Wednesday, June 28, 2017

More Than A Number: Secret World Legends

I take it back. I was wrong. It is not helpful to have the game tell me I'm not ready to continue with the main quest.

It is, in fact, annoying. Irritating. Frustrating. It might, I suppose, be something I could grudgingly come to accept, despite it's grating paternalism, if it was at least an accurate assessment of my abilities. But, no...

Tier 5 (of 22) of the main quest sequence, Dawning of an Endless Night (hang on...isn't it days that "dawn"?) requires you to be Level 12. It's not a suggestion. It's an actual quest step, right there in your journal: "Reach Level 12".

I was Level 9 when I hit that roadblock yesterday. I spent a couple of hours this morning getting to Level 11. At first I was cautious, taking quests around my level, but as my options shrank I found myself at the Orochi camp by the New Colony Span Bridge, accepting quests with a suggested level of twelve; in one case, thirteen.

The Orochi camp - a rare chance to see one still breathing.

While I was completing these, which I did without any difficulty at all, killing scores of mobs two or three levels above me, I ran into a couple of rare spawns. One was a very big bear I don't remember seeing in The Secret World. I don't remember seeing any bears before, come to think of it.

I'd upgraded my gear as far as I'd been able so my main weapon was Level 8, my secondary Level 6. My two accessories were Level 6 and Level 4. I was under-geared, under-leveled and my "rotation" consisted of mashing LMB and RMB without knowing or much caring what either of them did.

I was woefully ill-prepared and yet the missions were easy. The named mobs were easy. Everything was easy.

I was having fun but not nearly as much fun as I had been having when I was still following the main quest. Now I felt as though I was marking time, rehearsing for the real performance.

He looks bigger sideways on.

I didn't feel in the least as though I was following my own guiding star, expressing my individuality, becoming a free spirit or doing my own thing. I didn't feel like an adventurer or an explorer. I felt like someone stuck with a not especially unpleasant chore that nevertheless had to be gotten out of the way before I was at liberty to do the thing I really wanted to do.

At Level 11 I mentally told The Man to Stick His Job. I sprinted over to the tunnel to Savage Coast, reasoning that if I had to do quests I didn't much want to do, at least I might as well do quests that gave more XP or better rewards. And look at some different scenery while I was doing it.

I did have some trepidation. If the game thought I wouldn't be able to handle the main quest for another level yet, would I be able to survive in Savage Coast, let alone get any xp there? It was going to be interesting to find out, or so I thought.

Never look directly at the sun.
And perhaps it would have been. We'll never know. Because Savage Coast is also Level Locked. Or maybe it's tied to a stage in the main quest, which would seem to amount to the same thing. Either way, when I tried to go there, the game told me I didn't "meet the requirements" and refused to let me in.

I don't remember zones being level-locked in The Secret World but then again TSW doesn't have levels. If this is part of the deal that comes with having a number next to my name then I'm going to have to side with Patrick McGoohan.

Seriously, why is this supposed to be a good idea? If I want to get my butt kicked then let me get my butt kicked! I understand the intention is to avoid disgruntled customers trundling off to more forgiving MMOs, when they hit the brick wall of repeated death, but is it really less frustrating to be told to go away and grind out levels and come back in a day or two? I don't think so.

I wish I'd thought of calling myself Jane "Nickname" Doe. How we would have laughed.

The most infuriating part is that I'll never know whether I needed those levels or not. Well, I suppose if I get in there at Level 12 and get my backside handed to me in a sling I'll be able to take a guess but I doubt that's going to happen. I'll be sure to come here and eat crow if it does.

In my world there's a vast difference between trying something, finding it's too much for me, making an informed decision to go away and train or skill or gear up, then going back for another go, as compared to being told to go and level up because the game "knows" I'm not ready.

The difference has a name. It's called "Agency".

By all means put a warning sticker on the door. "Recommended Level 12" is helpful. I can calibrate with that. Locking the door and handing out the key only when I can produce the correct identity card? That's not helpful at all. That's wasting my time and trying my patience.

And my patience is wearing thin.


  1. Huh weird, I'm level 10 and I haven't gotten through a third of Kingsmouth yet. Maybe I'm killing more rares or patron XP boost is helping or something?

    1. I only just realized, when I started playing after this post, that the quests that show on the map must be level-limited too. I was thinking I hadn't seen Danny or Edgar yet - in fact I hadn't been to that side of the map at all. I went there and was able to take quite a few quests, none of which flagged on the map.

      Some had recommended levels (all well above me) while others were level-locked and wouldn't let me take them at all. This seemed to be unrelated to any logic I could follow. For example, I went to see Danny, took his toy plane quest, went to the airport, disconnected the EMP towers, went back and finished the quest. Then ten minutes later I happened to spot his plane in a tree by the Orochi camp, which is the breadcrumb quest to take you to meet Danny, and I couldn't take it because it was Level 12 required!

      When I was trying to get out of the Lair behind the airport (Level 50 mobs - I jumped the fence and couldn't get back in) I ended up killing the Level 15 robot in the tunnels, easily, but the body he was standing on, which gives the quest he gateways, was Level Locked 14 so I couldn't take it.

      Either my character is very OP or the level reqs on these quests are way off.

    2. @Justin I was thinking the same thing, the Patron bonus is huge though from what I can see compared to a friend of mine who is not a patron.

