The Secret Adventures: She was a teenage A-bomb (Savage Coast #7)

(You can follow my playthrough of The Secret World on Bio Break’s projects page! WARNING: Spoilers and stories ahead!)

carterExtracurricular Activities (side mission)

  • A dropped notebook from Montag talks about a powerful lady named Ami who might be the target of a wendigo. Time to go save her, maybe? If she’s not already dog food.
  • Time to go wendigo hunting! Nothing too tricky, and this breadcrumb quest eventually leads me to Ami’s current residence at Red’s Bait and Tackle. As I’m not quite ready to go there yet, I finish up the mission, wave hello, and port back to the academy.

Blue Fires Burning (side mission)

  • All it took was a little fog to call out all of the freaks on this island, because now we have death cultists doing campfire singalongs within a stone’s throw from the main road. Well, that ain’t going to happen on my watch, no sirree!
  • Kill six death cultists, done with quest. Wow, that was simple.

gym The Rec Center Cannot Hold (action mission)

  • So this isn’t part of the mission, but doing the dialogue options with Carter reveals some important clues about the rest of the game. In particular, she mentions having visions of other super-powered kids in a colorful place, wearing sailor outfits — including a small kid who is terribly smart. She’s talking about all of the kids in Tokyo, something I didn’t catch the first time through.
  • Anyway, the situation at Innsmouth is bad with all of the familiars and spirits going bonkers, so time to make things a little saner. Montag recommends I not use a fire axe, as it can bounce off the vertebre. He’s awesome.
  • One thing I haven’t talked a lot about with The Secret World is its subtle weather and daylight effects. There is a day/night cycle as well as the occasional weather pattern, and in this mission I am dealing with a dusky atmosphere with some fog. It’s incredibly moody and I love it.
  • This mission has killing and a LOT of it. It takes me the better part of 20 minutes to wade through waves of mobs, dying a few times when I get overrun.
  • Eventually I head to the gym, where a giant flesh blob is hunkered down on the middle of the court. A little gasoline and a match wakes it up, and from then on it’s a bullet hell frenzy to put it down.
  • So what was that thing? According to Kirsten Geary, it’s the love child of too many constructs that decided to “bump uglies.” Wow. Good to know. Actually, I could have gone without knowing that.

tearCarter Unleashed (action mission)

  • I’ve only done this quest once before, and that was back when the issue released with it. I’ve always been fascinated by Carter, the lone surviving student of Innsmouth Academy, and not just because she’s splattered with blood. Apparently she also has nuclear-type powers that makes her the most dangerous person on the campus, and she wants me to chaperone her to the basement to clear out the rest of the familiars.
  • Montag’s notebook actually lists her powers as “intense thaumonuclear devastation.” This is going to be awesome.
  • After assembling a protective shield kit thingie, I head down into the basement. It’s suitably creepy, with familiars hanging off of hooks and all manner of creaking and ominous tones. What it isn’t, however, is difficult — this is a basic escort mission in which Carter helps out with the fights.
  • The fun part comes when a ton of familiars gang up and then Carter goes into explodey mode. It’s fun to watch her wipe out an entire room (I want that power!) but the first time I played this I did not understand that I needed to activate my shield; I kept trying to run out of the room to dodge the blast and died every time.
  • Once we beat down a giant flesh abomination, it’s over and Carter is pleased to have tested her powers beyond what she’s done in the past. You go girl.

dockThe Strange Boat House in the Mist (action mission)

  • We’re about done with Innsmouth, just one more main mission to go. Annabel says that a bunch of the faculty tried to make a break for the river when the fog rolled in but something got them. This “something” is perhaps related to the live and work of a farmer-slash-magus named Henderson.
  • Part of Henderson’s legacy are all of the animated sackcloth golems around the island (I’m assuming here based on context). They come in three varieties: shotgun, chainsaw, and baby doll (the last one is a magic focus). Terrifically designed mobs, I must say.
  • The quest itself is gruesome, as I stumbled over mangled corpse after mangled corpse, collecting IDs and learning just a bit (from names, faces, and occupation) about who used to work at the academy.
  • However, it turns out that the main culprit of the killings was a gigantic draug, so Henderson might be off the hook for this one.
  • As a bonus to the mission rewards, I got enough AP to earn my beloved “turn the tides” skill. This is a flat-out great ability that delivers a chunky heal — kind of like a rechargable timer. I love having it on hand in case of emergencies.

Survival of the Dead (side mission)

  • A note in a bottle teases the possibility of survivors in the nearby cottages, but I will never be that lucky. No, it’s a lot of undead and a lot of draug and a lot of bullets. Let’s do this.
  • And it’s quickly done. Want to buy more story with this one, please.

