never upgraded an auxiliary weapon. I’m  missing boatloads of lore and clothing items to collect. I’ve never even attempted any of the Master Planner achievements. Most MMOs I can look at a checklist of my unexplored frontiers and feel nothing, but TSW honestly compels me to pick up every rock and check for filth crawling underneath.

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So where do I go from here? I’d love to jump right back into Noobmares and run more NM dungeons, but lately I don’t often have free time in multiple-hour chunks. Maybe I should just commit and jump into them when I have the time. I’d love to join a dedicated group, but my available shifts so much from week to week I just don’t think I’d be reliable.

For now, I’m still enjoying the anniversary event! I’ve managed to collect all the clothing items (except for the stuff for the KD golem, damn him), all the pets, plenty of black bullion and signets, and I was somehow lucky enough to collect these two trinkets:

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Now if I only knew what they did… Soon, hopefully! Also, I put together a little video to highlight the golem fights. They really don’t require much in the way of strategy, but the creatures themselves are pretty impressive.

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The Hive Hits Tokyo – Issue 9 is Live!

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I haven’t been subscribed to The Secret World for months – Whispering Tide kind of killed my enthusiasm for awhile – but the much-anticipated launch of Issue 9 & the first Tokyo zone pulled me right back in. Technically, Issue 9 is still in early access and only available to subscribers for 3 days. I just couldn’t wait, so put down my money for a month. Maybe just this month, maybe more if I really get back into it.

Originally, I only intended to spend an hour or so checking out the new content, but that hour spun into 5. I’ll give some first impressions and try to avoid any big spoilers…

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The new characters I’ve run across so far are excellent. For this first zone, looks like each faction has a particular contact, kind of like a sub-faction colored by Tokyo culture. Samurai for the Templars, Oni demons for the Illuminati, and Yakuza-types for the Dragon. Even as a Templar, I think my favorite so far is Inbega the Oni. Very entertaining dialogue.

Combat encounters can be pretty challenging! Even without the extra effects of the AEGIS system, many of the enemies I’ve run across have FAST AoE attacks and some quick knockdowns. I’ve been wishing for a faster recharge on the dodge ability. One Oni mob in particular has a brutal combo: he goes invisible, then pops back on top of you with an AoE knockdown. If you get hit by that you’re down for a few seconds, giving him plenty of time to hit you with another AoE in a weird fan pattern.

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I haven’t revisited my build yet, but I’ve been brainstorming ways to be more effective in Tokyo. The way AEGIS works is you can have 2 types slotted, one corresponding to each weapon. Enemies have shields corresponding to demon, psychic, or cybernetic AEGIS controllers. This means ONLY the weapon with the right AEGIS slotted will damage the shield, and also means aux weapons have no effect on shields. I’m embarrassed to say it took me a while to figure out why my flamethrower kept hitting zeroes on shields.

Out of new enemies, the Oni have the standout design  so far. Nothing else has really jumped out at me, though I’ve been watching general chat and it sounds like there’s some cool stuff left to find.

I’m not sure what to think of AEGIS yet. It definitely adds another element to combat, and I’m looking forward to seeing how different enhancements and controllers change gameplay. But the way you upgrade controllers already looks like a massive grind. When you have controllers equipped in combat, AEGIS enemies have a chance to drop filth samples (or something) that charge up your controllers. They start at 0%, and I think once they hit 100% you can boost their QL level. After a few hours, my most-used controller is at 30%, which isn’t too bad I guess? We’ll see. At least I don’t think it takes AP. I have very little interest in augments thanks to their ridiculous AP cost. I’d rather put that toward completing my wheel!

Tokyo’s cool so far, and I can say without a doubt it’s renewed by interest in TSW. I’ll be spending a lot more time in-game, and I’ll probably have more to say once I’ve gone through the main story and spent more time with AEGIS. I took some video yesterday too, and I’ll try to get some of that online.

