It never fails. I am too weak to resist a Secret World dev tour! Even knowing that spoilers will abound, I cannot help myself — I must see what’s in store. I call it my civic duty; after all, I need to report it to you, yes? Of course, you could just wait a smidgen and see for yourself when Issue #13 releases this week, but why torture yourself needlessly? I already tortured myself for you! I sat down with Lead Designer Romain Amiel and Community Manager Andy Benditt to play through parts of the new story, check out the holiday clothing, and (obviously) take tons of screenshots. I did manage to avoid reading the lore I collected at least.
So do you want to see what’s in Trail of Shadows? You are in the right place. Warning! Some spoilers lie ahead, but I try to avoid anything too major.
I’ll start with the most spoiler-free information, just in case you wandered here accidentally. As with the most recent holidays, players will have the chance to collect a new outfit from the reward bags, whether they get the bags from the item store or after completing the holiday missions. On top of the festive red coats, gloves, and boots, there is also a pendant and antler accessory to acquire. A black holiday outfit is also available on the Lucky Coin vendors, who will now be available in Seoul and New York as well as London. The one piece I absolutely must have is a bright red onesie! Knowing that many others might feel the same, and because many fans have expressed the desire to be able to just get the outfit they want without the random element, Amiel said the team is testing out putting this one item exclusively in the item shop so players who want it can just outright buy it. Boy, am I glad I have some points left.
Amiel revealed that there has been one change in the items available with the collectors edition of Trail of Shadows; due to some animation difficulties with the oven mitt, players will get Yuichi’s funky hat instead. All other items remain the same. I have to tell you, strutting down the street in Ricky Pagan’s jacket and jeans while rocking out to the boombox was pretty sweet. Almost as sweet as racing through the streets of Tokyo on his bike! Speaking of Pagan’s bike…
Tell me (a little) story
So this is the section that will be mildly spoilerrific, so flee away if you must. But I promise I will not divulge too much, just as I made Amiel avoid giving away too many clues! Still here? Well then, let’s dive in.
First off, let’s discuss Ricky Pagan. He’s a character, in every sense of the word. Sadly, players who don’t have Sidestories: The Last Pagan have not had the pleasure of interacting with him yet. (A fact that seriously should be remedied!) Once issue #13 launches, ayone who has purchsed the issue and can get to Tokyo will now get to run a mission for him. The mission is a more lighthearted one, separate from the issue’s main mission line, involving cruising the streets of Kaidan on his beloved chrome steed. If you enjoyed the snowmobile mission of Issue #7 in Transylvania, you’ll have fun with this one. And there is an achievement in this mission that will grant you a replica of Pagan’s bike for yourself. Boo-yah!
As for the main story chain (not to be confused with the actual main story mission), we already know that this one is introduced by Yuichi and Harumi, the addled brother and hacker sister duo. I am not going to give away too much, but if you are observant in the cutscene, you’ll already get a major clue as to what is really happening, even before the obvious comes up and smacks you in the face. Harumi sends you out on a task that involves figuring out how to get to certain places. Sorry, but I cannot offer you any hints because we just ported to the spot — the result of my begging to not have too many spoilers! What I can say is that if you’ve never been knocked off of a roof by a Flappy, be prepared for that now. Thank heavens for no fall damage!
You begin running missions for and with this NPC, downloading programs, infiltrating a hospital (this is a new — and might I add pretty gruesome — instance in Tokyo), and learning more about the nature of Cyborgs. There are both sabotage and investigation aspects of these missions, but since they are necessary to progress they are not as elaborate is full missions of that kind would be. The sabotage itself is pretty small and easy to maneuver through. Well, I got through on my first try, so that’s saying something! The investigation is meant to look very intimidating, but remember all my hints to have a notebook with you when you play? Use that now to write down the clues and the answer will be much more obvious. In all, Amiel says the mission is slightly more difficult than The Kingsmouth code.
While playing through the missions, you might think things seem more lighthearted than the back-to-spooky feel Amiel promised. True, there really are some amusing elements (robo-spam wins as one of my new favorite quotes), but the sinister comes out as well as you dive deeper. Those creepier elements return when players get to delve into the inner workings of their own minds. As a hint, if you don’t have a psychology degree (man I knew that would come in handy someday!), you may want to read up on Jung a little ahead of time to better appreciate where you will be headed. And funny side note: Dragons are explicitly told where to go, but Illuminati and Templars must suss it out for themselves from references made throughout the missions.
To start this self-discovery journey, you get to enter a place sure to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up:Click to reveal spoiler!
Here is also where roleplayers will squeal a bit with delight. You see, as a part of this mission, players delve into their backstory and have to make decisions about their character’s past. These choices do indeed affect the mission! For those who want to see various outcomes, you can make different choices each time you do the mission so you can follow where each path leads.
On the subject of story, there is also more story to be found in the two new lore categories. The issue itself has one category, and the final mission actually has its own set of lore. I can’t tell you any more than that as I did refrain from reading any so that I could save them for launch.
Players who make it through the entire chain might feel a disappointment in the amount of missions in this issue. Besides the Pagan mission and the main chain, there are only three to four side missions linked to the main chain. Amiel assures that this is not a permanent condition; the team wanted to get the issue out to fans ASAP along with the holiday event, so there was a time crunch. However, there are plans for a bunch more side missions to be added to Issue #13 — for free — early next year.
At the conclusion of the tour, Amiel reiterated that the future issues will be back in other zones, tying up stories that have been left hanging elsewhere. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any more stories to be told in Tokyo; there are, but that before the next big main story of Season 2 commences, things need to be wrapped up in the earlier zones.
Other incoming changes include a revamp of the boxes on the docks of Tokyo. In a later patch, there will be new keys granted for completing Issue #13 that will let players face new bosses. New gadgets and new rewards will also be available from those boxes.