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Choose My Adventure: Go break a (zombie) leg in TSW

MJ Guthrie

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Or to take arms against a sea of undead, and by opposing, end them...

You're darn tootin' I'm going to end them! That's me, taking up arms against the hordes of zombies. Or more accurately, chopping them off, along with legs, heads, and anything else that gets in the way of my blade! If you have zero interest in fighting reanimated townsfolk with flesh dripping off of them, then The Secret World is probably not the MMO for you. However, if you don't mind dicing, slicing, slashing, shooting, chopping, blasting, or otherwise obliterating said undead, then Kingsmouth really is the place to be! If zombies were a cash crop, that little town would be swimming in the moolah Scrooge McDuck-style.

For the second act of our co-production, Choose My Adventure undertook a massive scenery change. Instead of the concrete jungle of NYC where we began, the story played out in the sleepy streets of a quiet new England town. Well, quiet if you don't count the lip-smacking of the zombies gnawing on everyone. Armed with my rifle, my sword, and of course, your directions, I set off to explore, ameliorate suffering, and eviscerate the hordes of evil in The Secret World.

The Secret World screenshot
My name in lights!

I realize that Act I did not divulge the name of our intrepid Illuminati star. That was actually by design. It's not that I'm hiding in the wings so you can't find me; I invite you to track me down. The main reason is that I really didn't like the name I had tossed in during character creation in order to get the livestream started! Since none of the 10 variations of the name I wanted worked and I didn't want to spend the entire hour agonizing over it, I just plugged in something and ran with it.

The second reason just happens to be fortuitous timing: By remaking my character, I had the opportunity to check out how the character generator changed after the Digging Deeper update finally went live. Pretty sneaky, huh? I knew it would be eons before I could save enough for any of the in-game character remodeling, so this was the perfect opportunity to check things out. So here's the update:

Although I heard a couple of people whine about the lack of new hair styles, I actually noted quite a few when scrolling through my options. In fact, my final decision came down to two new styles! Perhaps it had just been a long while since the complainers created a character and didn't remember well. I, on the other hand, had less than two days between creations, so I could tell very easily. Personally, I thought it was a good variety to start with, and I can easily see more being added over time. And since I noticed a barbershop coupon was available in the cash shop, I can tell you that folks don't even need to fork over 200K in game. At only 150 Funcom points, a haircut is quite the bargain compared to a name change or plastic surgery (1200 F and is 720 F, respectively).

Another quick change worth mentioning is that the make-up styles and hairstyles are now designated not by number but by name in a drop-down menu. Boy, only one week and already some of my information is outdated!

Oh, and lest I forget, the name of the star of our show is *drum roll* Emylia.

The Secret World screenshotA peek backstage

Another comment by a reader reminded me that I did not mention anything about the beginning tutorial last time. Although it is true that I skipped it for the stream (most people have seen it oh-so-many times already), that in no way reflects on the quality of the tutorial. As far as tutorials go, I quite enjoy The Secret World's. It is short and sweet, getting right to the point, but it pulls you right into a story while showing you how to maneuver and use your skills.

Obviously, the ability to opt out of the tutorial once you have been through it a few times is very nice, but everyone should go through it at least a couple of times in order to take part in the story, which is the history of what you are called to deal with in-game. You don't want to miss the awesome visuals, either!

To heal or not to heal -- that was the question

When asking for my next line, I was instructed to declare, "I am healer, hear me roar!" or something to that effect. When I put my skills to your vote, healing abilities edged out support skills when it came to the rifle (277 to 269). So I dutifully began looking up the healing abilities in order to spend my hard-earned AP on them. The first one I could nab was Anima Shot (not to be confused with enema shot). I bought it, I slotted it, and off I went to use it. That's when things got interesting.

Although I have used a heal or two in TSW before, I am not sure I will ever get used to how heals work in-game. Healing in TSW is just unlike anything else I personally have played in that in order to heal, I must attack. At least with my minimal skills so far, a heal is only incoming when I am attacking a mob, so line of sight is dependent not on the healing target but on the mob! I can't tell you how many times I missed healing someone because I turned toward him and lost LOS for the mob. This is really taking some getting used to.

Other than that, I am looking forward to gaining more healing abilities; most are nestled up in the outer ring of the ability wheel and therefore are much more expensive to purchase. (And as side note, I learned the rocket launcher takes 35 Skill Points; even though that takes me from nothing to a full skill-level 10, there is no way that is happening any time soon.)

The Secret World screenshot
One, two, slash him through

When deciding the fate of my swordsmanship, you directed me to focus on damage instead of survivability. Roger that -- slice and dice instead of tank and spank. In the skill points this distinction was easy; however, in the abilities, I am finding it a little less clear. I can tell if an ability is healing by its green color (not foolproof, but pretty reliable), but I have to read each ability in the blades section carefully to make sure I am spending as directed.

As for blade skills, my initial choice was pretty lackluster, and I was disappointed with it. I began wondering whether I'd like using a sword much at all. Luckily for blades, I chose Blade Torrent next, which was more more entertaining to use. I am looking forward to seeing what new effects come for this weapon. However, as with the healing abilities, the outer wheel takes a chunk of AP to purchase, so I am earning and saving.

The Secret World screenshot
Passive-aggressive tendencies

Now that my active ability bar is full (all seven slots are in use), I can already see that getting new abilities is going to cause a bit of crisis for me -- remember, I am decisionally challenged! You see, the more abilities we have, the greater the number of possible combinations, but the limit of seven active slots remains. Anyone who has ever watched me livestream EverQuest II or Vanguard knows my propensity for multiple hotbars! I can't even imagine right now how I am going to choose which ones I want to use and which goes best with which. And that's not even taking into account my passive abilities bar!

Right now, I just let it auto-slot everything I purchase on my way to completing the inner ring for both the rifle and the sword. However, it doesn't take long for that bar to fill up, forcing me to pick and choose. And you can't just toss in any old passive. Because some passives work as a boost to some actives, it's really not very efficient to waste a passive slot when the active isn't slotted!

Emy needs a new pair of skills!

So we know buying those new abilities and skills adds up. Skill points have to be allotted to three different talismans and both weapons! So I really need to rack up the points. The question is, how best should I do it? Should I find some compatriots to make finishing the tasks easier, or do you want me to experience how the solo artist handles things?%Poll-77740%
Also, would you rather I move on to Savage Coast after a single run-through of Kingsmouth or stay and crank out as many of the repeatables as possible? Or do you want to see me dive into the PvP zones as often as possible?%Poll-77923%
Join me next week as I talk more about the quest themselves and report on this week's director's cut! And don't forget to tun in to Massively TV on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. EDT to watch the story unfold live!

Strap yourself in for the ride of (six weeks of) your life! Where are you going? Well, that's entirely up to you, the Massively readers, to decide -- the where, the what, and the how are all directed by you. The who is MJ Guthrie! For the duration of Choose My Adventure, her virtual life is in your hands! Join MJ in-game, on-site, and live on Massively TV to be a part of the adventure and watch the story unfold.

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