The Secret World: Won’t somebody think of the children? (Besieged Farmlands #2)

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(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!)

Who Horrifies the Horrors? (action mission, also did The Howling side mission in conjunction)

Carmen tells me that the town would be so lucky as to “only” have a vampire threat. Apparently this is ground zero for all sorts of horrible beasts of legend — and the combined weight of them is threatening to overrun the town. Naturally, there are werewolves, because you can’t ever have vampires these days without werewolves somewhere.

Strangely enough, the werewolves attacking the town aren’t doing so deliberately; it’s more like they’re genuinely scared. Fleeing. Freaked the heck out. I start following their backtrail to investigate what’s going on.

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On the way out of town I see one defender who’s obviously cracked under the strain. If you talk to… her? I guess? she talks of voices in her head and giving the town over. She’s done. I’m not.

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If you’ve been hoping for some tooth-and-nail werewolf fights in TSW, here you go. Lots and lots in Transylvania, and this mission alone accounts for about 30% of the total werewolf encounters in this game. It’s a very long trip through half of the map and sixteen werewolf breeds, which I suppose is helpful in getting to know the area. And also catching fleas.

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Oh hey, the scarecrow guys are back! I’m actually really glad — they’re some of my favorite mob designs in the game. And they fit in quite well in this murky, rainy farmland.

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At the end of a trail of footprints and severed werewolf limbs, I find the lurking horror that’s been beating down the puppies. It’s some giant mutated monstrosity of a person, and while I’m winning the fight, eventually it kicks me down to the ground…

…and then a mysterious stranger shows up and flamethrowers the mutant to death. It’s so shocking to get an ending cutscene in The Secret World that I gawped, even though I had done this before.

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When the beast dies, it de-mutates back into a dead little boy. Ugh. Seriously? Seriously Funcom? You don’t pull any punches, do you?

Actually, I figure that’s why the flamethrower guy shows up, to do the actual killing so that the player can sleep tonight with a somewhat clean conscience. At least we didn’t kill a kid while playing a video game today. Small favors, I think, and my character shakes her head sadly. What changed this kid? Who did this to him?

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A Trail of Breadcrumbs (action mission)

I had totally forgotten that these quests were part of one long, ongoing chain in which the completion of one mission would instantly start the next. So I guess we’re going along for the ride!

The man who saved me is simply known as the Vampire Hunter — a burned, sour gentleman who lacks anima powers or allegiance but is also very capable. He says that all of this reeks of Orochi involvement, and the corpse nearby (of COURSE there’s an Orochi corpse nearby) seems to back that up.

I start following the titular trail of breadcrumbs, bouncing from Orochi outpost to outpost in the area. Most are just vans or tents, but all have two things in common: They were sites of gruesome experiments on the local creatures and they all backfired on the experimenters.

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The biggest complex, a hidden cave in the Shadowy Forest, even has a malevolent spirit of a lost child’s cry. And lots of blood, of course. And a recording of something called Virgula Divina and a place called the nursery. And a photo of a kid. Long story short, the Orochi are kidnapping kids with mental abilities and performing experiments on them — probably what caused the kid from the previous mission to hulk out.

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I find the girl in the photo — she’s like 40 feet away, which tells you of Orochi’s famed tracking abilities — and she and her brother mention another pair of siblings that have gone missing in the forest.

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Amid the depressing tale of missing and dead children, I get enough AP to finish my Fixer deck and snag me some Illuminati workout clothes. Go me!

The Secret World: Vampire country (Besieged Farmlands #1)

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(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!)

Mainframe (story mission)

I’m out of Egypt — but not out of hot water, not yet. In trouble for not delivering on Illuminati ends, I’m given one chance to prove my worth to the organization. And that chance goes through the foul-mouthed Senator Cicero, who is apparently from Michigan. As a current resident, I don’t recall any Cicero, but who knows? Probably Wikipedia.

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Anyway, Cicero sends me on a mission to infiltrate the local Orochi office and pull out some data about the Promethius Initiative. If this sounds like one long sabotage mission… well, yup, it’s one long sabotage mission. No combat skills, but plenty of patrolling drones and guards to keep me company.

