The Secret World: Give me back my AP, darn it!

apAs I move into the Savage Coast with my lowbie character in The Secret World, I’ve decided that while I like having a healing weapon, assault rifle is a little too similar to my shotgun character — and I don’t really care for chaos at all.  So I’m starting to work on switching my toon over to an elemental/blood build, kind of making this my “magic” character in contrast to my heavy weapons character.

Unfortunately, I’ve bumped into the same thing that I’ve done before, which is that switching builds is a pain in the early TSW game.  AP comes really slowly, and going to new weapons means that you need a lot of it plus SP plus the actual weapons (I’m up to Q3 right now).  Not for the first time, I wished for an AP/SP reset last night.

I really don’t get why Funcom doesn’t allow this (or sell it in the store to earn more money, which would be a good thing for the studio, you’d think).  Resets and respecs are pretty standard in MMOs, but there’s this fanatical dogma that persists in the TSW community that an AP reset would be, like, bad or something.  It might cause a second apocalypse.  It trains bad players.  I don’t know, but I’m always dismayed by how much pushback there is on the forums when someone like me pines for an AP reset.

The argument against AP/SP resets generally go:

  • TSW is a bit more of a hardcore game, so suck it up.  Don’t be an entitled gamer.
  • Funcom wants you to fill out the entire wheel eventually anyway.
  • These points aren’t “wasted,” just invested –  you can still use passives in any branch with whatever build you use.
  • Getting AP is a breeeeeeze (this is always said by high-level characters who are trouncing across Transylvania or beyond).
  • You can always go back and rerun missions to earn more AP.
  • Funcom probably wants you to rerun missions to fill out the skill wheel to extend your interest in the game.  Resetting AP might bypass that.

I’m sorry, but none of that really sticks.  I have a character who’s finished with Transylvania and is occasionally running elites, and I still think that it’d be a good thing for the game to have an AP/SP reset.  Why?

  • It would have zero impact on other players.  Seriously.  Why would allowing me to reallocate my AP have any affect on your game experience or give me an advantage?
  • While AP gain in the late game comes easy, in the early game — when you’re still figuring out builds and most likely to created a gimped character — it slowly, ever-so-slowly trickles in.  Ergo, an AP reset would be of higher importance to early game characters who need it, not late game players who are already set in their ways.
  • AP and SP points spent in other builds and weapons are wasted, for the most part.  If you’re not using that weapon, that SP is of no current use to you.  If you’re not using that weapon, you can’t use any of the actives that you might’ve spent AP in up to that point.

I internally cheered when I read what this poster wrote regarding this subject, because I agree 100%.

I think a good compromise would be to allow players to be able to reset AP/SP up through Blue Mountain — the final Kingsmouth zone.  It’s here that players are still figuring things out, anyway, and might be switching between weapons.  Kill the ability to reset once players enter Egypt, since the AP starts rolling in quicker after that point anyway.  Alternatively, allow for a reset but put it on a really long timer.

It’s not a deal-breaker to deny a reset, but it could be a great olive branch to new players figuring out the game for the first time and a convenience for other players who are experimenting around with an alt.

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34 thoughts on “The Secret World: Give me back my AP, darn it!

  1. Totally agree with you Syp. I’m not currently active but I would consider returning if I see a respec of any sort introduced. The early zones are just too brutal for a sucky spec and that mob density.

  2. For a long time I was one of those that always thought the idea of ‘respecs’ in this game were not needed but as I progressed further into the skill wheel it became evident that a mechanic of that sorts would be great. The skills on the inner wheel are priced so low that I know I filled it out simply by spending a little bit of time in Kingsmouth just playing with various basic builds. However once I moved to the outer wheel the price of those skills made the decision to unlock them much more important.

    I would think a good compromise would be an account bound reset that is earned when you clear the first zone as you said and then cash shop respecs. I do not begrudge them selling something like that in the store since you can always farm AP/SP if you have the time so it is really more of a time saving convenience.

