The Secret Adventures: Jack O’Splatter (Blue Mountain #4)

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

ja1Jack of the Lantern (action mission)

  • Each zone on Solomon Island has its own Jack O’Lantern quest, which forms a complete trilogy when completed. This here is the last of them, the big confrontation with mean ol’ Jack.
  • The bickering brothers mention a pumpkin patch near the casino site that had laughing and torches coming out of it. Time to go investigate!
  • So there’s a type of MMO quest that I particularly dislike, where you have to go kill a big bad, but every time you get close they run away, you have to chase them, and it begins anew. It draws out the fight unnecessarily. This quest type is beloved by TSW mission designers.
  • That’s pretty much what I do here: Find a pumpkin patch, attack Jack, watch Jack run away, rinse and repeat.
  • Jack does have a couple of one-liners like “Jack’s back!” and “Trick or treat!” but they’re pretty lame for a villain.
  • With Jack dead for good, Geary says that Henderson sure knew his way around curses — and grudges. Glad to have that child-killer six feet below.

ja2Open Season (action mission)

  • If you live on an island that’s infested with the entire cryptozoology textbook, what would you do? For two Wabinakis, the answer there was, “Sell hunting trips to out-of-staters.” They even hunted down sasquatches, which as we established earlier, are fairly intelligent, albeit cowards. My turn to get in on the hunt.
  • For no given reason, I start off with a 12-minute timer and instructions to kill 13 zombies in the graveyard before it runs out. What’s the rush now? Oh, never mind.
  • What’s really freaky is that the timer keeps flashing between the countdown and “4:59” over and over again. Probably a bug, but this being TSW, you never know.
  • Next up: Wendigos and Ak’abs. Sigh. It’s as though the game knew that once you moved on from the island, it wouldn’t be able to torment you with these giant locusts any longer, so it’s using any opportunity possible to get in an encore now.
  • 12 Ak’abs may not *sound* like much, but that’s a lot for a kill quest. And it’s only one tier here.
  • The last stage has me hunt down a sasquatch. I got all excited that I’d finally get to kill bigfoot, but no, the lad just serves as a sign post pointing me to a giant draug that needs killing. Sure thing, buddy! Wouldn’t want you to get your hands dirty before your weekly Shaggy Cowards Anonymous meeting!

They Are Called Darkness (side mission)

  • If you’re doing Open Season, you might as well pick up this side mission in the Ak’ab area as well, since there’s some two-for-one questing crossover.
  • Still, it’s even MORE AK’ABS. The only bright spot here is that if you rescue one of the trapped Wabinaki folk, he or she will fight with you for a little bit.

The Experiment (side mission)

  • There are a couple of dead Orochi by the bigfoot, because Orochi do not know how to exist in a “live” state. Forever picking up after others’ messes, I snag their tablet and decide to finish up their mission of injecting wednigos and zombies with strange liquids.
  • Because what could go wrong with that? Nothing, that’s what!
  • The potions have various effects on the mobs, including really upsetting them, but I calm them down with a tall glass of anima-infused bullets.
  • What made me laugh with this mission is that the Orochi tablet instructs the team not to cooperate with the CDC personnel. So what’s the final step of my mission? To enter the results into the CDC computer. Stick it to the man!

A Piece of the Road (action mission)

  • Time for a brief intermission to head back to Moose and get my motorcycle!
  • No problems getting it this time around, either. I must say that the $20 I spent on this has totally been justified. Not only did I get it on both characters, but having Sprint VI (and such a cool-looking one at that) on a lowbie is a huge boon!
  • I did get a funny text message from Moose that was probably intended for Andy. Heh, didn’t get that the first time around. I think Funcom’s having fun with the new message system.

The Secret World: Get to my choppa!

y1It has been a little while since I last played my Templar — since I finished the Orochi tower for the first (and so far, only) time. I’ve been meaning to get back on her and do more tower runs, but y’know, time gets away from us.

So I made it a point to tie up some loose ends last night, starting with a return trip to Richard at the Templar HQ. Richard was getting the living stuffing beat out of him by Pit and Pendulum, two new thugs that the game did not let me attack. Alas.

y2I guess that even within the supposed “good guys” faction, there are jerks and divisions. Richard says that the old guard is not too pleased that me — the new guard — is on the rise with my methods. Oh well, I will deal.

As an aside, I really like how cool I look with this hat and pose. I am in love with this hat.

y3Turns out that Orochi isn’t that pleased with me either, as its media arm has declared me one of the Tokyo bombers. Because that makes sense, as I wasn’t even part of the secret world when the bomb went off, but oh well.

