Ability void

Secret World is a tough beast to wrestle, its open and welcoming skill system doesn’t hinder you or your progress when you start the game but as you progress the underlying system becomes apparent and your choices are almost funnelled towards a cookie cutter skills and builds.

This is frustrating as the skill system is a big selling point of the game and it does offer a lot of tweaking that can extend your powers in additional ways, such as more splash damage, extended chain attacks, healing boosts, inflicting conditions on enemies.

AbilityWheelIn our weekly group everyone has more or less finished the Blue Mountain area and has a build that they find comfortable playing in the group, even my healing build has a little damage output now as the team’s gear and skills are working well together.
However last night we took the plunge and pushed into the 3rd dungeon, this is where the choices made months ago at the start of your character really can hinder your options as the trinity role are needed and if you’re fun build isn’t quite right you’ll know about it.

The hike in trash mob toughness was the first thing that was noticeable. In the other 2 dungeons the trash mobs were nothing to write home about. In The Darkness War we soon found that we all needed to tweak our builds to counter the new threats. For me this was still well within normal operational parameters of a dungeon run.

  • We falter on the first hurdle as on the first wave hitting us @VanHemlock discovers his taunt isn’t in the ability bar, regardless of this we manage to reduce Batab Crusher’s health down before getting swamped with adds
  • A quick amendment to skill bars and we are off to the 2nd boss, only a “trash” mob aggros from the side of the path and the team take a nasty beating as we were very unprepared
  • We proceed to the next boss, Xibalban Bloodhound, a new mechanic is experienced but we find that a lack of DPS means that boss consumes more Mayans than we’d like. We defeat the boss on the second attempt, by this time it’s very clear that the dungeon isn’t very forgiving on the tank and by proxy the healers.
  • A quick respite and we are onto the 3rd boss Dark House Sorcerer, he hits hard but also has a lot of attacks that need the players to move a lot. We complete this first time with only the faint sound of the magic roundabout in our ears
  • Then we hit the wall with the Unbound Ak’ab boss, we took 1 run to learn the mechanics and adjust our builds.
    The 2nd run we attempted to draw the Ak’ab Hatchlings towards the edges but this didn’t end well.
    The Final runs we attempted to keep the boss and Ak’ab Hatchlings taunted in a group to one side, this wasn’t too bad other than keeping up the tanks health up, we didn’t lucky with some of the Ak’ab Hatchlings and they exploded near the support group and started chasing them.
  • At this point the set toppled and we wiped for the final time.

The biggest issue is that in TSW there is no respec, you can just earn more points, however that takes time and doesn’t undo the fact you spent 40 points on Chaos Magic only to never use it again.

This is fine for players who want to spend extra time grinding more ability points but for a static group with players that pop on 1 or 2 times a week this isn’t really a good place to be in.

In the future we shall run it again, with everyone in the right gear and with the skills needed to win, then we shall wonder why last time it hurt so much.

here is the final deck build that I was using on the last attempt [TSW Builder]

#TheSecretWorld #Dungeon #TSW

It’s a mystery

Playing The Secret World with a static group is a far better experience to delivery measured chunks of content to players. Well better than playing solo, and that isn’t to say you can’t solo it, just that the hive mind is often better at solutionizing and less likely to resort to searching Google for answers. Don’t get me wrong my original time in TSW was very fun, however it wasn’t long until the magic faded for many players and I was playing solo alot of the time. As the mobs got harder getting from A to B took longer and longer.
This started being a chore and ultimately I also left the game for digital pastures shiny.

The Secret World throws some utterly different curve balls at you in the form of investigation missions. Of course if you were to encounter these in a single player adventure title you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Yet in an MMO setting they truely stand out as a unique feature of the title, I have no doubt that this a side effect of having Ragnar Tørnquist as the game director.

Last night we ran a few “standard” missions as the group entered and started on Savage Coast content. I was awash with memories of the area and had a little smile knowing that I’ll get to see other people experience some of that great storytelling again. To finish the groups evening jaunt we undertook an Investigation mission that I just about remember from over a year ago, but I settled back into the story without too much hardship or spoiler for the rest of the group.

Maybe the modern day setting allows TSW the freedom to think outside the conventional MMO boundaries.
By using old/foreign languages, fake  corporation websites, asking “does anyone in your group have knowledge of Latin” or maybe basic knowledge of musical notation.
The strange part is you half feel that the game is not only testing you but also teaching you.

TSW – Dig yourself, Lazarus

I’ve been meaning to cover the Secret World Issue 2 (Digging Deeper) update that will be landing in the next week, but got a little distracted. So here it is better later than never.

Issue 2 has been delayed due the Funcom restructuring, Ragnar took some time to explain this in the recent “State of the Game” post. I find that Funcoms attitude to communications is one that doesn’t try to hide behind figures or bold statements, but rather talk about those games they know will be pulling on players free time and purse strings. I’m glad this is the case and they know that they next few months maybe tough due to this fact.

First up in Issue 2 is the Plastic Surgeon and Barbershop : expanding beyond the usual character creation screens is a favourite in MMOs, Funcom are looking to introduce new features and a selection of new heads, but like any good supplier the first time is free but future use with cost you. Peter Stormare is playing the part of Dr Anton Aldini in an abandoned abattoir.

