The Secret World: Dream therapy


A bee has done the unthinkable — committed suicide. And no one knows why… or how.

Bees, in The Secret World parlance, are the anima-infused humans who not only have special abilities but cannot die for good. All “bees,” including players, infinitely resurrect upon death. But one such person has figured out how to off herself, which sets the stage for TSW’s newest Halloween mission.

Man, it has been a long, long time since I’ve played through a new TSW quest. I gladly dropped my gaming plans yesterday to go through it as soon as the patch went live. The mission reminded me of how much I love this game for its dark brilliance — and how rage-inducing and frustrating it can be even so.


The Seven Silences is an investigation mission, which means little hand-holding and a lot more deduction. It’s fortunately not TOO hard, although there were a couple of spots that proved troublesome. Took me about two hours to go through.

The mission had me following the trail of the recently deceased, who apparently was trying to use certain locations in the world to activate dreams that weakened her bee power. So the mission kept going back and forth between finding whatever spot she slept in next — which meant a tour of TSW’s hotels and inns — and then going through a thematic dream sequence.

Some of the dreams were very creative and pretty disturbing, making good use of the various set pieces around the game. In fact, for someone who hadn’t played in a while, it was quite the nostalgic ride, from the Savage Coast to Transylvania.

Probably the two most notable dreams included one where you woke up stark naked (save for cheeky leaves hovering over your privates) and had to chase your clothes while everyone laughed at you, and another one where you had your legs amputated from Lilith and had to drag yourself down a hallway while bleeding out.


There’s a bit of a tie-in with Funcom’s new game The Park (which exists in the TSW universe). It was pretty interesting, overall. Certainly ended up feeling pretty bad for the dream lady, and marveled a little about how TSW once again tackled a sensitive subject — suicide — without flinching.

So. The Park. Have I gotten it yet? Nope. To be honest, I’m a little squeamish to do so. I mean, I love The Secret World and am dying to know what’s in that game, but I hate, hate being scared by games… and I’m hearing that this is one unnerving title. TSW isn’t as bad — while there are squirmy spots, for the most part it’s not too terrible since you’re a superhero who plays alongside others. But to be a helpless character all alone? That’s another can of worms.

7 creepy shots from The Secret World

In honor of the Halloween season and the upcoming The Park release, here are seven creepy screenshots from The Secret World!


Whatever happened in the bathroom of Susie’s Diner has always disturbed me. I think it came from the toilet.


Considering you only see this scene when you’re dead… it’s unnerving. Reminds me of Blair Witch Project a bit.


When all of the car lights snap on in the middle of the pitch-black parking garage…


The Black House’s poltergeist, while dead.


The misshapen and lumpy design of the Bogeyman always struck me as monumentally creepy.


Taking something that used to be human and then twisting it somehow is one of this game’s fortes.


I really, really do not want to go into there.

5 most immersive MMOs I’ve played to date


Game immersion is perhaps one of the most subjective and indefinable qualities when it comes to MMOs. We know in our gut when we feel more drawn into one virtual world over another, yet it might be difficult if not impossible to explain why.

So instead of fiddling around with definitions, today I want to share five MMOs out of my entire resume that were the most immersive that I’ve played — and why.

Fallen Earth

There’s no doubt that Fallen Earth is a messy title that’s perhaps a little too rough around the edges. It never broke into the big time, that’s for sure. But even so, I was so in love with this game and its breathtaking ambition to create a living, breathing post-apocalyptic world. From the black humor to the mounts that stayed put where you left them to the weird factions and the vivid sunsets over the desert, I always felt drawn into this title like no other. Plus, crafting everything you end up using made those items feel more precious.

Lord of the Rings Online

One of the reasons that I stuck with LOTRO for so long was that, unlike so many other MMOs, it felt like a cohesive world that played by a predefined set of rules instead of ones that the devs made up on the fly. I’d argue that having to fit under the umbrella of a rich IP actually helped to create a world that felt “real,” so to speak. So many times I would lose myself in traversing the lands where it wasn’t just endless packs of mobs, but civilization clashing with the wild and with evil. And I can’t discount that incredible music for drawing me in as well!

The Secret World

TSW’s brilliance is not just in its storytelling (which is magnificent) but in its meticulously crafted world that bleeds over into ours. In fact, the myriad of ways that the developers blurred the line between game and reality broke down that fictional barrier in part and allowed me to believe (or at least pretend very hard) that I was actually part of what was going on on the other side of the screen.

World of Warcraft

Maybe we’re all like this with MMOs that we’ve spent so much time in, but my previous passion for World of Warcraft and the countless hours that I poured into it took my understanding of Azeroth beyond a mere game and into a much more personal space. The little details — the sounds, the animations, the locations, the music — swirled together to form a world that was vividly immersive for years. I miss feeling that way about it, I won’t lie.

