Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dead Air: TSW

As the discussion in the comments following yesterday's post makes it painfully clear, when it comes to playing MMOs, "builds" are not my strong point. If you're going to play an MMO designed around a giant skill wheel, however, there's no point whining about it, you just have to knuckle down, read the mouseovers and get theorycrafting.

Naturally my first recourse was to google for someone else's work but as this Reddit thread complains most of the builds that come up on a search are long out of date. Fortunately there was someone I could steal from - me!

Presenting The Presenter!
The one and only screenshot I managed to grab
For all I said about The Secret World being an easy game to come back to it does still rely on the returning player having some vague memory of what happened last time around. Last night I knocked off the rest of The Meowling without incident and fought my way into the abandoned soviet bunker in Transylvania for the showdown with The Presenter to conclude this year's new Halloween quest, The Broadcast.

Only The Presenter had other ideas. I fought him twice and lost twice, each battle taking ten to fifteen minutes. If I concentrated on survival I could still be fighting him now - he and his coterie of broadcast-bedazzled spooks together struggled to take me under 90% health. On the other hand, he wasn't showing much sign of dying either, since I seemed to have the approximate DPS of an elderly rabbit dual-wielding limp lettuce leaves.

If it wasn't for his incredibly irritating habit of running from room to room and making me chase him while his spectral fan club whaled away at my unprotected back this so-called fight might have gone on even longer but in the end sheer tedium wore me down and he got the better of me. Half an hour of that and I'd had enough.

It was apparent that I'd need to rethink my build or get better gear and  wasn't convinced I wanted to see the end of the quest enough to do either. Last year I ran into exactly the same issue with The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn. I put a lot of effort into fixing that and my hard work got me nowhere. It's an experience I wasn't keen to repeat.

Scuse me! Coming through!

After I'd moaned about it passive-aggressively at some length in the comments here, Sylow very kindly offered to help me figure out a build that would bring my time-to-kill into single figures (minutes that would be, not seconds). By the time I read his comment, though, I'd figured out a build all by myself. Or rather, I'd stumbled across the five builds I'd worked up the last time I had this problem, all neatly tucked away in the Gear Management tab I'd completely forgotten existed.

I found it right after I'd spent maybe an hour going through Actives and Passives trying to match Builders and Consumers, affliction and impairment, Blades and Assault Rifle until I'd made myself thoroughly cross-eyed and confused. At least I was able to confirm my own consistency of approach because the new build I arrived at was extremely similar to the one I'd stored away under the name DPS+Leech.

Just as well, too, because I was so eager to take a look at it I didn't think that slotting it would wipe the one I'd just spent an hour working on. Never mind. It was good practice. Or something.

Equipped with my old-new build (the one that had so singularly failed to progress me past my 50k hit point roadblock in the Tyler Freeborn quest, something I was conveniently choosing to leave forgotten) I raced through the black tunnels of the festering underground facility, ducking ghosts and knocking over barrels of irradiated waste until I was once again face to face with The Presenter.

I died, of course. Only this time he was at least taking damage at a reasonable pace. And I thought I knew where I needed to improve to make progress. First off, get my back to a wall and stop those ghosts getting behind me. Second, figure out an actual rotation for these skills that would get those synergies flowing.

And it worked. Almost all the damage I took occurred on the between-room runs when the ghosts had free shots. Other than that my health stayed up while his went down, just as it should. It got quite close near the end, when I panicked because I thought I might actually win for once and fell off my rhythm, and I did have to drink a couple of Elixirs along the way because of those darn ghosts, but in the end I was still standing and he wasn't and that's all that really counts.

The quest itself had a somewhat muted coda. As is usual in TSW it left me feeling little the wiser about what had been going on and feeling that I'd almost certainly missed something important. I love that feeling. It's one of the best features of the game.

How much more I'll be playing I wouldn't like to guess. I took a quick look at my gear and it's more sub-par than I remembered - mostly green Q10s with one or two blue Q9s. I have a green Q10 blade but my rifle is a Q8 blue - I have a Q10 green rifle but it lowers all the important stats in comparison to the Q8. What all that means I'm not really sure.

I think I saw Rick Wakeman play this thing on Tales From Topographic Oceans
This is the thing with MMOs: as Alysianah at Mystic Worlds confirms, the grind is real. If you want to do more than dabble then there nearly always comes a point when you just have to get your head down, read the guides, study the tool-tips, farm the mats, kill the mobs, knock out the dailies and do all those other things that make playing in virtual worlds feel like having a imaginary, unpaid job.

The Secret World has the best stories in MMOs but that's a lot of work, even for a good story. Also for a waistcoat, which was the reward I got.


  1. I am reminded how easy it is to assume everyone in a game is at your level. I found the Presenter fight almost comically easy, and I was baffled as to how you could struggle with it so... but then I remembered that I have a build I spent weeks perfecting, a full set of epic gear in the 10-10.3 range, mostly epic glyphs, and a number of epic and rare signets. So naturally it's easy for me.

    At any rate, having read this post and the last one (including comments), I think gear is likely your biggest issue. Examining your build is good advice, but for you to be struggling this much, gear must be an issue.

