STO: Applejack to the rescue!

applejackLeveling in Star Trek Online is so absurdly fast these days with the double XP toggled on that I’m almost to the max level while only being about halfway through all of the episodes.  I was grateful for this since it got me out of the Defiant ship relatively quickly, although I was surprised to see that I did get a new free ship at Rear Admiral (level 40).  For some reason I thought they stopped giving you new ships around this point.

Not one to look a free ship in the deflector dish, I grabbed the upgrade to the Sovereign (Enterprise-E).  It’s nothing special, but at least is has a few more module slots.  I’m relying on drops and mission rewards for my gear, so it’s very haphazard, especially in the weapon department.  I’d love a few more phaser turrets, although I did not mind that blue-quality plasma mine that dropped the other day.

So the big internal debate I’m having in STO is whether or not to buy a nicer tier 5 ship now and then upgrade it for the expansion or to hold off and get a tier 6.  It probably makes better financial and statistical sense to go for the tier 6, but that knowledge wages war against a few factors such as (1) the expansion is still several weeks away, (2) I haven’t seen an expansion ship yet that I desperately want, and (3) there are really cool ships and special features that would be pretty great to have now.  I know that I’m not going to buy two separate ships; I just want my “endgame” ship to work on and build up.

bridgeRight now I’m in the thick of the Romulan/Borg episodes.  I can’t believe it took this long into the game before a mission sent me into the interior of my own ship — I would not have thought to do so otherwise.  Oh hey, I have a bridge!  It’s kind of neat to see my crew doing things other than running after me with weapons splayed.

I did the Vault mission the other night with my shuttlecraft.  The mission was all elbowing me and saying, “Y’know, this would be SO much easier with a Delta Flyer, which is purchasable from the C-Store for a low, low price!” and I was rolling my eyes back and saying, “How many times do you need a small craft in this game?  And this mission isn’t that hard with the free craft anyway.  But thanks for trying!”

I’m kind of happy that I have two purple and two blue-quality bridge officers.  With all of the XP rolling in, I’ve been able to max their skills out almost instantly.  We had a conference meeting and decided together that the Wrath of Khan uniforms weren’t really working for our style, so we all went to the tailor and swapped to the experimental Sierra uniforms.  I think they work a lot better for our look.

So that’s been about it in Star Trek Online lately.  I enjoy the time spent playing it but don’t feel pulled or pressured into logging in.  It’ll be nice to know that by the time I finish up with these episodes there will be an expansion’s worth of new ones to explore — although how many those will be is anyone’s guess.

The Secret Adventures: Not quite dead (Kingsmouth #5)

(You can follow my playthrough of The Secret World on Bio Break’s projects page!)

cellSomething Wicked (investigation mission)

  • This is a pretty neat investigation mission that was incredibly glitchy back when the game first launched.  Anyway, Norma’s second and final quest is to send me investigating a series of murders that happened in 2002 when the weather and atmosphere of the town was much like it is currently.  She said that they caught a vagrant, but she and the Sheriff believed that it wasn’t human hands that cut those girls open.
  • Since you’re just told to investigate the murders and not directed where to go, it really pays to know the town.  Going to Sheriff Bannerman would be an obvious idea, but first what I have to do is head to the town hall and rifle through the old records.  There are a LOT of records, so knowing the time frame (summer 2002) is key to narrowing it down.
  • The records contain a newspaper clipping talking about the arrest of the vagrant and the murder of three girls.  NOW I run over to Bannerman, who says she’s done with the case but invites me (why not) to look it up on her computer.
  • The file on the vagrant Larry tells of inconsistancies with his report and also that “You can ask my ghost for the truth.”  Sounds like he was taking the fall for something, but why?  And why would he kill himself?  And how did he know that he could talk from beyond the grave?
  • So here’s the cool part of the mission: I have to die.  Seriously.  This is one of several TSW missions that utilizes the ghost or anima world to solve missions.  Sometimes you see things as a dead person that aren’t there otherwise.
  • As a dead person, I can go into the now-open cell that is locked in the normal world.  Larry is standing there by an inscription about white ravens and golden girls telling secrets.  I’m also amused by the “Bannerman is hot” graffiti.  How do people get graffiti into the cell anyway?
  • The white raven outside the police station (I’m still in ghost form) leads me on a merry chase into the woods, where several ravens are lined up, each saying a particular phrase.  I have to click on them to match the phrase I just read in the cell.
  • The ravens then fly off nearby to the pumpkin tree, where they tear into a ghost man standing there.  Reality flashes back in as I’m resurrected and Jack O’Lantern — a grotesque monstrosity — emerges from the ground.  Jack runs off for now, although his story will continue over the course of the island.
  • Geary tells me that Kingsmouth is not a good place to die.  I concur.

flare A Light in the Sky (side mission)

