(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!)
Tainted Dreams (side mission)
There’s a weird dream eye plaque on a pillar near where the previous mission ended, so I clicked on it and — naturally — got sucked into the dream world. Before you go getting all excited, no, the dream world in TSW isn’t rainbows and candy-spewing kittens and Swedish bikini teams. Rather, it’s the regular map run through a greyscale filter, much like the dying world is, just a little brighter.
So I have the singularly strange experience of following but not fighting one of the Reaper characters to close off nightmare rifts. Does Trion Worlds know about this? Or care? Anyway, I know that there’s a lot of mob model reusage in this game (practically, there has to be), so it’s kind of hard taking THIS reaper more seriously than THAT one, even if the soundtrack tries to convince me otherwise.
The only hard part to this mission is avoiding the floating mummy ghost mobs — they move slowly, but if they touch you, you get booted back into the real world and have to deal with YouTube comment sections and the like.
The Fedora Express (side mission)
Back to the Cafe Giza! There is a fedora and pair of sunglasses on a table, and since my time is obviously valuable, I pick them up and run them all the way back to… Said. Mummy doesn’t even say thanks. Typical.
Black Sun, Red Sand (main story mission, tier 2)
As usual, I’m trying to save the main story mission until I’m fully done with all of a zone’s other quests, but it’s hard to be mucking around in al-Meryah and not trigger this cutscene. Anyway, I wanted to mention it before I forgot it.
I come upon a Council of Venice operative (above) under attack by Atenists. My character uses one of her “I wish I actually had that skill” to launch a lightning orb at the bad guys and flatten them. The operative explains that her small crew was sent here to retrieve (what else?) a powerful artifact. She mentions that the Orochi and Phoenecians are in play — no surprise here — but that there’s also a much greater force pulling the strings. She also suspects that the Council is compromised and doesn’t know if she’s been hung out to dry or what.
The Living Oil (sabotage mission)
One of the most affecting aspects of The Secret World is when it finally sinks into your — the player’s — mind that we’re not merely going to hot spots around the world like the A-Team, stamping out fires before they blaze up. We are trying to navigate the very real beginning of the end of the world, and no matter how many missions you do, how many people you help, the game gradually hammers into your head that it might very well be too late. The Filth, the Dreamers, the sinister societies — they are too big and you are too small. It’s only a matter of time.
I thought of this as I reintroduced myself to Zhara, the owner of the Café Giza. She’s a nice lady who asks you to send a letter to her sister (a reminder that, like many NPCs in these zones, they’re effectively trapped whereas the player characters may use Agartha to come and go). She’s keeping her chin up, serving what food and drink she has for as long as she can, but you can sense that she isn’t hopeful that it will end well. She’s staring down the apocalypse and being defiant in the only way she can.
Anyway, bleh, sabotage mission. Which means a trip back to the super-annoying date factory/plant region, which makes for at least the 12th time so far in this zone. I do so because Zhara is peeved that the Atenists are using Filth-injected dates to transform people into monsters, so I guess she gives me full license to wage war on the factory. I still have to be careful — lots of powerful roaming mobs and the like — but it is satisfying to blow up trucks and shipments.
At the end is the source of the Filth in this area, a locust nest bubbling with the stuff. The final objective is to take out the nest, a task which is near-suicidal considering the mob density. That’s where — and I’m giving sabotage missions some faint praise once again here — this game excels in getting you to think beyond brute force to alternate paths to victory. In this case, I dump over an oil drum nearby and set it on fire, causing the nest to light up. Huzzah!
Plague of Locusts (side mission)
Little side mission near the end of the last one, might as well pick it up! It’s pretty straight-forward: wipe out three locust nests and the final boss. At least they aren’t Ak’abs! Now, the trick with nests in The Secret World is to back off from attacking them when they start spawning defensive mobs. Deal with the mobs, then return to the nest; don’t try to keep attacking the nest or you might end up triggering too many mobs that they’ll overrun you.
Not that this has… ever happened to me. No. Never.
Angels & Demons (investigation mission)
Zhara mentions that before all of the truly bad stuff starting going down in the area, there was a group of foreign investors who came in and quietly set up shop. Sounds like a good enough reason to look into who they were and what they were doing, no?
The group was Plethron, one of Orochi’s many subdivisions. I don’t really know much about this company, to be honest, even after my adventures in Tokyo. Let me look it up… agriculture. Even has its own website because of course it does.
Breaking into the Plethron office in al-Meryah I find — to my complete lack of shock — a dead Orochi director there. Orochi must clone corpses or something to keep up with this high demand. Anyway, the guy’s computer mentions a third party sniffing around Orochi’s shipments, and after investigating the warehouse, I see security footage that shows Mr. Hatty messing with the crates. He actually has the nerve to leave me a passive-aggressive note in one of the crates telling me to back off. Tough chance.
As an investigation mission, this one is not too tough. There’s a little code-breaking involved as well as a spot where you have to figure out a keypad combination by listening to the tones of the keys pressed. All things considered, it’s child’s play compared to what some of these missions have you doing.