  3. The only mechanic I see breaking from a respec is getting the outfits that come with special builds. If you could respec at will you could get all of them in an afternoon or so. Of course a time limited respec or pay-per-use method (either in-game or store-based) would solve that I guess.

  4. I’m not real passionate about the about the issue, and I’m not going to call you entitled (seriously, I hate that buzzword), but I don’t agree with the idea of a respec in TSW, for a variety of reasons.

    The biggest is probably that it’s simply unnecessary. You’re going to have all abilities eventually anyway. AP is never wasted. A pretty good argument could even be made for a respec ultimately being a bad choice for players to make since this game is more about becoming more versatile than more powerful.

    Secondly, the band of time in this game where a respec would actually be useful is incredibly small. If you switch really early on, abilities are so cheap that switching is easy. And by the time you’re in Egypt, AP flows in fast enough that switching is, again, easy. It’s only if you’re planning on doing a radical overhaul in the middle of Solomon Island (which, sadly, seems to be your situation) that a respec would be at all useful.

    Personally, I’ve been completely schizophrenic on my Templar and switched builds constantly throughout the game (pistol/sword > shotgun/chaos > pistol/chaos > pistol/sword again > pistol/hammer > pistol/elemental), and I haven’t suffered for it. I haven’t even needed to repeat missions, barring Boone’s quest at the beginning once or twice for extra weapons. To be fair, I did have the subscriber XP boost some of the time, but still…

    Finally, as for the idea of one through the cash shop, well, there are already XP and AP boosts. They allow you to keep your old skills while earning new ones rapidly, so they’re actually a lot better than a respec would be.

    Personally, I just think it’s more enjoyable to build a new, uh, build yourself by playing the game than to go to some NPC, wave a magic wand, and switch to a new build, especially when the former option doesn’t require you to lose anything. Even if there was a respec, I wouldn’t use it. I’d just be shooting myself in the foot in the long run.

  5. A friend of mine worked out a “route” in the Savage Coast that he could run in about a half hour that gave him a fairly large chunk of AP and SP while only doing “easy quests” to give him a lot of bang for the buck, so to speak. He’d run it every other night or so in order to grab a big chunk of xp — not so often as to burn himself out, but often enough that he was “rolling in it” for the level of stuff he was doing. It allowed him to work up several “low level” builds fairly quickly, and then he worried more about specializing once he got to Egypt.

    Might be something to look at doing every so often. It starts at the hotel at the entrance from Kingsmouth, does a couple of the missions around the hotel that just have you running around clicking things (and clearing mobs as necessary for your click) then the missions that send you farther up the road until you finish off at the Black House. I don’t recall all of them, but it was 6 or 7 missions just bam bam bam bam bam, so it went quickly.

  6. @pkudude99 That was my same style of farming AP/SP. I had Kingsmouth mapped out so efficiently that I could burn through it almost on autopilot and just gather up the points. The little bit of currency did not hurt either as I would just drop that on items at the tailor. Of course like I mentioned in my earlier post when you are talking about unlocking a skill that costs 7 AP that is an easy method, when a skill costs 50 AP that is totally different.

    @Lani That is a very good point about the outfits.

  7. This is the reason I’m not playing it right now. I’m in the first Egypt zone and really just don’t care for the build I have right now. The idea of spending several days of grinding just so I can try a new build to see if I like it isn’t at all appealing, and I’m sitting on stacks (6+ months worth of subscriber bonus) of XP boosters.

  8. When I was playing regularly I too had a cycle of fast, easy Missions I repeated for AP. It was like a self-imposed Daily. I always found it weird that you could repeat Missions at all, though. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in any kind of Lore or immersion sense. I’d rather have one-time missions and respecs.

  9. You implied you were willing to pay $ for a respec. As has been pointed out by a couple other commenters, AP “injections” (Straight up 50 or 110 AP, not a double-XP boost like this past weekend) are available in the “Secret Shop” and accomplish essentially what you’re asking for, without the loss of abilities you already have. And passives are always useful. I was discussing with a commenter on my blog the other day that Blades and Fists each have a 1 AP passive ability (Immortal Spirit and Lick Your Wounds, respectively) that increases survivability in the early game that I consider them essential, regardless of your active weapons.