The Secret Adventures: Matriculating to terror (Savage Coast #6)

(You can follow my playthrough of The Secret World on Bio Break’s projects page! WARNING: This post comes with lots of story and mission spoilers.)

inn1The Breakfast Cult (action mission)

  • That mission title always gets a chuckle out of me.
  • So here we are at Innsmouth Academy, the least-secretive Illuminati front in the world. It’s rich with missions and just so happens to be one of my all-time favorite locations in the game if you include the NPCs. The place was an X-Men mansion of sorts, training specials to be part of the Illuminati effort, but it got overrun by the fog just the same as anywhere else on the island. Even worse, many of the students’ familiars (animated fabric golems) have now turned on us because of course they have.
  • Even better, let’s meet one of the three survivors: headmaster Hayden Montag. Voiced by horror veteran Jeffrey Combs, he’s academic to the extreme with no sense of humor or sarcasm. He hints at a terrible backstory (he accidentally issued a death curse when he was younger which killed his mom and others) and he always wears blue gloves for reasons not explained. But hey, Firefly reference.
  • Montag says that the wards that normally protected the school have been violated, and guess who’s the repairman? Not him; he’s going to stay in one of the few truly safe areas on the island (the office is warded so that anything non-human dies at the door).
  • Going to run this mission with yet another new build, this one pistol/elem. I had to do a little creative structuring to get some heals in there, so for circulation to work I have to bump up my crit chance, then critically hit, which triggers affliction, which then triggers a heal over time. We’ll see how that works.
  • Very straightfoward action mission — set up wards, defend one spot for a long while. It’s a perfect mission to test a new build, and I am pleased to say that what I came up with is performing admirably. Lots of single-target DPS, lots of crit bumps, lots of self-heals, and even two AoE “grenades” to throw down for crowds. Plus, it’s very satisfying running around with dual pistols after playing so long with a shotgun/hammer.

inn2Science and the Arts (action mission)

  • Montag begins with a pseudo-lecture to Annabel and Carter about how high he holds the sciences and how, yup, bodies were bricked into the foundations of the school to help harness anima or somesuch. Well, now that’s backfiring (surprised?), so I need to head out and seal the breeches.
  • “You’re like the world’s revenge on sarcasm, do you know that?” heh.
  • Another straight-forward mission with lots and lots of spook killing (and anima leak repairing… which I do with, what? Spackle?). So happy with my build — and the recent mob nerf. Fighting’s actually fun now.
  • The mission does give hints to a much darker backstory of the academy, what with drownings in pools and an official “Academy Wraith” that I fight at the end. I’d love to read a novel set in this place, like a sinister Hogwarts.

inn3The Faculty (action mission)

  • Next up on Montag’s to do list is to figure out who is reanimating the ex-faculty corpses and to what purposes. A war golem from the 1600s is mentioned.
  • “So… you’re saying that this could get worse before it gets better?” “Oh no, I shouldn’t think it’s going to get better.” WHY IS THIS GUY NOT IN EVERY MISSION OF THIS GAME?
  • Hey, that ghost lady’s head is on upside-down! Thought her mouth looked particularly freaky.
  • This time around, I’m clearing out classrooms full of spectral professors. Eventually, it leads me to the summoning lab, where the war golem appears to have escaped. I follow his tracks up into the attic, past “Byblos, the Zombie Janitor,” and out onto the roof.
  • Actually, that’s not what happened, because I tabbed out to write the above, and as I was doing that, another player went out onto the roof and apparently killed the golem. Even though I was inside, I still got credit and as a result the mission ended, I couldn’t go onto the roof, and no golem.
  • Well, poo.

inn4To Sir, With Love (action mission)

  • We’re on to the last Montag mission, this one bouncing off a previous mission in which I discovered the wraith haunting the academy. This troubles Montag deeply, for he sees it as his responsibility — and he’s willing to die as part of a ritual to exorcise it. Annabel and Carter aren’t as keen on the idea, so I guess it’s up to me to find another way.
  • “Another way” involves taking some of Montag’s blood, then performing a ritual involving said wraith and a whole lot of mirrors. Seems the goober likes to jump back into a mirror when it’s near death, so I have to smash the mirrors afterward and slowly but surely cut off its avenues of escape.
  • Eventually I trick it into jumping into a slide projector instead of a mirror, trapping it. Good for me, good for Montag.