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I wish that something exciting would have happened in this mission or that I would have learned something exciting, but it really is pretty dull from start to end (especially for someone who’s seen the Orochi’s much more superior Tokyo complex).

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The good news is that my mission is a success and pleases the Illuminati. Geary says that I’m an “instigator,” which is what the company needs. As the data points to a large Orochi operation in Transylvania, that’s where I’m headed as well. Probably too late to save most of them, but thems the breaks for wearing the white-and-black.

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Transylvania: An interlude

I don’t ever think I noticed that the portal to Agartha in Besieged Farmlands was a Soviet bunker. I’m always noticing details that are new to me here.

So I want to take a moment to talk about this transition between Egypt and Transylvania. I know a lot of people way back when were renowned for saying what a relief it was to leave Blue Mountain and get to Egypt — into the sun, out of the near-eternal first zone. For me, the real relief came when I finally left City of the Sun God. A second time playing through that area hasn’t improved my impressions of it and I am just as happy as I was a few years back when I finally set foot in eastern Europe.

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I really love the Transylvania zones in The Secret World. They’re beautiful in a way that Solomon Island wasn’t, more mythical and “old world” than Egypt (even though Egypt boasts a longer heritage), and frankly, more interesting to me all around. It’s a return to civilization of sorts, with lots of cool NPCs, breathtaking sights, and a welcome creepy take on vampires. It’s like a dark fairy tale, through and through, and that draws me in.

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As with the previous areas of the game, Besieged Farmlands is cut off from the rest of the world (heck, it’s in its name). The Secret World does have to bend over backwards to keep coming up with reasons why these areas are isolated from the rest of civilization in a modern era, and that’s kind of hard to do. I think Transylvania cheats a bit by going back to Solomon Island’s well, what with blocking off tunnels with crashed vehicles fleeing an apparent apocalypse of sorts.

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A Ghoulish Feast (action mission)

On hand to greet me right out of Agartha is Carmen and her horse, whom I’m going to call Jeeves. Carmen’s a member of the Draculesti, the local good guys group that’s been fighting evil since time immemorial. Mostly fighting vampires, but other evil too. She’s a one-eyed, no-nonsense lady who informs me that the local village, Harbabureşti, has come under a relentless siege by the local ghoul population. The outskirts have been taken over and it’s starting to look grim. Thank goodness I wore my leotards today, because I’m going to get a workout!

Props to The Secret World for not merely recycling the ghoul models from Solomon Island but coming up with new ones, by the way.

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These ghouls attack with sign posts! That cracks me up.

Anyway, what I respect about this quest is that it isn’t a mindless action romp against waves of ghouls. Instead, it shows you (not tells you) how the village has been holding up with some special defenses. First in line are the trees themselves, which apparently hold some sort of power. Then there are the Greenwardens themselves, these hulking satyrs that are patrolling the streets. Finally, the locals and Draculesti are doing their part as well. And you see this all as you go through the mission to the final holdout against waves of ghouls, throwing you in league with your new villager buddies.

The Secret World: A rat in a maze (City of the Sun God #11)

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(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!)

In the Dusty Dark (investigation mission)

Boy am I torn on this mission. On one hand, this is like the Indiana Jones-eque quest to end all such quests in MMOs. Crawling around the guts of an enormous evil pyramid has so much potential, and to their credit, the devs did not skimp. It is a HUGE mission that will take upwards of an hour, even if you know what you’re doing (and much more if you do not). On the other hand, it’s just wayyyy too long and has several points of frustration that still had me screaming the second time through.

At least the atmosphere is spot-on. The mission aids in this by deactivating your headlamp (you get a sarcastic “out of batteries” debuff for the duration) and forcing you to use a torch. I had quibbles with how easy it is to drop the torch if you accidentally dodge, but it’s still kind of neat. And I even like some of the rooms and little story beats, like running through hallways of poison darts, escaping a boulder (the second such event in this game), and finding ways to electrocute otherwise-invincible mummies.

Oh yeah, there are invincible mummies. Take that, Indiana Jones.

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Oh wait, you can’t. You’ve fallen into a huge pit and cracked your skull. Way to go, Jones.

