Monday, August 20, 2012

How Would You Like Your Grind? : TSW

I finally hit the wall in The Secret World. I ran full-pelt into it about half-way through Carpathian Teeth, the final overland zone. Until then I'd dealt with anything that gave me trouble by over-gearing. When Blue Mountain asked more of me than I was prepared to give I went to Egypt and used some techniques seldom employed since the glory days of Everquest to shift my average quality level from 4/5 to 6/7.

Crows beat drops every time
I found Missions that didn't ask me to kill anything. I experimented to find out which mobs I could already manage with the gear I had, then farmed them for the upgrades they dropped. I found spots where I could pull the mobs I couldn't solo to guards who would help but leave me with the credit and the loot.

Long before I was anywhere near finished with Egypt I was visiting the lower reaches of Transylvania trying the same tricks to gear myself up still further. I dabbed back and forth between the two for several weeks until one day I realized I was dressed almost entirely in Q10. Top of the shop.

Q10 green, that is. Not good enough. Deep into Transylvania the mobs come thick with health and packed with tricks. I can can kill them but there's no fun in it. Different builds helped some but nowhere near enough. I need better gear and that means Blues.

Don't do it! Oh, wait, no falling damage...
That's the poorly-kept secret in the The Secret World: for all the ballyhoo about bringing the thinking back, for all the immersion, atmosphere and aesthetics, for all the great stories, voice acting, cut scenes, even for the ever-whirling wheel of skills, in the end it all comes down to gear.

At least there's a choice of how to go about getting gussied up in Blue:

Dungeons come in three flavors: Normal, Elite and Nightmare. Normal and Elite dungeon bosses and sub-bosses (Nameds, as I still like to call them) drop specific Blue quality items. TSW Loot has a handy searchable database. Nightmare Nameds drop Purples but we don't need to worry our pretty little heads about those yet. Or ever.

Since the drops are boss-specific it's the old run a dungeon back-to-back until the thing you want drops and you win the roll. With TSW's classless skill system, anyone could potentially "need" anything so good luck with that!

PvP gets you White and Black Marks of Venice which can be spent at vendors in your faction headquarters for both Blue and Purple gear. You need a lot of them. The playerbase took about half a nano-second to realize that the most efficient way to do this would be for each faction to follow the others around The Fusang Project capping mission objectives in a formal dance. That gets you seven Black Marks of Venice every 30 minutes and the dance never ends. KIASA runs you through the dance-steps here. It's more amusing to read about than it is to do.

CoV Sequins come from doing missions. This is the easiest way to get blue gear so naturally the best you can get doing it is Blue Q9 and then not for all slots. The highest weapon is Blue Q8 and I'm still using it.

Crafting can, in theory, get you very nice Blue gear. What's more, you get to pick your own stats. It sounds ideal but there's a but. Each item you craft requires a Toolkit of the appropriate type and said Toolkit is consumed on use. Toolkits are mainly found as dropped loot from mobs. The quality of the Toolkit dictates both the Quality Level and color of the item you craft, so if you want a Q10 Rifle (guess who wants one of those) you need a Blue Q10 Weapon Toolkit. You can guess how often those drop. No, guess again, you guessed too high. Waaaay too high.

Luck  features in the crafting option but like the cheese it also stands alone. There are random Blue drops at all Quality levels. I had a couple in New England but none since. The chance of one dropping and it being something you'd use really don't bear thinking about. Sanity check required.

Auction House Ah, we all end up here in the end. I presume in theory anything could turn up on the A.H. but as I write there's not a single Q10 Talisman on sale that isn't green. Plenty of blue weapons, though. At a price.

So, however you mix and match it, you'll have to take your portion of grind. Grinding through the same dungeons, grinding round Fusang Projects, grinding repeat missions, grinding mass slaughter or grinding wealth. The degree of grind isn't unreasonable or unrealistic but much though I like grind when it's of my choosing, this isn't the kind of grind I'm looking for.

