Dead in the water and Hell’s angels
Last night I picked up the mission Dead in the water from the Orochi Group scientists in Kingsmouth (Blake and Radcliffe). This is the mission for the first 5-man instance in the game, also known as the Polaris instance. Together with a couple of fellow cabalists we jumped into the instance; for four of us it was the first time in that instance.
It was quite a fun run, which I enjoyed very much. The instance itself was quite to the point and not long-running in time. My guess is that we spent somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes there. I did not check the time, neither at start nor at the end, so I could be totally off here. But the content itself was rather focused – not much trash mob killing at all. There was mainly a few learning steps with some initial mobs, things that would be repeated later with some boss fights. Most of the enemies were similar to some of the enemies encountered along the coast in Kingsmouth, but still different. There were also some other additions.
Technically I think some fights were designed so that certain builds would work better than others, but running the instance in normal mode and this being the first 5-man instance, I think the game was reasonably flexible with what build(s) you brought with you. This likely changes with heroic modes of the instances. One thing we noticed was that if you died in a particular boss fight, you would resurrect at the closest Anima Well in the instance, but you could not get back into the fight and were essentially locked out. Either remaining team would defeat the boss or the team would eventually wipe and then try again from the start of that fight.
In our run we had deaths on two occasions, one of them ended up being a team wipe. Not everyone may agree with this, but I think it is likely vital for the combat system that it works along these lines. Otherwise there might be a risk for simple zerg or tank&spank approaches to be viable more than it should.
There is a twist in the instance story which has been hinted at when Funcom demo:ed the instance last year. This is kind of a spoiler link, do not click it if you want to avoid spoilers. Overall it was quite a fun instance with a reasonable length; definitely something I recommend to try. There were a couple of rare loot drops along the way and as a reward for completing the mission there is also a rare weapon to pick up – which one is up to you. I never looked at the XP bar, but noted that after the instance I had gained a bunch of Skill Points and Ability Points.
Come to think of it, I have not thought of how much of that is just because there were big bad bosses, mission reward XP or simply XP boost because we played in a team. Not that it matter that much to me – we had fun in a team and got rewarded for that – that is good enough for me.
Ability wheel progression
One thing that I noted not long before teaming up for the instance above where the three different Miscellaneous ability areas in the Ability Wheel. I had seen that they were there, but had not taken a look at those before. These abilities are not tied to any specific weapon and seems to be divided three different areas:
- Increase threat
- Decrease threat
The first two are pretty obvious; the 3rd one seemed to have some debuff/crowd control removal, self heal and similar abilities. I did not closely at all abilities though. I picked up the first threat increase of those prior to the instance run and included that in the build. It worked, but was on a too long cool-down to be sufficient in itself for my attempts at aggro management.
Another thing that I noted was that when one has unlocked all tier 1 abilities for a certain weapon type, you also unlocked at new jacket for your character – different depending on which weapon type it was. Below are screenshots of my character in his original jacket, as well as the unlocked ones for Chaos Magic, Fist weapon and Blood Magic.
All of these unlocks are available from the Dressing Room option in your character sheet view.
Hell is coming to town
There are still a number of missions in Kingsmouth that I have not done, but I thought it might be a good time to have a look around in the next area after Kingsmouth – Savage Coast. Tier 8 of the ongoing main story mission leads you to that area, with some additional puzzles and mystery.
One place that one encounters quite early when going into the new area is the Overbrook Motel. This is a really creepy place.
And what you encounter in the area are some quite creepy beings, the kind of creatures that have 666 as their lucky number. In the motel area is also the entry point for another 5-man instance, this one being Hell Raised.
While some parts of Kingsmouth were quite creepy light and with a a twist of humor, the entry into Savage Coast feels like it is going a bit darker on the emotional scale. I like that, but probably also mean that I will not play really long sessions – such things need to be consumed in reasonable chunks. Not that I really would have much time for long sessions, but anyway…
After doing a few missions in Savage Coast I noticed again that I had managed to collect a lot of Skill Points and Ability Points, more than I had expected. The higher tier abilities cost a lot more ability points though, so there still take some time to get a number of those. Still it seems the SPs and APs will flow in at a good steady pace, so presumably this will be good enough to avoid much “SP/AP grinding”.
I love the setting in the game, but I think for the long run I will need to complement my MMO gameplay with a bit lighter setting as well. Right now that is provided by Champions Online, which is quite different in its setting. They both share a philosophy about power/ability synergies, flexible builds and roles and few powers/abilities available for use. I like that philosophy, although Champions is not as flexible as TSW in this case. But it is a nice complement for me.