Chaos Theory What I wish I had known when I started TSW
Getting into The Secret World can be tricky. As I said a few months ago, this game is a fusion of the MMO with the adventure game, and that requires a mental adjustment if you're going to really enjoy things. That's not where the divergence ends, of course; you have the limited questing system, the AP skill wheel, the dozen or so currencies, the travel system, and the separation of statted gear and cosmetic outfits to understand.

With promotions, sales, and new issues keeping the game in the spotlight, new folks are constantly entering the game just as I did over a year ago. I look back at my first month or so in The Secret World and wince at the way I kept trying to play the game like a standard MMO and becoming frustrated when it resisted my attempts to do so. If I had to sum up that month, it would be "messy." I eventually persevered, graduated from Solomon Island, and found my footing in TSW, but it could've been a lot smoother if I had just understood a few things that I shall now pass on to you.

Chaos Theory What I wish I had known when I started TSW
So what did I wish I had known when I started The Secret World?

1. Commit to a build

Here's my issue with the early game: AP is in short supply, and it's very easy to waste a lot of it fiddling around with different weapons and builds. My character's SP and AP screens are a roadmap of mistakes, second guesses, and wasted AP (and shush those of you who say "AP is never wasted!" Yes, it can be if you're not going to ever use those skills and could really use that AP elsewhere. That's the definition of waste).

What I needed to do was to commit to a build from the get-go. Man, I wish I had done this instead of constantly changing my mind, because I would have progressed faster, further, and with less headache than I did. These days, TSW comes with beginner and advanced deck templates that one can choose while figuring out how the game works, and I highly recommend that a new player stick to one of these until Egypt. Get a solid build that you can always fall back on, and then start experimenting with tweaks and other builds.

2. Save up sequins, get QL6 weapons for Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain, the third and final zone of Solomon Island, is a serious wall against which many players smash, flounder, and perish. Due to my aforementioned AP wastage and spreading out my SP too thin (I kept switching weapons), I was only QL3 or QL4 when I got to Blue Mountain. Big mistake. Everything thrashed me and I became completely miserable until I slunk back to Savage Coast and redid a bunch of missions to prop up my build.

In any case, you're going to need to be in QL6 gear in Blue Mountain so as to not have a horrible time, and the best way to go straight to awesometown is to save up all of your Solomon Island sequins that you get in Kingsmouth and Savage Coast. Seriously, don't spend any of them until you get to Blue Mountain, then splurge to get the QL6 weapons and any other extras you can afford. Doing all of the quests prior to Blue Mountain will probably put you in QL5s, which is enough to make a start in the new zone. But blue-quality QL6 weapons from the get-go are a godsend.

Chaos Theory What I wish I had known when I started TSW
3. Keep sprint skills up to date

It's a small thing, but I really didn't know that I should've been upgrading my sprint skill after I achieved a few levels with the Templars. You need to go back to your faction's headquarters and find the vendor that sells the sprint upgrades. Since this is your "mount" for all intents and purposes, it's not going to help if you're just slowly jogging everywhere. Some of these zones are big.

4. Keep track of easy missions to repeat

I wasn't really keeping track of anything in my first run-through, at least initially. I overlooked side quests and wasn't really grasping why one would want to repeat a mission. Now I know a lot better: Some missions are worth repeating because you know how to do them faster, you get to build up that precious AP/SP reserve, and you can choose other rewards. Even if you're just breaking down gear for mats, that's something.

I've seen some websites that have figured out quick mission chain routes that allow you to pick up and complete a bunch of missions within 30 to 45 minutes. That's all well and good, but if nothing else you should note which missions were straightforward and profitable in terms of time-to-reward.

Chaos Theory What I wish I had known when I started TSW
5. Don't be in a rush to progress

As you can surmise from my testimony so far, my biggest problem was that I felt like I had to rush through the zones in typical MMO fashion instead of realizing that there were only eight of them and that each was meant to consume a lot of time. I started skipping content in my overeager desire to move on, and in so doing I missed out on plenty of rewards -- and fun quests -- that would've helped in those initial weeks.

So now that I'm going back through the game with an alt, I am slowly and meticulously taking my time. I'm not only doing every quest, but every single side quest (which are often pretty dang cool in their own right). My goal isn't to get to the end, but to just soak up the story, progress at a reasonable pace, and really look at the details and the world. There's so much here that speeding through the game is like skimming a terrific novel; you might get the gist, but you'll be robbing yourself of a richer experience.

6. The /reset command is your fast-travel friend

Finally, figuring out how to quickly traverse zones only came to me toward the end of my first run. Nobody really told me that suiciding via the /reset command would allow me to choose an anima well for resurrection and effectively teleport across the zone. Once I found this out, it made navigating the game so much better. This /reset command coupled with the friend meet-up feature is the best way to travel until Funcom decides to makes the current system somewhat less annoying.

That's what I wish I had known. What about you?

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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