The Secret World: Quirky Qombat

chainsawIt’s a sad irony that as I’m getting into some of the most gripping questing of The Secret World, I’m also getting into some of the most difficult combat situations.  Not that TSW has ever been easy from Blue Mountain on, but now in Transylvania it gets downright tough.

I suppose that’s the drawback of the make-your-own-class double-edged sword.  The relative freedom to create a unique build comes with the distinct possibility that your build won’t be up to snuff.  I’d hate to be the developers who have to balance content based on such a wide range of potential builds.  My gut feeling is that they went a tad overboard by making it tougher rather than easier.  It definitely doesn’t feel as balanced as, say, how RIFT does it.

And while I’ve grown to appreciate the open class system, I think I’d gladly trade it in for traditional classes if the content was slightly easier.  Combat feels like a major speedbump that slows us down from getting to the good stuff — progressing quests, hearing new stories, doing the cool investigation missions.  Again, maybe that’s intentional; maybe the devs realize that without a way to pace players, they’d shoot through this content far, far faster than the devs could craft new missions.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a little tired of, y’know, dying all the time, so I’ve started to trade up my DPS gear for health gear.  An extra 2,000 hit points can keep me in the fight a lot longer, especially with a handful of protective and healing skills.  Right now I’m shotgun/blades/chainsaw and it’s working well for me.  I’ve got five attacks, two heals, and a damage booster, all of which feels well-rounded.

My current long-term goal is to finally finish a deck and collect a special outfit.  It’s going to take a while, but it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

I’m definitely looking forward to Issue #6 — trains, time travel, whips, and shades of Indiana Jones is all pretty intriguing.  And I still have a little over two zones to complete in Transylvania, so I’m pacing myself a little so that there’s always something left to do.  I don’t think I’ll ever be rolling an alt in TSW — there doesn’t seem to be as much of an incentive to do so, since you can rebuild any build you like, factions are largely cosmetic, and the progression through quests and zones is identical.

I think we have the promise of a new area, Tokyo, on the horizon, although with Funcom’s situation as of late, it’s hard to say when we’ll ever be seeing it.

13 thoughts on “The Secret World: Quirky Qombat

  1. couillon February 26, 2013 / 8:20 am

    Is there a way to “respec”?

  2. DocHoliday February 26, 2013 / 8:30 am

    @couillon yeah, you can respec on the fly whenever you want to, wherever you want to at no cost. So that part is pretty handy. However, you can’t “un-learn” an ability or weapon, you just become more flexible as you progress. So if you want to switch, you need to earn enough points to get skills in something else.

    I’m pretty much in a constant state of change with my builds, although my current Blade/Blood spec seems to be working pretty well. Personally I really enjoy the mixing and matching of not only skills but equipment to work out playstyles that work for you. When I first switched to my blade/blood build I had over 6K health, but the added heals from Blood have allowed me to swap almost 2K worth of health for attack rating and as such I’m hitting so much harder now.

    But I certainly agree, you can work yourself into a potentially bad box and it does take some patience to work out.

  3. bhagpuss February 26, 2013 / 9:24 am

    I have an assault rifle/blade build that supposedly should see me through most solo content easily but I still find it hard going in Carpathian Teeth. Moreover, I can’t kill the boss in the instance at the end of the second part of the Tyler Freeborn chain so I am roadblocked on that.

    I’m really not interested any more (if I ever was) in storytelling via combat. I just don’t see the point of it. It makes no difference whether the fights are faceroll easy or tear-your-hair-out hard – having to kill stuff to read or watch a storyline progress is just not something I want to do.

    I understand using gaming, specifically MMOs, as a way of offering up a series of related anecdotal incidents that accretively produce a textural construct which is emotionally absorbing. I’m still on board with that, but I’m at the point where I can’t understand how games can act beneficially as a narrative medium at all. Doesn’t really matter whether it’s killing monsters, solving puzzles or lining up blocks – how does any such activity enhance narrative?