Is it just me, or does the newscaster’s model look really off here? Like his head is too small for his body/suit? And why is he standing behind that desk instead of sitting?

Richard advises that I lay low for a while, which is Funcom’s polite fiction for “it’s gonna be a wait until we get new story content out to you.” I did get a free barbershop and plastic surgery coupon, but I’m pretty happy with how my character looks, so I’ll save those.

y4Next up on my to do list was to buy the new DLC for the motorcycle. Yes, $20 is pretty pricey and perhaps a little too much, but I don’t mind supporting The Secret World. Plus, when I consider that it unlocks across my entire account, its worth increases.

Anyway, the DLC unlocked a short mission with Moose back in Kingsmouth. Moose! Been a long time! He pontificates on how much he used to love being on the road, and he’s even started building a “frankenchopper” behind the station. Not sure why he’s doing that when there are cars, scooters, and motorcycles littering the island, but we all need hobbies!

y5Moose gives me the bike to fix up. At first it’s in really poor condition, driving slower than my character can walk, and I have to take it all the way to the scrapyard. At certain intervals, waves of zombies knock me off the bike. Of course, they’re all one-hit kills to me right now. Outta my face.

After finding some parts, the bike moves faster — and even more so when I get some nitro for it. What I love about finishing this quest is that it bumped me up from Sprint IV to VI automatically.

Gotta say, I love the bike. It’s a little weird that it’s the only vehicle in the game so far, but it feels great riding it around. Popping wheelies after jumps is pretty sweet too.

y6And yes, I had to create a new outfit for my hog. I don’t think I’ll be the only one doing this.

After the excitement of getting the bike, I had to check out another one of yesterday’s additions, which was the achievement vendor. I was pretty jazzed to have a purpose for achievement points, but when I looked at what the vendor had to offer I felt a bit let down. He’s not exactly brimming with wares, and the ones that I couldn’t buy weren’t huge incentives to grind out more points. Still, I got a couple of costume pieces and a gadget that hits enemies back when they hit me, so I’m not going to complain too much.

Back to the Orochi tower!

The Secret World: Give me a bike to ride and an achievement to steer her by

Some juicy info on the future of The Secret World on the official forums today as we begin our undoubtedly long, long wait for the next adventure zone. If we can’t progress the story, then giving us other objectives is a good second, I suppose. Here are my thoughts on the revelations, all of which will be coming to the game *next week.* I am so stoked.

Penthouse mini-dungeon

I don’t run dungeons as much as I used to, and even if I did, the Orochi boss fight wasn’t a thrill-a-second experience that I’d want to be doing it on an even harder mode. Thanks but pass.

Sprint customization

Up until now, The Secret World has not had mounts (apart from a single snowmobiling mission), but that looks to change soon. Funcom’s actually going to be giving us a choice of staying on foot with added visual flair or using a mount overlay (although all of the speed boosts will remain the same). Then there will be show-off mounts and two more ranks of speed boosts (up to 150%).

I am *all* for getting around these zones more quickly and in style, so this is definitely a big addition to the game. We haven’t heard about any specific vehicles, other than the motorcycle and what is hinted at being a Back to the Future II-style hoverboard (yay hoverboard!), but that’s a good start at least. The devs promise that vehicles will be just as responsive as running (in terms of turning and strafing, I presume), so they really are just an overlay.

Whenever this arrives, Funcom will be selling a $20 pack that comes with a new mission to get a motorcycle from Moose, a nitro boost, and sprint VI. Sure, I’ll pony up for that. I’d love for it to be account-wise like the mission packs, please.

Anyway, this is just terrific stuff.

Achievement vendor

The surprise of the announcement (at least to me), there will be a special vendor who will offer rewards based on the number of achievement points. Up until now, I’ve ignored achievements because apart from a select few tied to specific rewards, they were mostly empty numbers. Now those numbers have a purpose, so I might have to go back through the game and start collecting them (depending on how good these rewards are, of course).