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This is kind of an ongoing tradition of mine: Getting killed while trying to grab the perfect screenshot. The streaks of blood on the floor is a nice touch, although I do wonder who resets the boulder. The mummies?

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There are five (I think) big rooms requiring you to solve a physical puzzle to proceed. Any one of these rooms would be a quest in and of itself, but nope, do five in a row. I still loathe the jumping room.

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But the real capper is the labyrinth at the end. By this point you simply feel like you deserve to see the completion of the quest, but nope, here’s the longest and toughest part. Lots of puzzles to do while evading a string of InvinciMummies.

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Once again I found myself cursing under my breath as I kited a monster while trying to figure out the final puzzle. It was such strong deja vu, especially when I vowed — AGAIN — to never, ever go through this quest in the future.

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After such a long time making one’s way through ancient ruins, it’s so jarring for the final door to open up into a modern-looking room, complete with force fields and a genie in a bottle.

Cue a final fight against the Unbound and I don’t even want to write about it any more. I am DONE. I am DONE with City of the Sun God. I am DONE with this quest. Transylvania, prepare for my arrival!

The Secret World: Eating a frog (City of the Sun God #10)

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(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!)

The Angry Earth (investigation mission)

There’s this quote attributed to Mark Twain that goes, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” An organizational practice based off of that sentiment encourages people to “eat their frogs” first and foremost every day — that is, to pick the largest and most onerous task of the day and make it the first thing you do. With that out of the way, the day doesn’t seem so bad and you don’t have this terrible thing hanging over your head and causing you to procrastinate.

Well, it’s time to eat my Egyptian frog in The Secret World, because I’ve been putting off Issue 14 for this character long enough. While it’s a newer story arc, I’ve not been keen to do it for this series because (1) I just did it a couple of months ago and (2) it was really long and kind of annoying. But it’s standing between me and finishing up City of the Sun God, so frog… into my mouth you go.

The whole story starts in Agartha, as tremors ripple out and make the Conductor quite uneasy (and boy do I want to find out what his story is one of these days). It’s nothing major… yet… but any tremor in Agartha means terrible things elsewhere.

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I head into the Scorched Desert for some more investigation (this being that sort of mission and all). Seismographs help me pinpoint a few places where the tremors are originating, although it seems like everything really points to the Ankh. An audio tape there from a Dr. Klein talks about how the world has been reset several times in various ages, with artifacts continuing on and causing more and more ripples to the pattern. Is there an endgame? Can we ever get it right? And is Earth right now nearing the end of the fourth age?

As I go down into the Ankh, I pick up The Voice of Klein (side mission), which tasks me to pick up more of his audio recordings in the solo dungeon. Klein talks about running an experiment on himself by injecting micro-doses of the Filth. Raise your hands if you think this is a good idea. Yeah. I thought so. This is how super-villains are made, man.

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See? You’re a DOCTOR. Did you think that injecting yourself with world-destroying goo was going to have a happy ending? You look like Professor Quasimodo now and you’re not getting invited to any more dinner parties.

Klein wants to know what I know about the tremors (spoiler: not much) and he’s willing to torture me to get the info. Said torture is actually torture for the player, not the character, as he puts me into a ring of death and makes me dodge various filth attacks and activate my special mysterious device at certain precise moments to avoid being insta-killed. Even though I’ve done this before, I had to play through it about four times until I stopped failing so bad at it. Klein vanishes afterward like a Scooby-Doo cliffhanger and I am encouraged to go check out the City of the Sun God for more answers.

An Interlude of Sand (investigation mission)

One interesting thing about Issue 14 is these little interlude missions, which aren’t so much missions as they are cutscenes. In the City of the Sun God, the statues are growing increasingly worried about the tremors, which apparently aren’t coming from Aten at all. Someone is digging — with explosives — and that could spell disaster.

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Digging Too Deep (action mission)

Yeah! This is more like it — action! Fighting! No more thinking!

Maybe the cultists have something to do with the tremors, but before I can investigate, a courier knocks me down and I give chase. It’s all good, as he leads me to a cultist summer camp and I spend many delightful afternoons basket weaving and canoeing. That is to say, I lay waste to them with the judgment meted out by my twin pistols.