If anyone else is exploring Tokyo, let me know so we can meetup. With the increased difficulty, I’d feel a lot better running down Tokyo’s streets with a few friends.

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Sidenote: Arturo’s office is gorgeous. I didn’t care about housing in TSW until I walked into there (and it’s still not a high priority) but MAN would I love to set up shop in a spot like that…

Is That a Pumpkin On Your Head, or…

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Halloween might not officially start until Thursday, but the spooky season kicked off  in The Secret World last Friday! I wasn’t around for any of the Cat God content last year, so it’s been awesome to be able to go through that chain, as well as the new stuff.

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The Cat God quests have a cool storyline and excellent climax, and even though it doesn’t take very long to plow through the content I was happy with the rewards. I had been wondering where people got the filthy little cat that jumps through black holes, and the Samedi clothes are a few neat pieces to have lying around the closet. I think the NM version of the Cat God dungeon is new this year, and I still have to run that to try and get another cat for my collection. I’ve heard he drops 10.1 weapons too, but I don’t know if the skins are unique to the event or if you can get them anywhere else in game. I’ll try to get a few regardless!

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I don’t know all the specifics for this, but the Cat God shows up as a random spawn called Incognito at different points throughout Kingsmouth too. I saw a bunch of people talking about it in general chat, but didn’t really understand the specifics. I feel a little bad because a lot of people were running around searching for him and I just ran into him on accident while I was working on the new League of Monster Slayers stories! I think he just runs away once you know enough of his health down, but he dropped a sack with some nifty new headgear before he got away.

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I think this pumpkin head is one of the ones introduced last year, because it awarded me a 2012 Samhain achievement, and I don’t think the new ones from Jack have a glow. I like this one better! I have one 2012 achievement left, the one to get a bloody pumpkin head, but I’ve seen a lot of talk in the forums about how it’s unavailable this year. That kind of sucks, but I’m not enough of a completionist to worry about it too much. And maybe they’ll change their minds and add it back in. I’m also wearing a new torso piece from the event in that picture, the post abdominal surgery dressing. Very outpatient chic!

Aside from Cat God 2012 content, Funcom added in a really cool series of short, scary story style missions. In-game, the missions take you through short stories written by a handful of KM’s residents, prompted by Danny of the League of Monster Slayers. The missions are all pretty short and straightforward, but they go along way to add even more spooky flavor to the New England zones, and the text-content is pretty substantial. I haven’t read through all of them yet, but at the end of the meta-quest you get a book item that includes the whole collection! Very cool to have a lasting souvenir like that.

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One of the missions for the League is a group quest to kill Jack. It requires five people collecting jack-o-lanterns and lighting them in a certain pattern to summon him, and once you’ve completed you earn a carved pumpkin in addition to other rewards. There are five different reward pumpkins with different expressions: sinister, stretched, happy, evil, and round. Apparently, if you summon him again with those five pumpkins in the right arrangement, you get SUPER JACK, an amped-up version of him with the same abilities and 12 million health. I was lucky enough to stumble on a group killing him the other morning. It’s similar to the Guardian fights where you get a quest credit that pops up once he’s down if you contribute, and he rewards a purple bag. I didn’t get anything good out of mine, but I’ll be watching in-game chat to see if I can get him again!

I’ve had a lot of fun with TSW’s Halloween content so far, and it’s been a good break from running filth missions. I still have to run the Cat God NM mission, maybe a few times, and I’m thinking about farming bags of tricks and treats to try for a few other cosmetic items. If you’re looking for a detailed guide to the event, the Halloween FAQ on the official forums is an awesome resource, and Sephora’s Closet has a roundup of cosmetic items. The Halloween content lasts through November 8, so you still have plenty of time to get in there and earn some fun treats!

TSW: Enter the Filth 2 Playthrough & Lore Locations


We’ve hit the next stage of The Whispering Tide and I have mixed feelings.

