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Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory: A guide to TSW's Christmas Conspiracies event

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), The Secret World, Guides, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Silver bells, Krampus and Hel,
It's Christmas time in
The Secret World
Ring a ling, hear them scream,
Soon you will see a Christmas play!


Ahh, it's the holidays. A time when other games pull out the stops on cute and cuddly, flinging festive colors and joviality about like Christmas confetti to make a joyous celebration. Then you have The Secret World. In TSW, the season is dark, twisted, and fiendish; nightmares are brought to life, and conspiracies worm their ways throughout even the most revered of traditions. And we wouldn't have it any other way!

I always wonder how on earth the devs are going to top themselves each new event, and this season's Christmas Conspiracies definitely does not disappoint! From the story to the puzzles, this mission chain fits right in. It even incorporated my favorite new element introduced this year -- music -- and literally makes you play for your reward. Want to experience it? You've got until January 5th to thwart the conspiracy and collect all the treasure you can. (Of course, even if you have done the two previous Christmas' events, you'll want to do them again just to get the special goodie bags!)

Here's a not-quite-a-guide to help nudge you through. As always, I won't offer a direct step-by-step walkthrough but instead will just drop hints (in italics) to help you along. That said, here's your warning: There will be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk! If, however, you want even more spoilers, watch Massively TV tonight, December 25th, at 9:00 p.m. for a Stream Team walkthrough special.

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Chaos Theory: The best places in town, Secret World style

Horror, Real-Life, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  The best places in town, Secret World style
When discussing the best things about The Secret World, I'm almost at a loss for where to start. There really is just so much that's great, so many amazing little details woven into the game, that unless you really narrow it down, you could wear yourself out trying to name it all. And you'd still know you missed too much! That's one reason Chaos Theory has recently focused on a few top five/top ten lists. We've already covered compelling missions, the best NPCs, and even my first favorite moments. As integral as those elements are, however, any real estate agent can tell you that one facet can trump them all -- location, location, location! And it's true. The game's setting has a huge influence on the other aspects of the game: Missions are more meaningful and character personalities are enhanced by their surroundings. So as promised, this time around we'll tour some of the best places TSW has to offer.

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Chaos Theory: Hands-on with TSW's Issue #10 before today's release

Horror, Real-Life, Expansions, Hands-On, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  A hands-on with TSW's Issue #10 before today's release
Yes, you read that right. When we told you earlier this week that The Secret World's second Tokyo expansion was coming soon, we bet you didn't think it'd be today, did you? Well, neither did we! But that's exactly what Director Joel Bylos shared with me while we we zipping around the newest area of Tokyo during a hands-on tour of Issue #10 Nightmares in the Dream Palace. If all goes according to plan, fans will be able to dig into the new content today -- much sooner than anticipated. And what's awaiting them? That's what this week's Chaos Theory reveals. Don't worry; I promise to warn you of any major spoilers.

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Chaos Theory: Five fantastic NPCs in The Secret World

Horror, Real-Life, Lore, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Before I was sidetracked by Sidestories and totally engrossed in the Halloween event, I talked about quests that I felt were top notch in The Secret World. At that time I also promised to give the NPCs of the game their due with their own spot. And here it is!

Why would I devote an entire column to singing the praises of Non-Player Characters? Because it is the characters within the story that make the game so compelling! The characters' lives, their mannerisms -- they really bring TSW to life. From deep and perfectly quirky personalities to the top-notch voice acting, it's the NPCs that tie everything together and make missions so memorable. And while all of the characters play vital roles (even those who just pop in for brief appearance as supporting cast), these five stars steal the show.

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Chaos Theory: Exploring the Halloween that almost wasn't in The Secret World

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), The Secret World, Guides, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory: Exploring the Halloween that almost wasn't in The Secret World
Funcom just about blew it. I have cut The Secret World plenty of slack for hiccups and bumps over the years (and I am willing to do so in the future because it just doesn't have an equal in the MMOverse and it does what it does so well), but this last one can't be brushed off. This latest misstep could have cost TSW dearly in good will, patience, and even players. You don't take the holiday that the game is essentially based on and not celebrate it!

Luckily, TSW's much-anticipated Halloween event did finally show up, albeit 10 days late -- barely in time for the holiday. I am betting that the delay has cost the company some cash. The build-up to this holiday is a huge part of the excitement; the weeks preceding All Hallows' Eve is the perfect time to get people who are in the Halloween mood to return to the game or dive in and try it for the first time> Not to mention it's the time when folks are more apt to buy costumes! Funcom squandered that. And why the delay, anyway? During my Issue #8 tour last year, Creative Director Joel Bylos teased, "Our Halloween next year is going to be amazing! I wrote it for this year, but we didn't get done in enough time." Wasn't 12 more months enough time? We've been waiting with bated breath!