It turns out that, yes, the cultists are kind of being jerks here, what with throwing dynamite at Filth inside of caves and seeing what happens. An overseer’s journal talks about how a voice has whispered up from one of the cracks, beckoning him.

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An Interlude of Bedtime Stories (investigation mission)

As I’m risking life and limb, Ptahmose is reading Aladdin to his children. Gee, where’s the game where I get to read stories while others go fight on my behalf? He mentions that there’s some element of truth to the story, namely in the Jinn and signet ring. He suggests I cozy up with the ever-delightful Amir, who will probably want a present before agreeing to help.

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Appeasing the Flames (action mission)

Amir, as we’ve well established in this series, is a raging jerk of a jinn — and what’s worse, he’s pretty much the only one who will talk to you or lend you a shred of aid. And even after I spend a half-hour combing the desert to assemble Solomon’s ring, he has a hissy-fit and demands that I get him a fat Atenist instead.

I don’t know what’s worse about this mission: The fight with the fire-creature that can swat you down quick if you’re not paying attention, or the escort quest from hell in which your escortee escapes several times and keeps trying to shotgun you in the back. Even at the end of all of that, all Amir does is rant and rave and suggest I go check out some jinn rituals. Fine. You are OFF my Christmas card list, pal.

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Fight For Your Rites (action mission)

I suppose one of the reasons that I am not so fond of the Issue 14 chain here is that so little about it is interesting or enjoyable. Instead, it’s a dull slog through one of the dullest zones in the world, sending you out again and again on scavenger hunts and ending in a bizarrely long investigation dungeon topped by a pretty tough boss fight. Funcom’s generally done better and better with the newer issues, but man, this one was a misstep. I think there are devs over there trying to salvage this zone and prove that it’s not a complete loss. Sunk-cost fallacy and all that.

Anyway, the tedium continues as Amir sends me off to recover four tablet pieces that have the answers I seek. I don’t care what kind of build you’re going for in TSW, you are going to want to incorporate a heavy element of AoE into it. Packs abound here, even two- and three-packs of mini-bosses, and I get a lot of use out of my four AoE skills as I go along.

The culmination of this mission leads back to Ptahmose and An Interlude of Mythos, where he shares some insight into what the Jinn call “The Unbound One.” Apparently it was the first and mightiest of all Jinn who had a wee too much freedom and power and starting causing havoc. King Solomon tricked him into a pocket dimension, which is now tucked under the Black Pyramid. The shape of this structure really lends itself to all of the layers of bad things within, I think you’d agree.

The Secret World: Stolen Song (City of the Sun God #9)

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(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!)

Blood and Fire (action mission)

We are starting to make good headway on this zone, although there’s still the massive Black Pyramid expedition to go (and boy do I *not* want to do that again). Hemitneter, the loudest dissenting voice among the statues, is sick of waiting around and wants to enlist my help in taking the fight to the Atenists. Glad to help, lady!

I love the fact that she wants to actually fight instead of play by some arcane rules and stand around and talk. She gives me an amulet that allows Hemineter to manifest herself as an black-clad desert knight with one of the scariest swords ever. And while she has a top land speed that is topped by all turtle species, when she reaches the bad guys, they are sliced and diced in seconds.

We storm into yet another cult encampment (it’s a cult jamboree around these here parts) and make short work of all of the bad guys. Whether or not she’s breaking the rules, I feel good about the decision considering that we pull out several villagers that are being tortured. If nothing else, we have that going for us when we face judgment in the end.

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The mission ends with a neat capstone, as you get to destroy an entire temple/statue with a few well-placed blows. I love that it comes crashing down right in front of you. All missions should feel this satisfying.

Postcard Collector (side mission)

This is another one of those incredibly short missions that feels like a missed opportunity. You’re sent out to collect a postcard for Mouty’s collection, but that’s all it is: one. And it takes about ten seconds to get before you’re done. Not that I always want games to add on a lot of pointless backtracking, but this concept seems perfect for sending the player across the world to the different major locales to find postcards — Korea, New England, London, and so on. But no, just one and done.

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Halls of Lost Records (sabotage mission)

Nefertari, the statue who can talk to animals, is pretty concerned that the enemy is breaking into the Hall of Lost Records to steal secrets. Secrets? Bet I’ll never find out what those are, but it’s all-important to keep them safe. The animals are wussing out on the help, so I’ll be substituting in as an animal for the time being.