For me, I definitely like the mission in this stage a lot better than the last. As a tank it’s been very easy to find a group, and because the cooldowns from the missions are separate I can earn 5 fragments in about 20 minutes, and then be ready to run both missions again after a short wait. At the rate the tentacles are going down, I think these missions will be available for a good length of time too, so I’m not as worried about being able to earn enough fragments as I was.

On the other hand, I think it’s probably a lot more difficult for DPSers and people who haven’t beaten the Gatekeeper. It’s harder to find parties as DPS, and if you haven’t unlocked Nightmares you only have the one version of the dungeon available. A lot of groups just run the normal and then the Nightmare one right after the other, and they’re looking for players who can run both so they don’t have to spend time finding a replacement after the normal.

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The developers have said this event is targeted at players who have been running endgame content, but this is the first time I think that’s really sunk in for me. The first Enter the Filth mission wasn’t too difficult to solo with a decent build and a mix of Q10 greens and blues. But at this stage, players who can run the Nightmare dungeon have a pronounced advantage for earning currency. Longtime players with a stockpile of resources already had a huge boost for earning slivers, and now it’s the same for fragments too.

It’s fair to reward loyal, active players, but it kind of sucks for newer people. This isn’t like a seasonal event where the same rewards might be available next year – this is a one-time thing.

Tough to nail down how I feel about this one! But thankfully the Halloween event should be available soon, and I’m really excited to see that for the first time. No mixed feelings there!

TSW: Killing Machine Achieved!

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Akir the Sun Guardian, my last victim! After camping Kiya the Pharaoh’s Concubine for the last two days, she finally popped. Akir was the last rare spawn on my list, so I headed north into the canyons at the edge of the zone, figuring I would just park myself at his spawn point and try to catch him a few times in the morning. But he was already there when I showed up! Very satisfying to hit two of them right in a row like that.

The rewards for my hunting prowess are a title, One for the Ages, and this sweet jacket:

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KILLING MACHINE, indeed.

Unfortunately, my equipped weapons cover up the sweet design on the back of the jacket! Stupid flamethrower and chaos focus.

It’s kind of nice that my hunt for rares is finished just as the next phase of The Whispering Tide is beginning. From this post on the forums, it looks like we’re facing a similar mission to the last fragment one, only this time with two different versions for groups: normal and Nightmare, rewarding 2 and 3 fragments respectively. And they’re on different cooldowns, so that’s 5 fragments every half hour. I won’t be able to try it ’til later today, but it SOUNDS like it just got a lot easier to earn fragments, as long as the mission doesn’t take too long. Hopefully the next phase will make it easier to earn more slivers too. I’m sitting at 1900 slivers and 50~ fragments, and I’m a little worried I still might have to choose between the pet and outfit stuff at the end of the event. We’ll see what happens!

I’ll probably be running the event mission a lot, so look me up if you’re online and want to join me! In-game name is Biezel.

TSW: Hunting Rares in October

Between tanking NMs and waiting for the next phase of the Whispering Tide, I’ve been working steadily to hunt down all the rare monsters in The Secret World. There aren’t nearly as many as in WoW—I think there are only around 40—but it’s still pretty time consuming since you have to wait around for them to spawn. Some are on short 15 minute timers, but with others you could be waiting 3 hours. Still, there’s a sweet jacket at the end of it, so I feel like it’s a side project worth the time!

I’ve been using the rare spawn maps at the TSW wiki and browsing info at Unfair.co and this forum thread. So far I’ve downed everything in New England and the first zone in Egypt. Making good progress! I haven’t had trouble finding anything yet, but I’ve definitely spent some time waiting around for them to pop.

Sometimes I remember to take screenshots, but others I’m too excited to see a spawn and then I forget! Here are a few of my trophies so far:

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The Dunwich Horror. This guy took me some time, and I was so relieved to find him wandering the fence south of the airport in KM I celebrated by killing him.