The Secret Adventures: Bad, bad dreams (Blue Mountain #3)

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

Homeland Insecurity (action mission)

  • I normally have nothing but good things to say about TSW’s voice acting and direction, but Sarge is a really big misstep for the game. Whoever is doing his voice is putting in so little effort and is so very mismatched with his looks that I am not surprised I forgot him from my first runthrough.
  • Anyway, Sarge wants to go fight the bad guys, Karen wants to hang back and observe, and me? Well, I’m all for kicking butt and chewing bubblegum. And I’m all out of buttgum.
  • I like how I actually meet up with alive (!) soldiers to help them defend a spot against the draug. Man, it’s been a few weeks since I last played TSW, I am *rusty*.
  • I always forget how much I love Ash Forest in Blue Mountain. Extremely well-done for a spooky semi-wooded area. It’s just foggy and ashy enough to be atmospheric.
  • At the second defend point, I’m able to repair and activate a sentry gun to help out with the ghosts. I have just enough time to wonder what kind of computer recognition software can distinguish between people and spirits. Maybe it fires at anyone not touching the ground?
  • With the recent nerf to monster damage/health, I get the added benefit of feeling humiliated when I die. More so now. No, I didn’t die. Why do you ask?
  • I sincerely dislike anytime a mission makes me use binoculars/telescope. That mechanic is always so finnicky.
  • The mission ends with some good old-fashioned revenge — killing a draug witch who is resurrecting delta team members to throw at me.

They died so that others may live (side mission)

  • Some of the loose ammo and weapons near the remains of delta team is best appropriated to the Wakinabi, since at least they seem to have a fighting chance out here. The new port system makes this quest a cinch to finish.

Last will and testament (side mission)

  • TSW is all about sunshine, positive feelings, and happy endings. Case in point, this bloody note on a truck informing me that a guy’s family has been turned into zombies and he needs someone to kill them all! Truly, I was born for this task.
  • It’s not too bad, although the five-member family are all stronger-than-normal zombies, especially if you get three of them in one pull as I did.

we1Dreamcatcher (action mission)

  • Man, it has not been a good session for gripping NPC performances. Over at the Wabanaki trailer park, Old Joseph starts babbling on and on about dreamcatchers, bad dreams caused by the quarry, ancient traditions, and… it’s just a monologue loop that lost me after the first minute or so. Grampa, just point me at what needs to die. Apparently that’s all I’m good for.
  • Fortunately, this quest is a godsend for players who have been begging developers to make more missions where they are tasked with frantically clicking on fast-whirling targets in the vain hope of making them attackable targets. Oh, the sheer bliss of doing this. Reminds me why I got up this morning.
  • Anyway, I kill a lot of bad dreams after flagging them down with a dreamcatcher. And YES, I know how that sounds, but this is Solomon Island and I’ve already well passed the point of my weirdness threshold.
  • Bringing the dreamcatcher back to Old Joseph, I’m treated to one of TSW’s rare mid-mission cutscenes. The geezer says that the filth is also infesting the spirit world and/or the past, because why not, and I should undergo a ritual to jump over there and ferret that junk out.
  • Now I’m off to do the MMO Scavenger Hunt. You know the drill: Run around a dangerous area where everything wants to kill you while you try to find ridiculous items like feathers and menus and tea cozys. And you must do so while trying very hard not to realize that you could just walk away from all of this and no one would be the wiser.
  • I love how I have this giant, hulking dog at my side who refuses to lift so much as a paw to help me out in these life-or-death struggles. “You got this,” his posture seems to say. “Let me know if they drop any bones.”
  • Another cutscene. Old Joseph tells me to inhale the smoke from the fire of all of the weird stuff I gathered. TSW is a public service nightmare, let me tell you.
  • The smoke helps me to see a portal to the afterlife, which is definitely where I want to be vacationing after this trip to Maine. Inside is a rather long slog through a filth-infested area (which is itself on top of a rather long mission — 8 tiers in all!). The goal is to track down a Beast of Corruption and kill it. Three times.
  • That’s as much of a hoot as you might expect. Hope that killing it brought some dream relief to the dead people.

Hide-and-Seek (side mission)

  • The Wabinaki are holding out in their village-slash-tourist center, but they’re running low on supplies. Up to me to raid the now-infested casino for more.
  • The name of this mission is quite apt. The casino is a lair area, which means that every mob there can practically one-shot me. So I had to duck and weave between mobs, staying out of aggro range, all while trying to find the supplies. Didn’t help that some mobs path around — and that it’s deadly silent except for their footsteps.

we2Off the Menu (action mission)

  • So this here’s Frank and Joe, drunk, cantakerous brothers who talk a big talk… and then go back to sitting around while I clean up the real threat.
  • They’re agitated about the wendigos, which they say used to be part of their tribe until they started eating skin (and other organs) and changed somehow.
  • I’m not to kill all of the wendigos, just four specific ones, each with their own lair and method of calling out. For one of them, I have to cut myself and use my blood as bait. This game is so charming.

we3Scardey-cat (side mission)

  • Near the last wendigo is a sign that one of the Franklin Mansion cats got lost in the bog. If it wasn’t part of my quest to do all of the missions, I’d skip this one — I do not care for cats, especially dumb ones that got themselves trapped in the midst of a filth pool.
  • Once I find the cat, I am given three minutes to run back to the mansion to deliver it. No sweat.

