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Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory: A guide to finishing off the Filth in TSW's Whispering Tide event

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

Chaos Theory:  A guide to finishing off the Filth in TSW's Whispering Tide event
When The Secret World puts on a long-term event, it certainly doesn't skimp on the long part! The Whispering Tide commenced way back in September 2013 and just last month moved into the final phase. During that time, players have unlocked portals, collected lore, and fought the Filth, all with the ultimate goal of opening Tokyo at the end. And while the time of Issue #9 is is almost at hand, it isn't yet here. The best way to hurry it along is to see this event through to completion and eradicate the Filth in this final stage.

If you've missed any of the preceding phases, now is the perfect time to jump in and add your efforts to the cause -- not just for speeding up the release of Tokyo but for collecting all the loot and goodies for yourself as well! With this phase players have the chance to rake in all the slivers and fragments needed to purchase the available event loot (sadly, the past lore pieces are one thing that cannot be gotten). Even if you are just starting now, there are still numerous tendrils protruding from the portal, giving you plenty of time to get in on the action. And this guide is going to walk you through it.

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Chaos Theory: Every game needs a Gatekeeper like The Secret World

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

It finally happened. I've been playing The Secret World since launch, wading through lots of lore, wracking my brains on investigations missions, collecting clothes, and soaking up the amazing atmosphere, among other things. But there is one activity that I have successfully dodged participating in that entire time until the moment came when I could no longer justify evading it. I'm talking about the Gatekeeper.

For those who aren't familiar with TSW's Gatekeeper, here' the scoop: He's the giant golden golem that stands between you and the PvE endgame. He's the feature that all players who want to participate in the hardest mode of dungeons and acquire the best purple PvE gear must prove themselves against before being allowed to move their play to that next level. Consequently, he prevents those who are completely unprepared for that level of challenge from getting in over their heads and dragging down their groups in the process. Golden boy is a powerful (and merciless) teacher who can humble those not ready for the fight as well as those who are by really testing their knowledge about the game's combat system and forcing all to face up to their inadequacies.

So I finally faced this Agarthan nemesis, and he was all I expected him to be. And yes, I was initially schooled. But I did end up laying the smack down on him, learning a few important things in the process. And one of the top lessons? I think every single game should have a Gatekeeper!

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Chaos Theory: Why TSW's quest art thrills me to no end

Horror, Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Lore, Opinion, The Secret World, Post-Apocalyptic, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Every Secret World fan has his or her own list of reasons why the game feels special and unique. Perhaps it's the investigation missions, the contemporary setting, the flexible character builds, the dark subject matter, the well-done voice acting, the creepy tone, the immense pile of lore, or the sheer fun that is the dressing room. Steadily climbing to the top of my own list is an aspect that I haven't seen mentioned much at all: the quest art.

Is that the best terminology for it? I don't know what else to call it. What I'm talking about here are the images that often pop up through quests, from photographs to journal entries. These pieces of art aren't just sprinkled in here or there; they are so dang prolific that I've devoted an entire screenshot folder to holding them. Once you start really noticing them, it's hard not to marvel at all of the work that was done to put them in the game.

So excuse me this week as I go on about why quest art is seriously terrific and terribly underrated. I may even share a favorite or 27 of them along the way.

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Chaos Theory: Controversy swirls around The Secret World's new Mystery Boxes

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

Although neither the most recent recent patch notes nor the January Game Director letter mentions it, something happened in The Secret World recently that might, if you believe the cries of some, portend the beginning of the end for the horror-filled game. What powerful behemoth will be responsible for slaying TSW and grinding it into the ground? No, not the Økokrim; this time, it's the mighty Mystery box.

Players logging in since January 30th have been met with a launchpad announcement heralding the introduction of the new Mystery Box to the item store. And while some players are up in arms about the significance of this addition, I'm going to tell you why it's no big deal.

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Chaos Theory: Twelve things to do once you've beaten The Secret World

Horror, Sci-Fi, Endgame, Opinion, The Secret World, Guides, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

In many respects, The Secret World is a strange MMO that doesn't follow the typical paths that its contemporaries do. It probably has fewer quests that most MMOs, and even factoring in the increased time and difficulty to accomplish them, I suspect that it's not as content-rich of a game as its ravenous community expected it to be.

Months ago I "beat" the game as I see it, having finished all of the missions and main storyline. That left me feeling off-kilter because I didn't know what to do next. I still am feeling less focused than I had been while leveling because the core of TSW to me is the excellent missions and the stories tied to these zones, and I simply wanted more of them. Even with the generally excellent issues from 2013, I'm still endlessly pining for Tokyo, and if that doesn't get here in February, then I'm going to start developing long-distance telepathic powers to make it get done.

So I've been chewing on what to do now. It's not as though TSW lacks options; it's just that they're either quite different from the game that I've played up to this point; they're repetitive or group-dependent or require some self-motivation to go after them. I made a list to help focus my future efforts and thought I'd share that with you today.

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Chaos Theory: First five favorite moments in The Secret World

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

Chaos Theory: First five favorite moments in The Secret World
I've been asked many times why I love The Secret World. And I have always answered enthusiastically about my favorite parts of this unique game. But a more interesting take on the question presented itself recently: When did I love The Secret World? This query gave me pause as I thought back to the point at which my I'm-having-fun feelings turned into bona fide squeals of delight and shrieks of surprise. And I came to the conclusion that all I really needed to love The Secret World I learned in Kingsmouth.

