Zone Fatigue

A few weeks ago I noted that one of the advantages to The Secret World’s style of progression was that I was never out-leveling a zone to the point that I no longer received useful rewards (like XP) or became so overpowered that the content proved to be trivial. As a result, I was working my way through zones slowly and completing every mission that I could find (so long as it wasn’t labeled “nightmare”) because there was no reason to rush. That’s still true now— I’ve recently completed The Shadowy Forest and have made headway into the Carpathian Fangs— however I’m noticing a downside to this slower pace, for me at least. I’m starting to experience “zone fatigue.”

Before even beginning the game I was surprised to hear of so many people who owned TSW, enjoyed the title, but had never made it out of the Blue Mountains, the third and final zone for Solomon Island. Once reaching the Blue Mountains myself I was still surprised (at first) because I was enjoying the zone from the quests to the spooky New England forest vibe. However about half way through I started to grow tired of the familiar scenery. Yes, each zone was a little different but the overall look and feel was similar and I was looking forward to Egypt because I knew it would be a completely different experience. Now I can understand how someone might experience the same fatigue leading to a brief intermission from TSW that ultimately becomes a character permanently stuck in the Blue Mountains.

I didn’t enjoy Egypt as much as I did the Solomon Island zones, but I could appreciate the change of scenery and it was still an interesting area and main storyline. However once again, roughly half way through the City of the Sun God, I was ready to move on. Transylvania has been no different. I had high expectations for the zone, perhaps unrealistic ones, and while it hasn’t been what I expected Transylvania is still my second favorite area in TSW with The Shadowy Forest housing some of the most endearing NPCs in the game. Nevertheless I’m tired of the zone.

I think it happened quicker with Transylvania because there are a lot of similarities to the Blue Mountains and Solomon Island in general, but there’s also a bit of “zone fatigue” fatigue at this point and I’m ready to move into the episodic content of the issues. Whereas the individual areas of Solomon Island, Egypt, and Transylvania are a marathon; the issues are more like a three mile jog. Speaking of issues, I did accidentally play through issue 7 a couple of weeks ago and despite still taking place in Transylvania it was the breath of fresh air that I needed. I will probably play through it again once I finish Transylvania and catch up on the issues I missed.

In the mean time I’ve contemplated going back to Kingsmouth and running through some of my favorite missions again or trying the open world lairs in all the Solomon Island zones to see if they can be soloed. I’ve even considered queuing for dungeons in the newly added dungeon finder since I’ve yet to participate in group content, but being so close to the end of Transylvania I think I am going to push through the fatigue and complete the final zone. It’s not that the missions are boring or the stories aren’t capturing my attention; it’s just that the regular change of scenery that I’m use to in other MMOs is moving much more slowly for me in The Secret World and I like my surroundings to change a bit more frequently.

Has anyone else experienced this in TSW or any other game? How long can you stay in a zone before you’re ready to see something new?

 

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24 thoughts on “Zone Fatigue

  1. I played through Blue Mountains successfully back before they nerfed the zone to make it less densely populated and easier to navigate. I never really had a problem there, but I did get stuck in Egypt for a long time. I don’t know if that was zone fatigue as much as it was just a difficulty ramp-up vs. my build. Again, this was back when the game first released, and before they toned things down a bit.

    Then, friends began playing TSW, and I went back and did all the Solomon’s Island (including Blue Mountain) with them. One is still stuck in Blue Mountain, but the other moved through Egypt with me (we really enjoyed the story in the City of the Sun God), to Transylvania. That’s where we’ve left off for over a year, and really haven’t made much progress.

    Of course, we have other games tugging us away, and there were sometimes that bugged quests stopped us cold. When we do play, we usually have fun.

    I’d love to see Tokyo one day, and I haven’t started any of the Issues… I just don’t know if that’s going to happen because I feel like my main character’s build is so wonky that it’s going to be hard to iron it out enough to do proper end game content.

    I have considered taking one of my alts through the game again since I’ve put almost no time into any of them. I just need to plan out weapon builds better from the start. That’s what seriously snags me up later on in the game.

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    • Whenever you are on, add my character (Sevenfalls) to your friends list. I’m almost done with Transylvania and will soon progress through all the issues and work my way to Tokyo but I’d be happy to help with wherever you’re at.

