This… is my BOOMSTICK!

Indiana Jones was a wimp. Just sayin’.

I’ve had a miserable couple of weeks in the Secret World.  Just miserable.  This was a combination of two factors:

  1. I completely love the story, the voice-acting, the characters, and the world itself, and
  2. I cannot abide the incredibly tough combat that proceeds as slowly as root canal work and with as much fun.

I’m serious, I spent the better part of the past couple weeks working on one quest.  Just one quest.  I was at level and everything, but I’d be slamming my head against it in vain, dying repeatedly because I couldn’t handle more than one mob at a time — and even a single mob presented a minute-plus fight.  In contrast to the breezy combat of GW2 and RIFT, it’s been disconcerting.

My previous plan had been to save up AP so that I could purchase a new build that supposedly would solve all my problems and usher me into an era of prosperity and actual fun gameplay.  But I just couldn’t wait that long, so I threw up my hands and decided to tinker with my build right then and there.  I know I’ve been at this point before, which I guess goes to show that one of TSW’s biggest weaknesses is how easy it is to create ineffective builds (and one of its biggest strengths is the flexibility to redo it on the fly).  I decided to keep blades active just because I love the Martial Discipline heal and the spinning stun, but dumped the rest to focus back on shotguns.

It turned out that this was a good move.  I’m doing some research into it, but I think I’m going to concentrate on the penetration stat and blast attacks as well as all of the combos that come with those.  Creating builds that take advantage of effective combos is key, or so I’m told.  In any case, when I jumped back into combat there was a marked improvement in the speed of the fights.

I also had a great time last night with our Monday night TSW group (shout-out to Knights of Mercy).  TSW is definitely more enjoyable in a group, and we had a great time rolling through some of the Egyptian story quests and laughing at each other over chat.  They also helped me unlock my rocket launcher (finally!) although I think I’m going to save my AP and SP for the chainsaw auxiliary weapon that’s supposed to be coming this month.  Shotgun and chainsaw, the full Evil Dead package.

So I’ve gone from despair over loving a game but being quite irritated at its combat to making headway to reduce said irritation.  It’s given me hope, which I sorely needed; I very much want to finish out the game at some point, and would hate to be so frustrated to leave it in a huff and never know how this all played out.

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13 thoughts on “This… is my BOOMSTICK!

  1. I ended up not playing TSW due to what I felt was kiunky combat (and in all fairness to Funcom, the length of time I played gave me no platform to properly judge.) But you bring up an interesting topic I’ve thought about.

    We’re all used to our virtual worlds being filed with mobs just hanging around waiting for us to come kill them. We have an expectation of those encounters to be many, and the fights to be quick. But what if they weren’t either of those things?

    TSW presents a unique opportunity to do that, telling the story through puzzle-solving and exploration, not simplistic, constant go-go combat (ala GW2).

    Sure, when there’s a zombie apocalypse going on, you’ll probably spend some time clearing fields and forests of those suckers. But outside of that, think of how most stories play out in other genres… wether it’s the X-Files or Fringe, or even Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. There is never constant battle, but when there is, it pays off in epic ways.

    I think I’m starting to ramble, but I think this could be an interesting tweak to the expectation of the genre… but as most tweaks, I’m afraid the player base would be lost on it.

  2. As I posted at the time, I found Egypt very significantly easier than Blue Mountain which preceded it (and which I skipped). Indeed, I went to Egypt specifically to skill and gear up so that I could do the earlier content without running into the brick wall of zero fun that you describe here.

    Build notwithstanding, unless something has changed since I stopped playing, the fights in Transylvania are going to make Egypt look like its on fast-forward. Most of the creatures there have an insane amount of health or defense or whatever it is that keeps them going for what seems like forever.

    Which mission were you stuck on, as a matter of interest?

  3. I reminded of soemthing I said during the cast-on-the-move debate. The ability to dodge became a requirement for tough fights both TSW and GW2. By the same token, the ability to swap skills, etc., with relative ease means that the devs can tune fights to make it a necessity. A build that works in one set of fights will be less effective in others, requiring the player to adapt. The U.S. Army has a phrase for that: “Whatever is authorized is required.”

  4. The ability to swap skills on the fly is what makes getting the “Master Planner” achievements for completing nightmare level dungeons *without* swapping anything so much fun. You have to spec a little more generically so you can’t min-max your build for each fight. Definitely requires planning ahead and coordination.

    FWIW, my AE farming build that I use to farm the areas to try to get signet drops is Blade/Shotgun. Bamboo Cutter as the builder, Clearing the Path and Tear Gas for the finishers, plus a few miscellaneous defensive skills and impairs. And then Penetration-based damage increasers plus the lovely chain-reaction bombing passive of “Hit and Run.” Kill 1 mob in a swarm and watch the rest simply blow up. It’s soooo fun! Run into a swarm of mobs, swing 1 builder, then Clearing the Path and watch them all fall down since 1 critted and died and thus set off the chain reaction. Yes…that fast. And it’s possible due to the synergies created among the various passives. It’s very much all about the passives. Downside to the build is that it really sucks vs single-targets.