Pleasantly, for a sabotage mission this was pretty straight-forward and lacked any frustration. I had to go back into the Hall of Lost Records, which I kind of assumed to be a lot darker in years past (particularly from screenshots that I saw, which showed it to be pitch black). Now I don’t even think I needed a head lamp. There’s some optional additional challenge to avoid being spotted by and fighting the infected Orochi personnel about, but I’m not one for side achievements.

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The entirety of this mission concerned itself with going into separate chambers and reactivating the defensive barriers. As expected, it went from simple to… slightly less simple. As expected, no secrets were shared, but at least I can sleep tonight knowing that I put the keys to these rooms back in the hands of the ancient priest who imprisoned his children in statues for a few thousand years. He’s the trustworthy type.

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Black Sun, Red Sand (story mission)

I’m going to do something a little different for this playthrough, which is to tackle the main zone story before I’m fully finished with all of the other missions. Why not? No harm kicking a little Pharoah tushie (spoiler!).

So after I met with each of the statues and learned more about them, one of them — Hemineter — is missing the song through which she exerts her power. I like Hemy, to be honest, so I’m willing to get it back. Who stole it? The Orochi, of course. They’re like all of the bad guys from Indiana Jones movies who keep trying to steal the Ark instead of allowing it to go into a museum.

At the Orochi camp, Samael tells me that it’s up to me to fix the gigantic mess that some betrayal and order-not-following that the people here did — including messing with the statue. Aten, the dark god, rises, and I don’t have much time.

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After recovering Hemy’s song, all of the statues and I activate our song — and Stairway to Heaven erupts from my speakers. Cue end credits, best game ever.

Nah, actually the song cracks open the front door to the Black Pyramid. Put on our game face, it’s time to go unseat an ancient god.

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Surprise! Mr. Beardy isn’t nearly as dead as we assumed, what with kicking him off a train and all. That’s kind of a bummer… can’t recall if I ever saw him again in this game after this mission. And unfortunately, I don’t get a chance to kill him again.

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However, I do get to take a shot at the Egyptian heavyweight contender, the Black Pharoah. His is not a terribly hard fight, as long as you stay out of his big blast radius. At three points in the fight, you enter anima form and get to summon a statue for a particular buff or debuff.

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At the end, all of the statues have their Captain Planet moment and take out the Black Pharoah, so I guess they finally pull their weight around here.

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On the down side, a couple of Orochi jerks come up behind me and knock me out before I can take the Black Pharoah’s trident. What’s so important about that weapon, I wonder? Is it like Excalibur?

Also, I call foul on this move. We know without a shadow of a doubt that all Orochi within a hundred miles have been messily murdered. Suddenly having a band of them pop up, alive, just to take me out with a cheap move feels… deus ex machina for the enemy side.

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I have another one of my Dreaming Prison side stories. It’s nothing too exciting, just the evil voices yammering on about how weak I am and how they are totally tubular. There are a handful of confusing setpieces with various people and memories that are actually just quotes from various poems and philosophers.

At the end, I’m given another choice to join the dreamers or stand up to them. It’s not much of a choice, really. I give Flappy a backhanded slap and then wake out of the dream to an angry call from Geary. Her office. Now.

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Apparently everyone in the Illuminati is incredibly mad that I messed things up, although I think I did a good job preventing the apocalypse. I suppose it’s that Orochi took me out at the end and got the weapon and answers after all.

Geary says that the higher-ups want me terminated — and this is not an idle threat, as I turn around and there’s this scary lady pointing a gun at my chest. However, Geary sort of goes to bat for me and gives me enough breathing room to prove myself to the Illuminati. I got to say, this organization is a little too hard on its people.

Anyway, we’ll put a bookmark in this overarching story to get back to the City of the Sun God and wrap up the final bits and pieces. Big bits. Big pieces.

The Secret World: Arachnophobia (City of the Sun God #8)

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(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!)

