A lot changed in The Secret World once I made my way past Transylvania, past Issues 6-8, and into Tokyo. Progression up until that point felt very linear; I used skill points to equip better talismans and weapons and then I used my action points to improve my deck building potential. Talismans and weapons were dropped by mobs frequently enough that I was able to keep gear relevant to the content I was doing most of the time. It broadened quite a bit after Transylvania though when I began collecting custom QL10 gear but now that I’ve reached Tokyo I feel like I’m drowning in a list of things I need to upgrade.
This is where the game really separates the newly arrived from the veterans. I assumed that Tokyo and Issues 9-13 would be similar to the previous issues but instead, along with upgrading my custom gear for nightmare dungeons I also have AEGIS controllers to upgrade that use the same currency. I wasn’t expecting this and so now I’m torn between improving my controllers so that combat in Tokyo gets a little easier (and I’m assuming it’s required to have upgraded AEGIS gear for Tokyo dungeons) and continuing to upgrade my talismans and weapons at least to QL 10.4. And I haven’t even touched the augment system yet.
Compare my situation to that of a veteran, who would have likely entered Tokyo with gear already upgraded much further than my own. In Tokyo they would have still needed to upgrade the AEGIS controllers but it would be the only thing they needed to upgrade. I’m not complaining, nor do I think the answer is some kind of catch up mechanic, it’s just something I’ve thought about once I realized AEGIS was more than just a combat mechanic but a whole new upgrade treadmill. If you were playing the game before Issue 9 was released you’ll have a much different experience stepping into Tokyo than if you started the game for the first time sometime after the introduction of Tokyo. When these systems were introduced, they were designed to be experienced one at a time over a long period of time but as a new player they stack up rather quickly.
When I first reached Tokyo I was under the impression I would get through Issues 9-13 as quickly as I went through 6-8 and would easily be ready for Issue 14 like everyone else when it released. Now I’m thinking Tokyo will be a much slower experience (not a bad thing, mind you) and it may be much longer before I feel “caught up” to the current content. I’m finding the missions themselves to be a little more challenging as well, so much so in fact that I had to recruit some help to get through the first tier of an action mission given by the demon Inbeda. The main storyline has also included quests that are both long and often quite challenging. I will never enter a TSW parking lot again.
Basically I’ve had to reset my expectations for how long Tokyo will take to complete and how long it will be before I am able to play through new content upon its release. I don’t think I’ll be ready by Issue 14 but I’m hoping by the time we start hearing about 15 I’ll have completed Tokyo, finished upgrading my gear, and be well on my way to being (relatively) caught up with the longtime veterans. That is of course nothing to complain about, all it means is that there’s even more content available in this game than I had originally thought.