Issue 10 in Screenshots

It’s no secret that reaching Tokyo slowed down my progression in The Secret World. The city itself wasn’t as compelling to explore as other zones have been and the constant loom of death threatening my character at every corner had me running past everything rather than closely observing it. Issue 10 has been a marked improvement, both with regard to the story elements at play and the environments. What I like about this area in Kaidan is the color palette used. Unlike the city which is mostly grey steel and concrete, this area incorporates stunning greens, pinks, reds, and oranges while still feeling melancholic. It’s all the colors of innocence lost, a fallen Eden, and I like the conflicting emotions it evokes.

I’m going to try and avoid giving away too many spoilers, but I will be sharing a series of screenshots depicting my journey through (almost) all of Issue 10 with some commentary. If you haven’t played through it and would like to experience it yourself first, you may want to skip this post. Otherwise here’s a peek at what the story and setting of Issue 10 has to offer.

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I love the way this screenshot captures the lush grass, pink blossoms, and traditional architecture against the backdrop of a more urbanized Tokyo. Looming above them both is a toxic, yellow-grey sky and the four-winged dragon beasts that I’ve seen pass over the city from time to time. I don’t know what they are, but I’m sure I’ll find out eventually.

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Here’s Jung, a young boy who is all alone at the Kindergarten in the Orochi housing compound. He’s one of the kids with special powers that the Orochi are so keen to recruit. Jung is eerie in that he is child-like and sad yet possessing a power so great it would give anyone a god complex. While I’m unsure of all the details, he confirmed my suspicions about Fear Nothing, the Morning Light, and the Orochi.

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Funcom likes to send player characters through these facilities that were once intended for children or teens but now are full of death and monsters. They are one of the more unsettling environments in The Secret World, second only to “The Parking Garage That Shall Not Be Named.”

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I thought this would be like that movie Cocoon so I jumped in the water and ran around. It did not end well for me.

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It turns out the bunny killer is a girl, so my theory that the ubiquitous John and the bunny are one and the same no longer holds water. She’s probably someone else from the Fear Nothing facility but unfortunately I’ve played this mission over such a long span of time that I can no longer recall the names of any girls that may have been foreshadowed as the killer. I vaguely remember a non-Japanese member of the club playing a prominent role in the storyline but I can’t remember what happened to her, she may already be dead.

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Unless it turns out to be Daredevil under that mask, I don’t see how anyone can be such a deadly assassin with no peripheral vision. And who makes bunny masks with a  permanent scowl? I did like this brief moment between my character and the bunny killer though. She seems to be either daring me to stop the assassinations she has planned, or is simply letting me know she has a schedule to maintain. Either way, I really like this character Funcom has created. I’m hoping I get to face her in combat wearing my Chad the Chipmunk mask.

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Restless and Wandering

A couple of weeks ago I noted on Twitter a desire to download several clients back onto my PC— Neverwinter, DCUO, and Blade and Soul— and within a day or two I did along with a few other titles including Tera, Path of Exile, and Wakfu. I haven’t played them all but that initial feeling of wanting to have them available came from a sense of restlessness and wanderlust in my MMO gaming.

I go through this every now and again, a feeling of wanting to play everything and nothing all at once. All game sound inviting yet none seem to keep me from eyeballing other titles in my periphery. I’m not sure what causes this, if anything, or if it’s simply a natural stage in in my gaming habits, much like that pang to revisit World of Warcraft that so many (myself included) have from time to time.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing either, as I enjoy revisiting old flings or discovering new ones, but it does more often than not leave me feeling dissatisfied. “I could have been making progress in Tokyo,” or “I could have gained another level or two in Tree of Savior,” are not uncommon thoughts for me to have after I’ve spent an evening dipping my toes in another title other than my current MMO staples.

However I do find that ultimately allowing for these detours rather than forcing myself to stick with whatever else I’m playing as I did during my WoW raiding days is a kind of pressure valve that allows me to take a step back from where my focus has been and avoid the inevitable burn out that would come otherwise. I was reaching that point with The Secret World and taking a step back to focus on Tree of Savior as well as sample a selection of other MMOs in my Steam library has made those evenings when I do play something to look forward to again.

That said, I’m still not eager to dive back in to TSW exclusively or any other game for that matter. I think I’m going to continue spending my time as the mood carries me and try my best not to worry about the Black Bullion I’m missing out on or the Tokyo missions I have yet to clear. The one casualty in all of this would be my guild, HivePro. I feel bad that shortly after joining I started to play less especially considering others have done the same from what I hear and it’s made for a slimmer pool of members to draw from for dungeons and other group oriented activities.

