SWL – Flappy the Chaotic Raid

SWL is running a special event: The Whispering Tide. It’s a one-room boss fight, with a few adds here and there, that goes off every hour. I didn’t think I could participate, as a level 2 or 3, but I saw that as long as you reach Jack Boone (and presumably take his quest), you can enter and get boosted if you are low level.

Jack Boone… oh yeah, he’s the “last cowboy” outside Kingsmouth, who gives you the Fistful of Zombies quest. He’s essentially the very first quest giver past the tutorial. I was that far along so I could participate!

It’s nicknamed Flappy by the playerbase since the boss is a giant raven that swoops in and does some area attacks before landing. The he continues area attacks, summons some adds, and flies off only to repeat.

The entry is reachable from jump portal outside the central Agartha tree, so a few minutes before the hour I jumped over and found a large crowd waiting for the doors to open.

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The fight itself is basically use every skill on cooldown, avoid standing in telegraphs/filth, and well to be honest, you’ll just get one-shot sometimes so run back and rejoin.

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It’s crazy and not all that strategic, but you know what? It was fun and I do appreciate that the devs let everybody participate in this quickie raid. It’s also fun to see a crazy number of players and their skill animations all trying to take down the various monsters.

The reward is some XP, and the ability to open one of the crates from the event login reward.

Builds

I made two characters, but SWL is fairly unfriendly to alts. One character, Holgren “Komorebi” Angrado – Holgren Angrado is from Michael McClung’s Amra Thetys series which I enjoyed very much – is the one I linked from TSW mostly to reserve the name, so he started with all weapons unlocked. That’s also the character I redeemed the shadow-bound weapons on, from the ARG before launch, so he also has decent starter weapons of every type! Meanwhile my other character, Amra “Tsundoku” Thetys has none of that.

Holgren joined the Templars while Amra joined the Illuminati. I’ve barely seen anything of either faction (I was Dragon in TSW) and I’m kinda leaning towards Illuminati based on how cool I think their NYC base looks, but I hear the Templars have good faction quests and ultimately it doesn’t really matter that much.

But since Holgren has such a huge advantage over Amra as far as weapons and weapon unlocks, I’m going to play Holgren. He’s using a magic build right now, elemental and chaos, since SWL makes you pick a class during char creation, but I want to switch to a build with mitigation/healing.

I played through short videos for each weapon and four have extra effect mini-game mechanics that don’t appeal to me right now: Assault Rifle, Elemental, Blood, Blade. Elemental and Blood remind me of the LoTRO Runekeeper mechanic of attunement, which might be fine but I’d like to keep things simple for now. Blade looks like a “beserker/rampage/adrenalin” weapon where you want to keep fighting to keep the buff going… not really my playstyle. Assault Rifle looks like I’d spend a lot of time eyeing grenade status in a fight.

On the other side of the spectrum, Hammer and Chaos look simpler since the special bonus appears to auto-apply. The other weapons, Fist, Shotgun, Pistol, are in between as far as complexity of the mini-game.

Thus, my preferred main weapon will be Hammer, Chaos, Fist, Shotgun, Pistol as primary and then something healing as secondary. Of the weapons on my preferred list, Fist is the healing weapon. So I plan to switch to Pistol/Fist to have a range attack and some healing as well, and see how that goes.

I’m not opposed to eventually using the four “complicated” weapons, just not right now. The game is familiar (quests and zones I’ve seen) and yet new (changed combat mechanics) so I’ll keep it simplified until I get to Blue Mountains or Scorched Desert and see how my build is doing.

 

MMO Updates

This was an eventful week for the MMOs I am interested in. Secret World Legends released on Steam, GW2 has an expansion coming in September, and LoTRO expanded to Mordor. Whew!

Even better, my schedule is settling down and I should be able to carve out some consistent time in order to play. It’s been a lot of mobile games lately since they are convenient and doable in small chunks.

SWL

I’m determined to play this game more. I only ever reached the Scorched Desert in TSW, but some of the most memorable quests I’ve played in MMOs were from this game which is amazing considering that I am barely out of the starter zones.

Combat has been streamlined, build/skills simplified, etc so I’m going to give it another shot and get further.

In TSW I played a Dragon character, so this time I rolled up an Illuminati and a Templar to see if I like those factions better – granted there are minimal differences.

LoTRO

Well I broke down and bought the Mordor expansion despite telling myself to wait until December to buy it with store points. I did just buy one copy so I’ll pick it up for my other account with store points. I am at least partially frugal. 😉

My reasoning was that this is my favorite MMO. I haven’t played much lately, and I’ve taken breaks, but I’ve always come back and really enjoyed the pacing, setting, and storyline. When my kin was active I also grouped and really enjoyed it. How can I not get the expansion?!

Since my guardian Naerys is only level 100 and a few books behind in the storyline, my goal is to beeline the epic quests and enter Mordor. At least just a little bit.