Anarchy Online

I’ll probably chalk Anarchy Online’s immersive abilities up to it being one of the first MMOs that I played, even though I felt pretty lost in it at the time. It’s “alien” nature set it apart from fantasy CRPGs and made it feel other, different, and alluring. At no point was I looking beyond the immediate details of the world to number crunch or break down mechanics, which is a sign that I was pretty content just being instead of mastering.

So those are my five. What are yours?

The Park repackages The Secret World’s amusement park — and I am 100% OK with that


Yesterday Funcom announced the secret project it’s been working on — no, not another MMO, but instead a single-player horror game called The Park coming in October. A single-player horror game that is set in what looks like The Secret World’s haunted Atlantic Island Park.

It’s not my imagination, either. The page and video shows the exact same ferris wheel, rollercoaster, and “octotron” that TSW players know so very well. However, the park also looks different, more fleshed out and with a slightly different layout (a ring of water around the Octotron, for example).

The official description is definitely giving off a Silent Hill vibe: “Funcom is thrilled to announce ‘The Park’, a unique horror story and the company’s first single-player experience since its award-winning adventure ‘Dreamfall: The Longest Journey’. Releasing on the PC in October this year, ‘The Park’ puts you in the shoes of a mother whose son goes missing. When night falls and the lights go out, what follows is a short, but intense horror story set against the backdrop of an amusement park where a dark and sinister secret is just waiting to be uncovered.”

The studio said that it’s creating this game as an experiment to see what it can do with its existing properties and churning out non-MMO titles: “The Park is an experimental project meant to gauge the market and to develop the team’s ability to create different types of games, and as such the Company does not expect this game to generate significant revenues.”

Another quote from the report: “Funcom has built The Park around The Secret World IP, utilizing a location as well as characters and story elements from the MMO. Funcom’s ambition is to further explore how the Company’s established universes can be drawn upon in other projects outside the MMO space.”

I really did not expect to see any sort of TSW spin-off, ever, but I’m actually kind of excited over this. It’s funny — just a week ago I asked the MOP community if they’d like to see The Secret World preserved as a single-player game, especially in light of Funcom’s dire financial situation. My feeling was that (1) I love TSW’s unique setting and story so much that anything to preserve it in the case of a studio shutdown would be welcome and (2) TSW’s adventure game nature lends itself better to a theoretical single-player conversion than most MMOs.

And more TSW, even as a spin-off, is welcome. I think the choice of the haunted amusement park is a good one, as it’s one of the most memorable settings from the game (and that is saying something, especially for Kingsmouth). There was a lot of potential left in that area, and I would be excited to see an expanded version of the park.

Now I’m thinking that this is most likely a prequel to the events of the MMO. The description makes it sound as though the park is in active operation — after all, the mom brought her son there for a fun day — and the screenshots do not show it as decrepit as it’s become in TSW with the decades’ long shutdown and the influence of the Fog.

Another thought is the possible connection of the Bogeyman and the park’s attacks on children. Anyway, pleasantly surprised to see this coming and I can’t wait to try it out!

6 things that bug me about MMOs that I like

bugmeI think we’re always loathe to outright criticize MMOs that we really like in fear that it will push players away from games that are otherwise terrific. But if you are too scared to do so, then you gain blinders and lose perspective.

Thus, this is my small Monday morning measure of attaining balance by admitting to six things that kind of really bug me about MMOs that I like.

WildStar: For a game that has made such a big, big deal about customization (and excels in this in many areas), the fact that classes can wield one and only one type of weapon (set) vastly annoys me. In most MMOs you can choose from different weapon types and experience different visual flair and animations, but here? What you got at level 1 is the same at level 50.

The Secret World: This game’s wonderful storytelling and nuanced body language is sometimes undercut by faces that are ugly and border on the uncanny valley. The facial art style doesn’t gel for me the way that it should and serves as an irritant when I’m trying to get into the tale.

Marvel Heroes: This game’s social tools are really lacking, I’ve found. There needs to be support to join multiple supergroups, better supergroup tools, and a proper LFG tool. Fast track these, Gazillion!

Star Wars: The Old Republic: I do love that the game has housing, but coming from other MMOs like RIFT and WildStar, it can’t help but fail to live up to the industry standard. I am not a fan of the clumsy hooks and placement interface that makes sorting through one’s decor far more tedious than it should be.

RIFT: Such ugly armor. Such ugly. It makes the awesome wardrobe system weep in frustration. What is up with the armor artists in this game? Why must we all look like first drafts of a ninth grader’s fantasy portfolio?