  10. @Pex-Corrh:

    Egypt? And plenty of XP boosters? And a setup which was able to bring you there, too?

    You should be able to go to about any weapon and a reasonable setup of it in one relaxed evening by doing missions there. Indeed, you still have to use your current setup for the evening, but Egypt gives much better XP than Solomon island and you again start out with the very cheapest abilities on the newly chosen weapons. Also, your talismans, which make up a good deal of your power, stay the same, it’s not like you have to re-learn talisman skills for another weapon setup.

    @Syp:
    I’m not in your boat on this topic. I’ve also completely changed my setup when just finishing Kingsmouth, when i started the game. Yes, it was one evening of doing missions in Kingsmouth again, doing them with the old setup, but that was all about it. Would i have waited to Savage Coast, the “requirement” on my setup would’ve been higher, but it still wouldn’t have been that crucial. Skillpoints on talismans are definitely still working, those don’t change with your weapon, and just the inner wheel of about any weapon is enough for Kingsmouth and good parts of Savage Coast. Blue Mountains is a very different beast, but we’re not speaking of that yet.

    So, would you say that due to the increased challenge of Blue Mountains and people suddenly having to figure out working builds, an AP reset might make sense, i would still dislike it, but i might have to admit you have a point there. But as long as “just” speaking of Savage Coast, don’t attract too many Akabs, get the inner wheel of your next weapons of choice and you should be fine.

    So all in all, i just don’t see the respec a real necessity in this game. The harder part for me is to answer, why i’d find its presence to be an actual drawback. In the end, you will have the complete wheel, and your toolbar controls your characters powers and capabilities at any time. Thus i definitely can’t reason with balance or anything like that, to dislike a respec. Still, i very much remember the way my character progressed, the loops i had to jump through to achieve some goals, and how i had to coordinate with other players and their choice of available tools, to overcome many challenges. Would i just have had a cheap and easy “reset AP, get the abilities i now need” button, all that would’ve never happened. I would’ve been the allmighty can-do-everything type already at like 25% of the wheel complete.

    Perhaps it’s just me, but working with the tools i got is a challenge i like, especially since i did knowingly choose the tools beforehand. (I bought the abilities, it’s not like they fell down on me from a tree… ) Taking away that challenge just “feels” wrong to me. I’ll have to ponder for a while, if i can express this in a more understandable way, but simply by my feelings, a respec in TSW would take away a part of the challenge and fun of the game.

  11. @Rowan: addendum, as you posted while i was writing my posting: No, it was not on your blog, it was over at the MMO melting pot. I just can’t (yet) persuade myself to get for one of those registrations required to answer on your blog. :D

  12. @Sylow Ohh!! I knew it was somewhere, and I had discussed MMOMP’s post on mine. Sorry about the registration requirement. If you have a Google account (gmail), you’re already registered. I just got too much spam not to require something. I know how you feel though. I won’t comment anywhere using Disqus.

  13. Don’t know TSW so well, so I’m not sure. But aren’t AP/SP in TSW like XP in other games, and choosing a build is a bit like selecting a class (only that you do it over time while playing the character instead of all at once up front).
    So, what you are asking for is actually like asking other games to refund XP, allow changing the class and putting all the XP back in at once. Like saying: give me back the XP in my level 90 druid in WoW, let me change him to warrior and immediately jump to level 90 again with the previously refunded XP.

  14. @Michael. You are somewhat correct. In TSW, you earn XP as you play every many XP awards 1 AP and then every 3 AP you also get 1 SP. XP also goes toward earning Faction Rank, a total of 13 ranks.

    Using your analogy, the system actually allows you to “train” your L90 Druid to become a Warrior, as well; or to combine some abilities of a Druid and a Warrior as you develop. On one character, by the time I got to the third zone, Blue Mountain, I had some ability to use all 9 weapon types, though I can only wield 2 weapons at a time.

