Illuminati Dairies: Entry 1

July 14, 2012 - 2:32 pm No Comments

illuminati-diaries entry 1

Launch day has come and gone and The Secret World did not fall into calamity. If I had to make a guess, I’d bet the vast majority of the player base pre-ordered and has been playing since last Friday, making the launch a little anti-climactic. Still, there were no outages, no massive downtimes, no lag-fests – not anything terrible, anyway. Mission bugs notwithstanding, the official launch of TSW as been a success.

Now that I’ve settled in to the game, a TSW-centered chapter of Die by the Arrow will be springing up shortly. To that end, I’ve dubbed these dairies the “Illuminati Diaries.” Today is entry 1. I spent a lot of time on the Savage Coast this weekend. Then I streamed around 11 hours on Monday alone. Yeah, it’s summer time. I ran the Inferno dungeon and wasted a fair amount of time on broken missions. I also started to get a better feel for my Rifle build – making this entry a good length and a good read for rifle-interested parties. Read through the cut for details.

Illuminati Dairies: Entry 1

The past few days have been spent predominantly on the Savage Coast. This region feels much larger than Kingsmouth, though I’m not sure if it physically is in larger. Where Kingsmouth was wide open and had little terrain to block your progress, the Savage Coast has mountains and rivers that funnel you around as mission progress. One thing that is a bit confusing is the Inferno instance is one of the first places you encounter, giving the impression that it’s easy enough to do at the start (likely around QL2 or QL3 when you first enter). It’s not, but more on that later.

The region is definitively broken down. You’ve got the motel area full of prototypical demons, the forest region full of weird-looking mutants, the city center with lots of zombies, a theme park, coastal area complete with lighthouse, and the Illuminati academy. Each area has a unique set of missions, with one or two missions each that push you into the other areas. There isn’t a lot of good indicators for difficulty here, but I will advise you get one or two party members before taking on the Atlantic Park missions – they can be quite difficult. The rest of the region is fairly progressive as you work your way through to the academy.

Mission Bugs

Over the course of three days and around 20 hours of play time, I cleared most of the missions available on the Savage Coast. I still have a handful of missions left at the border of the Blue Mountains. I’d say the biggest setback in the zone is the multitude of missions that bug out. I counted six by the time I was done (both missions offered in the lighthouse, sadly), and I didn’t even start counting until the latter half of my journey. Be prepared to either request invites to different dimensions (and hope for the best) or lots of petitions for mission advancements. Despite this, the region is immensely fun and offers a good variety of enemies to kill and missions to complete.

Inferno!

The dungeon on the Savage Coast is called Inferno. It is located in the motel just a short jog down from the tunnel to Kingsmouth. This doesn’t mean you can run it right out of the tunnel – the QL2-3 gear you are wearing when you first enter the Savage Coast will not cut it. I ran Inferno in mostly QL4 talismans and a QL5 weapon. Inferno is a significant step up from Polaris – there are fight mechanics that must be obeyed and players must be on point. For example, one boss randomly ignites the floor beneath you, forcing players to be constantly on the run between safe platforms. These mechanics are not overly difficult, but when people don’t pay attention things end badly. There’s also a bunch of lore to collect in Inferno, so grab it along the way.

Overall, a 4k HP tank and solid healer along with QL4+ DPS should be plenty to clear this dungeon. This dungeon will take a bit longer than Polaris, maybe 30-45 minutes with a handful of wipes, but there is again very little trash between bosses.

Fleshing Out an Assault Rifle Build

Now I know we have these pre-made decks to run with – in fact, we get cool appearance gear for completing them. However, like any cookie-cutter build, they have a certain play style with very specific strengths and weaknesses. Makes sense of course, given how complicated the skill wheel can be for new and experienced players alike. I’ve been running with the Mercenary build, but during my Inferno run I realized I just didn’t like how slow it felt. With Safety Off being the primary point builder early on, it leaves the build feeling sluggish with the 1 second cast time. With the Extra Bullet, the ability is no doubt the strongest builder in terms of dps, I just prefer the smooth, quick fire of Anima Shot. My plan is to make Hip Fire (with Steady Hip Fire passive) my go-to point builder as soon as possible.

Keep in mind, the Mercenary build is meant to be an AOE powerhouse. So far I really haven’t found a need for an AOE-focused build – the dungeons have had a distinct lack of packs of enemies. I have tailored my build more towards single target damage while maintaining a single AOE attack and finisher for those rare moments they are needed. Of course, should the need arise in the future, I can always fall back on the Merc deck for AOE; this is the huge advantage the skill wheel has over other character progression systems.

My soloing build however, focuses on Anima Shot and enhancing leach effects for survivability, with AOE and single target attacks balanced for missions. It does bring up a good point – a better system for storing “off-spec” gear and saving/loading decks is sorely needed in this game.

New Totals: 73 AP / 87 SP / QL4-5

Latest Impressions

Mission Flow

During beta, it was always said that Funcom had a plan for mission flow – a line which players would take from place to place completing missions. However, the Savage Coast is a good example of the relatively confusing layout of mission design Funcom has adopted. In past MMOGs, players would encounter “hubs” – one spot where you would gather up quests, complete, return, maybe do a few more, and then be provided a breadcrumb trail to the next hub. While I prefer the “hub-system” of zone questing design, I’m not opposed to the more open-ended system Funcom has implemented. However, I do think there needs to be a better way to track and start missions we’ve passed up in the field. We could mark the map with “come back for quest” every time we skip one, but honestly this just isn’t intuitive.

The ideal method I see is being able to click the mission and choosing whether to make it active or immediately paused. Then, after we’ve completed our active mission, we can load up the log, select the next mission, and have it send us back to the original mission giver to resume the mission. This system maintains Funcom’s mission limit yet still provides us a simple breadcrumb back to the mission giver for tracking purposes.

Dual-Spec

This is a contentious topic, I know. An innumerable amount of threads heated up the forums during beta about this topic. There is a fair case to be made that the skill system in TSW doesn’t need dual spec because you can just keep earning points. However, a fair case can be made that dual spec can be useful in that you really can’t build two decks at the same time without gimping both. For example, I have been building both a hammer/blade tank deck along with my rifle deck – essentially splitting my 73 AP between tanking and damaging. Neither deck is particularly great at doing its job. A dual-spec system would allow players to use all their AP for each unique deck, making them more effective at each individual job, and giving them more flexibility for grouping. Like every other MMOG, we’ve got a lot more dps player vying for a limited number of spots while a lack of tank and healing players goes around. Dual-spec can quickly alleviate that issue without damaging the skill wheel system.

Looking for Cabal

Now that I am making a fair go at this game, it’s time to start shopping for a cabal. If any of you readers have an open spot for me in a family friendly, semi-hardcore cabal with the intent to clear end-game content (does it even exist yet?), send me a message in-game. I’m on the Cerberus server.

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