Sunday, January 13, 2013

Back in Black: TSW

My MMO rehabilitation continues. Last Sunday I spent a whole three hours in EQ2, two hours of which were spent re-allocating some 500 AA points across two characters just to get them back to where they were the last time I logged them in. Did I mention how much I despise AA/Talent/Trait resets? I may well log in again today to re-do another couple of characters but after that I'll probably need another week off.

Portrait of the author as a young woman
Syp has a good piece up at Massively about coming back to older MMOs, which I would have referenced yesterday when I was going over the same subject in relation to my few hours with Asheron's Call 2, only I hadn't read it then. On the topic of MMO House Organ Massively, Kaozz at ECTmmo posted a very well-argued response to Matt Daniel's recent sloppy "Second Wind" hatchet-job on Vanguard.

Contrary to what my comment over there might suggest (and it's not so much a comment, more a red wine inspired late-night rant) I don't hate Massively. Massively is an invaluable resource. I pick up all kinds of tid-bits there about games and stories I might otherwise have missed. As a news site it does a great job. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be enough news to meet the extremely high posting requirement (I believe I read once that they are tasked with posting an article at least once every two hours during the working week) and the slack is taken up with a great deal of feature filler, most of which is of little interest or entertainment value.

Typically, yesterday was the exception with not only Syp's piece but a very good post by the ever-reliable Jef Reheard on his return to EQ2. Following the last couple of years of worthy but oh-so-dry reportage, I look forward to reading something sprightly, thoughtful and well-considered for a change.

Are you following me?
I'm not sure if that means Jef's no longer covering The Secret World but whether or not he's out, I'm back in. I patched up yet again, only this time I went the extra mile and logged in. Pushing through the membrane wasn't all that arduous - it's a modern MMO and it's been less than six months since I was last there.

Indeed, it's been even less time than I remembered. I found a cat in my bag and let it out. Couldn't for the life of me remember where I'd got it. Turns out it's from the Halloween event, a reward all Templars received for being the best Secret Society at apple-bobbing. Or something. I'd completely forgotten that although I'd unsubscribed by then I did log in briefly for the Halloween event under some weekend ex-subber "Welcome Back" junket. Go me! I got a cat!

The controls came back to me quickly enough, although I did have to go to the interwebs to remind myself how to access my run speed boost (Press X) and my first fight ended with me sprawled in the Blue Mountain dirt. After that it all went rather well.

Tyler's "Safe House". Neither safe nor a house. Just sayin'
Apart from a real fondness for the game, the main reason I was keen to come back after the conversion to Buy-to-Play was the good word going around for Chapter 5 in general and the Tyler Freeborn questline in particular. Syp had a piece on how good it was a while back and I've seen a number of comments about how its one of the best questlines anywhere, ever.

Well, always a bad idea to come in with high expectations. I completed Part 1 The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn and I logged out at the very end of Part 2, The Research of Tyler Freeborn, so I'm half-way through. The second half is going to need to be a lot better than the first to live up to the hype because so far it's a good, solid TSW questline but nothing more.

Which is certainly not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did, very much. It's so good to be back in an imaginary world where NPCs are npCs with the emphasis on Character. The sheer quality of the writing carries TSW through any number of longeurs and speaking of longeurs, ye gods and little fishes, the fights! They go on forever! I have a massive sword and a frickin' machine gun, yet it takes me two or three minutes just to kill the most mundane undead nuisance mob. And don't get me started on Bosses.

Hyena escapes from local zoo - more pictures page 11
That's the reason I stopped at the last stage of Part 2. It's a fight with a 50k HP boss. It took me the best part of 15 minutes to get him to 20% health at which point he spammed me with AE pools of filth in a space too tight to maneuver and poisoned me to death. I couldn't face a second round right away. I'll try again soon, preferably in a group if I can find one.

