It's no secret that The Secret World is just a wee bit different than the majority of MMORPGs out there. Hallelujah for that, right? And one notable area it differs from the rest is how it treats gear and classes. As such, players can't necessarily bring habits and know-how from other titles and translate that into immediate success in TSW. It's no wonder that even good players can sometimes feel stumped or at a loss when navigating through builds. For that very reason, Chaos Theory brought you the first episode of What Not to Wear, a live makeover that focused on sharing hints and tips that non-theorycrafters (like yours truly) could use as a base for forging their own path.
It was a simple makeover really -- just minor changes in my focus and equipment using gear I already had in my bag and abilities I already had access to. Did it help? Did my effectiveness as a damage-dealer increase? The outcome was rather surprising.
Could following those few minor adjustments really affect my damage output significantly? To put it mildly, yes. And I've got the visual proof to back it up! But let's examine the numbers first.
Remember when I noted that you shouldn't let a lower-quality level dissuade you from equipping gear? I already mentioned that my attack increased when I dropped a QL 10 talisman for a QL 6, but I didn't elaborate on just how much; that one gear swap alone bumped my attack from 470 to 675. Since I now knew what to look for, I scoured through my bags and bank and found a few more items better tailored for the DPS build we discussed, so I then I changed out two more talismans and swapped out the glyphs in two others.
My final result: two blue talismans (head and neck) and five green, half of which were QL levels 5 to 7. Of the glyphs, the two I swapped out were QL levels 4 and 6. All green items were looted from the world, although I believe one of the blues may have come from a dungeon. Nothing terribly fancy, just stuff I already had. Yet in the end, my attack went up to 1135. Pretty decent jump, no? But of course, it didn't stop there. We already knew my health would take nosedive (by half!), but the changes also lowered by hit rating from 140 to 70 and my crit power rating from 160 to 60. However, my crit rating went from 38 to 149 and my penetration shot from 109 to 249.
The numerical change in stats from the makeover is obvious, but the true test comes in how it performs. And boy, did it perform! I was actually amazed at the immediate difference the new stats and my change in focus to ranged made. Just as a single degree course correction for a ship can lead to a vastly different destination, these minor alterations made the difference between repeated deaths and actually completing the mission. But you don't have to take my word for it; you can see for yourself. Here's a video in which I attempted to complete the Tyler Freeborn story arc right before the makeover (beginning at the 17:35 mark):
Ouch. Not exactly a pretty sight, huh? Well, now take a look at the result of putting these slight modifications in gear and thinking (meaning I moved to ranged) into practice:
Besides the gear swaps, I also took the advice to move to ranged and rigged up a build of abilities that focused on my rifle instead of my sword. Note, I didn't have to spend a single AP for this change, as I had already bought them while working on the Slayer build. I kept the sword build for the first encounter since I already knew it worked, then switched to ranged. And voila! I finally succeeded in conquering not only my filth-infused nemesis Norma but the entire mission.
It's fair to say that a number of players have their own version of a Norma nemesis, a personal brick wall in game that they just can't quite knock down. If your weapon QL is appropriate for the zone, perhaps these hints for strategy and gear can help give you that extra oomph to finally break through.
I love the dialogue that has opened up about this topic. I've said it before and will say it again: One of the great things (of many, I know) about The Secret World is that it doesn't rely on cookie-cutter players playing cookie-cutter classes in, you guessed it, cookie-cutter gear. I love and celebrate the fact that players can take "recommended" builds and turn them completely on their heads, finding success in something totally original and even unorthodox.
However, this makeover guide specifically targeted those folks who either haven't had the time to research and experiment with builds or just found themselves stuck for whatever reason. It's meant to be a foundation that players can build off of, not an end-all. Can truly successful DPS be melee? Of course they can! But for folks just trying to get the hang of things, ranged really is easier, precisely because it gives you more maneuverability and a wider field of vision to see how the fights are progressing.
The important thing to remember is that these hints are just a starting point. Perhaps players who get the feel of things using them will gain enough confidence to branch out and experiment even more with different builds. Or maybe something will spark an idea that leads to something else altogether. There is no single right answer. It's all customizable to your own personal playstyle; a build that works for one may not work well for another, and that's totally OK. So once you feel up to it, please do experiment and make your build your own. (Just remember when doing so that a single weapon change -- even within the same category --can totally change how a build works.)
As promised last week, to conclude our discussion I'll add yet another tip provided by our helpful makeover artist Infohound from the Arcadia server. The following point may be stored in the back of many players' minds but be actually overlooked in practice: When you're building your toolbar, passive abilities are not tied to your weapons like active abilities are. In other words, you can use passives from any part of the ability wheel regardless of what weapons you currently have equipped. Is there a passive in pistols that would complement your sledgehammer abilities? Then by all means, get it! Keep in mind, however, that you cannot pick and choose what order you buy your abilities in, so to acquire a particular passive in a tree, you will have to purchase all of the preceding abilities first.
It is also important to keep in mind that you can have passives that trigger off of active abilities. For instance, Infohound pointed out that in the assault rifle tree, the passive ability Extra Bullet adds an additional hit to the active Safety Off. If that doesn't seem like a big deal, consider that using the two together gives you a 33% increase in DPS every time you use Safety Off.
And don't forget those little green zones between the different weapons. Players can find everything from threat enhancers (for tanks), threat reducers (for everyone else), and even self heals there. And you won't need tons of AP saved up to get them; some of the really good abilities are all under 16 AP. There's sure to be an ability or two there that could be useful in at least one of your builds.
Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ every Monday as she infiltrates 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and she'll jump on the case!