The Secret World: 80s fashion show edition

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You know me and you know that I throw emoji frowny faces at the presence and use of lockboxes in MMOs. I’m not going to spend real money on them, but if there’s a way to earn them in-game or get one for free, why not? Free stuff is free stuff.

So I’ve been accruing a lot of bonus Funcom points in The Secret World thanks to my grandmaster sub. I have nothing left that I really want to buy, so those points are just sitting there, waiting in vain for the next mission pack to come along. I don’t feel bad blowing a wad of them, then, on the new retro-themed costume packs (along with a few of the other packs, just because I was curious).

I was pretty pleased to get a wide assortment of goofy costume bits, including Terminator glasses (now with glowing red eye!), a headband, legwarmers, one of the tackiest jackets ever (not shown), and my favorite, a neon fanny pack:

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ALL HAIL THE FANNY PACK. It brings any outfit together.

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I also got a pair of dogs — one fire rescue Dalmation and one police K-9 doggy. Considering that I still have a hypnotic C’thulu as a pet, none of these stand a chance at being used regularly, but still, nice to have.

The Secret World: Touring Kingsmouth while dead

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I was inspired by Massively OP’s MJ’s piece on how The Secret World adds a bit extra for folks who take the time to explore the world while dead (anima form). It’s something that I’ve pointed out from time to time, but I can’t recall ever simply roaming around an entire zone in that form to see if there are any easter eggs that I hadn’t seen before. So why not now?

With a quick and painless suicide /reset, I took my Templar back to Kingsmouth and started prowling the spirit realm. I didn’t find any really new revelations, but after a half-hour of nothing but anima tourism, I did make a few observations about this alternate reality.k2

1. Living persons, zombies, creatures, and even most spirits are missing in the anima world.

You’ll see evidence of them, like campfires and blood, but unless a person or zombie has become a corpse, they’re invisible to you (and vice-versa). Really thought there’d be more ghosts, especially in this town.

2. However, you can see birds everywhere.

Birds (maybe just ravens?) are present in the anima world. I guess they can cross over? In Kingsmouth, there are the helpful birds (white ravens) and the evil birds (the black ravens or crows that become the revenants). I got a bit of a chill when I saw a trio of black birds perched above Norma’s house, looking down at her bonfire.

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3. There is one person you can find.

The only human-like person in the anima world in this zone is the guy in the prison cell, who looks surprisingly normal, like he’s alive. Just, y’know, hanging out in the spirit world and staring into a corner like he’s from the Blair Witch Project.

4. It makes for great photographs.

The black-and-white filter, the grainy overlay, and the absence of atmospheric interference make for some terrific screenshot opportunities, especially if you want to get cross-town shots.

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5. There is some color.

If you get really close to objects, they go from black-and-white to color. Try the Bingo cola machines and you’ll see.

6. There isn’t a lot of non-quest-related easter eggs to be found.

I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t find more than the well-known anima bits from certain quests and the bridge.

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7. The covered bridge is still super-creepy.

I think it’s that one spirit who just prowls around underneath the hanging corpses that does it. And I can’t figure out why the corpses only show in anima form — they’re dead and gone, so are they hanging spirits? I guess so.

8. You can move super-fast in anima form.

It’s a great way to quickly scout a zone without any interference from the local mobs. You can see lore pick-ups very clearly, too.

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9. What’s up with Madame Roget’s raven?

Is it a bad bird or a good one or completely neutral? Just kind of off-putting how it’s hanging out between both worlds right above her head.

10. Go first-person or go home.

If you do this kind of tour, do yourself a favor and zoom in so that you’re looking at things through first-person perspective and then turn off the UI. It’s calm and eerie and free from distractions. Kind of like getting to fly through a zone with developer cheat codes.

The Secret World: Welcome to the show

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I think my interest in plowing ahead with my Secret Adventures series may be in an indefinite hiatus right now. I definitely still like The Secret World, but I’d rather move on to play new content in it (whenever that arrives) than continue to bring up a second character. Maybe that will change in the future, but for now my game focus is on my main character, Yeti.

With Issue 15 finished and 16 still unannounced, my stated plan is to go back and mop up any missions (maiin or side) that I might have missed on her. I just discovered that the mission log has a tab where you can see all of the ones you’ve finished, so it’s a jump from there to cross-compare with a master list for each zone and see what needs to be done.

While doing this in the game, I stepped off to the side of the London Underground hallway and into a small room where I wasn’t going to be run over every two minutes. To my surprise, there was a group of strange players in this place dancing like crazy. When I stepped in, the “DJ” welcomed me to the show. It eventually drew a bit of a crowd of like-minded dancers. Are we partying to avoid the apocalypse, perhaps?