So after all that wait, and then even more, is the event worth it? My answer is...

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Chaos Theory: New Sidestories show The Secret World's innovative side

Horror, Real-Life, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

When I talked about 10 of the most compelling missions in The Secret World last time, I purposefully left out the new Sidestories mission packs. One reason is that I've already spoken a bit about Further Analysis; the other is that the third and latest pack was slated to arrive soon and I intended to talk about all of them together. As it turns out, it actually released the same day that Chaos Theory did! Since then, I've had the chance to dive in and experience some of those missions. As usual, I was not disappointed. Besides providing the expected interesting new characters and great stories, The Last Pagan highlighted something else: TSW continues to be innovative!

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Chaos Theory: Ten compelling Secret World missions

Horror, Real-Life, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  The Secret World's missions are steeped in awesomesauce
One thing that The Secret World does extremely well is story. Few would argue that point: It's compelling, surprising, even chill-inducing, packing enough emotional punches to leave you stunned on occasion but always eager for more, which is what makes doing missions in TSW so much more enjoyable than many other MMOs. And it isn't just the overarching main story line, either. All the missions spread throughout the zones, from investigation to sabotage to even the piddliest of little side missions, tie into the story in some fashion. So missing a mission means you might miss some tantalizing tidbit. Fortunately, you needn't be a completionist to have a drive to seek out and experience every single mission. Instead of being faced with the usual desire to just move on ahead once you've "out-leveled" a zone, you literally scour to make sure you don't leave any task undone lest you miss out on any of the story.

Now that said, there are some missions that are just jaw-dropping for one reason or another, ones that stop your heart or tear at it. All missions have merit, but some are just so amazing you wish you could do them for the first time over and over. There's even a grieving period when you know you can never relive that initial rush! Here are just a few of the missions that I'd personally recommend that all players experience (with as few spoilers as possible).

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Chaos Theory: The value of The Secret World's DLCs, part 2

Horror, Real-Life, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Last week we began our exploration of the value of The Secret World's DLCs by looking at the cost of the additional content relative to those who subscribe, those who don't, and those who are lifetime member grandmasters. But money isn't everything to everyone. As noted previously, value is a subjective judgment determined by whatever factors are most important to the individual making the assessment. So making the call on value will depend on which category/categories are used in the judging process.

With that in mind, this week we're going to delve into the content aspect of the various DLCs. Specifically, we'll look at quantity, quality, and type of content in each issue and sidestories pack. Other key factors that are of equal -- if not paramount -- importance to some players are whether or not the additional pack is necessary to further TSW's story (who wants to miss some important tidbit?) and how fun playing through it actually is.

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Chaos Theory: The value of The Secret World's DLCs

Horror, Real-Life, Expansions, Patches, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory: The value of The Secret World's DLCs
This question was posed to me recently by a few different readers and stream viewers: Are The Secret World's DLCs a good value? As I pondered the question, I decided that instead of answering each query personally, it would be a good topic to explore here in Chaos Theory. Besides, the answer is definitely not a short one! (It can't even fit in a single column!)

So why can't I just fire off a simple yes or no to this question? The biggest problem is trying to provide an objective answer to a very subjective situation. While the meaning of value itself is clearly defined, said definition emphasizes that the judgment is individual to whoever is involved. How each player defines value is very personal, so I can't really answer for anyone except myself. What I can do, however, is provide as much of the objective information that I can so you can make your own subjective judgment on the value. Are TSW's issues and sidestories packs worth it? Let's look at the value from various viewpoints and you decide!

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Chaos Theory: The Secret World anniversary celebration, take two!

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), The Secret World, Guides, Anniversaries, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  The Secret World anniversary celebration, take two!
It's that time of year again: time to celebrate another anniversary in The Secret World! And that means taking on world bosses, soaking up oodles of AP, and collecting lore, clothes, and (the best part) pets. Yep, definitely sounds like a party. The birthday bash lasts through July 17th, but the double AP portion of it ends on the 11th, so if you have new builds you want to test and you like the feel of all that AP popping up every few steps, now is the time to get into the game.

If you attended last year's Guardians of Gaia celebration, you're no doubt familiar with the set up of the event; you may have even completed everything. If not, you now have the chance to catch up on everything, including collecting all the lore and pets. On top of that, there are new goodies to collect this time around. There's even a new achievement involving all the pets! Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of TSW's second anniversary celebration.