That option exists, at least, since this isn't one of TSW's notorious Solo Instances that break up groups at the end of various otherwise groupable quest chains. Unlike the humungous boss fight I still have left blocking my main storyline. That one I have to do alone. Fun.

Shorter fights please. I'm all for straight-up hack-em-down gameplay with no tricks, scripts or funny business, but if you want me in the instance for 15 minutes can't I please have fifteen one-minute fights, not one fifteen-minuter? Other than that, great to be back.

Next on the list to get back into some kind of rotation is Rift and after that Vanguard. I'd like to get DCUO patched up again in time for the upcoming housing DLC, I want to re-visit Fallen Earth and I have an odd fascination with Argo that I can't quite explain. Then there are all the betas I wasn't going to apply for and somehow did...

I'd better get on with it. 


  1. Sounds like it's time to look at your build. There's no way any mob in this game outside of a dungeon should take you longer than 15-20 seconds, and even that's kinda long. Can you link your chronicle page in a comment or future post?

  2. Well, or some special quest mobs. but even there, I recall that fight and it only took about 2 minutes for me, so for it to be 15 for you before a failure.... something's not right.

    1. Well I am out of practice to be fair, but even when I was playing regularly I remember fights taking forever. Allowing for exaggeration and subjectivity you can probably halve the times but a 7-8 minute fight is still a long fight if you end up losing and have to redo it. I'll time some fights next time I play to see just how much I'm exaggerating the length of them.

      Bear in mind that I hate losing any health at all, though, so my first consideration is keeping myself as close to max health as possible all the time, which is inevitably going to make my fights a lot longer than those of people who don't mind how much health they lose so long as the other guy loses more. I tend to do that in most MMOs though, although there are exceptions, so my relative impressions of whether a particular MMO has short, medium or long fights should be fairly consistent. Coming from GW2, where most fights take less than ten seconds, the contrast here was extreme.

      As for my Chronicle page, I didn't even know I had one. Never looked at it and don't plan on starting now :P

    2. You can get several passives that will heal you and equip 1 or 2 health rating pieces and that will in most cases keep your health at or near cap at all times. My own soloing build includes 4 self-healing passives, but I make no use of heal rating pieces at all. Even so, I'm rarely below about 80% health in most circumstances. My chronicle is here if you'd like to look it over:

      I know I'm in purple gear now, but I switched into this build in Egypt while still in QL7 greens and soloed through all of Transyvlania in QL10 greens too. I didn't worry about getting "better gear" until I started doing elite dungeons.

      If you're looking at a self-heal on strike build the Rifle section of the wheel has a bunch of actives that will heal you while doing damage as well. The attacks do a bit less damage than "full dps" but they still get the job done, and if you balance out your heal rating and attack rating in a rifle build you'll actually get max dps and max heals that it's capable of. I used rifle/blade before swapping to the current build I'm using after I got into Egypt.

    3. That's really helpful - thanks! I was pretty happy with my builds (I chopped and changed a few times along the way) back when I was leveling up and playing regularly. Apart from mid-Blue Mountain, which I hated, I didn't really have much of a problem until late in Carpathian Teeth. I went to GW2 before I quite finished there.

      I did always have problems with the fights taking forever though. I generally don't mind that but I did see people breeze past me killing the same mobs in a quarter of the time I was taking which was a tad annoying. Passive healing sounds ideal - I don't *want* to keep healing myself non-stop, it just means I get the job done in the end and I'd rather do that slowly than have to come back and do it again.

      As I get back into TSW, and I intend to, I'll try out your advice and see how it works for me.

  3. I got one of those cats too, was wondering where it was from, lol. I poked back in since they changed the payment model, I had bought it at release. A fun game to play on the side for me. I like to pop in on a rainy day, really hits the spot when I miss TWD, lol. Very impressed with how easy it is to get back in and play now.

  4. I wasn't terribly impressed with the questline at the start either, but parts 3&4 (especially 4) are the ones that the plot and set pieces really step up.


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