I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in The Secret World. There's no doubt I'll be back for more. For now, though, I'm done. Playing, that is. Can't promise I won't have more to say.


  1. I've "finished" the main story in this game without ever having to resort to any kind of gear grind. The last 2 areas in Transylvania have a ton of "group quests" which isn't marked as such (and the amount of these increase alot in the last zone) . I think that might confuse alot of people into thinking there is something wrong with their gear or builds.

    I skipped most of those missions, unless i happened to find a group doing the same quest, but since the semi restrictive quest system (only being able to have 1 mission active at a time), you kinda get shot in the foot here with the group quests. Since you can't now go and do another solo quest "while you wait for a group to assemble", you are forced to stop and make that group or not do the quest.

    Anyway, my "winning" build at the end was Blades (healing) + Hammers (AOE/DPS/Blocking/Healing Passive). Basically i had 2 super heals (50% of my HP), one of which is a passive kicking in every 70 seconds from Hammers. I could take on all the normal mobs in the carpathian teeth, and even certain of the Nightmare mobs too (in the group quests) , and i am still in QL10 greens.

    But for the most part if a mission was "hard" in the Carpathian Teeth, then i can't do it solo. I spared myself the frustration into deciding that is the idea, it is meant to be group quests...

    The main story line however is at least not that hard, compared to the missions, so you might as well go for that (if you haven't yet).

    Unfortunately, being done with the main story, having a build that works fine and no more interesting quests (no more investigations etc) , my motivation to continue has dropped significantly. I don't see a need to build my character further. I don't do the dungeon grind, so all this "nightmare mode" and "elite mode" and Diablo 3'que repeat-content is flying right over my head.

    I guess i'll also give it a few months and return when there's hopefully a new area to branch into.

  2. That's interesting and helpful information. I haven't tried hammers at all. Might look into that, although with GW2 coming in four days I'm running out of time to do much.

    What generally happens with the later Carpathian Teeth missions is that I can do 4/5 stages of a Main Mission reasonably comfortably but the final stage is too much. It doesn't stop me progressing in terms of gaining AP/SP but it's annoying.

    On the storyline I'm at 25/29 of Mortal Sins, which I believe is the last Main Story Mission set. I haven't attempted the Mara fight yet but I see it's a DPS check and my DPS is probably not going to pass.

    1. The Mara fight is actually not too hard; the hardest part are the mobs you need to clear to get to the mobs you need to kill to get to Mara. Mostly these mobs can be pulled one at t time, so you can just take your time and be careful. Other than them, it's pretty straightforward.

      I feel your pain re; Carpathian Fangs - I've finished the story quests there on the character that I solo on, but not attempted the harder quests; I left those for the character I duo with my wife on. TSW really does force you to alter your build for fights though, even in the world. Even though I'm generally running Blades/Blood, I've got Hammer, Pistol and Shotgun passives equipped, and I'm saving for an elite Shotgun passive. The elite Hammer passive that silvertemplar mentioned is also really good: one of the best available, actually. Worth the 210 points (in total, assuming you have no points in Hammers yet).

  3. As someone already mentioned, the Fangs is where you are supposed to be grouping. Anything that is labeled 'Hard' at that point (with ql10 gear), caters to duos.

    There are solo-farming builds that could help you solo stuff, most focused around the melee weapons. Essentially, you need to load up on healing passives, get a couple of defensive cooldowns and gear for 1 - 2 healing talismans and for some extra health.

  4. Thanks for the very helpful comments everyone. Had Mrs Bhagpuss ended up liking TSW more than she did the duo content would have been very welcome. May still be one day if we come back to it. Of course, the solo instances still have to be, well, soloed.

    If GW2 wasn't imminent I'd be sticking with TSW and would definitely be staying subbed despite any of these issues. I have a lot left to see and do. Since I know everything else is going to be pushed into the ditch by the oncoming juggernaut however, I'll probably leave it for now and come back for another run in a few months. The way MMOs tend to go, what's difficult now will probably be a lot less difficult then, too.


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