Tackling Dungeons in The Secret World

A few weeks ago I used the group finder in The Secret World to complete a dungeon for the first time. I did a little reading on the fights for Polaris, the first dungeon in the game, and on the advice of some Twitter friends I queued for the Elite version. The fights were relatively simple and the group was very gracious toward me as a new player and it was an overall pleasant experience. As such I was eager to try again this past weekend.

However I may have been a little too confident after this first endeavor and went ahead and queued for all available Elite dungeons with absolutely no prep work for any of them. I did complete two dungeons this way but that experience went about as well as you would imagine. I died a lot and was carried through several of the fights. Thankfully most of the players I was with were overgeared and knew the fights intimately but it was still stupid of me to think I could hop in like that and not be a detriment to my team. After the second dungeon I decided that going forward I would need to take a new approach.

So starting this week I plan on studying two dungeons at a time, making sure I’ve watched videos and read up on all the bosses. I will then queue for those two dungeons only, running them each several times until I am comfortable with all of the mechanics before selecting the next two dungeons to tackle. There aren’t that many so it shouldn’t take me long to learn them all this way and once I have I can start queuing for completely random dungeons knowing that I will be able to contribute no matter which one is chosen.

There’s also the matter of my build. I’ve been using a melee focused hammer and elementalism build but I have found a shotgun/ elementalism build that is similar but will allow me to fight from range. Sylow gave me this advice in another post and I have to agree that learning the fights as a ranged dps will be much simpler than melee. Eventually I’d like to put together a tanking set of gear as well but for now I need to gain some familiarity with group play in TSW and with the specific dungeons and their bosses.

Speaking of my gear, it’s actually coming along quite well. I only need two more minor talismans to have all purple QL10 gear and I also need to purchase a shotgun so that both of my weapons are purple as well. The two remaining talismans will both be health so that my HP is higher but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good about my stats. Once I have those health talismans I’ll work on upgrading the head talisman and major talismans. Glyphs will be the last thing I worry about; right now I’m using green quality and focusing on hit and penetration. From what Sylow has told me, I will be able to get the kits for making purple glyphs easily in nightmare dungeons, assuming I’m able to complete the dungeons at that difficulty level.

Honestly I am a little concerned about that. In WildStar I ran into a progression wall when I hit the level cap and started running Veteran dungeons. It wasn’t a matter of gear or familiarity, I simply could not keep up with the mechanics no matter how many times I tried. At least in The Secret World there are Elite dungeons and alternate ways to improve my gear. Regardless, I don’t think I will even attempt nightmare difficulty without a Cabal. I’ve put off looking for one after starting to research my options— I was simply paralyzed by the number of choices—but if I’m going to start seriously playing group content with an eye toward nightmare dungeons than I’m going to want a regular group of people to play with.

Now that I’m over the hump that was completing Transylvania, I’m really looking forward to working my way through the rest of The Secret World’s content, upgrading my gear, and getting involved in group play and joining a Cabal. I may even give PvP a try as I’ve read that it’s a good way to earn Black Bullion and I usually like team based PvP on a casual basis. I kind of wish Black Desert wasn’t launching this week as I am finding my groove in TSW and don’t really want to play anything else right now. It’s been a while since I’ve been positioned to enjoy the end game experience of an MMO rather than endlessly leveling new characters and I’m not about to put TSW on the back burner anytime soon.

 

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Free to Enjoy

This past week our senior pastor of less than a year stepped down from his position of leadership in the church. I have been friends with Pastor David for going on eight years now and I was both proud and happy for him when he told me of his decision. David has been in ministry for as long as I have known him—he was the associate pastor for years before accepting the senior position last March—but before that he was a business owner. I never knew this until a few weeks ago, but secretly he has wanted to continue his business for all these years but felt as though he “had” to be in vocational ministry if he was really going to be fully committed to following Jesus Christ despite the fact he was not enjoying it.

That’s a common problem amongst some Christians, the misconception that following Jesus Christ means denying yourself of joy in order to prove your commitment. Another pastor friend of mine referred to this as being a “Navy Seal” Christian, the idea being that if you weren’t miserable and muddy you were doing it wrong. I have to confess, I’ve felt this way myself before. It’s the main reason I have hid my gaming life from so many of my Christian friends. See, David’s response was to give up the thing he loved thinking it made him a better Christian. My response was to hide it under the assumption it was wrong to enjoy MMOs but lacking the will to give them up completely.

