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.


11 thoughts on “Tackling Dungeons in The Secret World

  1. TSW is notoriously melee-unfriendly in dungeons. That said, melee actually is capable of insane damage, so the constant need to dodge close-in AE’s is TSW’s method of balancing that. When I say insane I mean I watched a video of a group that specifically cheesed some mechanics, and then RNGesus smiled on them, and so they managed to kill a boss with 650K hit points in 6 seconds from when they started hitting it. Yes… that kind of insane 😉

    But with that said, there are some pretty standard ranged builds for beginners that can be found at tswdb.com that should get you through. http://www.tswdb.com/builds/dungeon-dps

    FWIW, in most cases if you’re running a dungeon as a dps you are expected to have 100% attack rating talismans and 1970 hit points. Most things will 1-shot kill you if you get hit anyway, so there’s no point in stacking health. There are some exceptions and for those you swap in a health talisman, but for the most part just use AR pieces. On your major tali’s you can get Vigor signets that will add health also, and due to AR’s diminishing returns (back when I was playing, anyway, might be different now) once you get it above 3200-ish, there’s not much point to putting AR signets on the majors, so putting Health signets on them instead gets you another 1200-ish (assuming purple signets) health and alleviates the need for health talisman swapping.

    Of course, 10.5 was the highest gear when I was still playing. With it going higher than that now, I dunno if that meta still holds true.

    There’s a channel you can join called “noobmares” that will get you in a group of people doing nightmare dungeons who don’t care about your gear level, whether they’re carrying you, etc. Typically one only does the 4 “easy” dungeons when using that channel, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the link, I will take a look at some of those builds. I like melee in TSW but while I’m learning dungeons I think it will be easier to go range and keep my melee builds for solo content.

      I’ve read somewhere about having one or two health talismans as dps or healer but I’ll look at it again. I had a blue health talisman drop last night that I won on a greed role so maybe I can use that for extra HP when I feel like I need it without investing my BB in one until after I have a full dps set.

      And I forgot about he noobmare channel. I’ll look into that once I’ve made it through the elites.


      • Generally it’s “If you get hit you die even with a health tali or 2, so learn to dodge instead, and if you’re dodging anyway, no need for health, so go full attack!” There are exceptions where you’ll want to equip 1 health talisman, but only for certain rare fights where random unavoidable damage goes out.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm. I should’ve read the comments before writing my answer below. I agree with most pkdude99 writes here. The only point I disagree is the complete absence of health talismans. I know it was “general consent” to use all attack rating, and some people still follow that rule.

      In contrast, I have learned that just one health talisman often makes a huge difference. Mind you, I most often heal and I learned that those DPS with just one talisman I usually am able to save from death if they make a mistake, while those completely without tend to die instead. More than one health talisman I would not generally advise, neither in dungeons nor in the open world. It should bring you to well over 3k health, which for most content is a sufficient buffer, although it’s good to have one spare, as there are a few nightmare dungeons where you can be hit with random effects which can crit up to almost 4k damage, so having over 4k health is very helpful there.

      Also, diminuishing results already kick in with 10.4 gear, so even for those I think you are loosing out when going all attack rating.

      Just a curiosity of this weekend, i joined a New York Raid, where my usual roles of Leecher and Podder were already taken. Thus i had to play as DPS. Not only did i, unlike most other DPS, use looted weapons (Shotgun and Pistol), instead of custom equipment, two of my mayor talismans were “only” 10.4 and my belt was a health talisman, as i never bothered to build myself a DPS belt. (So yes, in my all 10.9 leech setup, i always run a health talisman. )

      Together with the benefiction tonic, i was the one DPS with almost 5k health. Before we started people were asking in the raid channel if i am sure that i’d want to work like that. After the first few wipes, when somebody posted the damage parses, nobody dared to call me out any more. Despite the equipment drawbacks i rated 4th in the DPS rating. At the same time my survival rating was better than of the other DPS and when the Podder died early in one run, unlike anybody else i was able to switch role and fill in for him. (We still wiped a little later due to a tank mistake, but a dead podder without replacement is a certain wipe. )

      So even at 10.4/10.5 equipment you loose very little damage when switchig a minor talisman from attack rating to halth. Diminuishing returns already work in favour of the health talisman there, and getting to 10.4/10.5 by now is very easy.

      I consider the whole “all AR” meta a relic from the past, when we still relied mostly on looted 10.0 to 10.2 equipment and had no other way to overcome enrage mechanics but to focus on pure damage. For those who learned to win those fights without any health, there was pressure to change back, so the “damage above all” philosophy survived and still exists till today. But while my Cabal is small and we only have a new member every few weeks, we tend to care for them and train them, and my experience is to rather tell them to bring some health. Not only does it make things more enjoyable for them, if they manage to survive one or another minor effect, it also saves time for everybody. The absence of a health talisman can shave off a few seconds of a fight, but you also have to consider that these days a beginner with his “lower” custom gear and with a health talisman still can deliver more damage than we were able to with the looted equipment we had when we started in NMs.

      So if i have the choice between a dead “all AR” DPS and an alive one with some more health and a little less attack rating, i choose the second. That’s even before mentioning how many fights you’d have to complete flawlessly in “all AR”, to just compensate for one single wipe.