  • Out on Pyramid Point are a couple of dead Morninglight folks, a box of flares, and instructions to shoot them off.  I love how many missions in this game are, “Why not do this/go here to see what happens?” which this is.
  • So after running all around this zone to light off six flares, do you want to know what happens?  NOTHING.  Really.  Even the mission report text is the generic response, so there’s no closure to this… nor context, really.  I think it’s just an excuse to push you to the Morninglight camp.
  • However, on my way to the church, I do run across a rare mob that I’ve been looking for for some time now: Mr. Freezie!  Was he the one tied to the wedding ring quest?  I’d like to think so.  I’m just so thrilled to have actually seen him.

freezieA Sacred Place (action mission)

  • Time for a new questgiver, this time the Rev. Henry Hawthorne at First Congregational Church.  A fun fact: I just got ordained at my Congregational church this past weekend, so now I guess I’m Rev. Syp.
  • This action mission is a good one to answer the question, “Why is the church safe from the zombie siege?”  Henry, an Illuminati wannabe, suggests that it’s from a combination of the Lord and the secret society’s doings.  Let’s check it out.
  • Pulling the zombies into the church one-shots them, which is always fun to do.  Turns out that there are wards drawn all over the side of the church, so the quest tasks me with replicating them across the graveyard.
  • When I get all of the new wards in place, something cool happens: a white light kills everything in the graveyard.  Well, kills all of the zombies.  It also summons a vengeful hulk who’s getting revenge on me waking him from his nap.

horrorVeteran’s Day (side mission)

  • The angel statue in the church graveyard is a WWII memorial, and somehow my character knows that these fallen soldiers are now zombies and deserve a special re-burial.  How my character is supposed to know this or where the zombies are located, I have no idea.  What I do know is that I have five targets to behead.
  • I will say that TSW does a fantastic job with zombie variants.  Yes, there are plenty of repeat models, but at least we have old ones, fresh ones, ones with damage, foreign ones, fire ones, etc.  Plus Mr. Freezie the Zombie!
  • This side mission has a good selection of weapons for rewards, so if you haven’t upgraded from your starter weapons, this could be taken a couple of times to gear up a bit.

Dust to Dust (action mission)

  • As someone said in Sanctuary chat, the Illuminati are probably the most “evil” faction of the bunch.  Cutthroat and ruthless would be my terminology, but in any case, this mission shows a really bad side to them.  They were responsible for… something… on Solomon Island that resulted in mass graves.  Even the pastor of the church has to bend himself in knots to try to rationalize it.
  • So yes, there are a LOT of mass graves around Kingsmouth.  I mean, one mass grave is more than enough to be disturbing, but it’s like the aftermath of a war zone here.  There are mass graves for witch hunt victims, for suffocated miners, and for cultists.  Geary says it comes with the type of place that this is and that I should be a good soldier and help keep it all buried.  I’m perturbed.

sewerThe Kingsmouth Code (investigation mission)

  • Heh, this is where the fun really begins, boys and girls!  I think that this mission was the one that really made a strong early impression on a lot of TSW players as to the potential and style of investigation missions.
  • Hawthorne reveals his fanboyish connection to the Illuminati, telling me that this town is really theirs (the whole island, really) and that there are secret paths everywhere.
  • The secret path I’m meant to follow are the points of the pyramids on the sewer manhole covers.  I doubt that before doing this quest, anyone even looked down at those covers they ran over.  The covers point to a spot on the wharf where a plaque mentions that the truth is at the seat of power (i.e. the town hall).
  • A painting of the navigator there references time (the nearby clock, stuck on 10:10) and kings.  I Kings 10:10 mentions King Solomon as well as the number 120, which points me to the Solomon Priest house (next to the church) and the code for the keypad.
  • Down in the Illuminati cellar is a vault with a few artifacts (the eye, the pyramid, and the phoenix).  Geary tells me that it was “super cute” watching me solve one of the faction’s own puzzles, which makes me wonder why all of this is set up anyway.  Is it a test for Illuminati potentials?  Does someone go around making sure that the covers are pointing the right way every day and that nobody’s tinkered with the town hall clock?

