Secret World Legends: The only thing we have to fear is Fear Nothing Foundation

Every Secret World player has his or her opinion on which zone of the game is the most creepy, and while I would put Savage Coast right up there at number two, Tokyo has to take the cake for me. It’s full of ghosts and creepy girl-things and midnight slaughters and evil cults and the apocalypse to boot. I was forcefully reminded of what this area is capable of when I hit the one-two main storyline punch of Contract Killers and The Pachinko Model.

Seriously, in a row are two of the most creeptastic quests this game has ever produced, and even having done them before, I was incredibly reluctant to man up and do them again. But as main quests, I had no choice. Time to roll up my sleeves, grit my teeth, and wait until it was broad daylight at home and my wife was sitting in the room 10 feet from me.

As I said on Twitter, any time that Secret World asks you to go into an underground parking garage, you slap that game right across its face and say “No THANK you, sir!” and storm out of the room. Nothing good ever happens in underground parking garages here.

At least I knew what was going to happen, and so to help take the edge off my fright, I made it a mission to try to screenshot some of the more intense moments. You know, like the “red room” section with the ghost girl on the ceiling who is draining your life force. Fun times.

And then there was this. It’s just such a terrifying mission where you go down, down into the dark and only when you get to the bottom does the real horror begin. Can you make it back out? The trick here is to think of the little girls as the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who — never turn your back on one. Never blink.

Then right after that I’m sent right into the headquarters of the Fear Nothing Foundation (AKA Japanese Morninglight). It seems that there’s a helpful kid ghost in this one, although I don’t know what’s their story. Could have done with a friendly wave or a Casper-esque appearance rather than being a black shape from across the room staring at me. I get enough of that in real life.

I have a weird weakness for always taking my character’s picture whenever there’s an in-game mirror. At least you all know that I washed my hands after I looted.

Tried to get a good shot of this bloody white ghost girl, but the camera wasn’t always on my side. Plus, there’s that whole “get near her and she one-shots you” thing, so I had to keep my distance.

I was pretty proud that after doing FNF three times previous, I was able to zip through this one in record time.

“Stay with us.”

Um, thanks but no thanks. I’ve had enough with the apocalypse cults. They never make good on their promise of happiness and power.

Making headway on Tokyo… but still not to the end just yet. It’s going to feel so great when I finally reach the point where I left off with my old TSW character. Some days I really can’t believe that I did all of this all over again.


Secret World Legends: It’s a filthy sort of hell

Am I over Tokyo? I’m starting to suspect that I am.

Don’t get me wrong, Tokyo is an amazing zone. It took forever to be fully built, this is true, but the final result is an incredibly detailed metropolis slathered with a post-apocalyptic feel. It’s got some highly memorable NPCs and quests, that whole Fear Nothing Foundation quest that’s one of the most terrifying things this game has ever cooked up, and a terrific storytelling climax in the Orochi Tower. It’s the end of the first season of the game’s mythos, bringing us to Ground Zero of the filth bomb and exploring what really happened to trigger the end of days.

But… I’m kind of done with it. It hit me this past week as I was dutifully going through these quests and not feeling particularly excited about them. That seemed weird to me, since I have only really done most of these missions once on my old TSW character, but when I started to think about it, it made sense. Tokyo has been out in the game for literally years at this point. It’s been the “endgame” of the story for a long time now, and I’m probably not alone in being ready to move on from it. It’s kind of like when you outgrow a place — say, a school or your childhood home — and you’re just ready to go to the next step. We’ve been spinning our wheels in Tokyo for too long now, and instead of being a captivating part of the adventure, it feels like a delaying tactic (much like how Venice felt like an extended intermission between Transylvania and Tokyo).

I can’t help it. I keep thinking “what’s next” and am starting to get a little concerned that I won’t have all of this wrapped up in time for whatever Funcom is planning with Dark Agartha, the agent system, and season two. We might still have a while yet, but I wouldn’t mind having the main storyline all done.

So after a week of going clockwise around the map, I put that on hold to follow the blue missions to their conclusion.

I’m also vowing to pay a little more attention to the story. I have a feeling that I’ve missed some of it or have forgotten what I did learn a while back, leaving a question mark why I’m diving into a Japanese hell to chase a demon for reasons unknown. Probably to get flattened by these giant boulders, which must be a PAIN in the rear for the bad guys to roll back up and reset for the next traveler. I’d feel sorrier for them if I wasn’t ground into paste.

At least I can continue to thank my lucky stars that I’m not fiddling around with AEGIS. I keep finding myself flinching when a mob attacks because I’ve been conditioned to look for a shield type and try to quickly swap what I have. But no, now I can simply attack. I appreciate that, I do.