  4. DocHoliday February 26, 2013 / 9:34 am

    @bhagpuss I’ve heard of many having issues with that fight, and it took me a couple passes as well. One of the things TSW does a lot of is to really force you to pay attention, and that fight is a combination of the right deck and right tactics. In some cases it can be a very nasty combination depending on how you’re set up.

    I can see your point about “hard” content in story quests, but it seems as though TSW is putting “hard” content all throughout the game. Whether that’s investigation missions or challenging combat, you’ll run into some combination of those is just about any aspect of the zones.

    Personally, I really appreciate this and love that I have to not only think about quests but continue to refine my setup based on situations. However, I know I’m not so much in the majority on that one and can see how that might not work for people. Maybe there could be 2 options with some sort of different reward structure to allow people to play the game they want to?

  5. Hexxis February 26, 2013 / 10:35 am

    This post will not help you at all, but I wanted to mention something here, because it’s relevant. And not. At the same time.

    For many MMOs lately,l I’ve been running with my sister and her husband. After going through Star Wars and a recent sting leveling alts in WoW, we came to the conclusion that leveling with three people actually gets kind of boring, because it’s too easy. It becomes a measure of how much stuff you can pull into one big AOE-fest of combat so you can finish whatever quest you’re doing and move on. We still want to level together, but it’s just kind of blah.

    I’d been playing Secret World off and on since release, getting one character to Blue Hills and kind of freezing up there. It was just so difficult, and I had no easy way to get more AP to make the build work better. I could survive fights, but it was stressful. After our last run at WoW, though, and with Secret World going Buy-To-Play, I talked my sister and her husband into trying it out with me.

    The difficulty level when soloing is daunting and discouraging. It’s enough to make someone casual back out of the game. But now that I’m running with other people for every mission, it’s awesome. The difficulty actually works well with the three of us, because we can feel like we’re bad-ass against normal mobs, but if we overpull at all, we’re dead. It lets my sister play a healer the entire time, which she enjoys, and her husband is prone to playing tanks in everything. Soloing, you have to make a survival build usually, then have the right skills to be able to switch to tanking when you run dungeons.

    So, while this will not help your issues at all, I’m just saying that the difficulty level being what it is has made the game more fun for me because I run with a group. No other game, beyond the oddness of Guild Wars 1, has that.

    I do wish that it would stop raining in Transylvania, though.

  6. disgracefuljedi February 26, 2013 / 11:02 am

    I enjoyed the difficulty of questing through TSW because it makes you think and play carefully, but there were definitely a few quests in Transylvania that had my head hitting my desk in frustration. I had to keep going back to “the girl who kicked the vampire’s nest” over the course of a week or so until I had the build and gear just right to solo it. Finally turning that one in was a level of satisfaction I don’t think I’ve gotten from a game like WoW outside of raiding.

  7. pkudude99 February 26, 2013 / 11:35 am

    On the forums there’s a build guide called “One Build to Solo Transylvania” (or something like that). It’s a Blade/Chaos build that focuses on using Burst attacks for a) high dps and b) self heals from the Healing Sparks passive, and then the lovely and possibly overpowered “Clearing the Path” blade finisher.

    I started out the game using an AR/Blade build that did quite well in the lower levels, but seemed to lack single-target punch, so by the time I got to Egypt I was converting to this build instead. It wasn’t really that much of a stretch to get the actives, since I already had the Blade ones from my original build and the Chaos ones were relatively cheap. Still and all…. I had all the passives bought about the time I was finishing up the City of the Sun God. I also got all my talisman skills to QL10 in CotSG as well, and crafted my own glyphs for my talismans, so I had the “proper” balance of Pen and Crit.

    So there I was, walking into Transylvania for the 1st time, in all greens…. and I was just fine. The super-mutant soldiers in the Carpathian Fangs could still give me a little trouble, but the rest was pretty much a cakewalk, even the “Hard” missions vs Nightmare mobs. I never felt like combat was a slog, except on certain missions vs certain nightmare mobs, and even then it was usually just a matter of tweaking the build to be able to deal with them better.