  2. The area mobs start off at around 15. I found myself going back to grab quests I missed to put me at 16. I do wish the main story took you to the level you need for the next part, but it hasn't been a huge issue so far. I missed a lot of side quests and had to do a lot of backtracking. Takes some getting used to.

    1. Based on what I can kill right now, that should be a doddle when they actually let me in!

  3. Wow, that's a bummer. I remember running as a fairly undergeared character through Egypt and Transylvania for one of the holiday quests that required you to make it to the end game areas to harvest or collect items. I was hardly out of Blue Mountain at the time, but I could do it, I made it through the quest, and it was pretty exciting. It's sad to see everything getting locked down like this.

    1. I just hit level 12. I immediately went back to the main quest. The next step was full of mobs level 10-12, which were no challenge whatsoever. I'm sure I could have done them at the level I got the quest in the first place (9) or if not then without a doubt a level later at 10.

      The step took about 10 minutes plus another ten minutes of cut scenes. At the end of that I was nearly Level 13 but the quest now requires me to be Level 14 to take the next step.

      This is pure time-gating as far as I can see. Or super-cautious hand-holding. I'm very curious to see how long the main quest remains easy though - I never finished it in TSW because I eventually hit a solo instance I couldn't finish (somewhere in Carpathian Teeth I think it was, about four or five steps from the end).

      I guess if the hand-holding means I eventually finish the whole thing I shouldn't complain but it's pretty annoying right now.

    2. I'm only a little further than you (early Savage Coast), but it definitely feels like they made the combat deliberately easy in the early game. One AoE ability and a simple single-target combo (activate buff -> use elite and other big ability) is getting me through fights with minimal effort.

      Based on the dungeon levels in group finder, Transylvania's all Level 50. So at least they can't gate you on that any more unless they start checking your gear or something.

  4. I love your hat! Glad to see you're still in the game slugging away at zombies. Haven't been in yet tonight yet to play, but I'll be interested to see if I get any of the intrusive messages you have.

    1. I'm getting more of those AI voice messages all the time. They come for leveling up and other progress as well as the auto-quests. Very inappropriate I think. I bet all three factions get identical voices too.

  5. You overestimate Arthasdklol. If the game doesn't explicitly lock him out of lvl 12 content, he tries it, fails, tries again, fails, tries one more time, fails, uninstall.

    "making an informed decision to go away and train or skill or gear up," is simply above the ability of morons and slackers.

    1. It appears Funcom share your bleak view of the ability and attention span of the average player, sadly. I guess they figure they tried it the other way and they nearly went broke. Doing it this way makes a total mockery of the themes and mood of this particular MMO, though.

    2. The problem is that the game, by design, caters to the intelligent people. Sure they made the beginner investigation missions easier now, but at least during the beta a number of them was not dumbed down. (And ironically the one with the organs got much harder. The puzzle is the same, but even while fully well knowing the solution, i had serious problems solving it as the UI forcefully worked against me. )

      So we're at a massive conflict here: the original game design caters to the intelligent. It doesn't appeal to the "morons and slackers". (I also consider this a weak and contraproductive term, but that's another topic. ) Now the new rework caters mostly to those, to who the design of the actual game does not appeal, while repulsing those who really enjoy that content. Is it just me who sees a problem here?

      But hey, it's just a variation of the F2P conversion here. I by now have read many of the "but it has extremely good story" postings. I even know a number of names there, they were active on the blogs here since a long time. We have been telling them for years that the story of TSW is great, but even when the game was available for mere 5 bucks they did not spend that. But now, as there's a more abusive and exploitive payment system, they are all too eager for it. Are gamers really this cheap? Are gamers really this stupid?

      I mean, the payment scheme of this game, as well as a few other F2P conversions, just so very much reminds me on payment schemes which were tried for cellphones when they came on the market. But after only a few years, the most abusive payment schemes for cellphones were not to be found any more. The market regulated itself, as people in general were intelligent enough to recognize that other payment models actually were more advantageous for them, so at least the worst ones died out.

      In contrast, it seems like payment schemes of "you get in for free, then you pay from the but" seems to be on the rise in gaming. I find that curious, as studies claim that on the average gamers are more intelligent than non-gamers. But if gamers on the average would have slightly above-average intelligence, then why would they fall for this so readily and eagerly?

  6. There are undertones of heavy-handedness lurking just beneath the surface of more than one of the game's systems. I've been able to effectively ignore the internal machinery thus far (levels, AP, SP, currencies) by completing absolutely everything in sight. The moment you seek to alight the "theme park on bumper cars", however, you butt up against the ride's time/money-walls.

    1. It seems the biggest complaints are around the monetization. Given that making money is the whole and only reason for the revamp that does not bode well.

    2. Kind of my biggest complaint is that it's a "no win" situation for TSW.

      Either this game, against the current impression, is a success. (I personally very much doubt that. When SWL was announced, things died down in TSW. Now after SWL is out for a few days, i see more people in TSW again. A good number of TSW players just don't feel welcome in SWL it seems... )

      So if SWL flies, then TSW is dead for good. But even also if SWL dies, it will take TSW along. So that's my personal really biggest complaint, that the original TSW is dead either way. :(

      It's mostly sad as i personally still believe that if they'd just have put a good and working tutorial into TSW (perhaps even including to force a player to get one 60 AP build before giving them access to freeform character development) it would've done more good than this relaunch. :(


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