Secret World Legends: The Swarm wants you

I’m getting into a pretty good stride with Secret World Legends progression in Tokyo. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but I make sure to log in every day to do at least one mission (if not two or three, depending on how quick they go). I definitely feel that I’m on track to finish up the whole zone by the end of December, and that’s a-ok with me. Not having to fiddle with AEGIS has made this whole place about 50% less annoying, although there still is a noticeable increase in difficulty in the types of quests and mob attacks. At least it’s pretty cool to explore.

This picture never fails to crack me up while still making me wonder what the what is going on with this demon’s obsession with the foul-mouthed Illuminati boss.

Anyway, last week we had a nice quality-of-life patch that honestly did improve the quality of life around SWL. I’m starting to feel better and better about the switch over to this new game, especially now that we’ve seen Funcom pick up the pace of support and development once again.

There was a lot of nice extras in the patch, although the primary feature was the new anima allocation system. This was nothing short of a major gear overhaul, taking the individual roles of different gear pieces away and giving control of their ratio to the players. On the fly, we can now adjust the healing, DPS, and tanking power of our gear — and for no cost to adjust. That is absolutely fantastic and relieves a lot of stress in collecting exactly the right type of gear. Now we just have to concentrate on pips and quality levels, as well as signets and glyphs.

I tinkered around with this, deciding on a 20/20/60 ratio of heal/tank/dps. I know it’s on the low side for damage, but I like to survive things, and after testing it out a bit, I’m killing fast enough to be acceptable.

I don’t think I ever noticed these creatures crawling all over the towers before. Guess I never looked up!

I had totally forgotten about the Hive quest. Yes, it’s another chain of text adventures, but those are kind of brilliant for this game and incredibly creepy to boot, so I don’t mind a redux. And the whole concept of the Swarm — a mysterious collection of bee-powered individuals who didn’t choose a faction and were imprisoned indefinitely in the Hive until they broke out — fascinates me. They’re downright unnerving and yet sympathetic. For the record, I didn’t turn the info for the quest into the Templars. I think I’ve decided that if I’m ever given a choice to break with my faction and go with the Swarm, I’ll do it. We bees have to stick together — that’s how the honey is made.

I sure hope we get more Hive/Swarm stories in season two! It’s definitely one of the more interesting loose ends that the story writers have set up.

Secret World Legends: Bye-bye, AEGIS, don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

Now that I’m back in Tokyo in Secret World Legends, it’s like I never left. Of course, the first time around I was experiencing the zone piecemeal as the devs slowly brought it online, whereas now I have the whole package waiting for a nonstop experience.

There’s certainly a whole lot to do, and I’m going to return to doing both main and secondary missions (I had abandoned side missions for a while in Transylvania there for the purpose of advancement). A good starting point is Gozen’s diner, so I waded back into the Tokyo pool with all of the enthusiasm I could muster.

Gozer… er, Gozen’s introductory quests are fine for what they are. She’s not my favorite NPC of the city, although her relationship with Richard is interesting. Would love to hear more of that backstory.

Definitely the best part of returning to Tokyo, other than feeling *less* behind than I was before, is that AEGIS isn’t being shoved down my throat. In fact, so far I haven’t seen it at all. Mobs are just mobs again without those annoying shields, and combat feels a lot like how it did in previous zones. That’s a GOOD thing, by the way. AEGIS was poison to this game, and I’ll never relent in saying so.

Probably the best quest that I (re)did was the one where I’m chasing an Oni spy in and out of the Hell dimension. Secret World’s Hell is a really fascinating place, kind of an overlay of the real world only more fiery, industrial, and demon-filled. Although the current state of Earth doesn’t put it far behind in the demon department.

I’ve also enjoyed returning to a more urban environment. The modernity of it lies in stark contrast to the “old world” setting in Transylvania and the desert landscape of Egypt. Sleek skyscrapers and modern trappings offer more of a stark contrast to the Filth everywhere and the constructed walls that attempted to keep the apocalypse at bay.

Oh hey, I’m totally sure this billboard has NOTHING to do with where we are heading after Tokyo. Foreshadowing? Nah. Couldn’t be. Not a chance.

While we’re on the subject of the Congo, how do I feel about it as (probably) the next zone? I guess OK. I mean, I’m happy to get *any* new Secret World content at this point, but my feelings on jungle zones are pretty well-known here. Could be visually interesting, could also be a nightmare to navigate. As long as there are a lot of great stories, I’m in.

Is he… compensating for something? Kurt’s another Tokyo NPC that doesn’t exactly get my imagination revving, but at least his missions are straight-forward as can be.

Tokyo’s more complex investigation missions are pretty hit and miss, in my opinion. Some, like Wetwork, are devilishly clever, but the Love and Origami quest that I just did feels half-baked and in need of another pass. I think it’s a great idea to have the player actually do real origami as part of the quest, but it’s not explained or handled very well in execution.