      So for a DPS these days i’d advise to have one minor health talisman equiped, and a second one available in your inventory in case of need, while filling the rest with attack rating.

      On glyphs, that’s science for itself, i won’t cover all that here. There are too many variables, starting on which signets are in use, if you have the talismans from the park, which weapons and abilities you plan to use, etc. (Next to that, my focus is healing and leech healing. While i can cover all other roles, my gear is not fully built or optimized for that, so any info on glyphs i would provide here are more a “rule of thumb” and not the state of the art of TSW DPS science. 🙂 )

      And on Noobmares and the four “easy” nightmares: true, people on that channel rarely do the other dungeons. I fully understand that, I also don’t like to do any other than those four with random people. Some of the other dungeons require to learn them in group.

      A good example for me personally is the manufactory. I’ve done that one together with some Cabal mates the very night it was released, and a few times after that. Unfortunately the tank from those runs then got a child (oki, his wife did so) and he since then only showed up a few times and never for long. In turn, I wasn’t in those dungeons for several months, and only lately started out there with other Cabal members. We again needed two evenings to get it all down. Everybody in group is an experienced player, but the fights felt very different (and we distributed responsibilities differently for some effects) than in the other group, so we took a while to learn the coordination there.

      This is true for several of the harder NM dungeons: you most likely won’t learn it in one evening, as not only your personal performance, but the coordination with the teammates matters. So unless you are sure to be able to go there again with the same people another time, it’s not worth the effort. That’s where a Cabal again shines.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s good to know about the easier nightmare dungeons. At least I’ll have a good starting point. I went ahead and bought a health minor talisman last night but for my last slot I’ll get another one with attack power (I was going to get a second health). I just need that and a purple QL 10 shotgun which I will get first and then I’ll have all slots filled with custom gear and can start the upgrade process.


      • I wouldn’t have cared to have customs in all slots right away, but rather have upgraded existing customs to 10.4 first. A good head talisman and some mayors (perhaps also a weapon or two) go a far longer way than bringing the minors from green/blue to purple.

        But alas, that’s just one way to do it, probably I am still too much in the old mindset, where loot equipment was still valuable for the beginner and customs just gradually replaced them one by one.


  2. “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.”

    If purple toolkits are your primary concern, you don’t need to worry too much. In terms of personal challenge, some of the higher up elite dungeons are harder than the easier nightmare dungeons. Polaris and Darknes War are very easy in nightmare difficulty, they only add a few new mechanics and people are well trained to handle them. What people really need to learn for those two dungeons is movement and positioning, which is very similar in either difficulty.

    Hell Raised and Hell Eternal are the next two in the list of easy nightmare dungeons. In either, you will notice some additional challenges from the elites, but for a DPS the hardest part in either still are movement and positioning, so if you can do them reliably in elite, the step up to nightmare is not that hard. There might be reflect shields which kill you if you continue attacking, but you’ll learn those very quickly.

    The only other difference for all four mentioned dungeons is that you might be required to bring a few new abilities for additional functionality.

    For a DPS it boils down to those abilities: Flicker from Elementalism, Cleanup from Shotgun, Win Win from Pistols, Sleight of Hands from the top misc branch and the rocket jump and rocket science from the rocket launcher aux weapon. Due to your chosen setup, Win Win is not what you will bring at the moment, but it’s enough if one of the three DPS in group has it, so you shouldn’t worry about that.

    If you still don’t want experience the frustration of a random group of veterans dragging you along without giving you and help, you might want to look at the Sanctuary and Noobmares channels. (In game /chat join Noobmares and /chat join Sanctuary, then enable them in your chat tab to access them. )

    Those channels are dedicated to helping players, the first mostly by providing information, the second by forming dungeon groups where you generally also get some guidance and don’t experience any pressure. Mind you, all groups generally are happy to have a beginner along, completing a dungeon with a first-timer in group gives extra token rewards at the end. They more than compensate for the lower performance of a beginner. Why you should go for a guided tour thus is not so much for the group, but for your own enjoyment and being trained on the job.

    All that being said, I could offer you membership in my Cabal. I could list many advantages, among them that we do train our new members. (After all, we’re a small Cabal, everybody is considered valuable and paid attention to. ) Unfortunately i see one deciding disadtantage for you: We seem to play at completely different times. I managed to see you only once on my friends list within the last weeks, but you are playing and progressing. Thus i think that my Cabal won’t be of help for you, it’s very active at European primetime but desertet at other times.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I think I’ve ready that name a few times, but next to having seen a few of them in dungeon runs at some time, I know little about them. [I might mistake them for another Cabal, but i think the randomizer for elite dungeons grouped me with four of them a few weeks ago. ]

        When pondering that I conclude that this actually is positive. Usually I hear bad stuff about a Cabal when an applicant speaks about their history. I generally disregard such stuff, but when you get several new members which are polite and well behaved and report similar stuff from a Cabal, there might be some truth to it. And there is one rather large Cabal out there, I won’t tell the name, where several members went the length to attack and insult me and other members of my Cabal after we accepted somebody who left that Cabal.

        Anyway, you haven’t picked that bad apple, so while not knowing much about The Hive Protocol, i remember the people i was in dungeons with to be competent and good company. 🙂


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