Now that Blingzilla is no longer roaming the lands tempting everyone with goodies galore (or turning movement into a stroll through a mire of molasses), players can get back to the business of experiencing all that The Secret World has to offer. And with the recent tweaks and enhancements, not to mention the incredible sales, there are definitely more folks getting in on the conspiracy-laden action. For those who absolutely love the game, it’s awesome to see so many new faces wandering the streets of Solomon Island. We know that these new players are definitely in for a real treat — if they can stick with it!
Even knowing that TSW is unlike the other MMOs out there doesn’t insulate newbies from how jarring it can be when playing for the first time; the sheer unfamiliarity of it all can leave folks floundering and feed frustration. That’s where players throw in the towel, thereby missing out on all that is great about the game. No one wants that! So here are the first six of my 12 total tips — ranging from hints to help shift the way you think about this MMO to practical tricks during gameplay — to ease your transition to becoming a TSW player and maximize the beginner experience.
1. There is no such thing as a respec
This one fact seems to throw people for a loop every time: There are no repecs in TSW. Most MMO players have experienced the twinge (or deep stab) of regret when spending some equivalent of skill points on something they ultimately don’t want. In games where there is a finite number of points to utilize, there is often a way to refund those misspent points and go for something more desirable. Not so in The Secret World; once you spend AP or SP, it is gone for good. But that doesn’t mean you are SOL on getting what you want; it just means you have to earn more to spend more. And while there is no cap on how much AP and SP you can earn, there is a cap on how much you can hold unspent at one time, and you can ultimately get every single skill in game. (Bonus hint: Events with giant golems are great ways to gather AP and SP fast!)
I know this can frustrate players who want to switch weapons or builds without feeling as if they’re starting over. But you aren’t starting over: Those skills and abilities you have purchased will always be there for your use whenever you want! This is one of the unique aspects of TSW: The ability to move freely among all the abilities is one of the game’s assets and is actually one of the forms of progression. Think of it as a way to satisfy the cravings of alt-itis without having to physically reroll new characters each time you want to try something new. It also prevents respeccer’s remorse, where you find you liked what you had better the first time but are suddenly stuck.
2. You can use passives from any part of the wheel, not just your equipped weapons!
Boy, this is one tip I wish I knew when the game first started: You don’t have to restrict yourself to the passives of your currently equipped weapons. Heavens, I didn’t even catch on to this until way later in the game! The starter decks (which were a later addition to the ability wheel) hint at this, but it still isn’t made clear. The fact is that passives — those purple-iconed abilities — are not restricted to your weapons of choice. That means that a sweet, sweet passive that sits in the assault rifle section but would benefit your chaos and shotgun build can be slotted and used. Of course, some folks begrudge having to spend points in the AR tree in order to get to that desired passive, but just think of it as an investment for later when you might actually want to give AR a shot.
3. Take advantage of the atmosphere
This tip is not so much on how to play but on how to make the most of playing. Unless you are someone who is super unnerved by horror and scary things (and kudos to you for playing TSW in spite of that!), you should seriously consider taking full advantage of the amazing atmosphere of the game. You can more fully enhance your experience by playing in a dark room with a headset or surround sound. I am not kidding when I say it cranks up the intensity of it all by a quite a few notches! If you want to really feel immersed in the game, this is one way to draw yourself deeply in.
4. Utilize the in-game web browser
Speaking of immersion, there is another aspect that really helps make things real: the in-game web browser. You do not have to tab out of the game and break your immersion to further search for answers to the game’s mysteries. Simply press “b” to dive into the web. And just so you know, the browser isn’t necessarily about taking the easy route and looking up solutions, though you can do that as well. If you come across a web address while doing a mission, look it up! Nothing in TSW is there by chance or just as filler. That web address could very well be the key solving your mission. (And they are just darn fun to peruse!)
5. Joining Sanctuary and other helpful chat channels
As much as The Secret World can be played alone, there comes a time when community is not only desired but needed. What if you are stuck on an investigation mission but don’t want to just look up the answer? How about when you are having difficulty with a particular task and need an extra set of hands? Whom can you turn to? Luckily, TSW has a great and helpful community — you just need to know how to get in touch with them!
The best way to connect with the most helpful folks is through the in-game mission hints channel and the player-made Sanctuary chat channel. Unlike many games, TSW does not have an all-inclusive general chat. The general chat channel is restricted to the particular dimension that a player is on, whether or not it is his home dimension. (Freebie hint: Starting dimensions do not matter much as players can move freely among them to play together, but it can matter as to what primary language is spoken in general chat.). Mission hints, on the other hand, is a dimension-wide channel and focuses on trying to offer a few little hints to help you along instead of giving away answers. The Sanctuary is filled with folks who are willing to jump in with knowledge or even a hand if needed. To join this channel, simply type [/chat join sanctuary] without the brackets. It has lots of chatter, so if you don’t want that scrolling by all the time, you can just join and leave as needed by right clicking on the general tab. To switch which channel you’re speaking in, just left-click the channel name in chat or right-click and select on the general tab.
6. Save money, make an alt
I know I said earlier that you don’t need an alt in order to experience most of the game, and that is true! The only time you’d need an alt to experience different content is to see the different factions’ cutscenes and read the thematic mission-completion text — that, or to wear clothing as the opposite gender. However, you may want to consider making a mule alt. For an added bonus, make the mule a different faction to possibly play at a later date.
If you want to get into crafting at all, you’ll be breaking gear you loot down into the component parts — and there are lots of components! The best way to prevent clogging your bank and bags, or spending tons of PAX to expand them both, is to dedicate an alt to storing all those runes, elements, and tool kits. And then there’s all those glyphs you collect. Trust me, you want to save money. Not only is PAX the main in-game way to purchase clothing, but you’ll really want the sprinting speed buffs from your faction vendor as soon as you have enough faction to qualify for each one. And those buffs cost a pretty penny when you’re just starting. To move items between characters, just mail them by putting them in the London bank and right-clicking to attach to a mail. Just remember to log over and receive said items, or they will continue to clog your main’s bank space!
To be continued
Just like a Secret World experience, this list is going to build suspense! You don’t get all the answers this time around; six more tips (along with any other bonus ones I might slip in) will be available next week. So stay tuned for next week’s Chaos Theory, which will focus on making the most of your missions.
While you wait, you can enjoy some Secret World adventures tonight on OPTV at 9:00 p.m. EDT. And for those who have yet to start your own TSW adventures but really want to, here’s your chance: One lucky viewer will win a full copy of the game during the stream!