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Chaos Theory: The Secret World's Tokyo barrier

Horror, Real-Life, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory: The Tokyo barrier
Blue Mountain: On the road through The Secret World adventures, this was the zone that would make or break many players. It's the point when you had to really start crafting your decks more carefully and applying synergies. Not all who felt the blow of this particular skill check powered through, making it a barrier to continuing on to Egypt and Transylvania as well as completing the story mission.

Well, now there's a new barrier in town: Tokyo.

As much as I had looked forward to the Issue #9 content, and as much as I am enjoying the content now that it is here, I have to admit that Tokyo is the granddaddy of barriers. Not only are there barriers to getting to the content, but there are some to enjoying it once you get there too. And any one of them might cause players to give up on Tokyo and The Secret World before experiencing the whole update. So to help folks avoid smashing into any barriers unexpectedly and leaving bruises, let me give you the scoop on what lies ahead.

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Chaos Theory: Touring Tokyo with TSW's Joel Bylos

Horror, Real-Life, Patches, Hands-On, The Secret World, First Impressions, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

It's Tokyo time! That's right, an end to the wait is finally upon us. Come Wednesday, everyone who buys Issue #9 The Black Signal for The Secret World and has acquired The Council's Seal will be able to cross the threshold into Tokyo.

Like you, I've been dying to get in and check out this new zone, the first new area introduced to the horror game since launch. Thanks to a special tour with Game Director Joel Bylos and Communications Manager Tor Egil Andersen, I was able to preview the first of the three Tokyo zones so I could share that experience with you. We not only explored the city itself, but we completed one of the new -- and might I add, really spooky -- missions and utilized the new AEGIS system.

So, how is it? Let me just say, it's worth the wait! And not just for the creepy homages to the Illuminati handler, Kirsten Geary.

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Chaos Theory: The Secret World's Whispering Tide and Tokyo

Horror, Real-Life, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  The Whispering Tide resurges, Tokyo inches closer
Let's hear it for the encore! If you missed any step of the The Secret World's first long-term (and by long, I mean like The Great Wall of China long) event, you've been granted a second chance. Before The Whispering Tide rolls out for good and Tokyo finally arrives, all phases of the event will be temporarily available for players to experience. Starting last week with the gathering phases and moving to the instanced phases this week, players have the opportunity to snag missing lore and check off achievements, ultimately earning the crowning piece of the bee suit: the helm.

This was definitely a smart move on Funcom's part. With this latest act, the studio shows more consideration for TSW's players and fosters an increase in goodwill, something the company certainly needs after such a long wait for Issue #9 and the more recent April Fools' Day mankini debacle. Sadly, a few easily preventable missteps marred what could have been a purely positive move.

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Chaos Theory: Sidestories lead The Secret World in the right direction

Horror, Real-Life, Business Models, Lore, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory: Sidestories lead The Secret World in the right direction
Let me just start by saying that the fact that I have not completed all four of The Secret World's new investigation missions in the recently released Sidestories: Further Analysis does not in anyway diminish the awesomeness of the pack. You don't have to do them all -- or even do them at all -- to appreciate this new content. That's because the beauty of these new missions goes beyond the actual investigative content; it's the fact that it is additional content!

If there is one thing that TSW fans have been clamoring for, it's more content, especially content that tosses players deeper into the world and expounds on the story. (The popularity of last Halloween's Spooky Stories of Solomon Island quests sure proved that!) So even those who would rather stab their eye repeatedly with their mouse instead of puzzling out an investigation mission should be fistpumping this new development. With this new type of content release, Funcom has hit on an idea that can satisfy nearly everyone! And that certainly bodes well for the future of the game.

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Chaos Theory: Funcom flubbed it with The Secret World's mankinigate

Horror, Real-Life, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  Funcom flubbed it with The Secret World's Mankinigate
I'd rather be focused on the four new investigation missions that just launched in The Secret World, even though I need much more time to complete them all, or yammering on about Tokyo coming next month (did you catch that in the director's letter?). But as the fates would have it, Funcom did something else this past week that has nabbed attention and necessitates a little scrutiny.

Mankinigate.

Last week during the notable first of April shenanigans, The Secret World poked fun at the fact that female outfits in games (including TSW) are stereotypically skimpy while males get adventuring gear. The item store offered the "Gender Equality" clothing pack: full scuba gear for females and a mankini for males. As hideous as I think the mankini is, I appreciated this obvious jab at stereotypes, not to mention the fact that Funcom listened to players who've requested revealing attire for their male avatars. But then with no real explanation given at the time, the makinis were yanked not only from the store but from players' inventories as well.

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