  15. I see the same arguments that Syp mentioned in the post being repeated in a lot of these comments. Maybe I don’t understand how TSW works, but I’m hearing I have to repeat content to earn the AP. That alone is enough to be a barrier to entry for me.

  16. @couillon Forgive me, I know I sound flippant here. But have you done dailies, or run through a dungeon more than once trying to get a certain piece of gear? Welcome to repeatable content.

    Maybe if we think of AP as currency instead of like Talent Points, it would make more sense. If you bought the wrong piece of gear at a vendor, would you try to get a refund, or simply spend the necessary currency to get the right one? When a player finishes The Last Train to Cairo (Issue 6) for the first time, they get to choose from 3 high-end purple headpieces. I chose the wrong one based on the fact that I changed my planned group role shortly after choosing my headpiece. If I want to get one of the other pieces, it’s available. But it requires repeating the content multiple times to earn the special currency (Ca’ d’oro) to spend at that vendor.

    And I don’t just disapprove of respeccing in TSW, I have disliked it ever since dual-spec was introduced in WoW. The biggest argument against respec in TSW is the fact that eventually every ability in the game is available. There’s even an achievement and a special outfit for it. And along the way there are other achievements and outfits for different combinations of abilities. Allowing for respec destroys that system of achievements. And there is a system for avoiding having to repeat content for AP: the AP injections available in the Item Store, with the benefit over other games of not losing access to those abilities one has already gained. But you have to be willing to spend either time or money. Much of The Secret World is about making choices. This is simply another one to make.

  17. I really don’t see why so many people say you need to repeat content to advance in TSW. I’ve leveled two characters and changed each’s build multiple times over the course of leveling, and I’ve never had to repeat content. It’s only necessary if you screw up really, really badly — say, by trying to level all nine weapons at once right out of the gate. Otherwise, you can earn new skills just by continuing to play normally and unlock a new build in no time flat.

    And if you’re not swapping builds early and often, there’s even less need to repeat anything. Even without subscriber boosts or anything from the cash shop, the XP rate in TSW is very generous. You can even afford to skip missions here or there and still level fine, especially since a number of extra missions have been added to each zone over time.

  18. One AP Injection would solve your problems. You’d pay for respec but not that?

    Wlad

  19. @rowan grinding for gear is not a carrot I’m willing to chase anymore. Too many family/work obligations, I’d rather spend my limited gaming time relaxing with a story.

  20. @Couillon Then TSW just be the game for you. Many consider the storylines one of the the game’s strengths. On the other hand, they’re not always relaxing; often require internet research, investigation, and/or arcane knowledge like Morse Code; and/or stealth tactics and timing.

    Also, in many ways, because of the lack of levels, the whole game is about gear. At least they’re up front about it, unlike so many games that start out as “leveling” (fun!) and end with a gear grind.

    Like you, I place story very high on my list of requirements for a good game. What games do you play?

  21. A “beginner build” usually costs around 60-80 AP, so one 100AP injection is all you need to get you back on track. Plus it’s better than a respec, because you get to keep all your old abilities as well.

  22. “Then TSW just be the game for you. Many consider the storylines one of the the game’s strengths. On the other hand, they’re not always relaxing; often require internet research, investigation, and/or arcane knowledge like Morse Code; and/or stealth tactics and timing.”

    Absolutely true. Though, i also dare to point out, a number of investigation quests i have solved on my way to work or home, one two even while drinking with friends. At least for me, it does not make any sense to “press” an investigation quest when i am stuck. I simply switch to an action mission when the investigation at that time is over my head. Mission progress, after all, is not lost but the mission is pauses, so i can return to it at any time, so when traveling to work or back, i have time to ponder over the investigation, where it sometimes took me several days of not progressing, then suddenly something in my mind went *click* and i was on way again. (Also, speaking with a friend who doesn’t play online games, but loves to play Sherlock Holmes games and the likes sometimes gave me just the pointers i needed. :) )