    This is still my primary solo build for general purpose work. Here’s my character in “my version” of that Transylvania Solo build, if you care to see:

    An oddity of the build is that getting blue and purple gear really don’t “upgrade it” as much as you might think. In greens, due to their split “health + another stat” scoring I ran around at close to 5000 HP in “pure attack” talismans. Damage was still pretty good and I had a large buffer for health. As I “upgraded” to the blues and lost the health secondary stat… sure, my damage went up a little, but my overall survivability went down due to the loss of the HP buffer.

    I eventually settled on 1 major health talisman and all the rest as attack. I still have about 3700 HP when I solo, and between the damage I do and the passive heals in the build, it’s sufficient for any fight, though a few areas with Nightmare mobs are a bit “interesting.” But I change builds to fight them anyway — lost the afflicts for one set, add hinders for the other. It works out.

    I also have a couple of different dungeon dps builds, a tank build, 2 healer builds, and some AE specialized farming builds (SG/Blade ROCKS! for AE farming. . . ). Yeah, there’s never “1 build to rule them all,” but it’s sure fun experimenting to find out what works best in which situations.

  8. Ardent Defender February 26, 2013 / 12:15 pm

    Almost everything can be a double edge sword. One thing I’m at least glad is that you don’t find many people claiming TSW is “Too Easy and a Faceroll”. If TSW was too easy everyone be writing it and shouting from their blow “Oh TSW is a Faceroll, Too easy a game. I won’t be going back to play it again’. Be some version of combination of that likely be the case.

    The story of the game continue to be more interesting than most games, with a good level of challenge and difficulty. They also continue to further the stories of missions we have come to enjoy in the game. Can TSW be more balanced combat wise in some areas if not many? Sure it can. But at least the game is not a faceroll for you to get bored with and quit for lack of challenge, wether it’s due to soloing hard missions or not have the best of builds to complete them. Changing skill builds can change the play and feel of the game. The challenge of the game causes you to rethink your ability skills or your game strategy constantly to complete certain missions.

    Soloing most the game I have found various strategy that worked, but as i got closer to the last 2 zones of Shadowy Forest and Carpathian Fangs it got much more difficult in missions. As well some the skills i was using is many the previous zones now didn’t work as great due to them being resisted. That forced me to rethink my skill set and try out new combination of skills. It can be a challenge having to ditch one set of skills for a complete different set or a different combo mix of skills. I’m at least glad the game gives me a challenge vs cake walking through the last 2 zones via just my ability skills. And it’s part of that reason I return to the game, it’s challenging and interesting to me where most games are not.

    The other thing is the last zones lends well to working in groups of two or three in a group or just grouping to complete the missions. Hey, everyone likes to solo their way to everything and be their own hero character. But in all the months I’ve played TSW i’ve found below the surface that the game is actually allot more fun whenever your in a group missioning. I can’t always explain it, but it feels allot more fun among the chaos completing some missions in groups. Hard part can sometime be remembering your objective in group play and missioning to pick something up just trying to keep up with a group pacing.

    @ Bhagpuss: I’m stuck on that very same mission as well doing the Tyler Freeborn Mission 2/4 with the Guardian Boss doing it solo. I’m not someone that likes to quit missions just because they are not easy, I like the challenge to test my skills at play. But yes that mission was hard for “anyone soloing it” with the boss at 49K with me just having about 4K HP normally and just above 5K swapping in 2 pieces of HP gear at most. I think I tried that boss enough times I almost broke my gear. Came back and tried it with a stack of Healing Potions, gear change mix and 1 healing skill. Each time I refined a strategy changing up skills to overcome the challenge. The closest I eventually got the Guardian boss solo was down to around 4K HP and that took everything I could come up with skill tactic wise to clear the adds quickly and get Guardian Boss down that far without the debuff’s killing me at same time. I didn’t beat the boss as yet for all the attempts. But I got better each time and because of it I found different combo of skills to use that also works. I’ll have to finish that mission with help eventually as its quite a challenge to overcome solo with my gear. I’d be more than happy to help you out completing it in game. So just give a shout out.

