The Secret Adventures: The joy of dancing (Scorched Desert #2)

monster

(Join Syp as he attempts to document a complete playthrough of The Secret World from start to finish. What will The Secret Adventures discover next? Find out in this exciting installment! WARNING: Spoilers and stories ahead!)

A Ghoulish Fate (side mission)

  • For the longest time when I first played TSW, I never noticed the giant river locks on the west side of the map.
  • Over there is a hulking Filth monstrosity that’s trying to get out of the region — aren’t we all? — and I got to stop it. Step one is killing all of the monster-helping Atenists around him. Step two is collecting some explosive and detonators.
  • Step three? It’s messy. But fun.

Letters from the Front (side mission)

  • Probably the most challenging thing about this mission is simply getting to it, since it’s tucked away deep in enemy territory. It’s most likely one of those bonus XP quests that you pick up at the end of a real mission.

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Wayward Weapons/Report for Nassir (side missions)

  • I love how there’s this cartoonish box in the desert marked “WEAPONS” that has a goofy assortment inside, including axes and assault rifles.
  • Both of these side quests lead right to Nassir’s camp and are nearby, so if you’re looking for super-easy breadcrumb quests, here you go!

yipppie

Live Free, Die Hard (sabotage mission)

  • TSW has so many great NPCs, but I think Nassir probably rests in many players’ top five. He’s just this bouncing, dancing, insanely cheerful Marya soldier who’s gorged on western pop culture (particularly movies) and is fighting the good fight with a sense of humor. I always laugh when he tosses a grenade to your character as one of his first actions.
  • Nassir got his hands on some C-4 and wants me to go all Die Hard on the bad guys with it, particularly on the pumps that they’re using to introduce the Filth to the local water supply. I can get behind fighting that.
  • Just a random thought: In most MMOs, we would be the Marya. We would be the unambiguous good guys, not the shadowy players that are being used by all sides and often controlled by puppet-masters for dubious purposes. We’re not the hero… and we are. Guess it’s in how you look at it.
  • Unlike most sabotage missions in TSW, I actually rather like this one. It takes place across a large setpiece, starting from Nassir’s camp and going through a narrow canyon all the way to the water processing plant. The first part involves avoiding mines on the ground and taking out a few sentry posts. There’s an achievement if you’re not spotted, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that.
  • The bit at the plant is a little trickier — lots of those super-tough guards you don’t want to fight (but some you can). I rig the place up and make a run for it, turning around in time to see it all go KA-BLAMMO! It’s the little things in life that make it worth living.

Ten Thousand Bullets (side mission)

  • Gotta restock that Marya camp because Amazon Prime does not do two-day free shipping to Filth-infested zones!
  • This leads back to the pumping station, which is kind of a stealth area (at least, you don’t want to get into fights with QL6 gear too much here). Find 10 ammo crates and bug the heck out!

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Demolition Man (action mission)

  • Nassir gives us a brief glimpse into his backstory — his mother was taken by cultists, dad killed while trying to rescue her, sister killed by a beast from the mountains. But he says that even though he is serious, very serious about his fight, he must also embrace joy and dancing. And that is why Nassir rules.
  • I love how he’s riding his rifle like a pony in the background while I’m getting the details of the mission brief.
  • The flow of this mission has three acts. The first act is defensive (defending the Marya from assaults). The second act is offensive (attacking the pumping station with mortars). And the third act is bringing pain to the Filth by blowing up the darkwells in a nearby cave.
  • And of course there’s a giant end boss in the cave because you silly rabbit, why wouldn’t there be?

fil2

Filthy Science (side mission)

  • After finishing up Demolition Man, you can take this side mission in the Filth cave. It’s another one of those “Orochi dorks got killed doing some sort of experiment so might as well finish it up for them” tasks.
  • Dead Orochi of the day? A guy hanging upside-down in Filth like he’s Luke Skywalker’s more hapless brother.
  • Other than some light platforming to find various flora and fauna that has been infected in the nearby area, this is a very easy mission. No fighting whatsoever.

FFXIV: Just call me Healbot 3000

minnie

Seen above: Pathetic leadership.

Even though most of my evening gaming time goes to FFXIV these days and I’ve been settling into a nice groove after my early weeks of class experimentation, it still feels as though I’m all but crawling up through the content. Without looking at the whole MSQ list (and I’m not because spoilers), I don’t really know how far I am. My main job is level 37 and I finished the level 34 trial not too long ago.

Sooner or later I’m going to need to buy Heavensward so that I don’t waste XP once I hit 50, I know. I keep putting it off.

Anyway, part of the reason for my pokeyness is my constant excursions into dungeons. I took a break to level up Thaumaturge to 26 for swiftcast (glad I have it and really glad I never have to play that class ever again) and I’ve been working off and on in getting a Conjurer/White Mage to 36(?) for stoneskin. Healing on a Scholar is so much fun — you’ve got the pet, you’ve got some nice heals, you have the shield thingy — that in contrast, it makes the Conjurer an exercise in trying not to fall asleep.

Seriously, at level 25, I have precisely TWO healing skills. One a direct heal (with a cast time) and one a group heal (with a cast time). Yes, I can get into dungeons quickly and that’s probably the fastest way to level up right now, but each run as a Conjurer means that I’m spamming the 1 key on the tank and occasionally DoTing enemies. I’m sure the White Mage gets better, but this is a horrid start to anyone pursuing a healing career with this class.

Anyway, I try to run at least one dungeon as a Conjurer every day to eventually get to stoneskin. Little bit at a time. Then I like to run one or two dungeons as a Scholar to get the taste of Conjurer out of my mouth and also to hopefully gear up some more. Plus, getting bonus seals has helped with leveling up my grand company rank a bit.