we4Dawning of an Endless Night (story mission)

  • Unfortunately, getting near the mansion triggers the next tier of the story mission, which I was hoping to hold off on doing until the rest of the zone was clear. Oh well, it’s just a cutscene.
  • I meet Eleanor Franklin, a tough broad who is quite matter-of-fact about living in this haunted house with ghosts and the restless spirit of her dead husband Ed.
  • Eleanor lays out the tragic backstory of the area (although not all of the specifics). About Ed and the incident at the mine with the Indians that resulted in a death. About his subsequent descent into madness. About his writings and suicide. She could never find those writings, though…
  • I didn’t catch Eleanor’s reference to the Dreaming Ones in my previous run. It’s kind of spooky in retrospect.

The Secret World: Up the Dark Tower

f1After a break of several days to catch my breath, my climb up the Orochi tower in The Secret World resumed last night. I teamed up with Massively OP’s MJ and one of our readers to see if we couldn’t get all the way to the end of it and see the grand finale.

Obviously, there will be big spoilers here. Not all of the spoilers, but some.

So next up on our randomized floor visits were a couple of Faust areas. After going through a batch of these, I have to admit that the concept of selecting a handful of a pool of floors for each tower crawl is kind of brilliant. Each floor is interesting in and of itself, with its own theme and environmental story, and I definitely want to go back soon and see even more of them.

This particular floor was really odd. No mobs to fight, just rooms full of office workers. And, yeah, the occasionally dead person with veins bulging out. We couldn’t find an explanation, but there were three of these corpses among the throngs of workers.

f2I *loved* this media floor. Lots of TV sets — which were great for screenshot opportunities — as well as silly traps that would trigger a laugh track when you fell for them.

The boss on this floor was “The Host” who was apparently making his own demented reality TV show starring everyone else on the floor.

f3Our journey up the tower hit a major bug when I got locked out of an elevator and the other two got locked in. Fortunately, a dev watching our livestream came in to port our team to safety. I highly recommend having a developer along for TSW missions.

f4One interesting reveal as we got nearer to the penthouse is that the Orochi have their own anima-infused troops who could respawn indefinitely if you didn’t trap them in their anima pads. I like how they got nicknames like player characters do, which is something we haven’t seen in any other mob in the game.

The guy — Samael? — taunting us over this said that this had to do with all of the dead Orochi troops everywhere, but that didn’t really explain anything, and I think it was just covering for incompetance anyway.

f5Up in the penthouse, the weirdness dial jacked all the way up to 11. The rabbit killer made a return — and ended up being three of them, not just one. Neat… but that didn’t explain anything about them. Clones? Maybe I missed something. I’m going to have to do a bit of research later on to see what the players pieced together.

f6The penthouse was the staging ground for two things: Lilith’s blathering monologues and a heck of a lot of fights. It would have been a lot more frustrating without a group.

I’m kind of torn on the use of Lilith as the big exposition machine here. For starters, her lip synching and facial gestures were really off and quite distracting. And while she sort of explained a lot of the overarching plot, it was by no means a full reveal. Guess she and the Morninglight had a falling out, but I’m not going to cry over that.

Still, some answers were better than none, and I’m really glad we’ll be moving forward. One detail I liked is that she said that Flappy was the Dreaming One’s idea of a bird, which explains why filth creations are all messed up. Those guys don’t have a set of kids picture books.

I got a whole crapton of pictures from this final confrontation, including the above shot (which I also made into a Bio Break header).

f7The ending got a lot more interesting when John showed up to distract Lilith long enough for the angelic calvary to arrive. Angels. Sure. Why not, this is TSW after all.

Lilith is quickly outmatched and is bound by the angel’s power. Having lost a couple of legs to her, I do not feel a lot of sympathy.

f8As part of the season finale, one of the hyped features of Issue 11 is that our choices that we’ve made would pay off, somehow. Now, TSW is not SWTOR — we’ve only had three points in the game where we made a decision, all of which had to do with the Dreaming Ones. With them or against them. I went with once and against twice.

Apparently what happens at the end here is that we’re given an ultimate ability — some giant AOE attack that also gives us neat glowing angel wings — but that ability is different based on your choices. All those who railed against the Dreaming Ones get golden wings, those like me who were mixed got blue, and those who went with them got black wings.

All in all, I am highly impressed with the Orochi Tower and can’t wait to return for more. It feels like a satisfying ending of sorts, but it’s also whetted my appetite for the next stage of our journey in this game.