Chaos Theory  Been there, done that, got the guardian event Tshirt in TSW
The hardest part about writing about The Secret World's anniversary Guardians of Gaia event was stopping long enough to write! No, seriously, it was completely addicting; you kept thinking, "Oh, just one more guardian," and soon the entire day and half of the night was gone. And then the weekend. I should know because I hardly left the game this past week! (But let's keep that between us, shall we?)

What could be so compelling that it kept me logged in for more hours than I'm willing to admit even to comrades at a gaming site? It all started innocently enough: I simply came to the aid of someone trying for a guardian pet reward. Quite the critter aficionado myself, I was more than happy to help, Sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong! That was only the beginning. Little did I know what I was truly in for as the event turned out to be a veritable smörgåsbord of AP, SP, and loot as well as a shining example of community cooperation. And I got a t-shirt!

Unfortunately, it couldn't all be sunshine and kittens... I mean gloom and golems (this is TSW after all!). Something invariably has to go wrong, or it wouldn't be a true MMO, right? There was a definite black cloud that hung over the otherwise festive occasion. And I hope it is one that Funcom will address and dispel for any future events.
Pets, glorious pets!
Pet rescue
It turns out that the Guardians of Gaia event was slightly addicting, and by slightly I mean extremely. You see, I am a pet addict. I love pets, especially pixel ones. I mean, where else can you have your own robots, monkeys, gurracks, and other assorted wildlife? The pets don't even have to have any particular use -- I just want them. Ever since those first twin narglatches in Star Wars Galaxies, I've desired to collect every pet I could get my paws, claws, wings, or whatever on in every game that allows them. The Secret World is certainly no different.

For every guardian defeated during this special event, you'd get a loot bag. In addition to flares, black bullion currency, eyewear, and signets, those bags could possibly hold a mini version of that behemoth as a personal pet. How could I resist? Not to mention it was my civic duty to rescue those poor things from the bags they were stuffed in!

The Fire Guardian
After I helped out the one player, he shared the location of another guardian. Although he still didn't get his pet, I did. Once I saw this cute little fire guardian, I was smitten. But honestly, I was happy with the one and pleased that I was able to participate in the event. After all, with so many of those dimension and instances out there, my chances of just happening upon another were quite low, so no need to get all worked up, right?

I was so naive.

As it turns out, there was a quick fix available to feed my pet addiction. Some players created a personal channel called anniversity (no, that isn't a typo) where they'd call out the various locations where the giant golems were spotted. All I had to do to get there was friend the caller, select meet up on that player, and voilà! I was in the right dimension and headed toward my next guardian conquest and loot bag. Oh, was I hooked. It may have been the epitome of a grind, just rushing from fight to fight to fight, but it was the most entertaining grind I've ever done. And I am not alone in those sentiments. One players' sentiments of "I'd call that event an absolute blast!" were mirrored by many.


It took me a few days -- and numerous fights -- but I finally acquired all the pets, with the exception of the lunar metal one in Fusang (we'll discuss that more later). Do you think I stopped then? Nope. Apparently fighting massive world bosses nets a pretty good chunk of AP and SP, not to mention XP and cash. I was getting so much AP and SP that I had to constantly spend them down to get below the cap! And those double days? *swoon* Thanks to this event, both my personal toon and my streaming toon have completed multiple decks and gained access to numerous skill level 10 weapons. I honestly couldn't stop until I was forcibly cut off at the end of the event this morning. And boy, do I have the leftover bags to show for it!

Building community
What impressed me most about the Guardians of Gaia event was that it was more than just gorging on skills and abilities. It pulled the community together in a way I hadn't ever seen before. It wasn't just the folks who created and led the #anniversity channel, either; it was also all those who gave up other gameplay to run out and constantly look for the bosses, those who were respectful in the custom channel and helped others via tells, those who jumped into fight after fight long after their personal goals and needs were met (capped AP/SP, all pets) so that others had a chance at getting the rewards, those who accepted meetups, those who pulled adds off others, and those who willingly traded or gave loot bags away to others without price gouging. It is reported that at one point over 1000 players were in the channel working together, yet there were few trolls spoiling the fun.

