I have a wonderful cabal that gathers together once a week for a riotous good time. I'm still in love with TSW's atmosphere and story well over a year after its launch. I adore the game's wardrobe options and can't stop playing dress-up with my Templar. I find the intellectual aspects of the missions and builds stimulating. I even get to write about all of this right here on Massively.
So don't take the following wish list as a lack of contentment. I'm really happy with the game as it is, but as with any gamer, there are always desires and wants that rise unbidden into my consciousness while I play. I recognize that Funcom has its hands very full as it tries to create as much content as it can with a reduced team, but that's not going to stop me today from wishing out loud for a few quality of life improvements for 2014.
As much as I am grateful that a form of last year's End of Days event has returned (I did ask for it after all), the fact that there are three events -- A Mother of a Season, Ever-Ending Days, and Whispering Tide -- happening simultaneously is a bit overwhelming. Add the whole real-life part of the holiday season to the evil RNG, and I am truly scrambling to complete my holiday wish list of pets, achievements, and apparel. I am even struggling to get the lore. (And you know that makes for a very unhappy MJ!)
Luckily, the holiday events don't end until January 2nd, so I am going to make a push to finish up as much as I can. If you happen to be in the same boat, here are a few hints to help wrap it all up. If, however, you are one of those people who got everything done early, feel free to skip to the end where I have penned a more appropriate take on a holiday favorite in honor of the season. Hopefully it will become a new cherished tradition!
Defensiveness aside, I think I have a pretty good case here that the Orochi are, well, almost laughable. Just about everywhere you go in the game, you encounter their corpses, burning vans, busted camps, crashed planes, and botched excavations. As a friend put it, they're like well-funded kids who go into a military zone with professionals and end up like you'd expect. I've been mocking them for months now, and I am far from alone. After a certain point, their grisly tableaus become a running joke that makes it really hard to take them seriously.
But that's the question I want to grapple with today. If the upcoming Tokyo zones will be featuring the Orochi on their home turf, are they too far gone in terms of respectability in the eyes of players to change the narrative? We've seen them kicked up and down across the world, so I'm wondering if it's too late for the Orochi to put on big boy pants and be invited to the adult table.
You know how it is -- other things jump in the way or catch your attention screaming, "Look at me! Look at me!" So helpful mods have been on the back burner, bumped in favor of other more timely matters. And then suddenly it was the timely issue. You see, once I started trying to run scenarios, one of the mods that everyone keeps talking to me about suddenly became very relevant. (If you've ever tried to do a super-quick swap using the gear manager only to find that once you're in combat, one weapon didn't make the switch, leaving you without half of your skills, you can totally understand why).
Once I started thinking about that, it led me to wondering about the other addons out there. And if I am wondering about them, chances are someone else is, too. So that makes now the perfect time to check out the various addpons that players use to make life smoother in TSW.
Bylos' November letter had a lot to say, most of it good but a little disappointing. Yes, Tokyo and Issue 9 are being pushed to "early 2014" (I bet February) to get it up to snuff. It's one of those announcements that has the loyal saying things like, "Good for them! Quality over a rush job, I always say!" but then they go home and cry a little in secret. I'll admit that it's a bit of a bummer, especially with my overall disappointment with Issue 8. I guess it'll give me a little more time to grind out oreos and augments, and perhaps work on my long-neglected Illuminati alt.
With the bad out of the way, let's dissect and analyze what the future has in store for TSW. What's that? A Christmas devil! Oh my, things are about to get interesting. Well, interestinger.
Look familiar? If you play The Secret World, you've likely seen this string of characters, or something similar, a thousand times over. Anyone who has done any MMO gaming is used to seeing a flood of acronyms fly by in chat channels. It's a special shorthand to convey as much information as possible without spending all that time and effort typing out whole words (which certainly comes in handy when you are busy dodging incoming attacks). Some terms are fairly common to the genre as a whole, but others are game-specific. So what happens when players jump into The Secret World for the first time? They can be left scratching their heads wondering what weird language people are speaking.
But with everything else there is to get a handle on in the game, like the ability wheel and builds, who wants to spend time deciphering every communique? New players could speak up and outright ask what a certain term means, but who wants to expose his newbness for all to see? Instead, many just try to deduce the meaning or ignore the message all together. The problem with that is you might get something wrong (and look worse) or completely miss out on something worthwhile.