I haven’t decided what to do about the character boost. I’d prefer a character that can heal should I join the occasional group, rather than tank (requires too much knowledge of the encounter) with Naerys, so that means Runekeeper, Minstrel, or Beorning. Of those, I have a low 60’s minstrel parked at Caras Galadhon. I could boost her up, but I’m thinking of rolling a new minstrel and boosting that character instead.

Why? Well, my existing minstrel is an elf and that’s fine, but I like hobbits and would rather have a hobbit minstrel. All else being equal, hobbits have 2 useful race abilities: stealth and silence, whereas elves have their own stealth and grace. I don’t remember Eldar’s Grace ever saving my bacon but Hobbit Silence has plenty of times. Minstrels get their own feign death skill, so a hobbit minstrel has two emergency skills which is very compelling to me.

Over on my other account my hobbit minstrel is level 20 and in the North Downs. What I plan to do there is roll a hobbit warden.The warden is so unique as far as how they play I gotta give it another whirl, and pecking away at leveling through the content would be a great way to relearn the warden gambit system.

My existing elf warden is also in the low 60’s parked at Caras Galadhon, but is on my first account. I’ll make better use of my store points if I play a character on each account rather, so the plan is a few months down the road, I’ll have a boosted hobbit minstrel on my first account, and a hobbit warden on my second account that I intend to play through the storyline normally.

On the other hand I also really enjoyed playing my burglar (who is level 82 in Harwick, only my 2nd character to move past Mirkwood) but is on my first account as well. Perhaps when I do buy Mordor for my second account I’ll boost a burglar there if my warden bogs down!

GW2

So this is where it gets tricky. I have super nostalgia for GW1, but that’s a different game. GW2 never fully clicked with me. The evidence is that 5 years after GW2 released, I have yet to complete a storyline or season on any character! I’ve gone into Heart of Thorns just enough to get minimal gliding on a few chars, and that’s it.

So, a purely logical analysis says that I should NOT get Path of Fire, or at the very least, not until I finish a storyline (or more) on at least one character, which will be my ranger or mesmer. Both elite specs look fun to play and are useful support roles. Both are level 80 and both have an ascended trinket collection thanks to me logging in most every day, even if I didn’t play beyond that, and collecting laurels.

Should GW2 not take again, I need to put it aside and try 2 games I have that deserve attention as well: DDO and ESO.

To this end I’ve decked out my mesmer and am venturing south of Lion’s Arch to advance the storyline.

Mini break

I had some out of town visitors last week, so I didn’t do much gaming. It is interesting to me what games I thought about and was eager to get back to, and which ones were bucketed into “eh, I can wait”.

BDO – I just can’t get into. It offers a lot to do, but it turns out I’m not all that interested in lifestyle skills, simulating a trade empire, fishing or raising horses. What it does have going for it is exploration…

…which brings me to EVE. One goal there is to wander the universe in a cloaked ship, exploring relic/data sites as I come across them. This playstyle doesn’t have a direct analogy to other games with exploration (GW2 for instance) so EVE bumped up on my interest list. Of course, while away with my visitors I kept my skill queue full and working on my behalf. 🙂 I probably still can’t reliable make corp/fleet activity, but I think I can get my monthly sub fee’s worth of a few hours on the weekends.

GW2 moved back into interest. I saw a giant patch containing tons of fixes, most of which probably don’t effect me. However, one thing did – a level 80 boost. Earlier I mentioned the one thing I’d change about my char is switching races Norn to Asura. Well, this is my chance! I have a level 80 elementalist, guardian, ranger, level 60 mesmer, and I’ve tried thief and necromancer and didn’t really like them. That’s fine, there isn’t a game out where EVERY class appeals to me. Closest would be GW1 where I did actually play all classes through all storylines except one… the elementalist. That’s because my GW1 elementalist was my mesmer, who freely swapped skills between professions, and had fast casting instead of energy storage.

I used some level 30 boosts on an engineer and revenant, and a level 20 boost on a warrior. So basically, I have a level 80 boost to use on either a ranger, which I know I like but would like to switch races on, or on an engineer, revenant, or warrior, which are fun but unknown. I’ll think about this and maybe play through the first chapter of the storyline on the engineer and revenant and see before going with another ranger.

LoTRO also moved back into interest. I’ve taken breaks from the game, none lasting too long. My guardian Naerys can level from 100 to 105 now, but I had another project in mind: starting a new minstrel. Which I did and puttered around a bit. I’ll post on that later.

ESO also remained of interest. Zenimax is adding some really interesting DLC (the recent Thieves Guild and upcoming Dark Brotherhood); the game is fun and has beautiful graphics; I like the skill system which lets every class train every weapon, armor, and crafting skills, while retaining 3 skill lines unique to the class.

