Welcome to this weekend’s Noob’s Tale! As The Secret World noob that I am, making all the mistakes was unavoidable. Fortunately, it also lead to the sort of funny situations that we usually remember quite fondly as “that time when…” and then proceed to facepalm at our own ignorance. The upcoming series will be telling you all about my struggles starting in The Secret World and – hopefully – advancing past the first few levels.
The first thing that hit me when I started was the character creation. Sure, it’s not Black Desert Online-type rich, but it was quite generous for an MMO already a few years old (The Secret World launched in 2012). I tried to make a “simple” character, as I was already feeling the impending doom of noobish mistakes leading me to abandon it. But somehow I still managed to spend half an hour trying out most features available, so that flopped.
Ah well, it wouldn’t be so bad, perhaps, I thought, hitting next for the introductory cinematic. Surely I wouldn’t be *that* bad and need to redo a character all over…. Right? Well, what did I know!
Sure, the beginning was all good as I just had to stroll around London and go to my faction’s headquarters – I picked Templars. To be completely honest, Dragons were extremely appealing. Chaos, mystery, and harmony through destruction is all a girl could wish for! But in the end, I guess I was too attached to my “real life identity” for lack of better words.
The three factions make sense to players in my opinion via either their traits or their geographical dominance. It sounds reductionist and stereotyping perhaps, but it’s simply sticking to the lore, game info and IRL knowledge: Templars equals Europe (the Old Guard as they call it); Dragon equals Asia (roughly); Illuminati equals the Americas. I hear it is quite interesting to experience the main story mission through each faction’s storytelling style, so maybe next time I’ll be a Dragon.
Next important step in defining my char? Once I got to the faction HQ I got pretty much boot camped into the basement to pick my starting weapons, two of them, to be precise. These can be any combination between the available melee, ranged and magic attack types. I’m usually an in-your-face melee type, but this time I thought I’d try something a bit more survival-oriented. In other words, I wanted to keep my distance from whatever might be awaiting me after leaving the cozy warm HQ and snipe!
The shotgun seemed like a decent option for that purpose, but then I had to pick a second weapon, and that’s where madness started… you see, having plenty of freedom is great, but it’s also quite the time sink when you just can’t decide. After reading through pretty much all the abilities in the talent tree, I went for Blood Magic. My goal was sniping and staying alive, and Blood Magic had some pretty nice heals and buffs, so it fit.
I thought I was done discovering things for the time being… But wait, there’s more! Apparently I had received some bonus content because of having a special edition, so I was able to pick up better starter weapons from the in-game menu. Woah, I didn’t have to run around with nondescript noob weapons? Would I actually snipe everything like a pro? That had to be tested, so with my new weapons equipped, I ventured to the first mission area, Kingsmouth.
Needless to say, those weapons were indeed way better than most of the loot I got during the next day or two of playing. But did I get owned in the first few minutes I spent in that map? I sure did! The first few missions introduced me to more particular mechanics that might be used to eliminate mobs. In this case, it meant jumping on cars to start their alarm and attract all nearby mobs, then quickly spill and ignite a pool of gasoline so that they would run through and lose most of, if not all of their health pool.
That’s really cool. Unless you are a suicidal pyromaniac. You can probably guess what came next… I basically tripped and fell off the car, landing in the pool of fire. I’m not sure if the mobs even went through it, though I’m quite sure only one or two out of the six were actually burning. I was too busy hitting the heal buttons like a maniac while running, in flames, around the car with them chasing me. It didn’t get much better when I also accidentally slipped (well my finger did) and I jumped back up on the car, triggering it again. This caused another pack to come running while the other was still quite alive and, well, there was no more gasoline to ignite.
… I promise, I’m better than this normally. I think. I hope. I can’t deny being a suicidal pyromaniac though, but in my defense these pools of fire were less predictable than the usual ones in World of Warcraft raids! If anything, I actually had a bit of trouble discerning where certain effects “ended” on the ground so I had to up the Gamma levels a bit. The Secret World is a bit of a dark game, literally.
