The Secret World: Daddy issues (Besieged Farmlands #6)

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(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!)

Red Handed (investigation mission)

Poor Dr. Varias is tasked with being pretty much the sole medical support staff of this besieged village, and to make matters worse, he’s working in a tent outside of a barn. Why they couldn’t bring the injured into that huge tavern/inn across the road, I do not know. Maybe it’s a bravado thing. Why be comfortable when you can lie exposed to the elements, 10 feet away from rampaging ghouls?

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Turns out that Varias is equally interested in the genetic research that his dad did as he is with his current patients. After doing a bit of field medicine, I go off on a scavenger hunt, decoding clues from a scientific nerdy bent (hey, when you have to use the periodic table to decrypt a code, then yes, you’ve crossed some sort of line). In the end, I find the laptop with Varias Senior’s research — he was part of the Soviet Red Hand project that features strongly in this zone. Supersoldiers, why not?

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Red Hands Aren’t Idle Hands and The Briefcase (side missions)

There’s a sort of mini-story arc in this zone about Dr. Varias, so let’s keep chugging with that, shall we? Varias Sr. has left behind a couple of briefcases of information that can be found in the zone (which is an easy task, since they’re both side mission icons on the map). Inside, brief journal entries about the old supersoldier program and Varias’ involvement with them.

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It’s not exactly the creepiest that I’ve read in this game, but it’s interesting enough to press forward. Geary said that Varias was the “Rasputin” of the old Soviet R&D regime, but he disappeared decades ago.

Bringing both of these documents to Varias Jr. is rewarded with a final mission unlock to get to the heart of these daddy issues.

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Sins of the Father (sabotage mission)

Want to know why Dr. Varias came to this tiny little burg? Now we find out. He spills his entire backstory: how his father collaborated with the Soviets after the occupation on the Red Hand project, how the family name became disgraced, and how Varias Jr. eventually came seeking information on what experiments Varias Sr. did. It all leads to the observatory, where documents and a sealed door await. He needs the answers for redemption, and I need the answers for my curiosity.

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Good news everybody! For today’s field trip, we’re going to be going into a long-abandoned (yet still inexplicably occupied) Red Hand bunker. It’s one of those missions where everything is dark and there are things lurking in the dark that can practically one-shot you if you make a misstep. Lots of dainty tip-toeing around hulked-out siegebreakers, flipping switches to turn on reactors, and — my favorite — leaping over laser grids and avoiding security cameras attached to sentry guns.

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I think this mission (and the whole storyline, to be honest) is one of the weaker ones in The Secret World. For all it nails with atmosphere, it doesn’t deliver much at all narratively. The whole secret? Varias was helping the Reds build a super-soldier. That’s not even a revelation — we already know that this sort of thing was going on. But now we know it MORE.

As an aside, I like the chummy group photo of the scientists and Bane behind them there. It’s the world’s weirdest selfie.

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At least it was a refreshing change to stop sneaking around at the end and take out this guy. He looks imposing but he went down like a sack of bananas. I really do wish we had an epilogue with Varias Jr. about all of this, but I’ll assume that knowing his dad created these monstrosities is not going to give him much peace for his future.

LOTRO: 300 wolves stood against I, and 300 wolves fell

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To borrow the words of Gob from Arrested Development, I’ve made a huge mistake.

Ever since switching back to my Lore-master, I have been more or less laser-focused on getting her to the same spot where my Captain was so that she’d be ready for Update 20 and then the expansion. As I blogged about before, I figured that I could just focus on the epic, power level up using every trick at my disposal, and be there in a week or two. But because I was fairly fresh back to the game, I wasn’t thinking about a couple of other factors when I dusted my LM off — namely, her virtues and class traits.

The other night our kin was talking about the current cap for virtues (19), which made me remember that, oh yeah, they exist, and maybe I should see what my Lore-master has. Now, to my credit, I hadn’t fully neglected her on her journey up through the levels. I think that for an early Rohan character, she was pretty on track, with 13s and 14s across the board (and one lovely 19). But when I came back and pushed her through the epics (ignoring all of the zone quests), I had neglected the advancement that rounded her out, statwise.

Even worse, I had totally forgotten that there are all of these side objectives to gain extra class trait points, which are definitely much more important in increasing power and potential. And if I was going to make this character my main — which I do want — then I knew it was going to drive me mad to not see her at least close to her full potential.