      I don’t have any alts, but I think I may start one. I know enough people who are either on Solomon Isle or are thinking about rerolling that it would give me a character to play with those friends too.

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  2. The only MMO i ever experienced that effect was Rift. (Another huge offender was the first part of Borderlands, which just felt so meaningless for like 75% of the game, before finally picking up speed and only really getting good in the DLCs, which actually are awesome and hillarious. )

    In Rift, when my highest character
    slowly approached level 60 (which at that time was cap, and i actually quit the game at level 59), it just all added up to a huge pile of meaninglessnes.

    The zone just felt all the same, the missions felt to be totally pointless and then when preparing for 60, i had to realize that the most efficient way of playing was to build two macros and keep spamming them.

    Of course, the other difference there was, that my friends left the game a while ago and i was soldiering on alone, always sticking to the progression path. This is very unusual for me, i generally tend to play games with friends.

    I have hit the first scenario in Warhammer Online when i was like level 5. I was in my first dungeon in TSW in QL 2 equipment. (This experience made me drop blood as second weapon and pick up fist… blood turned out to be not a good tool together with an undergeared tank who could not always hold agro. ) I could continue this for a number more MMOs, but i think the idea is clear, no matter which challenge, my friends and me took a look at it early on, keeping the game diverse.

    In TSW i had the additional bonus of turning into a kind of “teacher” of my Cabal, which means i quite often returned to zones i already completed, to help out a friend or Cabal member with stuff they could use a hand on. So again, i was active not only in one zone, but basically in all zones i had access to. Of course, this meant that it took me much longer to complete the story, but that’s not a bad thing. After all, it kept the game fresh for me.

    So indeed, if you want to play the game but are bored of a zone, and don’t want to visit another game instead, you should look into doing stuff with some people. Dungeons are not the worst idea for that.

    @Aywren:
    There is no build so wonky that it couldn’t be ironed out with limited work. I’ve already gave people builds which only pick like 3 abilities (passives) from the outer wheel at all, that allowed them go complete Transylvania. So as long as you have the inner wheel complete, there’s always a way to quickly get a workable build. Only for scenarios in the sunken library and for Tokyo, some refinement will be necessary, as they put quite different demands on your setup.

    By coicidence, there’s a posting not so recent here, where Iron presents his already quite good setup and i add some suggestions for improvement. But if that’s not enough, feel free to contact me in game on my character Slad.

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    • It’s actually been a year or two since I have consistently played MMOs with other people. Sure, I use the dungeon finder in MMOs here and there but I haven’t had a guild or group of friends to play with since I stopped playing WoW. From what you’ve described, it sounds like the social element has been really important for you in keeping the game(s) you play interesting. I know that’s why I stayed with WoW for so long before even trying anything else. When I started playing MMOs, I didn’t know anyone else outside of the game who played but I managed to make a lot of friends anyway. Since then though I haven’t had the same experience.

      I wrote about this last year (one of my first posts I think), but I think the feeling of being alone in a vast, unknown landscape full of systems and functions I knew nothing about is what drove me to find friends and ultimately a great guild in WoW. Since then I “know” how to play MMOs when I start a new one so its easy to get stuck in the rut of playing solo. For me anyway, I tend to be a solitary person so I need some kind of outside influence to get me started in social settings. Whether in game or out, that’s either been an individual taking the initiative to introduce me into the community or enough desperation on my part to take the plunge; usually some combination of both.

      That’s a little off topic given the post, but that’s what your comment got me thinking about.

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      • Hehe… perhaps I should add you to my friends list, and when I see you online I should crack the whip (Where there’s a whip, there’s a way!) and get you into a dungeon group… *evil grin*

        Actually the timing would be good, we recently got two new Cabal members who both are not Gatekeeper-Ready, as they have not done all dungeons (at Elite difficulty) yet. So we go for elite dungeons with them two or three evenings a week.

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      • And an addition to the social aspect: of course it matters. For pure solo play, there are much better games out there. (E.g. The Witcher 3, Raise of the Tomb Raider or Fallout 4.)