    TSW does have quirky combat and but though it be quirky, I still enjoy it for what it is and the fun it lends itself to when in group for other tactics to come into play. My DPS might just seem ok when soloing and my health may be a bit low though its all QL10 green gear thats’ all glyph and signets where available. But when in groups with others the combination of that group and other skill sets does make my or anyone else dps go up quite a bit, as others in group enhance my or your dps skills in this quirky combat system of ours.

    I enjoy the game difficulty, but lets be honest here, TSW feels and play differently if your Soloing or if your in a Group. Both feels and plays very differently with the combat system. And in the last zones, It really helps to group up more on missions or you will surely die allot more for all kinds of reasons. Its just more fun to group up and do the last zones in groups of 2 or 3.

  9. Ardent Defender February 26, 2013 / 12:22 pm

    Quote disgracefuljedi: “I had to keep going back to “the girl who kicked the vampire’s nest” over the course of a week or so until I had the build and gear just right to solo it. Finally turning that one in was a level of satisfaction I don’t think I’ve gotten from a game like WoW outside of raiding”.

    That’s one the big reasons why I enjoyed TSW. You can remember many missions in TSW that overcoming the mission was allot of satisfaction to complete. Not because it was easy, but you literally had to give the mission everything and then some more to complete it, sometime completing it by the skin of your teeth. And at that point you feel a great satisfaction, I GOT UM! I May Not Want To Be Back, BUT I GOT UM!

  10. Chris February 26, 2013 / 8:52 pm

    Definitely agree with Ardent Defender: Transylvania can be a lot more fun with a group, even a duo. Although I don’t know if “The Castle” can ever really be called “fun.”

  11. tithian February 27, 2013 / 2:41 am


    I know people that do The Castle on cooldown, because “it’s so damn relaxing”. Whatever, freaks…

    Regarding the difficulty, Transylvania is meant to challenge all your preconceptions on combat so far. In the Shadowy Forest (and onwards), having one build means you just can’t do some missions, unless you bring in another person. And besides, all the “Hard” missions are really meant to be duo-ed if you don’t have the optimal gear/builds.

    Re: Updates – recently Bylos mentioned that Tokyo is on track for early summer, although we’ll be seeing (parts of) Venice first. They had a roadmap for up to Issue #12 I think.

  12. pkudude99 February 27, 2013 / 9:10 am

    @tithian — The Castle was hard the 1st time, but then I knew how it worked and it’s now 1.2 million xp for at more 10 minutes of sneaking around. I wouldn’t call it “relaxing” — just an xp farm.

  13. Sente February 27, 2013 / 3:26 pm

    I am playing in Carpathian Fangs now with my main character (Chaos/Fist build, mixed blue & green stuff QL9-10) and so far most missions are ok I think, except those with the nightmare mobs. But the tougher missions are really more something for better geared players or teams – which is fine I think.

    I find missions in general quite enjoyable in fact, just because it is not easy but still possible to handle. Especially when you get in the situation where are at the brink of getting killed (or killed) by some mobs at first, but then adapt what you do and then it works out better. Adaptation may be about replacing abilities, but also slightly different approaches to how you move and attack.
    As Ardent Defender mentions, it feels so much sweeter if you have struggled with something but in the end succeeds with your task.

    I have an alt in City of the Sun God right now (a blade/AR build most of the time), for which it has been pretty easy so far. Part of the reason for that is not the build though, but that I have played it most of it before.

    Originally I was thinking the same way about no need to roll alts and I love that if you re-spec you do not have to start from scratch. However, there is still a nice feeling to play a different character – even if I do not do any public role-playing, it is still feels different. It also feels better for me to take a quite different approach from start in builds with a different character than what I used for my first one.

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