If you think about it, that's a pretty good thing. Since Kingsmouth is the first real adventure zone after your tutorial (I'm not counting the faction cities), having experiences that grab folks' interest there is vital to producing long term-players. In a game, just as in a book or a movie, it is important to hook your intended audience early on so its members stick around to see what's going to happen next. And hook me Kingsmouth did.

The following are the first five moments that captured my heart (and mind -- this is TSW we're talking about, after all). They are by no means the be-all, end-all of the game; they are very simple, in fact. But these particular moments did help define my appreciation for the game and ensnare me enough to keep me coming back for more.

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Chaos Theory: How The Secret World makes you learn

Horror, Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Maybe it's my age or maybe it's just a little bit of laziness about me, but I'm finding myself a little peeved whenever someone or something wants to make me learn a new system. I mean, I'll be the one constantly reading Wikipedia to all hours of the night because I like soaking up info, but if a game asks me to go through a two-minute tutorial, I'm like, "Forget that!" and upturn my computer desk while I go to the other room to calm down.

It's not that I don't like learning -- I end up really enjoying myself when I do, in fact -- but that the energy and attention required to absorb a new lesson can often be a tad daunting. This is what drives me back into familiar gaming arms again and again, and why I'm more than a little apprehensive about all of the sandbox tools that will be coming to MMOs near us.

That's why I have to hand it to The Secret World -- here's an MMO that pushed me out of my comfort bubble and made me learn, sometimes kicking and screaming, and sometimes with a giddy and joyful heart. This is an MMO that isn't content to spoon-feed you the same mush you've been downing for years; it's one that operates under a practical mission statement of teaching through gameplay.

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Chaos Theory: The best of The Secret World in 2013

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

Chaos Theory:  The best of The Secret World, 2013
When December wrapped up, so too did The Secret World's first full calendar year, having debuted the summer prior. Coincidentally, the timing also marked the first year of the buy-to-play business model; the game transitioned in December 2012. Looking back over those 12 months, I wonder what can be said of the horror-themed MMO. Certainly updates and new content didn't come as quickly as players would have preferred (what game can ever deliver that?!), but there was still plenty of activity during that time. We're going to delve into highlights of TSW's year that started with awarding all players a coveted pet to counter an exploit discovered during the 2012 holiday event and ended with Hel on earth.

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Chaos Theory: My modest Secret World wish list

Horror, Sci-Fi, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

I'm not a greedy man. At least, I like to think I'm not. I try hard to be content with what I have, including the bounty of gaming options before me. And when it comes to The Secret World, I find that I have plenty to be thankful for.

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.

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Chaos Theory: Cramming your Krampus in before TSW's holidays end

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

Chaos Theory:  Cramming your Krampus in before TSW's holidays end
Christmas 2013 -- it's quite a different experience in The Secret World than in other MMORPGs. Instead of offering some colorful cutesy characters based on the jolliest aspects of the season, TSW's festivities draw on the darkest parts of our lore to bring you a Christmas devil, a demoness, and undead Mayans. The only carol you hear is a twisted Jingle Bells whispered in the hellish Niflheim dimension, though wave after wave of horny Hel jokes fill the air. But even with all the differences, one thing is definitely the same: the stress of running around trying to get things done in time!

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!

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Chaos Theory: Why TSW's Orochi have an uphill battle for respectability

Horror, Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory

The other day I posted a Daily Grind here on the site that asked about NPC factions that are, in effect, a total joke. I used the example of the Orochi from The Secret World, which got one commenter's ire up. He said it was "insulting" that I was singling this out this organization, and I assume that I'm no longer on his Christmas card mailing list.

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.

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Chaos Theory: A few useful mods for The Secret World

Horror, Real-Life, Game Mechanics, Opinion, The Secret World, Guides, Chaos Theory, Player-Generated Content, Buy-to-Play

Do you use mods in The Secret World? This was a question I have actually asked friends and colleagues as the idea of corralling the best and most useful mods bounced around in my head for a while. The irony in that inquiry is that I, personally, do not use any addons for TSW; in fact, I tend not to use them for most any game. But I do hear people swear by them, so I thought finding the best ones used throughout the community would be a helpful service. And then I set the idea aside.

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.

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Chaos Theory: The Christmas devil cometh to The Secret World

Horror, Sci-Fi, Previews, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

One of the bright spots of my month is when that game director letter from Joel Bylos rolls across my feed. It's like new magazine day, back when magazines were a thing instead of an ancient relic of the '90s, and I push everything aside just to slowly pick through the letter and find out what's coming to The Secret World.

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.

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Chaos Theory: A Secret World lexicon

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


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.

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Chaos Theory: The dark side of The Secret World's Issue 8

Horror, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

chaos theory
Last week MJ espoused her belief that The Secret World Issue 8's scenarios are a terrific addition to the game and worthy of your consideration. As much fun as she's been having, my own experiences have been middling-to-poor with Issue 8. In my opinion, this is the first Issue that's really stumbled in terms of accessibility and quality.

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.

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