(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 Search for Tyler Freeborn (action mission)
Heading into the City of the Sun God seems like a good place to take a break from the Egyptian content to clean up on one quest series I left for a better build and gear: the Tyler Freeborn chain. If I recall correctly, this was the first time that Funcom experimented with releasing an issue that mainly featured one overarching storyline — and to great acclaim, too.
To start it off, we head back to Blue Mountain. Oh dreary skies, how I missed you! And zombies! And virtually no mention of “Aten” anywhere! There’s an SD card lying on the side of the road that’s about to lead to bigger things…
The recording on the card shows Tyler, an investigative journalist of sorts, reporting from the early days of the fog. It’s an interesting perspective, although it made me wonder how long ago it was from the player’s entry to the island. There’s no definitive or even well-worked timeline for this game, which surprises me (this was the best I could find). There are a lot of questions still floating about regarding the pacing of the story and how much of an impact that the story in these four zones has had on the world at large. Considering that this is an apocalyptic tale, it makes one really wonder (especially in light of the NYC Times Square raid).
Anyway, Tyler is freaked out about the fog and determined to figure out what it is, especially since no one can seem to leave through it to safety — although plenty of people have been coming in, mostly military and Orochi. Following Tyler’s footprints, so to speak, leads me to the military camp where I find that he was arrested for trespassing. Also, Tyler has a blog. No, seriously. And at least this blog does help with the timeframe in question, as the last entry is February 22, 2010. We know that the Filth bomb in Tokyo happens sometime in late February, and that the whole of Solomon Island is still kitted out for Halloween. So has the fog been there since October? That’s a lot longer than I would’ve guessed… and the survivors don’t appear to have been hanging out for months. Weeks, perhaps, but I got the feeling more of “days.” So I guess I’m still confused. Maybe Tyler’s journal was from February earlier in the year that the whole mess went down?
Tyler was apparently apprehended by the military and taken to their safe house, which is now in the middle of Ghost Central. Probably not a great place for him. He did manage to escape, somehow, and left behind a trailer key for the nearby Wabinaki park.
When I get there and try the door, an Orochi agent — a live one! — bowls me over and starts running for it. I give chase, but he soon gets away in his sleek van while I’m still stick with my hoverboard (I wouldn’t trade it, though).
Then begins one of the coolest sequences in the game, where you have to pursue the van while an Orochi attack helicopter starts firing rockets all over the road. Just when things couldn’t get any more interesting, a massive draug shows up, knocks the van over, then flings the van into the helicopter, causing both to explode. Oh well, guess it was too much to hope that the Orochi red shirts would make it through a mission.
The Research of Tyler Freeborn (action mission)
Another camcorder interlude, this one showing Tyler filming one of the black spirit-dogs of the island and being way, way too impressed by them. More rabbit trails lead me to a cage in the middle of a construction site containing “subject three,” some poor infected Orochi sap. When I touch the cage, lights come on everywhere, Orochi (not dead!) pop out of the woodwork (literally), and guardian dogs emerge for one giant fight.
I’ll admit, this fight cleaned my clock a few times. I had to re-apply Turn the Tables to my hotbar for some extra mid-fight health, because it was going on a little too long and I couldn’t make the difference. Afterward, the remaining guardians fled and I chased them down to a cave. Big doggie inside, and after I put him down I read one of the most revealing notes in the game. It was an Orochi email stating that the mutations caused by the Mist and those caused by the Filth might be two very distinct forces instead of some sort of supernatural tag-team. Kind of makes sense when you look at the whole thing.
Need more answers! Now we have to go back to that accursed Orochi camp for them…
The Tenacity of Tyler Freeborn (sabotage mission)
…and because it’s in this camp, it’s a sabotage mission. Apart from triggering a Beastie Boys song in my head, that’s not a good association.
At the camp, an old-fashioned camcorder shows another Tyler interlude, with him showing off a Pale Man (draug) and talking about what happened when the mist came. He said that there was music luring people to the sea, that he put in his earphones and blasted music for a half-hour until most of the population was gone. Tyler also mentioned that it was quiet for a couple of days before the people returned from the mist, changed. That couldn’t have been fun.
The Orochi compound is just as annoying as it ever was, full of patrolling bots and soon-to-be-slaughtered troops. The goal here is to get and analyze some blood samples, a task that involves gassing tents and ducking inside while everyone else is gasping and fleeing.
The analysis is somewhat surprising: It says that the draug are part of an airborn strain of the Filth, one that’s not native to the island. It’s highly infectious, which is why the people can’t just up and leave — at least, not without serious protection.
I dash to the CDC camp, grab a respirator, then snag a map off a boat that shows a very shallow channel leading out to sea. Guess it’s time to infiltrate this mist and see what’s what!
The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn (action mission)
Now that we’ve seen Tyler’s progress through studying the fog and its effect on people, there’s nothing left but to follow him inside. I have to give the man credit: He was smarter and perhaps braver than most people on this island. I mean, what would you do if you had the choice? Stay on an infected island with no hope of rescue? Or suit up and see if you could find a way out?
The mission requires that you wear a respirator — either the CDC one, or the Illuminati one (I assume), or the full hazmat suit. It’s a neat touch.
For many of us, this mission was a significant one in our Secret World journey. We had lived with the presence of that fog since the moment we stepped onto Solomon Island and always wondered what was in it. Why people couldn’t leave. And now we got to go inside and finally get those answers.
Initially the fog is… foggy. I jog along, follow these little lights that float here and there, and wonder about the myterious figures who dash in and out of the mist. But eventually my run becomes a slow walk, the screen starts going wavy, I hear my character breathing hard, and then she passes out.
When she wakes up, she’s in a nightmare landscape of floating islands. I fall down and come in front of a black-and-white house with a dash of red light around its door. Stepping inside is a red corridor (with walls that are… sort of bleeding) that goes into a long, long stairway down. Let me tell you, this is when I started freaking out the first time I had to play through this. It’s really unsettling, like a bad dream.
A voice tells me that this is the red sargasso dream. It is not, I’m gathering, a good dream.
The staircase quickly coughs me out into a Silent Hill-like version of Kingsmouth. Everything is dark, uniform, and larger-than-life. As I plod down the streets, Filth versions of the island’s survivors pop up, including Deputy Andy and his Evil Kitty Force. From there it’s a trip through a creepy version of Edgar’s junkyard, then to another Kingsmouth, then out into the sea on a sinking ship. Very disjointed and weird and unsettling, probably as it should be for a dream.
And the capper? When I come to in the “real” world, I find Tyler’s body on the beach. Guess he didn’t make it after all. Not surprising, but I feel bad for him even so. The guy tried when everyone else just holed up and waited for the end.