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I’m also kicking myself a little that I blew through a 6,000 or so Turbine Point pool from all of my time off that I could’ve used for boosts or straight-up virtue points. So with a sigh, I put a bookmark in the epic, and turned my attention and energy to fleshing out my character. Back to Rohan we go!

I made up a list of everything that I need to do to get her near 19s in virtues and grab as many of those extra class trait points (and no, I am NOT doing tons of epic battles for those two points). It’s a lot, maybe a month’s worth at my pace. Maybe more, it’s hard to tell. Lots of backtracking, lots of slayer deeds, and two zones or so of make-up quests.

There is a bright spot to all of this. Several, actually. The first is that part of me doesn’t mind some grinding and farming when the end result is a stronger character. Having that goal is, well, a goal, and that’s a powerful motivator. The second is that when these virtues start pushing me into Gondor, then I’ll start picking up much-needed XP from them. I could use about four levels right now, levels I could’ve gotten before if I had been thinking, but oh well. I’m also especially eager to hit level 100 so that I can equip my two first-agers, which will be a major boost in power.

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The third is that it’s giving me a chance to really traverse and explore these lands once more. It’s kind of fun when you’ve outleveled a mob and can get in its face to check out the art and animation without aggroing it.

Right now I’m in Wildermore, killing 300 wolves and wondering why slayer deeds are still so brutal, even after nerfs. I guess it really does depend on whether or not you can find a good farming spot with lots of mobs and respawns. I gave up on the one that had me killing mounted foes, because I could’ve been doing that for months to come. And that is time I don’t have.

At the current schedule of rollout, I figure that I should be fine with getting all of this done well before Mordor. Update 20 and 10th anniversary are heading our way soon, but if I’m a little late to that party, it’s not the end of the world. As long as I’m there for day one of Mordor, I’ll be happy. I just want to be as prepared for it as can be.

Battle Bards Episode 91: Forest Tales

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Take a stroll through the trees and become totally lost in the foliage, drinking in the sounds of the forest with today’s show, as the Battle Bards go hiking through the woods to hear the music that they inspire. It’s an hour of forest tales on this week’s exploration of MMORPG soundtracks, so journey with us from Ultima X to Final Fantasy XI!

Episode 91 show notes (show page, direct download)

  • Intro (feat. “Southern Janost Forest” from Runes of Magic and “Caledon Forest” from Guild Wars 2)
  • “Kingwood” from Ultima X Odyssey
  • “Albion Campacorentin Forest” from Dark Age of Camelot
  • “The Breeze of the Old Forest” from Rappelz
  • “Golden Wood Impression” from LOTRO
  • “Scatherran Forest Light” from RIFT
  • “Redwood (Ancient Forest)” from Aion
  • “The Sanctuary of Zi’tah” from FFXI
  • Which one did we like the best?
  • Jukebox picks: “Forest” from The Last Guardian, “Flash Forward” from Virginia, and “Heliosphere” from No Man’s Sky
  • Outro (feat. “The Song of the Forest” from Blade and Soul)

Syp’s Gaming Goals: February 2017

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January in review

I think I might have had less gaming time this past month than in quite a while, but I still was able to accomplish a couple of significant projects. First up, I finally got Broken Isles Pathfinder Part 1 on my Death Knight in World of Warcraft, which was a huge psychological boost as we start the countdown to 7.2. There are a few to-dos left for me in Legion right now, so I’ve slowed down and am evaluating possible alternatives (read: I played around with alts a lot).

The other big project was finally putting the wraps on my retro journey through Star Control 2. It was one heck of a ride — and also a very long one, too. It was such a great game from start to end, and I was happy to get to document it all.

My primary MMO in January was Lord of the Rings Online, as I worked on bringing my Lore-master up to the level cap. I’m up to 96, so I’m within striking distance and working on some virtues in the meanwhile. Otherwise, I dabbled a bit in Star Trek Online, RIFT, and The Secret World.

February goals

I’ve got a mind to check back in with SWTOR and perhaps sub up for a month to go through the recent expansions. It’d be great to have my Imperial Agent continue her journey, even if it isn’t a full-time endeavor.

There are always those other games that I keep thinking, sooner or later, I’ll get to. Games like Shroud of the Avatar (is it any better? Time to give it a good try?), Project Gorgon (are we on Steam yet?), and Elder Scrolls Online (must join the housing herd! also, expansion!). Maybe it’ll happen this month, maybe not.