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Ainn the Harbinger of Death. I waited around for a while on this guy too (noticing a theme?). I actually like the design of this golem model a lot, looks crusty like it’s covered in barnacles or something.  He spawns in the middle of a pack of worshipers, and I bonded with them while we were waiting by killing them all repeatedly.

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The Lost One. This was a piece of cake! He was the last rare I had to hunt down in the Scorched Desert, and he was right there waiting the first time I went looking. So grateful for the convenience I gave him directions (TO DEATH).

It’s been a fun journey so far, and I think I’m about halfway done. I want to finish it before Tokyo because I’m assuming they’ll add more rare monsters, and then I might have to kill them for the achievement too!

TSW: Joel Bylos Q&A Highlights

MMORPG.com connected with Joel Bylos, Game Director for TSW, and he made an appearance in their forums for an extensive AMA session yesterday (you can see the full thread here). He stuck around for awhile and answered a ton of questions, and I wanted to pull out a few of the ones I thought were especially interesting/exciting (in no particular order)…

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Cosmetic weapon skins coming to the item store.
Joel: “They are made…they’ll show up shortly.”

I think this is a great use of the item store, and I REALLY hope they make some of them available to purchase with veteran points… because otherwise we don’t have much to do with those right now. Though he HAS mentioned portable banks for vet points coming soon, so there’s that at least. But re: weapons, some of the skins in game are gorgeous (I’m especially partial to the hammer and blade models) and I’d love to see what else they have up their sleeves.

Secondary factions in Tokyo.
Joel: “There are three “mini factions” in Tokyo. Players will need to work with all three.”

Interesting. I would love this to be a choice where we have to choose one of the factions and deal with the consequences! Another thing I’ve kind of missed from other MMOs is a rep grind of some kind. They’re not always well-implemented, but I like the feeling of progressing through the ranks in an organization and unlocking new rewards. Would be cool to see a set of secondary factions in addition to the big three, and maybe give us a way of rep grinding that lines up with those insane monster hunting achievements. I think secondary factions might require some serious system revision though, so realistically I’m guessing these “mini factions” will just show up as story elements without any gameplay ramifications. But maybe I’ll be wrong!

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One scenario will be free and other will be included with Issue 8.
Joel: “One Scenario will be free. Augments are free, but if you only run one scenario with cooldown you will be at a disadvantage for drop rates. Issue #8 is a bundle of scenarios and the story mission.”

I like this. Give people a chance to try out the system before deciding if they want to drop more dollars on it.

No auxiliary weapon in Issue 8.
Joel: “Issue #8 does not have an aux weapon.”

Kind of disappointing, but I think with augments we’ll have plenty of uses for AP. Just looking forward to whatever we’ll find in Tokyo! Maybe we’ll see more than one, since it’s such a massive content addition.

Another new system for progression besides augments.
Joel: “No current plans to progress gear past 10.5. Instead we have two more paths of advancement we are pursuing, Augments and another to be revealed for Tokyo.”

Maybe he’s talked about this before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it.  This is really exciting, and I’m glad we’ll have options for progression that aren’t gear-based. Maybe since augments deal in AP we’ll gain access to a system that requires SP instead? He also mentions later in the thread that Tokyo introduces a system that, for the first time ever, behaves differently in PVE and PVP. I haven’t played much PVP, so I can’t speak to any of that, but it’s nice to see they’re thinking about it and considering the different gameplay styles before introducing new stuff.

Got a few new interesting topics to roll around in my head after that. Nothing earth-shattering, but this close to Issue 8, the Halloween event, and more Whispering Tide, I’m just fine without a huge info-dump. Did I miss anything exciting from his answers, or did something else catch your eye?

Also: early on, someone asked him about the status of the event, and he said: “I can’t offer you more than to say it won’t be “weeks” until it starts again. It will be much sooner than that.” So it looks like we’ll be fighting back more filth before long!