Secret World: Something is rotten in Venice

There’s both a temptation and an opportunity when it comes to rerunning old missions in Secret World Legends. The temptation is to speed through it, since I’ve done it before, just to get it over with and take one step closer to new content. The opportunity is to explore what I might have missed the first time around, to take more screenshots, to soak in the lore with the greater understanding that I now have with the game.

The interlude quests between Transylvania and Tokyo seem to drag on and on. I know that when they were first introduced, it was part of the build up to this new zone, but now it feels like one heckuva speed bump to endure. Characters keep telling me “go to Tokyo!” and then “but first do this!” which is all sorts of frustrating.

At least this is the last time, the last in-between mission. Rooting out some corruption in Venice and uncovering a connection between Venice, Tokyo, and the Phoenicians is a pretty key plot point, especially since the Purple People haven’t really had a starring role in the game so far. Anytime they do show up, they’re jerks through and through, though.

I was somewhat dreading this mission, because I have less than fond memories of slogging through it the first time around. Happily, it was much better this time — either because the mission was made easier, the combat is faster, or I just remember how to do it from the first time around. Probably all of the above. I only died once and got through it in about 20 minutes, so life is good.

And Agartha is bad. It’s distressing to see the Filth come into this place, because it’s pretty much the only real “home” that us Secret Worlders have. It’s sanctuary, a good place, a pure place. And now the Filth has its tendrils into it and it’s not leaving.

If the interlude quests tried my patience, then all was forgiven when I got sucked into the subway and joined forces with Sarah (otherwise known as Sara From The Tutorial). She’s gone nearly insane from the voices taking over her head and having looked into some void, but she pulls it together enough to help me get out of the subway.

This mission is fantastic, by the way. It’s action, through and through, but the setting is so eerie and tense. It’s pretty much navigating the hive of Fiilth where the bomb went off, sending this infection everywhere in this part of the city, and it’s not a place to linger. I wouldn’t call this quest scary, per se, but seeing things emerge out of the darkness, having the Filth creatures banging on the subway car… it all screams “GET OUT AS FAST AS YOU CAN!”

And so I do. But Sarah stays behind.

Hello, Tokyo, my old friend. Let’s dance.

Secret World Legends: Interlude

With Transylvania done and done, I should have been ready to move on to Tokyo… but there were a few distractions along the way. First up? The new Jack ‘O Lantern raids, which I ran a few times on the hour to unlock those pumpkin boxes. Got a few nice cosmetics, but seeing as how I’m really happy with my current outfit, I’m not as motivated to chase clothing right now.

Side note: That “Happy Halloween” sign is the same one used in Funcom’s Hide and Shriek. Just a small observation.

I also ran the Meowling quest for Halloween, more out of principle than any real personal interest. I miss the other seasonal missions, and I guess I felt that I needed to at least do this to keep the holiday alive. At least I was reminded what a gorgeous place Stonehenge is first thing in the morning (or last thing in the evening?).

Was also reminded what a hideous beast the Cat God is. Not that I like cats very much even on their nice days, but still…

Probably the most disquieting part of this storyline is this line by the Madam after she read Andy’s future. Is it referring to his love life… or something far worse? Don’t hurt Andy, Funcom! There will be riots in the street!

I also went over to the Council of Venice for the connective mission. At least now, with the rework, we don’t have to grind scenarios or pay through our nose for a pass. Just one relatively easy fight and then we’re moving on!

Secret World Legends: Transylvania turn-in

Forget the dead man in the middle of the room; I get more creeped out when I think of these poor brainwashed, superpowered children carefully arranging all of these dolls and scratching the lyrics to their mind-controlling lullaby all over the place. I can’t even get my kids to pick up their own room half the time, and yet these kids took all this time to set up the creepiest tableau possible in the midst of a prison break? I find it a little far fetched.

Also, I am of the opinion that this above room is far more terrifying. Don’t know why, exactly, but it does freak me out. Perhaps it’s the security camera in the corner up there…

Anyway, this past week I finally wrapped up Transylvania. It wasn’t too tough, just took me a while to get through the last dozen quests that used to make up the “endgame” of pre-Tokyo The Secret World back in the day. And yes, we’re using the phrase “back in the day” now with TSW.

As with before, I enjoyed the conclusion, and I do agree that the rearrangement of the Hatchet Falls/Nursery questline was best put after the whole vampire showdown. It’s a good segue into Venice and Tokyo beyond, and every time I hear that firefighter ask Emma her name and she says “Anima,” I get chills.

I’m taking a half-hearted stab at doing The Meowling mission for the Halloween event, but it really is half-hearted because (a) it was always the least-most interesting Halloween mission TSW ever made, and (b) for whatever reason, the developers didn’t include all of the more recent Halloween missions this year. And that bites. I was really looking forward to Spooky Stories, the Broadcast, etc. But no, we just get the Cat God and one semi-reworked Jack fight. That feels kind of lame to me. Thus, I’m trying to blow through this quickly to move on to Tokyo and try to stay on pace for catching up before the end of the year.