There is nothing inherently wrong about owning a business or enjoying video games. Both can be abused and lead to greed, selfish ambition, and destructive addictions or they can be pursued for the glory of God and to the benefit of others and his kingdom. They are of themselves neutral human practices that are either good or evil depending on the intentions of the man or woman engaged in them. I hid my gaming because part of me knew I was overly obsessed and spending too much time playing MMOs so I kept it to myself so that no one could hold me accountable. My fear was that God would ask me to give up playing and since I didn’t want to, I didn’t ask.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected by love” 1 John 4:18.

I was afraid of God, afraid that he might take away something that was important to me because I did not really understand how much he loved me. That isn’t to say that God’s love would allow me to continue with a behavior that was destructive to me or my family, but that I can trust him with every detail of my life. I’ve learned to be honest in prayer, to say “Lord, I really enjoy this hobby. I want to continue with it, so please either make it a holy endeavor or take away my desire. Whatever the case, not my will but yours be done.”

That’s been a liberating prayer. Sure, it means that eventually I may walk away from gaming, but not because I’m trying to discipline myself into being a Navy Seal Christian, but rather because I am trusting God with something that I hold dear. If I’m treating it as precious to the point of idolatry I know that he can address it in a way that leads to even greater joy. That’s the security I have in the love of God, the kind of love that casts out fear. It’s why my friend David was finally liberated from the belief that he had to be a pastor to be acceptable to God and is now able to pursue his business which will no doubt lead to even more fruitful ministry as it did before he started working for the church.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4.

Following Christ does not require that you give up the possibility of experiencing joy in this life. Rather it frees us to enjoy God more fully by allowing him to lead us into those relationships, hobbies, and vocations that will both glorify him and make our joy full. I will miss hearing my friend preach every Sunday but I am thankful that he is finally free to enjoy the life God has prepared specifically for him. I want to experience that same freedom in Christ myself.

First Steps into The Secret World’s Elder Game

 

 

I realized this week that it’s been a while since I’ve talked about what I’ve been up to in The Secret World. My weekend was filled with Black Desert Online’s beta but all of last week and this was spent working my way through issues 5 and 6 and trying to earn enough Black Bullion to start upgrading my gear; what I consider to be the first steps into The Secret World’s elder game content. I have to say, so far those two along with issue 7 (which I accidentally completed while still working my way through Transylvania) are real gems. If I can expect as much from the following issues then I have a lot of great content ahead of me.

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Is anyone else hungry for donuts?

 

Last week was spent playing through issue 5 and running through some of the Kingsmouth quests again on my main character. Kingsmouth is still my favorite zone although that could be simply because it was such a memorable introduction to a game that I absolutely love. The fifth issue starts in the Blue Mountains and involves tracking an NPC named Tyler Freeborn; the author behind a blog that is exposing the events of Kingsmouth to anyone who will listen.

Of the three issues this was my least favorite, but it was enjoyable all the same and I’d like to run through it again soon. Tyler wasn’t all that interesting to me but I did enjoy following his trail and watching his documentary style videos. The final mission left more questions than answers but the landscape out in the fog was eerie and surreal. It brought back that feeling of tense anticipation that The Secret World is so good at cultivating.

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Play it cool, Katerina. You don’t want to disrupt the space-time continuum.

 

Issues 6 was much better, however I could have done with fewer sabotage missions at the beginning. Said is one of the more colorful (and memorable) characters in The Secret World and working for the mummy with questionable morals makes for good missions. Time travel was a nice touch and it wasn’t overdone, just enough to move the story forward in a clever way. I’m still a little foggy on my 3rd Age lore but I’m hoping this era is explained more later on. I thought it was funny though that my character had to wear the clothing of a Roman slave to “blend in” all the while garnishing an assault rifle.

The following missions are where the whip as an auxiliary weapon can be earned however I missed this the first time and went back through the last three missions again to get my whip and to ride the train a second time. The final mission, The Last Train to Cairo” is one of the best in the game but also one of the more frustrating. When I would fall off the train (something that happened to me often due to a spotty Wi-Fi connection) the respawn points had me running through quite a few train cars to get back to where I left off.

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“Sweep the leg!”

 

Now that I’ve made it through those two I’m going to run through Issue 7 a second time and then possibly continue to run these issues in order to earn the Black Bullion I need to get better gear. You earn a lot of AP, SP, and BB from these issues and having been through them once a second run through should go even quicker. However there may be faster ways to earn these resources so eventually I will need to look into other options. Just getting the base QL purple gear is going to take some time and is made all the more complicated by the fact that I can’t decide which weapon set to pursue for group content. So for now I’ll work on obtaining and upgrading my head and major talismans and hopefully by then I’ll have decided upon a weapon set.