    It may be as simple as needing better gear -- a very easy problem to fix considering you can easily get endgame gear from the auction house, issue missions, elite dungeons, and veteran's rewards -- but you should also look at what kind of gear you have. If you're in mostly greens, you just want to focus on getting as much attack rating as possible -- maybe one or two minor talismans with heal rating if you're using self-heals. For secondary stats, seek out hit and penetration. If you're stacking too much health, heal rating, of defensive secondaries, that will hold you back a lot in solo content.

    Once you get into full blue or purple gear, then you might want one major talisman with health (since only green gear has health on every piece), but otherwise the above advice will still apply.

    While there is truth in your statement that eventually you always have to do some degree of grinding in an MMO, TSW is remarkably forgiving in this regard (at least until you get to Tokyo, and even then it's not too brutal), and since they don't do gear resets, I personally find it more satisfying to grind for gear upgrades, knowing they will rarely if ever become outdated.

    Anyway, I'm rambling. Hopefully somewhere in this confused mess of a comment is something you will find helpful.

    1. Very helpful, thanks! I had pretty much worked out that gear was the root of my difficulties but I was under the impression that I was wearing/wielding the best I could buy with my limited funds. I kitted myself out last time I played with all I could afford.

      This evening I visited B&D and was amazed at how much Blue Q10 was on sale. Also I went to Templar HQ and found I had enough Black Bullion form the last special event I dropped in on to buy a Purple Q10 Blade.

      I spent most of my Pax Romana and now I have a Blue rifle, Purple blade and several blue talismans, all Q10. It's late and I didn't have time to go do anything really challenging but I tried a few ghouls in Besieged Farmlands and they dropped like flies so it's looking good.

    2. Nice to see you could make your own build without even needing to find a guide and all that jazz. Also glad to see that a few upgrades have helped too. My "grind" that made me leave TSW for a time was the scenarios. Just didn't like them at all. Bought the Tokyo content back when it released, but have been playing other games until recently.

      TBH, Tokyo and the aegis system didn't do it for me at 1st, but now that I've got level 1.2 aegis instead of 1.0 and equipped 4 capacitors, 2 of the other module and spent a few SP on the aegis levels... hardly even notice it's there anymore. Amazing how little it took in a gear upgrade to make it "easy" again.... as easy as TSW gets, anyway ;-)

  2. ooh, ooh, how did I miss that you were back in TSW?

    Before I go crazy giving unasked-for critique of your build, can I strongly recommend the TSW Database (tswdb[dot]com)? They have a solid list of quality builds on their site; one for almost every weapon combination. Takes all the drama out of making a build for people who don't like making builds.

    For those who do like making builds, two points: 1. any weapon combinations can work if your passives are good; 2. in terms of actives skills: 2 builders, 2 consumers, 2 situational and 1 elite is my basic rule. A third rule I tend to follow with regard to passives is 2-3 healing passives; 2-3 dps passives, 1-2 state related (afflict, impair, hinder, weaken) and one good elite passive.

    with Blade, AR, you make use of Frenzy synergies: Blade Torrent and Suppressing Fire as builders; Leeching Frenzy and Leech Therapy as healing passives, with Circulation (from Blood) as a 3rd healing passive. For finishers there's Clearing the Path and Three Round Burst (aoe and single target, respectively); for situational I'd take one impair (I like Trial By Swords) or dash (Spiral of Death or Tactical Retreat) and one heal: either Anima Shot from AR; or Turn the Tables from the misc tree (has the benefit that the value of the heal is independent of gear or stats). For Elite Active, either Stunning Swirl of Art of War. That's 2 AoE builders, both that heal on use; 2 strong finishers, 2 impairs, and 1 heal for when things go wrong.
    Passives: Circulation, Leeching Frenzy and Leech Therapy, as already mentioned; one of Bloodsport or Shoot em Up for applying an afflict; Breakdown (from Chaos) to apply weapon on every Blade attack; one of Dark Potency or Iron Maiden (both Blood) to boost your damage every time you apply an afflict (which is always) OR Elemental Force to make every 7th hit crit, and one Elite Passive: Cool Calm and Collected (from Hammer) is cheap to get and very effective, or Fluid Defence (from Blade) which is almost as useful.

    Then, yeah, hit the Trading Post and stock up on cheap blue talismans: one healing talisman, 1-3 health talismans (really, only 1-2 in practice) and the rest attack rating talismans. Make or buy cheap glyphs (if needed) for Hit and Penetration (in that order), and your TSW combat experience will be turned around.

    1. Thanks! I recognize quite a few of those skills from my current set but I'll look at the rest too. I just this morning came across a link to TSWDB - haven't had a chance to go there yet but I will.

      My plan is to farm some coin and buy my way into all blues - they don't seem too expensive right now - then see how things go. I'm hoping to play a wider range of MMOs over the winter, TSW among them, but those kind of plans often don't work out in practice. I could definitely do with some variety though and TSW is a great contrast to most other MMOs.

  3. damn you all.. now I want to go back and check on tsw.

    1. Jump back in! The water's fine. . . . . .

    2. Hehe - so many MMOs, so little time...

  4. Yup. He also played it on his "Criminal Record". Bought it from Raymond Scott. (Makes more sense now, huh?)

    -- 7rlsy


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