        Mind you, i haven’t played the first two on the list, since MMOs eat up waaay too much of my time to still spend that much time in single player games. I also have cut short on all the base building of Fallout 4, as this also is an endless time grave. Still all the mentioned games, and definitely several more which i forgot or am not aware of, are excellent solo experiences and beat MMOs by far as long as you disregard the social aspect.

        I mean, thanks to it’s ultra-high quality of storytelling, TSW is the very only MMO which in my eyes can compete with the better single player games out there, but like any other MMO it at some critical areas is slowed down and hampered by being a MMO. [Most simple example: A single player game can disregard a lot of “balancing” in favour of gameplay, fun and atmosphere. Any MMO doing so is doomed. ]

        I still play MMOs a lot, while only spending limited time on solo games. I also spend solo time in MMOs, it’s not like i always play with people, but they are important to me. No MMO for me ever survived the first three months unless i started and played there with friends, or i found a very welcoming community with people to play with. [By now a primary criteria of a MMO is, if my girl also likes it. Before having her, my standard procedure was to play for 8 to 10 weeks solo, then look for a guild. If i found no suitable guild in time, the game lost me. ]

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    • Thank you for the offer! I do have the entire inner wheel complete, and usually enjoy playing blades as a main weapon. The outter wheel is a mess, though, since I’ve been playing for so long on and off that I’ve never really pin-pointed a more advanced direction to go with my build. I started putting points in one area only to come back months later to see a different build to try, and switch directions. While I survive ok, especially when I duo, I feel like it’s severely lacking.

      I also never really grasped what stats I should be looking at focusing on with my gear. I’m totally confused.

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      • Generally I would build a solo setup with some regeneration. Be it the healing from passives, like Iron uses some in his setup he presented, be it that you rely on leeching (either with assault rifles or with the passive “Leeching Frenzy”), or if you rely on active healing with Fist or Blood. I personally find Blood a bit cumbersome for anything but healing the tank in dungeons, but other people love it, so it’s clearly a case of personal preference.

        To make the healing work, no matter which of the above mechanics you selected, you should have some heal rating. I personally would advise to use two heal rating talismans, one mayor and one minor. If your gear is still green, you want to completely fill up the other talismans with attack rating. (Mind you, there are two green talismans with attack rating, one kind with lots of health and a little attack rating, and one with lots of attack rating and some halth. You want the second kind. ) Once your gear is mostly blue or even purple, you will notice that your health is getting seriously low. This is because blue and purple gear lacks the “training wheels” of the green gear, they have noticeably higher stats, but only one of them, not two. To compensate for this loss of health, you should replace one attack rating talisman with a health talisman. If you want health on a mayor or if a minor is enough depends on personal preference and how you play, once you go purple, a minor should be sufficient. (So in total, blue gear actually gives you only a little more stats, but you can finetune your setup better with them. Blue weapons, on the other hand, are a straight upgrade from green ones. )

        For Glyphs, you want a reasonable amount of hit and penetration. If you spend 4 to 5 glyphs on them, and some of them are head and mayors, you should be good. There’s a whole lot of finetuning possible there when you get into custom gear and dungeons or scenarios, but that obviously is not your primary concern, so the actually remaining question is, what to do with your other glyphs. The answer depends on what setup you want to run. If you use a tankish setup and cut down on regeneration abilities, you might want to fill the other glyphs with the defense option of choice. (Block, defense or evade. ) Match this to the abilities (active and passive) you plan to use, and disregard the physical and magical protection, their value is little in open world play.

        In case you decide to rely on enough regeneration/healing in the open world, which many people do, use the remaining glyphs not for defense but for critical chance and critical power, usually in an equal spread. (If you rely on the passive “Empowerment” for survivability, you might rather get more critical chance and less critical power. )

        Anyway, I hope I have not overran you now with this wall of text but that it rather gives some helpful insight. 🙂

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  3. I really like TSW a lot and I think the zones are excellent but there is the very simple problem of there just not being enough variety. In essence, the base game only had three zones, each split into sub-zones. Where an average MMO will launch with a whole raft of maps that vary from Summer to Autumn to Winter seasons, coastal areas, cities, volcanic wastelands and underground caverns, TSW has New England with or without fog, some desert and some Eastern European mountains. Even the three starting “cities” are really just one small fully-developed district and a couple of sketches.