To help allay confusion and give everyone a fair chance at understanding TSW-speak, I've gathered the most relevant terminology here in a handy guide. Not only can you decode what you read with it, but you'll have the key to sending your own messages like a pro.
Part of that was to be expected. Issue 8 is, let's face it, a stalling tactic so Funcom can finish up the first half of Tokyo. It's busy work for the community in the guise of a "certification" as well as an AP/SP sink for those of us who have filled out most (or all) of our skill wheel and need some other form of character growth.
Mind you, while Issue 8 has stumbled, it's not a travesty. I actually appreciate the idea of a new form of group content that's repeatable, and it's exciting to get a glimpse into the mysterious Council of Venice. But I do want to look at a few failings of this update and how Funcom could improve matters.
Now that I've indulged in heaping helpings of scenarios over the past two weeks, have my thoughts about TSW's newest feature changed? Has my excitement diminished? Have I had my fill now and am I just looking forward to moving on to Tokyo, or am I still standing at that Council of Venice's console with my bowl held high saying, "Please, sir, I want some more"? To answer, let me show you my snazzy bowl! Then I'll share why I think the scenarios are more than worthwhile in spite of the naysayers.
As a sort of companion piece to my previous column covering why I consider The Secret World to be the industry's best storyteller, I wanted to elaborate on my love for the game's characters. TSW is not a game full of forgettable muggles but a place where bizarre personalities and incredible backstories collide. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, more exciting to me than to advance through the game and meet a new NPC for the first time.
So I want to share with you my favorites. I also want to mention that making this list just about wrenched me in twain because I want to list about 70% of the game's NPCs as my favorites. There are so many that are terrific for different reasons, and whether I found myself laughing with them, at them, or against them, they've been burned onto my consciousness.
Last year, however, I went through the agony of living with the fact that circumstances prevented me from experiencing everything the holiday events offered. It was torture seeing that incomplete quest chain and not having a furry little void cat to console me! I want to save you all from the same kind of pain and regret, so here is a quick guide to get you on the path to completing all the festivities before they dissipate into the night on November 11th.
I don't have a problem saying that I think The Secret World is currently the industry's best storyteller. If you want to take a cheap shot, you can insert some snide remark about rote quest text boxes in the comments, but I think that there's a lot of solid writing and storytelling across the MMO spectrum right now. It's just that TSW does it better.
Why? What's going on here to make stories and characters that just stick in my head long after my brain has cycled other MMO's events to deep storage? I started writing a list and had a hard time stopping at just nine.
If you've already been in-game, you've noticed that the latest two phases have been very similar to the first two. In fact, they follow the same pattern: start with powering up a generator using crafting materials then move into an instance to clear out the filth. However, even though they are similar and some phases are moving slowly, there's a chance folks might miss out. And if there's one thing I don't want to see, it's others missing out! To prevent that and to keep my fellow TSW fans from floundering in the dark, here's phase two of The Whispering Tide Event guide, with tips and tricks for grabbing the lore, getting the goodies, and even preparing for forthcoming phases.
With promotions, sales, and new issues keeping the game in the spotlight, new folks are constantly entering the game just as I did over a year ago. I look back at my first month or so in The Secret World and wince at the way I kept trying to play the game like a standard MMO and becoming frustrated when it resisted my attempts to do so. If I had to sum up that month, it would be "messy." I eventually persevered, graduated from Solomon Island, and found my footing in TSW, but it could've been a lot smoother if I had just understood a few things that I shall now pass on to you.
It's exciting because things that had been slowly building up have kicked into higher gear and are gathering speed; long-anticipated things are just barely out of reach but will soon be within our grasp. We are also this close to getting Issue #8 with its scenarios, augment systems, and Venice. And there's a new issue cover with a name and date to prove it! We are also inching ever closer to getting -- for the very first time ever -- a whole new region in the game, replete with new missions, new nooks and crannies to explore, and new foes to face. Oh, and new lore!
But that's not even all. We have a long-term event going on now as well as the return of a favorite very soon. So if you haven't been in The Secret World lately, now would surely be a good time to jump back in.
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