The Secret Adventures: GPS to success (Savage Coast #5)

(With Update 1.11, I’m eager to see how the play experience in TSW has improved in the lower levels, so here we go again! You can follow my playthrough of The Secret World on Bio Break’s projects page!)

baddddA Reasonable Man (action mission)

  • We’re back with not-so-lovable curmudgeon Sam Krieg on top of his lighthouse. Guess he blows off steam by sniping zombies below. How long is he planning to stay here, by the way?
  • “Do you ever do that? Keep going it serves absolutely no purpose?” Aren’t you the peppy optimist!
  • LOVING the new map changes, by the way. Being able to see all of the quests/side quests is great, as is the ability to leap to an anima well (the anima-tion is pretty neat too!).
  • Went to Darkside, bought myself a new blouse, and got back to work.
  • First step? Grab some flares and light up zombies so Krieg can pick them off. That’s pretty normal compared to the next stage, where I am instructed to “collect half-eaten corpses.”
  • Question: Why?
  • Question: No, seriously, why?
  • Question: Where am I storing said half-eaten corpses, my fanny pack?
  • Question: Ew.
  • OK, I guess the corpses are for… impaling them on stakes on a cliffside so that other zombies will see it and think, I don’t know, “Gee Howard, that looks AWESOME!” and then run off the cliff to their death. The logic in this quest does not make a lot of sense, but it is kind of funny to watch zombies jump eagerly off a cliff, so I’ll call it a wash.
  • From there it’s pretty straight-forward: kill big zombies, kill boss zombie, then roll rock to plug hole leaking Filth. Oh, I’m sure that’ll hold. It’s a ROCK.

biggunsShooting Filth in a Barrel (side mission)

  • Brief time-out to rejigger a new build, this one using pistols/blood magic. As useful as blades are, I had the sound, animation, and melee focus. Plus, some healing might be useful!
  • Oof, that was not a good idea. I kept getting curb-stomped with this build… AOE is now much weaker than it was pre-1.11 and even with DoTs and HoTs, I’m getting overrun by packs too easily. Maybe pistol/elementalism? Gonna be out of SP soon at this rate.
  • Anyway, this mission is pretty much blowing up filth barrels that some idiot put all over the place. Because when you find a world-devouring substance, bottling it up for the natives is always a good idea.

johnCrime and Punishment (investigation mission)

  • For our last mission with Sam Krieg, the writer opens up about not liking people… but finding their actions fascinating. He also pronounces the people of Solomon Island “evil” — something that I cannot deny, knowing what I do. Although I would counter that we’ve seen signs of good, of hope, of those not content to look the other way.
  • We’re going to look into the case of one of the people whose actions Sam finds interesting, but for that we’re going to need to reverse engineer his trip to the lighthouse. A letter nearby tells of Sam’s car left abandoned nearby and a GPS that tried to kill him.
  • This part is pretty clever. After I find the car’s GPS, I have to figure out where Sam came from by listening to the instructions, arranging them backward, and then tracing a route on the map to that point. It leads me to the town’s gas station.
  • And it gets better! A photo in a trash can there shows Sam being hugged by a local blogger (the dour expression on Sam’s face is priceless) who scribbled the website address for his blog. And to there we go, because we need to get a security code for his house!
  • The blog, Sam Krieg Sightings, has two clues. The first is that the blogger says his security codes come from Sam’s books. The second is that when you click on the covers on the blog, it shows the ISBNs. The Resident Horror is the one for us.
  • As a side note, the blog makes for a quick and funny read!
  • I go into the blogger’s “mancave,” which is devoid of said blogger but full of Sam Krieg books. One more password, onto his computer this time, and the mission completes while letting me peruse a few interesting files. Apparently the blogger — one of the game’s many Johns — fled the island. Somehow.
  • It would be REALLY interesting if this was the Tokyo John, but I doubt it. I don’t think his leaving the island would give him enough time to do all of the things that Tokyo John is shown doing.

Wisped Away / Property of Innsmouth Academy (side missions)

  • Both of these missions are near to each other and are very similar, involving killing wisps and breadcrumbing it to Innsmouth Academy. That suits my purposes, as I was heading there anyway!

The Secret World makes me happy with 1.11

Last night I patched TSW up to 1.11 to check out the “enhanced player experience” — quality of life improvements, in other words. There’s a LOT of angry debate on the forums over this patch (dumbing down for the filthy casuals, etc.), but I have to say that my early impressions are quite positive.

For starters, how about that new map? Not only can you now just click on an anima well to port there (a la Guild Wars 2’s waypoints), but the map has a ton more icons for side missions and whatnot. I am LOVING this. It’ll make zone completion so much easier.

Combat *seems* to be a bit easier, although that’s hard to say right now as I’m tinkering with a new build and trying to get a balance of AoE vs. single-target skills going on. The landscape seems less packed with mobs, so there’s more room to maneuver in fights.

I also checked out the new clothing vendors in London’s Darkside, which supposedly will change their wares on a daily basis. Bought myself a neat new blouse to celebrate.

But the best thing is seeing former and new players who were intimidated and/or turned off by the steep combat difficulty and tedious time-to-kill eagerly come back for the story. Combat isn’t TSW’s strong suit, the story and world is. More people need to experience that, and 1.11 will hopefully give them that chance.