    There’s a great deal of variety within each of those and the level of attention to detail is without parallel in the genre but breadth of palette there is not. In a way it’s in keeping with the ethos of the game, which is concentrated and intense almost without respite but it does indeed make for an exhausting place to spend a prolonged run.

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    • I agree, while every zone has been remarkably well done, there is nevertheless a narrow palette. I know this isn’t feasible with the main story being what it is, but having more back and forth between the zones as your leveling would have helped. A little trip to Egypt before finishing SI for example. That said, I do love each and every one. Despite growing restless in Blue Mountains while I was working my way through, I’m now eager to go back and see it all again. Hopefully we see more zones added in addition to Tokyo in the next year or two.

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  4. I got stuck somewhere in the second zone-ish? of Egypt. I got past Blue Mountains mostly fueled by pride in being able to solo challenging mobs, then appreciated the change of scenery in the first zone of Egypt.

    When it became obvious that the scenery was going to be sand and more sand of the noon-lit and moon-lit category, the story was going to drag on in a never-solved mysterious conspiracy/Illuminati fashion, and that the core endgame was going to be built around group-based content, holy trinity and traditional gear tier/levels, I lost the will to log in or continue.

    Moria in LOTRO was another good case of zone fatigue for me. My guardian went into the dark subterranean depths and never made it out. The gloomy cavernous feeling, the necessity to run around and around multitude of stairwells sans mounts (no flying or gliding either), through an endless horde of goblinoid foes, fulfilling quests of the kill ten goblin whatsits for bodyparts variety, making pitstops at dwarven camp questhubs of the brown wood/supply sacks and grey stone utilitarian decor, and I think I caught a virtual dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder and didn’t want to log in to face boredom/depression feelings yet again.

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    • Hmm. Tastes differ. I found that the story in the City of the Sun God really got awesome again. Also, this part does resolve quite well. You get to learn the whole tragic story. The hard part of that zone was to learn how to navigate it, with it’s canyons and cracks and tunnels and everything, it’s terribly hard to get where you want to before having learned the area well enough.

      On the endgame: yes, it’s mostly group based content and it turns into an equipment grind. But to be fair, none of that gear which you get in that content you need outside of it. Any content can be done with gear you get by playing solo, without ever touching a dungeon or PvP.

      And the last thing, as it recently is a lot on your mind: the holy trinity. It’s very true that the game -allows- it, and that players resort to it a lot. But interestingly enough, there are only few fights where I would say that this is required. When the game was new, we beat dungeons with a plethora of different tactics and doctrines. (And that goes far beyond what you hint at on your trinity posting on your blog. According to what you hint at, that you at least see four roles in GW2, I would guess that we at some time in TSW had six roles covered in a five man group. )

      I remember some boss fights were everybody in the group had a taunt on his bar, we spread out far over the area and kept taunting the boss around, so he never was in melee range to anybody of us. I remember fights where everybody had 5k health and used an assault rifle, as we didn’t yet know how to avoid the agro reset yet, so we made sure that everybody was able to survive a few hits and that plenty of healing was coming in. I remember fights where two players were assigned shotgun/chaos, used the passive “Close Quarters” to permanently slow down enemies and also brought several impairs (including chaotic pull) into their setup. This all was done just to stop adds from ever reaching certain spots. (Now, with our high damage, we just burn them down, but in old times we had to use all tools in the book to buy us the time to do so. )

      These are just some examples of what we tried and used, I could go on for a long time with such stuff here. Not only were those tactics successful, they at that time were the only way we knew how to beat those fights. We now have both better gear and more sophisticated setups. A lot of tactical challenges of old by now are overcome with “more damage”. Executing those complicated tactics I mentioned requires discipline and coordination, and teaching them to a new player is very hard, sometimes impossible. In contrast, everybody knows and understands the trinity concept. For most of the dungeons we by now learned to beat them with the trinity, but there are exceptions in nightmare difficulty.