New missions : The focus looks to be on adding more action and investigation missions.

Auxiliary weapon slot:  The new feature looks to be adding an 8th power to the toolbar, the initial weapon will be the rocket launcher with a hint towards chainsaws as future possible weapon choice. Obtaining this extra weapon sound like it will take the player to some different locations and with different factions.

Looks like issue 3 will have some Halloween content built in too.

If you want to add me in TSW my avatar is called Singyle.

And now for the song in the title:

Cry of the Ravens

So the recent news about TSW was aired for all to see in the investor note, it told everyone that the game had hit two main problems. Firstly that the performance tracking sources (reviews) scored the game lower than expected. Secondly that the financial scenarios for the game were unlikely to be met within the next 12 months post launch.


I really dislike how review sites have become so instrumental in companies/share holders perceptions of games, yet I know of very few gamers who would reference score such as MetaCritic when it came to making a judgement on purchases. I often worry that we could see a re-run of the DarkFall fiasco but then you read a bit deeper and find contradictions appearing within the same review, this kind of thing it’s a sign for me to close the browser:

“the intricate combat system needs better documentation”

“The combat is your usual MMO button clicking while waiting on skills to refresh”

It does kind of feel like being given racing horse tips from an old drunk man who decides to “befriend” you at the local pub. I find it difficult to take reviews blindly without knowing more about the reviewer, their gaming origins and other examples of their work. Each person gives reviews based on personal preference and experience and that’s what makes them unique and ultimately tricky to try and reduce down into an overall score.

Perhaps I’m too biased to understand how these things work but I do know that the real life gamer reviews in my RSS feeds have been fair even by those players who have decide not to purchase the game at this time and those who never will, but that leads me nicely into my next topic.



FunCom were very unlucky with the timing of the game launch and many gamers seemed to have a decision to make, purchase The Secret World or pre-order Guild Wars 2. Going up against a known title with a completely new IP and different game mechanics wasn’t going to end very well.
Throw the fact that World of Warcraft has been slowly drawing players back in preparation for it’s new expansion that has been in Beta and it could be considered very bad timing indeed.

A number of folks during the beta weekends seemed to be put off by the fact that EA was linked to the game, of course they are purely the publishers but the vibe about the link was certainly something i picked up on as a bit turn off for some.

I have to that I like may other gamers are watching our gaming expenditure alot more give the economic climate and if it were 6 years ago we would have bought into a new MMO and kept a secondary one on the go too but this isn’t the case anymore.

Player base Dilution

I have been pondering if Funcom may have been a little naive with the expected population figures for TSW. Just comparing the MMO landscape of 2008 when Age of Conan launched to that of the here and now, it’s clear to see that a great deal of things have changed.

The number of MMO Games is increasing as companies choose not to close them but opt for the payment model shift. Previously a mass of players would suddenly have to hunt for a new home when a title closed, now players can remain active in multiple MMO games, paying small amounts and spreading their time between them all.

My experience

I am really enjoying the game and I’m pretty certain that I made the correct decision for me between TSW and GW2. FunCom are rumoured to be looking into layoffs as a result of these recent figures and I hope that the game/support/community doesn’t suffer too badly as a result.

On the plus side the second content patch has been announce for August 28th and it brings a new auxiliary weapon system, a paraplastic surgery (barber/Facemaker) for redesigning your avatars face and a chunk of story content too. For some the content maybe coming too fast, for others it’s not an issue, some are looking forward to the challenge and changes due to arrive.

The game has recently been made available on Steam which could be a good move but currently if i try to view it I get the “This item is currently unavailable in your region” message.

In case you missed previous free weekends, you can sign up and download the game right now for a free 3 day trial.

The great free-weekend illusion

As Syp over at BioBreak pointed out the Funcom celebration weekend was a brilliant marketing move that was a free trail weekend in everything but name. Plus what better way to increase the population than by having a completion/give-away and encouraging players to spend more time in-game, a brilliant tactic and seemed to work quite well.

My wife decided to play over the free weekend so I joined her in Kingsmouth area running missions while I got used to the hammer powers. The mechanics of the game allow teaming to be a achieved very easily and reminded me of days in City of Heroes trailing behind a Level 50 while side-kicked.
Replaying the missions is an enjoyable activity and I found myself picking up on details related to other lore in the world. Kind of like watching Fight Club or Six Sense a second time.

Sorry to any twitter followers as I was promoting the free-weekend over the last week, hopefully it wasn’t too annoying and those that fancy giving it a go managed to try it out.

Points of interest

I recently purchased a 3 month subscription and got some bonus points (720) thrown in for doing so. Over the recent weekend if you completed 30 missions you were rewarded with a massive 1200 points, which is quite a decent amount and worth about £8.45/$13.15/€10.60 (at the time of writing) if purchased from the TSW website. I maybe worth noting that cash earned via promotions have expiry dates, I guess it’s to avoid player stock-piling large amounts to spend on future sparkle ponies.

Funcom seem happy to dish out the coins perhaps to get people in to the cash-for-clothing mindset, as the choices on the store aren’t that massive at this time, but there are some pieces that only appear purchasable as part of an outfit, that maybe to entice players to drop more cash.

I’m holding out for the extensive hat collection that surely is on the cards. Surely? Funcom?