The Secret Adventures: Investigation station (Kingsmouth #4)

(You can follow my playthrough of The Secret World on Bio Break’s projects page!)

exodusThe Vision (investigation mission)

  • Our first investigation mission begins with Madame Roget admitting that she used to be a fraud, but somewhere along the path of being a fortune teller she actually developed visions of the future and the ability to see auras.
  • Roget goes into a trance and spills details of my future: of two paths leading to defeat and victory, of something rising up to devour us all, and of an event called “Exodus.”  I’ve heard of Exodus here and there from the TSW team, it’s supposed to be a major event that is coming at some point in the game.
  • Anyway, investigation missions!  These are really one of the big selling points of TSW — quests that require a lot of out-of-the-box lateral thinking and out-of-the-game researching.  You can’t just fight or stealth your way through these; you have to use your brain.  So they’re love-or-hate type of things, but I deeply appreciate the variety that they add to the game.  They’re something you don’t see often.  The web series Extra Credits specifically praised these types of missions as wonderful examples of advanced quest design.
  • The hook to this mission is to find places on the map that match up with clues.  The first references the tip of the pyramid.  On the map is “Pyramid Point” in the bay, so off we go!
  • From there it’s to a place with flickering lights (Wispwood), bees and flowers (Argartha portal entrance), an angel with a sword (graveyard), and finally a gallows (which is the hanging bridge, for reasons that are apparent when you go through it in anima form).  It’s a really quick quest when you know where everything is, just a lot of running and one final fight.
  • Geary says that I’m now qualifed to give tours of Kingsmouth.  I probably am, honestly.

ringTomb Raider (side mission)

  • Near a Mr. Freezie is a severed hand with a wedding ring from 1874 on it.  Naturally, I pocket it to sell it to the nearest… what?  That’s not how it works here?  Fah.  Fine.  I’ll go reverse-grave robbing then.
  • Back at the graveyard, I find where the body came from and put the ring back into the ground.  Interestingly enough, there’s a Mr. Freezie cap nearby (the last step of the mission is to examine it, although there’s no further explanation).  Is this implying the the Mr. Freezie guy is a graverobber?

hungerThe Hunger (side mission)

  • Hey, what’s that stench?  Why, it’s a naked mutilated corpse, of course!  Might as well follow the blood trail and see what’s at the end of it!
  • This mission is a little difficult if you’re even slightly colorblind, since you’re looking for faint red smears on green/brown grass.  I lost the trail a couple of times, but finally found a Wednigo (a large crawling humanoid) that’s been leaving body parts everywhere.  Time to meet your destructor, creep!

Book of the Bokor (side mission)

  • There’s an honest-to-goodness yard sale in Kingsmouth with the usual objects that you’d find at one in the real world… in addition to a voodoo book with a zombie-repelling powder recipe.  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but voodoo zombies are not the same type of zombies as the George Romero versions, which all of these locals seem to be.  Why would the powder work on them?
  • I run around the block collecting ingredients and then go toss them in Norma’s bonfire.
  • The quest does give me 10 doses of zombie powder, good for stunning them.  Can’t see why I’d need it, really.  Zombies are the easiest mobs in this game.  Maybe I’ll save it for Blue Mountain.

Message in a Bottle (side mission)

  • During the “Vision” quest I came upon a note in a bottle near the bay, addressed to Norma.  Time to play mail lady and return it!

talkerDawning of an Endless Night (story mission, tier 2)

  • The side quests and story mission all push me to meet Norma, one of the few survivors of Kingsmith that’s still out on her own (armed with a shotgun and her wits, or so she says).  Her house is actually apocalyptically decked out, with added fortifications and a large bonfire for zombie burnin’.
  • Norma’s husband was one of the fishermen on the Lady Margaret that came back and brought the fog and red seaweed with it.  After her sad speech (and my speechlessness, which is made fun of here), I’m directed to go check the boat out.  I’m going to leave that until later — I’d rather do a whole bunch of the story missions in a row, but you can’t get near Norma’s place without at least doing tier 2 here.

They Never Stop Coming (action mission)

  • Norma’s been waging a one-woman war against the zombies and Draug for a while and needs a bit of a hand.  No problem, says I.  Point me at them.
  • You think that this would be a straight-forward “kill ten undead rats” quest but it’s not.  For one thing, it’s a lot longer.  The first stage has you fending off an assault, then you have to find and kill several different types of zombies across Kingsmouth.  Oh yes, there are types.  I’m sure you learned all about them in science class.
  • Tossing the body parts onto Norma’s bonfire, the flames turn blue and the mission suggests that I go see what’s up with the cultists’ fires.
  • So it turns out (as Geary explains) that there are the regular zombies caused by the Draug and then these cultist zombies that can use magic.  Since these zombies are around “reanimated warriors” that are ancient Mayans (I believe), they’re tied up with another subplot on the island about the Mayans visiting for some reason.  The Argartha portal even features the bow of one of the ships.  I’ve never been hugely clear on why the Mayans or Vikings or whatever visited Solomon Island unless the place is one gigantic crazy magnet.  I need to brush up on my lore.
  • My build is coming along nicely, thank you for asking.  I’ve upgraded weapons so that now I have a fencing sword and a sweet-looking assault rifle.  I’m almost done fleshing out the bottom tiers for both assault rifle and sword, after which I’ll start aiming for the important skills for this build.  Even so, I’m doing enough DPS and getting enough passive heals that combat is pretty easy.  Thus far.