Desert Uprising (side mission)

Let’s kick off this session with a trio of nearby side missions, shall we? As par for the course in this game, this quest starts off with a dead Orochi agent (zone count: 532 and rising). He’s got a device that helpfully points me in the direction of three sand golems that would love nothing more than to bash my head in. They are named, curiously, The Slip, The Collapse, and The Ruin. Not sure what all that’s about, and since the mission never deigns to tell me, I guess I’ll never know.

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It Came from the Desert (side mission)

There’s a cute little sarcophagus lying around that’s apparently had a jailbreak — and I have to go put down the enormous and certainly-could-not-fit-in-that-wee-casket beast that escaped. It’s a remarkably easy mission, especially for TSW, although other than the impressive monster model there’s little of interest to it.

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From Ashes (side mission)

So I’m going into this small temple to pick up a side mission that I saw on the map, and I get a genuine little fright. I see a shadow on the floor moving, and when I look up, this enormous spider is dropping down through a hole in the roof nearly on top of my head. Now, I’ve seen a lot of giant MMO spiders in my time — heck, they’re practically a staple — but this one looks so icky and is animated perfectly that it gave me the willies.

Anyway, the mission itself is to go around tapping on urns and putting the erupting spirits to rest. They’re no pushovers, which means that the mission is a tad on the “slog” side, but I wasn’t in danger of dying either.

Mummy Massacre (side mission)

This mission barely deserves an entry, to be honest. You kill a couple mummies, then kill a big mummy that spawns, the end. Paramount will be making the motion picture for release in Summer 2018.

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They Were Beautiful Once (action mission)

Enough of the easy-peasy stuff — let’s get into a real quest, the kind that puts hair on your chest and makes you curse the day Funcom ever let mission designers off their leashes. I like the title here, reminds me of that Army of Darkness quote: “You once found me beautiful!” “Honey, you got reaaaaal ugly!”

Anyway, for the next three missions we’ll be hanging out with the simple-to-spell-and-pronounce Moutnefert. I like to call her “Mouty.” Mouty is one of the younger kid-statues and the one absolutely obsessed with travel. She and her younger brother talk about how beautiful this area used to be before it became befouled, a situation that doesn’t seem to be improving much these days. Thanks, Obama!

We can’t make the garden look nicer or plant a few new ferns (Funcom: why not? Gardening skill line please!), but we can get revenge on the cultists for messing up all of this — and maybe find out a little of what they’re up to in the process.

This mission definitely earns its description as “action,” as it’s a whole lot of fighting through a particularly dense section of the oasis. The story unfolds in the environment and challenges, as we go from cultists looking around ruins to cultists using machines to dig up things to giant demons patrolling in the light due to their efforts. The big finale is tackling that creepy-as-all-get-out spider from earlier. Another player was actually fighting it, so I think I only had to shoot it three times before it died. Thanks, Obama!

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Dead Rising (action mission)

Another telling little conversation between three of the kids. One of the older sisters points out how the father has been telling or doing whatever is necessary to mollify the kids and get them to fulfill their destiny — one which, she notes, they had no say in. But things are falling apart, including the family, and the dead are being raised in the temple next door. Do these sentinels ever actually do anything productive other than yammer on?

While the previous mission sent me through a gauntlet in the garden, this one involves plowing through the ruins of the local temple itself. Nothing shockingly tough or surprising, although a giant sarcophagus at the end blows up and spits out another giant mummy to fight.

Is it me, or do these sacophagi look kind of… goofy? Like, out of place? Fisher-Price Secret World.

Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water (side mission)

At the temple there’s another small mission that can be done at the same time. Running around the top, I fought four different groups of summoners who were trying to call up a spirit called Eiz. He was… Eiz-y to defeat. YEAHHHHHH.

The Secret World: Orochi Seal of Quality (City of the Sun God #7)

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(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!)

Batteries Not Included (side mission)

The entirety of this short mission featured (a) me following a very drunk Orochi drone as it attempted to detour through every Atenist pack in the area, and (b) me trying to remember if that 1987 “Batteries Not Included” movie featured a little floating robot that looked like this drone.

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Not exactly, but still pretty entertaining. All movies in the 80s were on non-prescription medication and it was glorious.