But again, just as I don’t think I should feel guilty for not playing a game when to do so would feel forced, I don’t think I should feel obligated to log in nightly because of a guild. If it’s a good fit for me and going to last, it will have to include these moments of wanderlust rather than only work so long as they are absent. This is one reason I have refrained from joining guilds so often because I realize I’m not the most dependable member, but I am glad I did in TSW as I have enjoyed the camaraderie and I have no plans to completely sideboard the game anytime soon. I just hope this fits with the culture of the guild and I’m fairly certain it does though, as I’ve seen other members via Twitter playing other MMOs as well. And speaking of Twitter, it’s been a good way for me to stay in touch with several other guild members even when I’m not playing.

For the sake of this blog, my restlessness may be a boon, or it may be a hindrance; I’m not sure. I noticed a significant hit in visits during the first half of April when many of my posts switched from being about Black Desert or TSW and started to focus on Tree of Savior. I’ve been meaning to put together a poll because of that observation as I’m curious which games people prefer, whether they like to read about games they’re playing or ones they are not, if they blog themselves or only read them, etc. It’s not that I intend to tailor content to what’s most popular, but I am interested in the preferences of my readers. Consider it professional curiosity.

So for the next week or two, or perhaps for the next month you’ll still see me writing about The Secret World and Tree of Savior but you’ll likely see a few other titles pop in to say hello as well. If you have an MMO or even single player game that you think I would like or should revisit, now is a good time to let me know. I’ll still be in TSW a couple nights a week as well, and you can find me in Tokyo searching for answers. Since starting Issue 10, things have gotten really interesting there.

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Oh, and don’t worry Jac, I have someone watching the dog whenever I’m away.

 

 

Back in TSW, Finishing Issue #9

Tokyo has been tiresome almost since the moment I stepped foot in the zone. There’s something about the metropolitan atmosphere that kind of killed my enthusiasm for The Secret World and I haven’t been able to establish any momentum in the game since stepping foot in the city, despite having set the goal of completing Issues 9-11 in March. All the grey-blue tones, the depressing atmosphere of a dead city, and the exhausting threat of filth creatures and their AEGIS shields all combine to make Tokyo one of my least favorite areas in TSW.

That isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed moments here and there; the Fear Nothing building was an excellent story chain albeit a little too similar to the Orochi’s facility in Transylvania. And I just met Harumi and her brother, two colorful characters I really liked and I’m glad Issue 13 will have me interacting with them a little more. Nevertheless, right now I see Tokyo as a zone to get through rather than one to enjoy like I did with all the others. I wish there had been a bit more variety, with perhaps an overarching story in Japan, not just Tokyo, that would have included rural areas and people affected by the filth bomb but not as directly as everyone in Tokyo.

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I would love to see an entire zone set in Japan full of rural roads and colorful trees like the ones in this screenshot.

 

There be spoilers ahead… ye’ve been warned.

Because my progress has been going slowly, I’m having a hard time keeping all of the story elements together, having played through the missions over a longer period of time than usual. What I remember though is that I will be searching for the White Rabbit now (the start of Issue 10), an individual who has been killing people on a list of assassination targets before the hired demon assassins have been able to do the job themselves. This White Rabbit is probably related to the Fear Nothing group, likely one of the few members to escape the mass suicide committed by the cult. But whose behind Fear Nothing? Are they related to the Orochi and their experiments on children? And who is John?

One thing The Secret World does really well is telling stories without filling in every last little detail. Some of these questions I have may be answered over the next few Issues but others may remain vague and uncertain. Rarely are loose ends neatly tied together in this game and I think that’s intentional. It nurtures the air of mystery and conspiracy that makes The Secret World such a unique MMO and it allows for speculation by the players which may not be conclusive, but it is a lot of fun to think about. If there’s one thing that might draw me back in to Tokyo, it will be the story.

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This is what happens when you don’t bring coffee and donuts to a 7am business meeting.

 

However since I’m not as excited about this zone as a whole so far, my plan is to spend 2-3 nights a week playing through two main or part of a story mission and however many side missions I come across. This way I can make progress slowly even if I’m not as eager to play as I once was. To be clear, it’s not the game I don’t enjoy— I still love the combat and suspenseful horror of the stories being told, it’s the environment that just doesn’t work for me.

I may also queue for a dungeon or for PvP each time I play as well but for the most part I want to make progress through Tokyo without getting burned out on The Secret World. Because I’m slowing down a bit, I’m not as concerned about upgrading my gear even though it will happen passively regardless so on my list of goals, I will make some progress but it is unlikely to be completed this month. Doing things this way ought to get me through the Tokyo issues I have left in a couple of months and then I can check out the new Issue that Funcom just released.

For those of you who have played through Tokyo, what did you think of the zone? Where would you rank the environment among the others in TSW? What about the story?

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I must admit, sometimes even the muted greys and blues of Tokyo can be beautiful.