Neverwinter: Cryptic not only failed to live up to the insanely high standard it set for character creation in City of Heroes, but failed to live up to the industry medium in this respect. I am stunned how hard it is to make good or interesting-looking characters in this game with the sub-par customization options on display. Do they even know how hair looks?

The Secret World: Orochi’s dirty laundry

or1It’s my current, gradual, long-term goal in The Secret World to experience and beat all of the floors of the Orochi Tower. I love the fact that there are so many weird floors that show off the different facets of this messed-up mega-corporation.

I love less the fact that TSW makes it a headache to methodically explore all of the floors. First of all, you can only do them in a mission that’s on an 18-hour (I think) cooldown, and each mission run allows for three floors. Eight companies, three floors apiece, that’s 24 total. But you get a random assortment of the three, so finishing up the last few will probably be annoying. I heard there are ways to cut down on the randomness, but could it have hurt Funcom to, y’know, just let us pick which three floors we wanted to do that day? Or let us do all 24 in a row?

or2What I love is that each floor usually has a story to tell with its details and events. This floor was looking into ways to develop synthetic blood and werewolf sausages for the more supernatural demographic.

Love these posters. I would totally hang these up in my office, even though they’d get me fired the next day.

or3Or, y’know, create protein bars from giant mutated locusts that are currently devouring your entire R&D staff.

The “yum!” is what makes this diagram pop.

or4If you have a computer AI in a video game, then it will have a female voice and display a svelte blue hologram. That’s video game law.

Right now I’m butting my head against the final confrontation with Orochi’s AI, Aimee. Her riddles were laughably easy, but this final fight in a cramped room has caused me to rage-quit twice now. I got pretty far on the final fight, but once there were several moving laser fields, a projection throwing lasers my way, and little healbots keeping a shield around the mainframe, I had to call it a day. As I said on Twitter, TSW needs to sell controllers so that I have something to toss across the room after some of these boss fights.

Syp’s No-Nonsense TSW Shotgun/Hammer Build

I’ve been slowly refining my general adventuring build in The Secret World, and since I’m pretty pleased with how it’s set up and works, I wanted to share it with you all. It’s a shotgun/hammer build that seeks to put out a lot of DPS (to both single and multiple targets) while containing a heavy dose of survivability. There’s a lot of ping-ponging synergy here, particularly with the focus of getting hinder on all mobs to trigger other effects.

Let’s start with the passives.


  1. Close Quarters (Elite): Slaps a hinder on any nearby mob I hit. The entire build hinges on this.
  2. Beanbag Rounds: When I apply hinder, I get +15% penetration chance.
  3. Strike Force: +7.5% penetration chance for any strike abilities. Guess what my builder and hammer consumer are?
  4. Closer: +7.5% damage for consumers. A nice DPS bump.
  5. Arterial Pulse: When I penetrate, I do an additional hit to the target AND all targets around it. This is my lazy man’s AOE skill for my single-target strike attacks.
  6. Impact Striker: +25% damage using Striker (my builder) against hindered targets. Since I’m spamming this quite a lot, it’s a no-brainer.
  7. Immortal Spirit: HoT on penetrating enemies. It’s not a ton of healing without healing gear, but I find that it’s almost always running in combat and every bit helps.
  8. Revved Up: More damage from my chainsaw shield.


  1. Striker: Even as a basic builder, this is now doing a lot — hitting hard, slapping hinders on bad guys, and penetrating a lot (doing extra DPS and healing).
  2. Stopping Power: Oh, how I do love this skill. It’s a cone attack consumer that automatically penetrates hindered targets.
  3. Haymaker: Chose this consumer because it has the strike tag and thus does extra DPS.
  4. Kneecapper: Does a nice strong cone attack and slaps hindered on everything it hits for 8 seconds. I’m experimenting with using this as an opener to get an automatic penetration bump.
  5. Turn the Tables: Call me weak, but I love having a meaty heal on demand. This is it. I use it all of the time.
  6. Flak Jacket: The three blue skills I use as often as they’re up to buff me up. This skill reduces damage by 15%.
  7. Breaching Shot: Boosts penetration by 45%. I want to be penetrating as often as possible, not just to get arterial pulse and immortal spirit, but also because such hits do extra damage. Seeing chain penetrates is awesome.
  8. Diamond Grit: I’ve always loved this chainsaw ability for its double duty. It reflects 50% of damage back to the attacker up to a certain number.

This build isn’t set in stone, as I’ve been swapping out a couple skills here and there. For example, I might want an attack that knocks a target down or purges, so Flak Jacket will usually go in that case. But it’s been working great for me and I thought it might help someone else!