So yes, I’m working on my play-every-mission project again, so expect a new post on that front soon!

The Secret World, why you so big?

gamesizeOK, this has been bugging me for a while now: Why is The Secret World’s client so dang big?

Look at that up there — it’s nearly twice the size of SWTOR and the rest of my current roster. I mean, LOTRO? That’s five expansions, right there, and still under 20 gig. SWTOR has (or had) the world record for biggest voice recording project in a video game, and still it clocks in at well under 30 gigs. But TSW is a Godzilla of a client, stomping around at 44.5 gigs.

What’s the deal? There’s a lot of voice acting, sure, but nowhere near as much as SWTOR (or GW2, for that matter). Maybe it’s that SWTOR uses a lot of automated cutscene tricks whereas each one of TSW’s is hand-directed.

Is it just a much more detailed world? Because the world size is still fairly small, even four major zones (and a few minor ones) later.

Any idea? I’m just always somewhat aghast at this beast of a client size sitting on my hard drive.

TSW: Sightseeing through Savage Coast

lo1Last night I was part of a Secret World livestream with Massively OP’s MJ, and instead of running quests we decided to take viewers on a tour of some of the weird spots of Savage Coast. So while we were doing that, I was screenshotting all sorts of little details and interesting pictures which I want to share with you today!

Here I am with my new Valentine’s Day cosmetics. Aren’t those sunglasses awesome?

lo2You can run up the rollercoaster in the amusement park and get some pretty great vista screenshots.

lo3The ferris wheel plus the weird grainy filter in the park makes for cool shots. Very nightmare-like.

lo4This mob wasn’t aggroing us, so we got a rare close-up look at a mob. We spent time marveling over the detail that went into him, including the see-through abdomen with the spine intact.

lo5The lighting at different times of day make for stark and interesting shadows.

lo6I really loved how this picture turned out, with the warning sign in the foreground.

lo7We spent a lot of time running around the Academy looking for weird details, and MJ got very into trying to read and translate the graffiti that’s around. There’s actually a lot of it, and all of it is different from each other.

lo8Nothing super-special about this one, other than I really liked the lighting and the setup.

lo9One of the classrooms has a slideshow of the Egyptian zone’s oasis. Also, there’s cool lighting going on — if anything is between the projector and the screen (such as that loot icon) it will throw a shadow up.

lo10Weird notes on the evacuation plan in the academy. In case of fire (1) run out (2) with your hands up high. Um, why?

lo11All of the classrooms have interesting topics, such as parapsychology and arcane geometry and summoning theory.

lo12I haven’t been up in the Academy attic since that one quest a long, long time ago. It’s still delightfully eerie.

lo13This is just proof that I finally made the jump up to the very top of the League of Monster Slayers’ treehouse to see the bike gun. I’m guessing it shoots cans of cola?

The Secret World: Alone vs. Together

alone1I’ve been thinking a lot about The Secret World lately, despite not having played it for over a week since I finished up Issue 10. Maybe I should pick back up my project of playing through the game and detailing all of the quests; I think I’m still in Savage Coast somewhere.

Anyway, I’ve pontificated enough in the past about how brutally difficult The Secret World can be, which leads one to the conclusion that it’s simply better to play with a duo or in a group. Not that every quest will allow groups to progress together (there are some forced solo instances), but for the most part you’d think that it’s a game that was designed for groups rather than the single individual.

alone2And I wouldn’t fight you on that if you insisted. In the past, some of the best times that I’ve had in TSW are with a regular group. It’s a rip-roaring time to experience the same story together, to figure out clues as a group, and to plow through fights so quickly that you forget what slogfests they can be solo. It’s like watching a great movie with friends, only that you all have parts to play as well.

But having done a significant part of the game by myself, I can’t deny that some aspects of TSW work a lot better when you’re alone. The scares and atmosphere hits you a lot harder when you’re on your own, especially because you’re not being distracted by what your group is saying. There’s a deeper satisfaction, I think, to solving quests on your own instead of piggy-backing on the efforts of your teammates. And going solo means that you don’t have to worry about keeping up with your friends, giving you freedom to really soak in the details and be a tourist to your heart’s content.

TSW has a lot of small details that deserve noticing.

I’m glad that TSW is making most of the game a lot more solo friendly in the next update, although I would also like to see a much better LFG option so that peeps can always have that option of teaming up. Just about every stranger I’ve grouped up with in TSW has been friendly and fairly patient, and I owe my success to more than a couple of quests to the knowledge and skill of another player.

So maybe I don’t have to choose one or the other. Alone is good, but so is together. Having the choice means that the game adapts to what I want to do that night instead of forcing me to play according to what the game demands.