After a bit, I came up with a list for Solomon Island. I had actually completed everything in Kingsmouth and Savage Coast, but for whatever reason, I still had two main missions and two side missions in Blue Mountain to complete. Time to go back to where it all began!

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First up was the side mission, The Experiment. Went up to a (naturally) dead Orochi to pick up his lab kit and continue some experiments on the local zombies and wendigos. I noticed for the first time that the zombie models were more dessicated than normal, and when I looked up at their names I saw that these were undead Wabinaki.

So I was literally (re)killing Native American zombies. No matter what my motives, that can’t be good for my karma.

Also, check out that screenshot! The guy (gal?) has no mouth! Wonderful character design in all seriousness.

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I guess I never did the two missions in the Orochi van at the camp, so it was off to there to start up The Filth Amendment. I love having much better gear and skills now, because this was a breeze to jump into the quarry and rush through the mission of finding Subject Zero.

I didn’t even care if I aggrod mobs, an attitude that nearly got me killed at the end. When Zero popped out, I had probably around a dozen mobs parading after me, all very frustrated that I was wading through their pristine pool and making a mockery of their reign of terror. The ensuing firefight was quite fun and frantic, with draug lords and minions falling to my feet every which way.

Picture of the Day: Tentacles

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I love it when MMOs occasionally make an enemy mob non-aggroing, because it means that I can get right up close to them and inspect their models and animations without worrying about combat and frantic movements.

This lovely lady was perched about the quarry in TSW’s Blue Mountain, looking down at the giant monstrosity below. You really have to see the tentacles in motion to get the full effect, but it was pretty grotesque and yet picturesque.

The Secret World: Choose your own adventure

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Now that my new computer is up and running, I have no excuse not to play the newest mission from The Secret World’s Issue 15, Choose Your Own. Sure, it was disappointing that an entire issue was basically repackaging of previous sidestories plus only one investigation mission, but then again, it’s one more mission than we had before. So let’s get to it!

Our tale opens on a ravaged Tokyo, where my character walks up to a pachinko parlor and notices an old-fashioned floppy disc sticking out from behind a monitor. Said monitor blinks on and a woman with a wasp mask introduces herself as “The Swarm,” an Anonymous-like collective that has been watching me. It challenges me to a game in exchange for some information.

“We know what your masters have done. We know what the Hive is,” The Swarm says in a computerized voice. I am intrigued.

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Oh hey, they literally meant a game, like a computer game. The floppy has another classic-type text adventure game on it with the appealing title of “Sloshing in the Dark.” Like the other mission in TSW that had an adventure game in it, you have to beat this mission to proceed. And as the name of this quest implies, you’ll be making a LOT of choices.

The story is actually really well done. You wake up in a hotel room and have to scramble to get out of there as an unseen force is chasing you. Jumping from a window, you discover that this is the bed and breakfast in Kingsmouth, taking us to familiar grounds. Yet it’s also a place on the verge of a Lovecraftian apocalypse, with a horrible force pressing in on the world, cultists hopping like frogs everywhere, and kids trying to murder you with scissors. The ending — which isn’t so much happy as it is an end — has you retaining your sanity even as the world boils to an end.

Time to find the next uplifting disc of this series! I’m guessing that you use the story from the game as clues for the next location.

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Back to Kingsmouth, always back to Kingsmouth in this game. I get a little shiver of deja vu running past Wendy and Jack’s B&B, thinking about the game.

The next game is found at the Lobster Trap, and I pop it in the sheriff’s computer for a late-night text adventure session. I have to say that these games are really well-done writing, short stories from start to end that will brutally finish if you don’t make the right choice.

This one deals with a failed thespian who is given a book, a forbidden play, that consumes him and causes a whole lot of weird stuff to happen around him. It’s downright creepy, especially in its ending… and I have to go perform that very same play as a character. Thanks, Secret World, for making sure I won’t sleep tonight.

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It’s not too bad, actually. Once I got the stage set up, I do a bow and apparently that’s my entire “performance.” At least it prompted the Swarm Wasps to come out for a moment up on the balcony.

Another interesting (but not quite scary) story, this one about the Baba Yaga who stole away your brother. Reminds me of Quest for Glory, especially the part about her chicken house.

London eventually leads me to Translyvania, where I find a dark room with a single light shining down on a blindfold. Sure thing, I’ll trust my life to these insane wasps while the undead are prowling around outside!

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Life goes from great to even better, as I wake up in an abandoned mental asylum. At least, I very much hope it’s abandoned. There aren’t any enemy mobs at all in this mission, but the atmosphere and sound effects do a great job convincing you that at any moment, hands could reach out of the dark and pull you into a sticky embrace.

