Illuminati Diaries: Entry 2

July 14, 2012 - 2:36 pm No Comments

illuminati-diaries2

The official one week mark starting with early access passed just yesterday. I spent a whole lot of time trying to stream Friday; I cleaned up about half the Blue Mountains, finished off the first Illuminati story mission line, and ranked up to 7 in the Illuminati pecking order. I also did a brief achievement hunt, completing a handful of lore and exploration achievements in Kingsmouth and Savage Coast. Not bad for a week’s worth of gaming with around 58 hours played.

The last few days have really been smooth sailing through the story mission; I polished off the Savage Coast (had to finish a few bugged quests), finished the quests from the northern bridge in Kingsmouth that I forgot about, and did a ton of dungeon runs, mostly Inferno. Overall, I’d say the first week of The Secret World went noticeably better than I expected considering I hadn’t put 48 hours of TSW gaming into one week since the second week of closed beta testing. There are a few standout discussion points I encountered along the way, so read through the break for more.

Illuminati Diaries: Entry 2

Blue Mountains Difficulty Increase

With the Savage Coast complete, I look back with fondness. The Blue Mountains toss a pretty heavy difficulty rise compared to the jump between Kingsmouth and the Savage Coast. While the Savage Coast had plenty of encounters that tested a player’s skill (I’m looking at you, Atlantic Park), the Blue Mountains really expect the player to have “figured it all out.” This means having a specialized deck for soloing is necessary to succeed at… well at soloing missions. If you first enter the Blue Mountains and find yourself getting slaughtered, head back to Kingsmouth and repeat some missions. Spend some points on a dedicated solo build complete with self-healing and a little defense. Make sure your skills are at 6 or higher, especially your weapons – otherwise you will see some serious glancing problems and won’t be dodging squat in terms of incoming damage. A deck with passives that heal on penetration or crit and reduce damage or heal on glancing blows is highly advised. If you’ve already dedicated yourself a powerful soloing deck, you’ll be glad you did upon entering the Blue Mountains.

Faction Special Assignments

Another thing to note: remember to keep track of your faction rank and do your special missions. These assignments will be phoned in to you, but if you don’t take it immediately you can return to KG’s office in the New York HQ to grab it later. You will get the first special assignment at rank 3 and another at rank 7. The first mission, Into Darkness, is pretty easy – you run around a pitch black parking garage and kill a few zombies. The rank 7 mission, however, is no simple task. Sure, running through the mission line is easy enough, but the final battle is one tough nut to crack. Funcom has said the quest is tuned for skill level 10; I completed it with skills between 6 and 7 but it took numerous tries and a good hand of luck. I will offer this one tip to not spoil it too much: forward is not always the right direction!

Quickened Anima

One last tip – return to your home city HQ and be sure to buy your Quickened Anima abilities. The ability boosts the run speed bonus of Sprint, allowing you to travel much faster. Think of it as The Secret World’s mounts for movement speed increases. The increases become available at rank 2 and rank 4 for 100k and 500k Pax and provide 62% and 75% bonuses, respectively. A third increase is available later for 1m Pax, providing a 100% bonus. Each previous rank must be purchased before the next rank is available.

New Totals: 67 AP / 171 SP / QL6-7

Latest Impressions

Pet Peeves: Faces and Facial Animations

For the overwhelming majority of the game, The Secret World is amazing to look at. Lightning, effects, and colors are all masterfully used to create the mood and atmosphere around the world, creating particularly unique areas both between and within regions. However, one area Funcom has failed in considerably epic fashion is in facial animations. Seriously, faces in this game are downright ugly to begin with, but the animations – especially in the movement of mouths – is just atrocious. Part of the problem is in how realistic they’ve tried to make the faces; honestly I’d give up the pits, pores, and scratches for smoother, prettier faces. I’d rather play as America’s Next Top Model than Night of the Living Dead. In any case, when someone is talking in an in-game cut scene, it looks like their mouths are all wired shut from some post-op dental surgery procedure. Some love to making mouths actually open when people talk would polish off the nearly picture perfect visual masterpiece that TSW already is.

Pet Peeves: Orochi (aka Sabotage) Missions

This is certainly a topic that has opinions going both ways, but I really find the Orochi missions a pain in the ass. It‘s fun to play all stealth-like and infiltrate the bad guy’s base, but so far both sets of Orochi mission I’ve played feel more like watching paint dry than Splinter Cell to me. Less avoiding the floating orbs of electrocution and more sabotage and subterfuge would be a whole lot more fun. But hey, Funcom can’t win ‘em all – sabotage missions seem to be few and far between so I guess I can live with watching paint dry every now and then.

Pet Peeves: Wisps and Agro Ranges

Can there be a more annoying type of enemy to fight? Not only does it have like a 4 mile wide agro range, but it splits right before you kill it, forcing you to kill not one but two! More importantly, I discovered running through Kingsmouth, what is with the agro range of so many enemies that are significantly lower in difficulty (ie. blue and green dot mobs)? One of the biggest complaints in the early days of RIFT was how big the agro range was on easy enemies and how long they would give chase (and the snare effect they applied). TSW has this habit of easy enemies agroing from a big range, breaking your Sprint, and then chasing you halfway across the zone (those ugly things that run on their hands and feet are the worst). Honestly, when content is superseded by player stats, monsters should not be as much trouble. At this point, all they are doing is slowing down travel – nobody is going to stop to clear a bunch of QL3 enemies when they have QL8 weapons. It’s just dumb. Funcom, please cut back the agro ranges on these mobs that are drastically “lower level” and get them to stop chasing us so far.

Coming Soon

In my next blog post, I am going to detail where I have spent my skill and ability points. At 67 abilities purchased and 171 skill points spent, I’ve built up a number of quality builds: one for ranged dps (basically a glass cannon), one ranged dps for soloing and dungeon support, and one for tanking. Keep watching your feeds for updates and don’t forget to catch my live stream at Twitch.tv.

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