Illuminati Diaries: Entry 3

July 21, 2012 - 10:07 am 1 Comment


After 163 hours and change played, I’ve finished every mission the game has to offer, reached rank 13 with the Illuminati, completed two (almost three) skill decks, and cleared five of the eight elite dungeons. Let’s call 23 of those 163 hours idle time, making it around a 140 hour trek to solo your way through all the mission content and experience every dungeon along the way (except Hell Eternal and Slaughterhouse – too many people just skip the normal versions of those and jump straight to elites, in my opinion).

So now what? After reaching the pinnacle of content in just 163 hours of played time, spanning over approximately 23 days (that’s just over 7 hours a day, for the math challenged), what then does TSW have to offer. Well, TSW really doesn’t stray from the same model every MMOG uses: grind. Fortunately, there TSW varies the grind by allowing players to replay nearly every mission, not just a set quantity of daily quests. And this opens a lot of opportunities for gamers, along with dungeons, to really enjoy all the game has to offer. Read through the cut for details on the current “end-game” of TSW and a review of my research into a penetration-focused build for assault rifles.

First, The Tallies

163 hours, 12 minutes played
Illuminati Rank 13
7/9 blue talismans, all QL10
227 abilities; 2,420 AP
810 SP; 11/12 QL10 skills
2 complete preset decks

The Current State of End-game

With 163 hours of played time in The Secret World, it’s easy for me to say this game is not your average MMOG. Funcom has elevated the genre with enough new (or at least, innovated) ideas to make TSW not just another World of Warcraft clone, not that there is anything wrong with a WoW clone. But where Star Wars: The Old Republic has failed in end-game, TSW has amended: the grind after the story is complete is open to your choices. Many people will jump on PVP as it seems to be cruise control method to gaining the “purple gear” coveted by the players. Others will jump on the dungeon grind repetition, which isn’t so bad considering dungeons are fairly short and go from boss-to-boss for the most part. Still others will return to their favorite regions and repeat the missions they found the most fun, while simply skipping the missions that drove them bonkers.

At this point in the game, things pretty much revolve around earning more AP to complete decks and to diversify character capabilities, as well as building up gear. Dungeon progression is simple: complete the dungeon from each region in an elite mode to unlock the three dungeons with nightmare modes. The complicated part to this grind is collecting the glyphs and signets with which to maximize the gear – signets being the more complex of the two. With signets, a player must collect 10 green to combine into one blue, then ten blue to combine into a purple. For the very best gear, this must be done for each of the nine slots. In total, that is 900 signets. Quite a grind. I haven’t spent enough time in elites and have yet to enter a nightmare to see how long this grind will actually take.

Of course, Ragnar has promised Funcom will deliver monthly updates, meaning the end-game will be in flux at least for a few days every month. Players will jump on the new missions until completed, then get back to the dungeon grind which may or may not include a new dungeon or dungeon mode. Raids will also be delivered eventually, giving more emphasis to joining cabals than the standard five man group.

And let’s not forget: there are a whole slew of achievements to accomplish along with a ton of lore to collect!

Replayability Maximized

In a game with such a limited number of missions (comparatively speaking), how does replay factor into the game? One of the most exciting features of TSW is the option to replay every mission in the game aside from the story missions and special assignments. This takes a bit of the “grind” out of the grind, in a sense. Other games require the player to repeat a specific set of quests, commonly known as dailies, in order to continue progressing. TSW allows the player to repeat anything, providing much more variety in the grind. Of course, eventually repeating every mission in the game will get old, the promise of monthly updates should temper this somewhat. Personally, I could make a very long list of missions I had a ton of fun doing that I’d gladly repeat, and probably a plenty long list of missions I wouldn’t repeat if they promised all the wealth of the world (I’m looking at you, “The Cost of Magic”). The simple fact is that the several hundred missions in the game can be repeated just about every other day and this provides the player with plenty of variety to keep things entertaining for a long time to come. All without having to start another character.

With that said, considering there are already guides on the Internet for just about every mission available, I am taking requests for write-ups and video guides for any missions you the reader might like to see. Some guides are vague. Some guides are just plain bad. I can write/record guides for missions that simply don’t have enough coverage on the Net or that just need a little more instruction for the solo player. Just drop a comment below with the region and name of the mission for which you’d like to see a write-up or video guide.

Assault Rifle Decks: Penetration

As promised, I went through my Hip Shooter deck and tested out a penetration-focused build. In summary, unless you are loaded up with penetration on your gear, the decks just don’t pan out. While the penetration rate jumps from 7% to 22% on average, the hits are too random to be reliable. I had parses as high as 900 dps and as low as 785 dps, a range that is just too large for my taste. In the end, the decks averaged around 830 dps at a 22% penetration rate.

Actives: Hip Fire, Suppressing Fire, Bloodshot (Blood), Red Mist, Fire at Will, Lock & Load, Three Round Burst
Passives: Sudden Return (Blades), Sharp Shooter, Lethality, Eagle Eye, Bloodsport (Fists), Fatal Flourish (Blades), Twist the Knife (Blades)
Weapons: Assault Rifle, Blood Magic Focus

As you can see, removed are the abilities that exploited Affliction for additional damage in favor of abilities that exploit Affliction to gain higher penetration rates, which in turn exploits the penetrating hits for more damage. The interesting, and telling, part of the deck is that even with Sudden Return, which adds a big additional hit to every penetrating shot, the deck could still not consistently outperform the standard Hip Shooter deck. Consistently is the key term: Pen Shooter can easily eclipse Hip Shooter (or Full Auto) in burst and sustained damage, it just can’t do it reliably enough to use in high-stress (ie. boss) situations. Considering this, and the fact that your max range is cut down to only 10 meters, the penetration deck just isn’t a great choice right now.

I will note, however, that my penetration rating is only 356. It is understandable that this deck would be much more reliable with double that, providing a penetration rate of close to 50%. At that rating, this deck could easily trump Hip Shooter and Full Auto as top dps.

Looking Forward

My live stream should be seeing a lot of dungeon runs over the next few days. I plan to knock out as many elites as I can every day, so you might even get the chance to watch me tanking. If that happens, you can expect to see a guide on my tank deck. I haven’t really played with it much, but I’ve got the gear and the build ready for the opportunity to test it out – just need the guinea pigs! Going LFG for dungeons is a true test of patience, since there is no group finder tool yet, but with the right group chaining together multiple dungeons can be a blast.

Also, I’m still looking for a cabal and now a static group of players to run dungeons with. Send me a message in-game if you’ve got opportunities for either!

One Response to “Illuminati Diaries: Entry 3”

  1. Tazan Says:

    Cabals..hmmmm….for what it is worth there is The Older Gamers. As it says, we are older, 25 minimum. Been around for better than 10 years and heavy into just about all the games. Based in Australia, but is truly global. Not very fond of Elite players. If elite is your interest that is Goon Squad, FOH, etc.

    Primary Templar, but each faction has its own Cabal united under the TOG banner and held together by the TOG custom chat channel that all must be in.

    Web site is interesting, so check us out.

    I am Telgath in the guild, Alain in the Templars, and I am a North American officer for all three cabals.


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