    So, if you want to “power through” investigation quests and riddles, you might indeed face a wall of huge time investment, but if you can go the relaxed approach and give a riddle a few days or even a week, where you ponder it when you have time, it’s not actually that bad. (Some riddles, though, i had to use a guide for. Sometimes it didn’t click after even a week, and reading the guide i had to admit, i probably would’ve never made the connections. But hey, at least it challenged me and perhaps i learned something. :) )

    And on the statement being about gear: that’s again only as far as you allow the game to push you. You get the “green” drops all over the game, from killing mobs and from finishing missions. You can get that gear up to QL10, the maximum quality level, and for everything but dungeons that gear is perfectly viable.

    Also, most elite dungeons (with the exception of the Slaughterhouse, which is a massive DPS challenge) still can be done in green gear, only when entering nightmare difficulty you should have better equipment. (In the easier nightmare dungeons had people still with a few green pieces and they did acceptably, player skill matters a lot. ) So, you need the better gear for the harder part of the dungeons at nightmare difficulty, but all dungeons can be done at lower difficulty. So, the gear grind can be entered if you choose to, but with the exception of one raid instance, everything in the game can be experienced without bothering for better gear than the game gives you automatically by enjoying the story and doing missions.

  23. Syp, you asked “Why would allowing me to reallocate my AP have any affect on your game experience or give me an advantage?”

    Let’s me ask this question in a different way:
    Why would you want to reallocate your AP if it did not give you an advantage?

  24. @Dà Chéng I think it’s more about overcoming a disadvantage. ;)

    @Sylow You’re completely correct about green gear being readily available at all quality levels. But one might not have the right gear at the right time, unless one is keeping pieces in reserve. I had a mission just the other day that I had to swap stuff out and change my Hit Points by about 2k just to survive the encounter. A character with Major Talismans Skill 10 (which is the non gearing way to add HP) still only has maybe a few hundred more health than a new character. However, swapping talismans can change HP by several thousand points, even for gear of the same quality and rarity. Contrast that with, say, two WoW characters, with no gear on. The one that is ten levels higher is nigh untouchable; and one at max level is a god compared to a brand new character. That’s what I mean by TSW being about gear.

  25. @Rowan: oki, you kinda got me there. Of course, just like i always had one weapon of each type along, i also had a collection of talismans in a seperate bag with me all of the time. At the same time, i dare to ask: are you really speaking of a green talisman set, where you had to make changes like that?

    I’d rather think you already were in a blue set and thus dungeon geared, if you needed to make an adjustment like that. Every sngle green talisman also has health on it, that’s TSWs “training wheels”. That way, no matter what collection of green talismans you use, you might end up with reduced firepower (and low healing, if you use regenerative abilities but not a single healing talisman), but never can have really low health.

    Blue talismans allow you to focus on one aspect, so you can sacrifice health (and thus survivability) for higher damage, for example. The total of stats on a blue talisman is not really higher than on the green equivalent, only the distribution is more focused. Wearing a mix of blue attack rating and health talismans gets me about the same primary stats (albeit with a little more points secondary stats like hit rating and penetration) as a full set of green talismans which always combine health and attack rating. This is basically the game saying “i see you are capable of getting blue gear, this means you seems to know what you are doing, now go ahead without the newbie help”.

    Thus i very much guess your statement of having to add healt to your setup for a specific situation is based on blue gear. If not, i might have missed or forgotten where you’d need higher health than the “normal” green setup would grant you, so would you please remind me what that would be? :)

  26. @rowan

    Even if you never bother to get any reserve gear, you have one very easy way of getting a piece or two if you need them: crafting. The green kits drop like candy (the blue ones are rare though) and you should have more than enough materials if you dis-assemble stuff.

    And even then, if you use green gear health is always never an issue. At QL10 greens, the default health you get is about 4.5 – 5k health with DPS talismans. The only off-pieces you may need is some stuff with +heal rating, but even then the usual Assault Rifle Heal/DPS hybrid builds don’t even need that.