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The Land of the Dead (side mission)

The Orochi camp — the only bastion of modern civilization in this zone, really — is completely deserted due to an overabundance of death. I would seriously love to see a prequel movie to this game that would consist of two solid hours of supernatural meanies killing Orochi left and right. Kind of like that final scene in Cabin in the Woods, if you’ve seen that.

Anyway, just because it’s abandoned doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in quests. We’ll start at the top, where Orochi’s Seal of Quality — a crashed helicopter — sits waiting with two tempting side quests. First up is a suspicious funeral shroud, which the mission text helpfully describes as being soaked in the juices of the departed. That never comes out in the laundry, let me tell you.

The dead wants its dirty underwear back, because the second I touch the shroud (why would I touch it? Why?), I’m transported into the death world where a spirit makes a not-so-subtle suggestion that I follow it. Long escort mission short, I head over to Huoy’s shrine and bury the undies there. He weighs that soul and judges it “stinky.”

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Flight of the Falcon (side mission)

This has to be the easiest streak of side missions I’ve ever done in this game. So Orochi, being the model of tact, beheaded one of the falcon statues in the area in the hopes of, I dunno, shipping some head magic back to Japan. I bring the head back to the broken statue, fix it with some spit and silly putty, and the eagerly leap through the purple portal that it creates.

Kids, when you see a strange portal appear, you jump through it, no questions asked. That’s only prudent.

I was all excited to see where it went, but I guess this was a breadcrumb quest, because it only sent me to Thutmose the Birdbrain.

black

Heavy Metals (side mission)

When I said that the Orochi camp was deserted, that was a bit of a misnomer. All of the people have fled or are rotting carcasses for the vultures, to be sure, but all of the security systems are still active, with plenty of those annoying roaming stun-bots all over the place. Also, the Orochi left plenty of history lying around, such as a computer with some last-known-info regarding their patrols.

Heavy Metals is an investigation-lite mission, so finding where the patrols went requires some triangulation using their last known locations and some other coordinates. This took some time, as the cave it sends you to is actually above another cave on the map, which is confusing as all get out when you’re looking at a flat, 2-D map.

Anyway, it’s no surprise that the patrol is all dead — and there’s even a Filth-turned agent munching on some of the remains. They did leave behind a crate, the contents of which… remain a mystery to me this day. Geary seemed pleased that I recovered it, but she’s not about to share those secrets with the likes of me.

orochi

A Modest Proposal (action mission)

Again, just because the Orochi camp is abandoned doesn’t mean it’s deserted. A laptop perched on a crate has eyes on my character — and the voice that comes out of it is distressingly similar to the one in the Orochi van back in Blue Mountain. The mysterious man, all silk voice and “win-win” attitude. He wants me to help shut down the camp so that the Filth-infected don’t walk away with Third Age artifacts. He’s the eyes, I’m the hands.

The battle is on. The fight ranges all over the camp and behind it, involving sentry guns, EMP grenades, cultists, Filth-infested Orochi, and even a sniper at the very end. What’s of some interest is the identity of the voice (probably Samael, particularly as he makes mention of “rush in where we fear to tread” referring to angels) and this mysterious “Prometheus Initiative” that’s mentioned on some of the radio broadcasts.

Kristen Geary is TICKED that I’m out helping the Orochi — she keeps telling me to say away, that I’m helping who-knows do who-knows-what, and that if things go bad, I’m on my own. She’s a great boss to have.

pyramid

Emergency Procedures (sabotage mission)

I’ll say one thing in favor of City of the Sun God: For a zone, it is remarkably light on the dreaded sabotage mission types. There’s only a scarce handful, far less than what I’ve encountered elsewhere, and for that I’m grateful. Unfortunately, one of the few in the place happen to be in the Orochi camp.

Emergency Procedures is a follow-up of sorts to the previous quest, as you’re ripping through the camp looking for computer data on various Orochi reports, including the sentinel statues and the Black Pyramid. Mostly it’s just a game of staying-outside-the-probe-and-camera-range, a feat that is quite easy to do. In fact, I did the full quest on my first try and never got tagged once. That’s like a new personal record of sorts.

Once I transmit the Orochi data back to Illuminati HQ, I turn and wave farewell to the Orochi camp. It’s been swell, folks, but the swelling’s gone down.