      There are dungeons where we even years after launch still have to cover more than the three roles. We still need “rabbits”, which means runners to keep adds busy. We still need dedicated interrupters, add interceptors and some even more obscure tasks covered. I have done those dungeons, but some of the special roles requires a lot of additional practice and coordination. As a result, you can always easily find a group for any of those dungeons where the trinity can be used and special tasks can be covered by one experienced player. But it is very hard (and basically impossible without a Cabal) to find a group for any of those dungeons where more coordination is required. Beating them usually requires all members of the group to practice some of the fights together for a while, not many “random” players are ready to invest that time, especially when not bonded by a Cabal and thus having a low chance to get together in the same setup again for another attempt on another day.

      That all being said, I still dare to claim: the trinity is not -required- in TSW. You can do a lot of stuff without, and some dungeons even now can not even be done with it, but require a lot of additional tasks to be covered. At the same time the trinity is there for most of the dungeons. It quite often is not the most efficient setup for the fight, but when also taking the effort of teaching and practicing other tactics into account, falling back to the trinity suddenly wins the efficiency contest by far.

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      • So, what you are saying is that the holy trinity is also not purely applied in TSW, that TSW allows for roles flexibility beyond the trinity, and thus this three pure role concept is dead in yet another MMO? 🙂

        It’s a little rude and off-topic to have this debate in someone else’s comment thread though. I’m not sure if Ironweakness minds. Feel free to continue the conversation back on my blog.

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      • Hmm. Yea, perhaps it’s rude to go for that here. In that case, i am sorry, this was not my intention.

        And if the trinity is dead: that is very much philosophical. I think it is alive, due to being the only thing which can easily be taught to the players. Much more variety is possible and being used by a small portion of the playerbase, who is ready to go the full distance, but for ease of access, the trinity won over, despite not being required. [Mind you, before the discussion started up, i basically felt that a fight where a tank tanks, a healer heals, two DPS deal damage and one guy is off to keep adds busy is still only a variant of the trinity… but yes, by pure numbers there’s a fourth role in use. ]

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      • This is really interesting to read, all of those types of group play you had to come up with to complete the dungeons sounds like it would have been a lot of fun, similar to coming up with a raid strategy but without the luxury of knowing which combination of roles would inherently work best. Of course, it would only work in an organized group of like minded individuals willing to sort through all the options but that’s something lacking in a lot of MMO group play; I’m sure if nothing else it’s something fond to look back on. It certainly has me interested in seeing what the TSW dungeons are like.

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      • And by the way, I definitely don’t mind the off topic conversation about the trinity! I’ve been reading some of the blogs out there once more discussing the pros and cons and I’m interested in what others have to say. As long as everyone stays civil, please feel free to chase any rabbits you wish!

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  6. I’m not sure why but I didn’t really mind as much as many. Most mmo’s feel a little too fractured and schizophrenic too me as you are constantly moving between different zones, with varying set pieces and themes that are widely different. I never feel settled and my senses are constantly being tested. With TSW I felt i was actually relaxing into the zones and being more engaged by them. I started noticing the little differences a lot more too and the subtle, slow shifts between the different areas in each zone.
    I was definitely ready to move on at the end of them and I think it was only the sun god one that tested my patience a little – probably because there were’nt as many interesting characters though.

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    • I personally think the sacrificed children, bound to the statues guarding the area, have very distinct characters. They range from “close to grown up, with regrets but feeling of duty” over “emo who was forced into this”, “youngster who felt cheated and bereft of his proper life by being forced into duty” to “faithful and too young to understand what was done to her”.

      That being said, there of course is the problem that they are merely voices of the statues, which by nature gives them a lot less visual life than actually alive characters display, making it harder to connect the pieces. But i think the real problem still is the area design. In other areas you naturally learn more about things by just seeing stuff on the way. Those details also exist there, but you are much too busy navigating the complicated area, so you can’t pick up all those details.

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      • The statues really grew on me over time, especially once I started to learn more about their story. They are endearing and childlike, the youngest seemingly content with their situation (although at least one of the elder children is clearly full of unrest) and yet you can’t help but feel the tragedy of it, especially when they are asking to do childish things like play a board game. They are children robbed of the chance of a normal life for the sake of the greater good. The youngest seemingly adapting to it better because they were less aware of what was being sacrificed. It’s a testament to this game’s storytelling capacity that these statues could illicit so much emotion.

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