    The only things difficult enough to require careful planning of gear are the HARD missions in Transylvania, as well as the Wolf Boss in the end of the 2nd mission in the Freeborn chain, which is admittedly tough even in blues.

  27. Addendum: the step where talismans actually give significally more stat points is from blue to purple and when you start gathering purple, more than the one quest reward, you just entered the nightmare threadmill. But nightmare dungeons are a completely different beast, that’s not about enjoying the story and atmosphere any more, but is more close to other games endgame raiding. And while players who spent plenty of time in endgame raids in other games tell me that TSWs nightmare dungeons compares favourably to the best made and most challenging raid content of other games, this still is a completely different beast and not what Couillon is looking for. :)

  28. @Sylow Agreed. I am not sure Nightmares is really the game I’m looking for either. :P

    The mission was London Underground. As Tithian estimated, I had about 4.6 k health in DPS oriented QL10 greens (maybe one blue), which was low enough to essentially get one-shotted by the auto-cannons I was trying to power past. Swapping a few tanky pieces including a blue bracer I’d picked up put me about 5.8k. Just enough to dash to safety.

    @Tithian I must be doing something wrong, then, since I changed my gear and weaponry around at least three times on Sunday, between the faction mission in London and two different missions in the Fangs.

  29. Well, as I said, things in Transylvania get tricky, especially in the Fangs. And at that point, you’re considered a veteran and as such making things require specific builds and gear (well, weapons mostly) is the norm. Pretty much everything in the Fangs is labeled “HARD” and you are supposed to bring a friend for those, if you are still in greens.

    I did London Underground as a Templar so I don’t know what you had to do in your version. I did have some survivability issues, which were solved mostly by swapping in healing passives and that ‘weaponless’ healing skill I can’t remember the name of. But usually gear is a non-issue, with the exception of NMs where you need X amount of health (depending on the encounter) to not get insta-gibbed by the various mechanics. Usually a different skill (passive or active) will be a lot more helpful. For instance in your case, mabe Flash (the teleport from Elementalism), Shake and Bake (the dash from Pistols) or the Rocket Jump would provide the needed mobility to get past the turrets. Or maybe Blood shields?

    Anyway, I did the main storyline in a mix of greens and some blues (not all of them ql10 mind you, just the drops I got from the dungeons I did along the way) and things were relatively smooth. Some bosses whooped my ass, by mostly due to fails on my part.

  30. I also think the reason they don’t allow respecs is because SPs are tied to clothing items. Certain uniforms and clothing items are tied to completion of skill decks. If you respec then you will lose access to the custom clothing tied to those decks. So if you respec, the game would then have to search your dressing room and remove those items. And those items may or may not be in the same dressing room slot based on whether you have bought any clothing items from the item store. That has to be a programming nightmare. And the potential for bugs and glitches is immense. Not to mention, a custom service nightare if you lose a clothing item you bought with real money from the item store. Imagine if you respecc’d and instead of losing your special deck clothing you lost that cool Roman Legion armor you paid for.

    Wlad

  31. @Tithian. I have a Templar, too. Remember how you had to set up a defensive perimeter and survive waves of Lumie attackers, a la Desktop Tower Defense? I was one of those Lumie attackers (except alone). :) Thanks for the ability suggestions. I’m just glad I’m done with the mission.

  32. Heh, I mostly remember those towers being shit and doing f@$% all, which was why I had to tweak the build a little to survive the rush. I guess when YOU were rushing through, they brought out the gatling guns instead of the pea shooters they gave me :) Overall, probably the most underwhelming mission in the game, for Templars anyway.

  33. I never saw the need for a respec myself, and I also finished Blue Mountains without repeating quest and with about 4 different weapons.

    The big argument against a respec is that it caps character progression waaay earlier than where it’s currently at. Now you can continue to advance your character until you’ve filled out the entire wheel (and can then start on the aux wheel), while with a respec available you’d have access to every single skill on the main wheel, in any combination, when you get enough AP to unlock 14 out of 72 elites on the outer wheel (minus 600 AP because you only need the elite for 12 of them).

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