TSW as well, I want to press along in the desert and not spend ~2 years wandering very slowly around before the next new zones, like I did with Kingsmouth – Blue Mountain.

What fell out of interest was FF14. It isn’t a bad game game at all; I’ve enjoyed all 5 mandatory dungeons I’ve done; the class system is the best. The playerbase seems friendly, the storyline is bizarre but fun to follow. It comes down to the sub fee – given my rather haphazard play schedule, it doesn’t make sense to sub to multiple subscription games. So in the contest between EVE and FF14, right now EVE wins since the play style EVE offers, that of the stealth explorer in dangerous territory, well that doesn’t exist elsewhere. The others are B2P or F2P, and I do support them by making store purchases from time to time. I like this model since whatever I buy doesn’t come with a time limit like game-time with a sub fee does, and I don’t feel as much pressure to play to a quota each month.

There is probably a “fantasy game overload” thing going on as well – EVE is a sci-fi universe while LoTRO/GW2/ESO are fantasy. So FF14 as a 4th direct fantasy game, let’s just put TSW into a different category, is maybe too much for me.

I’m subbed for another cycle under FF14 so I’m not vanishing instantly, but I’ll be thinking about whether or not I want to keep working on my summoner/monk versus exploring null sec in EVE.

Anyway, I’ll see how ESO, TSW, ramping back up in GW2 and LoTRO, and EVE go. 5 games is still 3 too many. 😉

TSW – Finished Solomon Island

TSW had a double AP week, so that prompted me to put aside other MMOs and focus. I jumped in head first and also bought a 3-day timed AP injector as well as a 3-day timed SP injector. While under the effect of these buffs, I’ll get a bonus skill point for every skill point earned, and a bonus ability point for every ability point earned (thus 2 extra, one from the AP injector and one from the bonus effect). Time to make some progress!

As much as I like this game, I’ve been somewhat sluggish moving through the content. Lolly-gagging, unfocused wandering, whatever you call it. Basically at about 100 hours in the game – according to Steam, and this game (unlike many other MMOs I play) I’ve only ever played via Steam – I was only in Blue Mountains, the 3rd explorable area of the initial zone. Essentially, not even finished with the storyline that shipped with the game ~4 years ago (!!).

So I entered Blue Ridge Mine (tier 13 of the Dawning of an Endless Night storyline mission) determined to finish it off.

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I crept through dark mines, fought shadows, and eventually fought Freddy Beaumont, who I vaguely remember from an earlier cutscene (Tier 6, but it has been a long time since I completed that stage).

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We fought and before I could gloat too much, I was pulled away into another mysterious place.

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A disembodied voice offered me power and wealth, if I would only choose to accept their gift. Which I did. 😉 And in classic TSW fashion, the contents of that mysterious box are as-of-yet unrevealed.

After a short interlude back at Dragon headquarters in Seoul, I unlocked the Scorched Desert. Finally!

But, before I hurl myself into Egypt, I’d kinda like to finish off a few things in Blue Mountain. I’ve probably only done 80% of the quests there and would like to finish up before moving on. While I plan to get further into TSW, at the same time I don’t want to hurdle the content along the way. I figure what I really need to do is just work TSW into my gaming rotation.

My only real criticism of TSW is many quests seem to me to be unnecessarily drawn out… many quests go a little too far overboard in throwing mobs at you or having you do that same thing too many times.. Somewhere between too few and too many is the right balance, and TSW often leans to the “too many” side.

The Dreamcatcher quest has you step into the spirit world and see what’s bothering the ancestors. Turns out it is a Hound of Corruption, and on the way to fighting the monster, you’ll fight shadow creatures, ones the Hound turns on you, and ones just sitting off the path. Again, you don’t just fight one, five, or 10, but somewhere around 20+ along the way, in groups or 1 or 2.

An non-combat example is Treasure Hunt, where you are tasked with completing a search started by a deceased Orochi agent. Using a metal detector, complete with a sonar ping when you get close to a dig spot, the quest has you dig up 5 items twice. The quest is fun and there is combat as the beach is filled with wandering undead, but 10 items? I don’t think anything would be lost if the quest slimmed down and required 2 or 3 each time – you’d have the quest mechanics but not as repetitively.

The biggest example I have for this is The Haunting, where partway through you fight Billy Lee manifestations. Not one, not 5, not even 10, but around 20 or more? I don’t remember, I lost count. Seriously, it is that many, in groups. They come one, two, three at a time until you advance to kill the actual Billy Lee: at least 10 defending Frida Diaz, another 6 or 7 more while escorting Harriet Braun, and around 4 more on the way back to the attic. That should be more like 5-8 for all phases of the quest.

Basically, I think the quest flow would be vastly improved with some streamlining; in particular, thinning out the number of mobs or tasks per tier.