A phone rings. I pick up and the Swarm tells me to play one last game. A short one, but perhaps the most important one. It’s about escaping the very same asylum that I’m in, so I follow those directions and end up gassed in the face for my efforts.

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As I fall unconscious, I see a pack of the Swarm coming out of the shadows. Hope they don’t rifle through my gear.

I wake up in Seoul with the floppy disk that talks about the Swarm, and the collective sends me a text:

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Now this… this is fascinating. The theme of choice has been running strong this entire mission, leading up to one final actual choice: to turn in the evidence about the Swarm to the Templars or keep it to myself. After coming into this knowledge, I don’t think right turning them in, so I kept it. I love that this mission actually gives me one of the very rare choices in TSW.

I also hope that this quest and the Swarm have ramifications on the game going forward. It’s a great concept, that bee-kissed people who didn’t go with a faction are jailed by the secret world for their independent streak — and how that “swarm” is fighting back. If they’re recruiting, I am so in. A fourth faction that’s unlockable as you play on? How cool would that be?

The Secret World: DJ Jinn

I returned to The Secret World’s Black Pyramid to finish up the tremors quest chain (at least, I *think* this is the last part). After the hellishly long labyrinth, we’ve come to the prison holding the Unbound — one incredibly ticked-off and super-powerful genie who kind of wants to destroy the world.

What’s standing between it and the place you call home? Just me, my shotgun, and infinite reloads.

So yeah, this is another one of TSW’s infamous solo boss fights. You’d think that an MMO would reserve the really hard boss fights for just dungeons, but nah, not in this game. I went into the fight not really worried, since I assumed I was overgeared for it — and promptly got my butt handed to me in about 22 seconds.

But I started to do what you do in TSW, which is to observe and learn and adapt. The first fight, I didn’t realize that there was a second platform to flee to when the ground started burning. I lasted a bit longer then. The third fight, I had swapped in a healing elite passive to help me regenerate health during this marathon-long fight sequence. The fourth fight, I started to recognize the patterns of the Unbound’s elemental attacks and started surviving much better.

Toward the end I got panicked that I might lose after spending so long getting that far, so I triggered my wings for that extra push across the finish line. Win, Syp!

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Following all of that — I just saved your planet, you can thank me now — I repaired the broken prison, leaving the djinn to wallow in solitary confinement for the next thousand years.

As usual, I leave a Secret World quest a little confused as to the full story. So were the cultists triggering the earthquakes to break the prison? If not, who broke that pillar? Was it the Unbound, working from inside? Careless janitor?

The Secret World: In the Dusty Dark

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Creeeeeak went the dusty doors, sliding open to reveal a fresh new hell for me to explore — or a very ancient one, if you’re being literal.

This I pushed onward in my exploration of Issue 14’s story arc as I went down in the dusty dark. The doors here lead underneath the Black Pyramid, where the prison of the mighty Jinn — the Unbound — awaits. I didn’t know if I should have been pleased or disturbed to see torches flickering even without a caretaker going around to maintain them. Maybe it’s the mummy’s job?

In the Dusty Dark is an investigation mission, when meant that I had to strap in for a full afternoon of puzzle-solving — and this time in the eerie corridors and rooms below the surface of the desert. And let me tell you, this mission is no pushover. It’s room after room of increasingly difficult challenges, including walking across a pit on twisty — and invisible! — path and spending way too much time zipping across a room trying to activate jump platforms. Some of the rooms felt far more fair than others, and any one of them could have been a mission in their own right.

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And then there was the time when a giant boulder came smashing out of the ceiling to flatten me as I whipped the camera around to take this screenshot. I guess Funcom loved this Indiana Jones move so much the first time around that it wanted to bring it back for an encore.

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I know I’m glossing over a lot of the progression through this mission, so trust me when I say that it’s quite long and that by the time you get to this room and see a labyrinth awaiting your footsteps, you simply wish that there was a Funcom employee in your eyesight so that you could stare daggers at them.

Shifting walls? Unstoppable mummies? Poison daggers of death? All this an more awaits you, my friends!

Actually, the labyrinth wasn’t nearly as bad as the jumping platforms, in my opinion. And at least there was this at the end:

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The walls cracking open to reveal a brightly lit room — the prison of the Unbound. Good thing I’m charging in there!

I had a heart-stopping moment of terror at the end of this mission, because the game totally bugged on me. The screen went black and I couldn’t access my UI other than to log out. Eventually I had to do just that, imagining that I would need to do this entire cursed mission all over again. Fortunately, it just sent me ahead to the next mission, although I fear I missed a cutscene.