In my current games, I want to get away from lopsided gaming and spread out my love to all of my regulars. Getting an episode arc done in Star Trek Online would be terrific, and I do want to pick up the pace a little bit in The Secret World (I’ve been very pokey). RIFT is… I don’t know. I’ve really lost steam there but I usually log in for a little bit every day, if only to say hi to my guildies. We’ll see.

I will be starting up a new retro gaming series (something much different than I’ve done in the past) and I’m very much looking forward to the release of Torment: Tides of Numeria later this month.

World of Warcraft: Do Druids poop in the woods?

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The long journey back to Druid life

In a recent WoW post, I talked about how I was searching for purpose and a goal in the game now that I’ve gotten Broken Isle Pathfinder Part One and pretty much have my Death Knight on auto-pilot doing daily emissary quests. There are some odds and ends to tie up with her, but until 7.2 arrives, my attention is starting to turn elsewhere.

The natural outlet would be an alt, but settling on one has been more difficult than expected. I’ve experienced this in MMOs, where I end up playing a class that’s so perfect for me that when I go to try others, I find them severely lacking and end up rejecting them all.

I gave several of my mothballed level 100s another try: The Beast Master Hunter felt dull and lacking a punch, the Shaman is just a mess and so much less interesting than it was in Draenor, and I can’t get into a good rotational groove with my Warlock. Then I got all fired up for a few days to create a new Monk — a class I’d really never tried before — and see what healing with that was like. Turned out that by the time I was running Deadmines, I found myself wistful that I didn’t have all of my Druid healing skills at my disposal. And that led me back, in a very roundabout way, to my Druid.

I have to say that I absolutely hate her name — Syppe — which I think I must have been punch-tired or something to not figure out a better version of the Syp nomer legacy. I might actually have to pay to change that one if I stick with this character. But it’s been pretty neat to come back to her and get things sorted out.

She just hit 101 last night and is in the early steps of opening up her class hall (such a confusing design, by the way) and forging through her first Broken Isles zones. It’s going to be… interesting to play a healer spec while questing, but I think I’ve figured out a good approach. She’s got the balance affinity, so that gained me the Moonkin form and some nice ranged spells. I’m not burning down things super-fast, but at least I can take them on at range and cycle through groups pretty well. Plus, I’ve figured out which healing spells I can use in Moonkin form (yay renewal), so I’m kind of hard to put down.

Star Trek Online: Tzatziki saucers

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Since it’s Star Trek Online’s anniversary and the launch of a new season and all, I figured I owed the game some time. Even though I have a few episode arcs to catch up on, I went ahead and jumped into the new Season 12 mission, Of Signs and Portents.

Plus, as with most new episodes that STO releases, there are some limited-time rewards for running it, including a couple coming up in, um…

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1999? Is this Cryptic’s way of saying that the studio has mastered time travel? Are we to be sent back to the Clinton era? Gotta brush up on my Matrix memes and warn the world about the Nokia N-Gage!

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As this is the first of a line of eventual quests, there’s very little meat to it. I’m sent in along with the Klingons and some other alien race that I have yet to meet in the episode arcs to investigate some planet-destroyin’ that’s going on with protomatter bombs. Those are the BEST bombs, by the way. So much better than antimatter, doesitmatter, and promatter bombs.

The big baddies this time around are the Tzenkethi, or as I like to call them, the Tzatziki, because I love my Greek food. Can I just admit that one of my pet peeves is how annoying most Star Trek alien race names are? It’s like the writers gave up after the 189th race and just started slamming letters and apostrophes together in the hopes of creating something mysterious-sounding.

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I don’t think these aliens are all bad, not really. For one thing, they’ve got these sweet cyber-armor outfits that look like something an alien extra from Mass Effect would wear. For another, the first time you see them, one does a cannonball into a pool. Dude just wants to party.

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Hey, it’s a bomb! Looks like the whatever-they-are are trying to get rid of crystals, so I’m guessing that it’s a big fake-out and we’ve yet to meet the real threat going on. I hope these lizard guys end up being on our side. Would love to recruit one for my bridge crew.

There’s more ground combat in this mission than space, and I think I’m coming to terms with the fact that my shotgun, while cool to look at, is a poor weapon in this game. It just doesn’t shoot fast enough or handle quite right. Alas.

Anyway, happy birthday Star Trek Online!