This is one thing FF14 really gets right – every time I’m sent out to kill X number of mobs for a quest, it is usually less than 5 or 6. I can only think of one quest (so far) that requested more than that – 8 or 10 – and that was a Thamaturge class quest. That’s much better balance to me: enough so it isn’t trivial but not so many it become tedious.

TSW – Casino

I cranked up The Secret World and adventured in Blue Mountain more… I am determined to make it out of the initial zones and get deeper into the storyline!

I’m using a sword/fist build that is serving me pretty well, especially now that I’ve put enough skill points into sword and fist to wield QL6 weapons (bought from the vendor) and have been finding QL6 talismans. I’m one level behind in those, but soon I’ll be able to wear QL6 major and minor talismans.

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It helps!

I like how the quest layout in TSW generally leads you around the zone. Since you can only have a limited number of quests (if you pick up an extra, a previous quest will be placed on hold – depending on the specific quest type), many quests finish near a spot you can pick up another one. There is no need to run back to the quest giver to turn a finished quest in – that’s what your in-game cellphone is for! When you finish a quest in this game, a “send report” button pops up and you settle up wherever you are.

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While I was working on a quest near the casino that is under construction, by the undead/zombie workforce, I climbed on scaffolding to collect supplies. While up there I saw another group in the middle of a lair adventure – so I stopped to just watch them battle a few mobs.

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It was fun to watch – the various TSW skills have cool animations and effects, some of them looking spectacular. Unlike GW2 or FF14 for that matter, most are subdued so a really flashy skill stands out without overwhelming the overall battle.

I watched for a few minutes, initially concerned I was in range of an AoE from the battle – spillover damage would likely kill me! – but I stayed and was unharmed. Whew.

I returned to complete this particular quest (since it was a “gather supplies” quest the final step was to drop them off somewhere) and picked up another one that I’ll work on next time.

One of these weekends I’ll have an uninterrupted block of time I’ll devote to moving along in the storyline and wrapping up additional zone quests.

TSW – Sasquatch

It bums me out that I don’t devote enough time to this excellent title. I may have to re-prioritize what I play to change that.

Anyway, the other day I was listening to the Lore Podcast, catching up on some back episodes. I am up to #18 Hunger Pains, about myths surrounding monster cannibals, when the host Aaron Mahnke mentioned the name of one such native American creature – the wendigo.

What?? That’s a monster from Secret World; I just assumed Funcom made up the name of the mob. I didn’t realize the name came from an existing myth!

The inspired me to adventure more with Wayness in Blue Mountain, and look for some Wendigo. It didn’t take long, as it happens the road running by the side of the camp I am staging out of is “Wendigo Way”.

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The next mob I found just down the road was a Wendigo! Killing it bumped me to 25 overall Wendigo kills in the overall “wendigo slayer” achievement.

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Actually the mob didn’t have Wendigo in its name, it was called something else like Brood Worker. But it counted so it must be in the Wendigo species. 😉

My current mission was Enemy of my Enemy which involved speaking to some a friendly Sasquatch chief and see what he wanted… and it boiled down to investigating a cave and freeing some capture Sasquatch tribe members. That sounds fun so I jumped in to be a hero to the tribe.

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After talking to the chief and finding the cave, I entered and battled numerous Brood Feeder (more Wendigo??) to free each prisoner.

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The next stage of the quest involved destroying a hive, which freed a boss Brood Queen (you could see that coming!)

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It was a fun fight – many TSW mobs have telegraphs a la Wildstar, but not all, so I have be a bit mobile and move out of the way. So the combat is active but not way over towards the twitch side, at least IMHO.

Anyway, I didn’t have much time so I did one more quest and called it a night. For my efforts I earned enough ability points to unlock two more Starter Deck outfits and also gained a few more skill points which let me bump my sword survivability skill up one. Wayness is now QL5 in Fists and Blades so my next few skill points will go towards bumping up talismans.

 

 

TSW – Talismans and Suits

I bought The Park a few weeks ago, since I wanted to support Funcom’s psychological adventure/story game. It is set in the Atlantic Island amusement park which is also in TSW.

Even more interesting is the item tie-in – a set of QL10 gear.

I wasn’t sure how to get that gear, but I finally finished The Park and from the Extras screen, there is a way to log into a TSW account and link the items to the account.

The Park
The Park

So I did that and logged into TSW to greedily pick up my new stuff. Even though I can’t use it because I’m only at QL5 or 6.

Inside TSW I didn’t see anything delivered, but after opening the Store windows, Claim Items tab, I saw my items. Woohoo! (Again, partly muted because I can’t use QL10 heroic items yet. But this is more motivation to quit diddling around and make some real progress in the game).

Squirrel Suit
Squirrel Suit

I also picked up the Squirrel Suit (also a tie-in with The Park) and a Green Zoot Suit. I like my previous ensemble better so after a bit I’ll switch back.