Sadly, after two-plus years in the game, I know I am forgetting some places that I have stumbled across that awed me, more little nooks and crannies that just made me sit back and marvel at the game. And there is only so much room here to write! But here are the ones I can recall right now. Some places are obvious; others are tucked away and harder to find. Some you might expect won't be here, like The Black House (already featured in favorite missions) or Tokyo's Love Hotel (um, because this is a family friendly column!). So take a look, and be sure to add your selections in the comments at the end!
When talking about favorite places in The Secret World, I admit the first one that comes to my mind is the Franklin Mansion, and my straw polls prove I'm not alone. It's like a microcosm of all that is great about the game in one place. It has an awesome, interesting character in Elenore (crazy cat lady, except not crazy), it's got great ambiance, and it's home to some of the great missions. And it has a secret room! Exploring the mansion through various times is quite fun; who doesn't like hippy zombies and psychedelic VW buses? The mansion gives you more of that awesome story and history while instilling a bit of empathy for the things that have been trying to eat your face off.
One of the first of the this-is-so-cool moments that really upped my appreciation for TSW came when I wandered into Suzie's Diner to nab some supplies. The stark contrast of the everyday all-American feel and the blood-splattered bathroom stall just set the stage for appreciating the little details.
While there is honestly nothing really remarkable about this road in and of itself, the fact that Kingsmouth has an Elm Street is just awesome to me. As an avid fan of Nightmare on Elm Street, I have scoured that area for any other little Freddy Krueger Easter eggs. You don't have to be a conspiracy nut to know that nothing in this game is just a coincidence, so you search. The fact that a street name alone can create whole play sessions simply by instigating searches speak volumes.
Elm Street isn't the only one, either. Another that gives me pause and makes me hunt a little more closely is Arkham Avenue. Just because I haven't found anything yet doesn't mean I won't. And the fact that the Kingsmouth Medical Clinic where psychiatrist Dr. Bannerman was studying the filth-infected Joe Slater is located there certainly isn't a coincidence either. And then there's Lovecraft Lane. Don't tell me you didn't pause on that one at least once!
While not anything to really write home about for the living, this place comes to life for the dead! I simply cannot elaborate any more without getting too spoilerish, but those of you who know understand. It was a major "aha" moment in game.
Of the zones on Solomon Island, Savage Coast takes the cake for the most awesomeness. I literally had to refrain from putting too much from here on this list! That said, this list wouldn't be complete without the treehouse. When querying friends, I found the treehouse to be the second-most cited favorite, and it was certainly one I thought of straight off. It's the headquarters of the League of Monster Slayers -- need I say more? It's just a cool place to hang out, and it is the basis of one really fun thread of lore.
I love amusement parks and horror, so masterfully putting the two together is a big win in my book. Add in that one of the missions lets you ride the roller coaster and bingo: favorite place designation guaranteed! I still like just wandering around this area, even without partaking in the missions. Who doesn't want to prowl around a haunted themepark?
While not one of my best memories (but one of my first frustrations), the Boogyman also happened to mark the very first time I had to juggle my decks in order to successfully complete a fight. That helped drive home the fact that the idea of combat is truly different here.
I'm a long-time Stephen King fan, so how could I not love the lighthouse? Out on the edge of the fog, it's home to a TSW version of the infamous author. I want to just rummage through everything there and see if I can find more snippets to read. I even have zoomed in on every page scattered about, just in case. I seriously can't be the only one waiting for a full Sam Krieg novel to come out! Or maybe just a collection of short stories? Just hang around and listen to old Sam sometime; it will be worth it.
Of all the little spots in the three faction starting area, the BlackHole PC wins top prize. Situated over the police station in Seoul, this little internet cafe sports people playing MMOs in an MMO. And that's not the only little jab of irony. While the majority of folks there are playing one specific game (and occasionally peeking at their neighbor's), just take a look at the screensaver on some unused machines. Even the guy behind the desk has it up. Doesn't that look like a nod to another Funcom title to you?
If you've done the mission involving the mother Padurii and the music box, then you've seen this place. It's a quaint little spot tucked away in The Shadowy Forest with a door sporting a heart -- a heart drawn in dripping blood! Add in the fairy rings and fireflies, and you get that juxtaposition again of child-like innocence and malevolent evil. The stuff that just gives you chills!
The Hollander's Mill
There's just something nifty about places that put you really high up, above all the chaos on the ground. The final entry for this list of must see destinations is the windmill in Besieged Farmlands. It's even got a star spotlight as the image on the Agartha portal! Besides just epitomizing eerie, this place houses one of the best little mission mini-instances. When you get to the point you can go inside, you'll see what I mean!
Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ on Thursdays 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 email@example.com and she'll jump on the case!