    My typical solo build is a little more balanced between single-target and AE, but even “boss” fights and nightmare mobs with 20K hit points won’t take longer than about 10-20 seconds, though, and that’s with only 3 dps passives and 4 survivability ones.

    Feel free to shoot me a tell or a mail in-game if you’d like to go over your build and see what we can come up with in order to make your solo combat go even better. My character name is Clarisse.

  5. When you get to the later stages of Egypt it’s the first time you really have to pay attention to the buffs that some of the mobs have. Before attacking them just take a moment to mouse over some of their buffs and you may find they are resistant to a particular type of attack, or have some other effect that will be triggered by your skills. Sometimes all it takes is swapping out one skill for a particular mob, based on this info, to make the fight change from impossible to relatively easy.

    Another thing, as rowan said, its important to move against heavy melee hitters. The devs have said you can reduce incoming damage from these mobs by up to 30% by circle-strafing them as you interrupt and reset their attack animations. My personal experience is this doesn’t make as much difference against ranged mobs.

    Of course, you’ve hit the nail on the head with the very best solution – team up! If you’re ever stuck and need a helping hand give me a shout (character nickname “Vinculus”).

  6. Oh, forgot to say in the above post (sorry, I know its bad etiquette to post twice in a row). I find the difficulty of TSW refreshing. The death penalty is almost nothing, so it’s good that the game is a challenge instead of the usual faceroll MMO combat.

    I’m in Transylvania for the first time now and find I still die a lot (one quest I died almost 20 times). It doesn’t matter, I find it fun learning how to overcome the challenges and the victory means a lot more.

  7. So the point of this article is that you learnt you can’t solo everything in an MMO and 90% of the time it is better to group. Grats Syp on your personal enlightenment. I guess it is time to move on to your next MMO of the moment.

  8. Seems a little bit harsh Bert.

    I personally look at TSW much like I did with EQ1. I can solo if I want, but it is highly inefficient and often the rewards are minimal. The group experience is still challenging at times, but makes life a lot easier. This is why I generally only play this game when we have TSW Mondays because there are plenty of other games that I feel I can get more bang for my buck when I am playing solo. This game is great in a group though!

  9. Something else I find to be quite nice, actually, is that many of the “best” skills are in in Inner Ring, or are low in the Outer Ring. For example: The cookie-cutter Rifle/Shotgun DPS build uses: Safety Off (1 AP – Active) + Extra Bullet (1 AP – Passive) as the builder (Total Cost 2 AP), 3-Round Burst (9 AP – Active, total cost 47 AP) as the primary finisher, and the Out for a Kill (1 AP – Active, Total Cost 3 AP) as the secondary finisher. Granted, the passives to make this a truly effective dps build aren’t necessarily all that cheap, but you can still get the 3 attacks for a mere 50 AP’s.

    The 1-point Pistol builder “The Business” is also the highest dps builder in that tree — and you get it at your 1st point spent. Not bad… not bad at all. Too bad that the best finisher is so high up in the Outer Ring (Big 45, in case you wonder, though it needs the passive Quick 45 to make it “the best”).

    Thing about the actives, though, is that they’re all pretty similar in damage, so in many ways they’re simply a personal choice and more or less equally effective, with only a couple of standouts, and even those don’t stand out until a passive is applied to them. The real power comes from the synergies found in the passives, and that’s where the meta-game of deck building comes into play.

  10. God forbid a person want to solo in an MMO. That middle ‘M’ stands for multiplayer kids, not forced grouping. The MMO graveyard is littered with the bodies of games with poor soloing. I would think TSW wants to achieve more than EvE Online type niche status. I never picked it up because of the weak healing, same reason I dislike GW2 but that does not mean I wasn’t tempted. The lack of a respec also hurts – if you gimp your build you need to grind the same stuff over and over until you can use your new spec. But what do I know, I only got to the hotel past Kingsmouth on the free weekend.

  11. It is easy to make an ineffective build, maybe the new starter decks might help with that coming in Issue 4. I was lucky I guess early in the Savage Coast I ran with a blade/elemental build which focused on rooting and affliction. So multiple mobs were fine as I could get a mob to half health by the time I was toe-to-toe. Almost above all though I started to fine movement was the key. It wasn’t till Transylvania when I started to have trouble but that was refreshing for me in an MMO and revitalized my interest. Now I love approaching combat from different angles and almost clap with glee when I get stomped and have to rework my tactics. Glad you came out the other end.

  12. “breezy combat of gw2″ ?

    this isn’t the first place i’ve read that kind of comment and it puzzles me. maybe i’m not understanding what you mean by breezy? i play quite a bit of sPvP, so i like to think i have some “skill”, yet i wouldn’t even describe an average pve encounter as breezy. you guys must be infinitely more careful than i am? if you’re only ever attacking one mob then i guess you’re playing breezily.

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