Most of my parties have been pretty decent. Some are a little slower, with newbies or leaders that like to talk people through every… single… fight, but for the most part people know their roles and the first half-dozen dungeons aren’t that complicated.

I did experience one run that nearly made me tear my hair out. The roulette put me in the first dungeon along with a first-time tank and a first-time DPSer (lancer), both of which did not know what to do. The Lancer kept attacking first and getting hurt tremendously while the tank didn’t ever use his flash taunt. That meant the second I started healing, the bad guys came at me like I insulted their mothers. Oh, I tried to patiently explain what these players needed to do, but neither would respond to me or change their tactics.

So I started letting the tank die because I’m petty like that and also because I was sure I could keep up the DPS between pulls. He never quite got the message, but we did finish the run and I am here to tell the tale.

After all of that, any time left is spent on the MSQ, which isn’t always a lot. Still, there have been stretches of the story that have engaged me, and the other night I found myself logging out right during a highly interesting moment when I came back to the Seven Scions’ HQ only to find dead bodies all over the place. Was there an Orochi invasion from TSW?

Computer tech help S.O.S.!

computerspecs

Since some of you reading this are far more tech savvy than I, I wanted to lay out my computer issues to date with all the information at my fingertips to see if anyone has any good suggestions. You can see my hardware specs above.

The Issue

I built this computer last year and it’s worked but hasn’t shown any measurable improvement over my previous computer (which was 4 or so years old at that point). In particular, all of my games — especially my online ones — are displaying lower-than-expected frame rates. I’ve tested several titles, and most MMOs (including Marvel Heroes, Neverwinter, WildStar, and The Secret World) fluctuate between 10-35 fps.

I am not getting any other serious problems — no crashes, no BSOD, no overheating (I’ve been monitoring CPU and GPU temps). I replaced my old graphics card with a newer GTX 950 and there hasn’t been any improvement. My machine build is based on a very tried-and-tested build from pcpartspicker.com and has no apparent conflicts.

My goal is to get the FPS up to a decent number, at least 60 so it’s not hitching constantly in play. The weird thing is that no matter what I adjust my settings at — in-game or in the Nvidia control panel — the FPS remains the same.

What I’ve Tried So Far

Here’s a list of what I’ve been trying, based on my own poking around, suggestions from various forums, and from my tech support bro-in-law:

  • Flipped between DX9 and DX11. No difference.
  • Turned power performance up to high. No difference.
  • Turned Vsync on. Turned it to adaptive. No difference.
  • Took out the graphics card and put back in my old one. No difference.
  • Reseated my graphics card. No difference.
  • Updated from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Same speed.
  • Fiddled with all sorts of in-game graphics settings. Same FPS on low as in ultra.
  • Updated all drivers. Updated them a second time.
  • Booted the computer in diagnostic mode, no difference.

Maybe I made a mistake when I put this computer together? Maybe there’s some sort of setting causing a bottleneck or a purposeful throttling down of the frame rate? I don’t know. But if anyone has any suggestions, believe me, I’m all ears.

The Secret World: Membership hath its privileges

bike

Yesterday The Secret World switched on its new membership benefits, which meant a few changes for me now that I bought into the grandmaster pack. Actually, it was kind of funny because GMs get all of the loyalty rewards that are otherwise parceled out according to days subscribed from here on out. So when I went into the store, I saw a pile of goods.

It’s all making me very satisfied for springing for GM status. The cosmetics are nice — I like the new bee suit, it’s got a Mass Effect high-tech look to it. But above that, here are my five favorite things from the membership program:

  1. Bank access anywhere — I hardly ever used the bank, since it required an annoying trip back to London. Now I can summon a portable bank wherever I’m at, and that is an inventory blessing to be sure.
  2. The bee scooter (above) and hoverboard — Love this little shiny scooter, although I might be using the hoverboard more because it seems to handle better in cramped places (platforming, etc.). Love having a hoverboard after getting used to one in WildStar. Now where’s my double-jump?
  3. Bee weapon molds — Oh my goodness, I love these so much. I now have an infinite supply of pretty cool-looking weapon molds to cover up some of the lackluster weapon designs. The pistols are pretty sweet.
  4. Bonus XP and bullion — I ran a few quests last night and found myself giddy at all of the extra XP and black bullion from completing them. This will be so, so helpful to my leveling character.
  5. Free anima leaps — OK, it’s not like anima leaps were super-expensive, but free is free and every bit of PAX saved up helps for those future purchases.

On the flip side of all of this happiness is the fact that I’ve been struggling with TSW’s performance lately. My old computer with my old graphics card could run it incredibly smoothly (no lag/hitching). My new one — with either the old graphics card or a newer GTX 950 — can’t get above 30 fps to save its life and often dives down into the teens or single digits. For an action MMO, this is terrible.

I’ve spent days troubleshooting this, trying to figure out what it is about my build that’s causing this lackluster performance. My other games run fine but not as fast as I would’ve expected with a whole systems overhaul. So far I’ve updated drivers across the board, upgraded to Windows 10 on the hope that it might do something, tried every graphics setting in TSW (on low or ultra it gets the exact same frame rate), looked up and tried every workaround on the forums… nothing. DX9, DX11… it’s all the same. Same frame rate every time. It’s so incredibly bizarre that nothing I do makes a single difference, and it’s even stumped my computer technician brother-in-law. If anyone has ideas, please let me know. I feel as though there’s some setting or obvious bottleneck that I’m not seeing, one thing that I could change that would let the game perform as it should.

I mean, it’s playable, just not always enjoyable to play, if you understand.