I saw the best of The Secret World's playerbase this past week, and it makes me proud to be a part of it. So while special props go to lordstarfox, Cobin, Rumeyes, Wrong-Way, Aerly, Disania, Spiltmilk, and more, kudos go out to the whole community! New and returning players alike felt welcomed and part of a vibrant community.

Chaos Theory  Been there, done that, got the guardian event Tshirt in TSW
The big black eye
The big glaring black eye that besmirched the event wasn't even the horrendous lag that brought even higher-end machines to practically a stand-still and turned boss fights into a slideshow (if you could see the boss at all!). No, the biggest problem can be summed up in one word: Fusang. A while back, the Fusang Projects for all the separate dimensions were actually merged into only two instances to boost the population in that persistent PvP zone. That's all well and good for the PvP crowd during normal play, but it turned into a nightmare when a PvE event was added to the mix. Basically, Fusang broke. As it turns out, Fusang really can't handle when every single player queues to go in. Go figure, right?

Lunar Metal petThe anniversary event was slated to end on the 8th; however, because players couldn't get into Fusang to get the lore or participate in the boss fight, it was extended another week. Unfortunately, even despite numerous downtimes and hotfixes, it was still never completely fixed. Only one of the two instances was accessible reliably, spurring some players to go make characters on those servers just to get in and get a pet. Yet another admitted, "I wanted the pet bad enough I paid $20 for a server transfer to the B group so I could queue." Me, I draw the line at paying to move off my preferred server!

Still more were like me, hanging out in endless queues. I was queued to enter Fusang the entire week -- one day for 12 hours straight -- with no luck. I did get to sneak my main character in once only because the server actually came back online 30 minutes earlier than expected after one fix. But even after more than four days in the queue, I could never return, though not for a lack of trying.

Even when queues worked, it was difficult to get in. Why? Because the loot bag had a guaranteed drop of the lunar metal pet. And since the slots for Fusang are limited, if no one leaves a full Fusang, no one else gets in. This led to some players farming and hoarding the loot bags in order to sell them for exorbitant prices. Funcom did step in and try to negate this practice by making the Fusang loot bags unique so players could have only one at a time. Of course, that did nothing to assist the dimensions that had the broken queue.

Chaos Theory  Been there, done that, got the guardian event Tshirt in TSW
Of particular annoyance was the fact that to finish the PvE event, you had to get into Fusang for that last piece of lore. The good news is that the lore is remaining in the world for a while even though the guardians have vanished, so folks should find it easier to get in and get that last piece. Hopefully I can actually get in sometime this week. But why even have that kind of requirement in the first place? Trust me, plenty of players raged about it. Even mellow me was pretty frustrated by it.

Been there, done that -- got my T-shirt!Personally, I think a possible reason may have been to spur PvE folks to leave their comfort zone and experience another part of the game, and it worked. I overheard more than one player exclaim after his first trip into the PvP realm that he liked it and planned to return. But even if this was the intention, the execution was horrid.

Maybe Funcom just didn't anticipate the popularity of this event (to which I say DUH! Pets were involved!) or how players would band together to make access to the battles a never ending merry-go-round that filled instances to the point of breaking. Regardless, I hope the devs take this as a learning experience and address a few issues before the next event, like that a key part of events needs to be accessible fairly to all parties. Keeping dimensions from crashing when full (especially during boss fights) and fixing the slideshow lag that was painfully evident in Fusang would also be greatly appreciated.

That said, my little army of guardians and I look forward to the next event. How will Funcom top this one?

Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ and Justin every Monday as they infiltrate The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to mj@massively.com or justin@massively.com and they'll jump on the case!

This article was originally published on Massively.
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