With that awkward incident out of the way, I proceeded to the next few cars and handled things in a more organized fashion. What threw me a bit when I got to the first quest hub was the inability to take more than a certain amount of missions at a time. Around ten minutes were wasted just trying to figure what mission would be best to take and do first so that I can do the proper secondary missions at the same time in the same area.
Obviously, I picked wrong. I was resolved not to peek at walkthroughs or mission guides, which pretty much meant waddling through the unknown. In my case spending double the amount of time running around doing missions, and then going back to the same place because other missions also took place there but I hadn’t paired them properly.
This isn’t a bad thing in itself. If anything, I thought it was a bit refreshing and slightly more realistic. I mean, who would run around with this mile-long parchment rolling out of their pockets, ticking off missions on the to-do as if it were a shopping list? It’s what we normally do, but this seems to be a mechanism for the game to “force” players to pay attention to the story and to what they are doing.
Speaking of story, I essentially had to choose between watching every cutscene introducing “main” missions or skipping them and reading the description later. I was a bit too excited to go kill stuff, so in the end I skipped quite a few of those, while being amazed that there would actually be a short clip for each assignment.
Fast forward, I was pretty much halfway through the map, feeling the definite benefits of having better weapons. Things died quite fast and my self-healing was awesome. I was even using the secondary Blood attacks, the chain one was really cool to pull with so I figured I’d have a pretty easy life navigating higher level maps. Yeah, I was feeling all too powerful again. Like before that car-fire mob incident. If the past is any indication, I should have been a bit more wary of it.
After finishing the story mission parts set in Kingsmouth, I realized the next ones would be in the second area, Savage Coast. I was already mowing down everything that stood in my way, so I jumped right into it without really taking the time to finish all secondary mission or even all action missions in Kingsmouth.
Bad. The first quest hub almost got me killed again, and not because I stood in fire. The mobs were faster and stronger and I was completely oblivious to the existence of stuns or slows. Why? I hadn’t needed them much while blowing up everything so easily in Kingsmouth. So I took a break again trying to figure out my abilities and making attacks interact with one another effect-wise. That’s the story of how I rebuilt my rotation, using a combination of applying afflicted on pull, slowing things down due to said afflicted state, and self-healing as necessary when things reached me. Did it work?
… Not really. I was going way slower, and couldn’t really figure out why. Was it my gear? Was it the mobs? Was it my abilities? This was probably a wake-up call. As unbalanced and fast-paced as the previous map had been due to my bonuses and relative easy difficulty of mobs and missions, the next part would definitely not be the same.
After a quick browse I realized my weapons were a bit underpowered, and also that the skills I chose somewhat randomly were probably not really the best to take me through the entirety of the game. I tried reinvesting some points into different specs, and even considered taking up a new weapon, but that required way too many ability points that I simply didn’t have and that it would take ages to build up considering how slowly I was questing. I tried going back to Kingsmouth to do more missions but it didn’t help much, my skills and abilities were too much of a mess already.
I could tell you pretty stories of how I managed to turn things around for my first character. That I bravely fought my way through missions and grinded enough skill and ability points to swap and use better attacks, and mow everything down again. But the sad reality is that she is still sitting there in that Savage Coast shop, pondering my many noobish mistakes and probably frowning at me every time I’m in the character selection screen and try to ignore her existence.
Will I make things right for that character one day? Maybe. You know, once I’m done with many other things and grow bored. But that’s probably a long, long time from now. Meanwhile, are you curious what happens next? In a week’s time you can join me for another Noob’s Tale, as I embark on a second journey via a new character in The Secret World. Hopefully this one will have a happier ending… let’s find out together next week in the second Noob’s Tale! ^^
We all have that “first character ever”, the one who suffered for our learning. So it’s your turn. Does anyone still have it? Is anyone still playing it? Did anyone manage to salvage the unsalvageable and turn around the fate of the char that usually gets sacrificed and deleted to make place for a shiny, well-planned, epic counterpart? We’d love to hear about it, so don’t hesitate to share your stories!Related: A Noob's Tale, Column, Funcom, MMORPG, The Secret World