The Secret World: The Streaming Ones reveal Issue 12

posterWe went into the TSW developer’s livestream expecting no more than a few scraps of information about Issue 12 and a vague promise that more would be revealed closer to the release date. Instead Lead Designer Romain “Tilty” Amiel took their cue from Bethesda’s E3 conference this year and dumped a veritable deluge of information onto us. Romain was joined by Andrew Ryker, the Lead Systems Designer, as they worked through a 50min presentation, full of information, concept art and even a short video of work-in-progress footage.

First of all, Issue 12 is titled To The Dark Tower Below, and is aiming for a mid-August release. It will be released in two stages, with the second being a free update a few months later for everyone who already purchased the issue. There are also a number of quality of life improvements which are being patched into the base game with each part for everyone to enjoy.

It was not made clear if the story mission was tied directly with the new dungeon, or if it would be a separate solo mission. We will be meeting up with some old NPCs again, including someone who is “pissed off with you”, which doesn’t really narrow it down, although Samuel Chandra would be a safe guess. Personally, I’m still hoping to see Rose, Alex and Mei-Ling again.


Two New Dungeons

dungeon 2Issue 12 was set up to be the group content issue, and that hasn’t changed. There will be two new dungeons, both underneath the Orochi Tower, one with the initial release and the other with the second part of the release. The 18hr cooldown from nightmare dungeons will also be removed.

dungeon 3The first dungeon is called The Manufactory and will have an elite and a nightmare version right from the start. From the concept art and a short video shown on the stream, the dungeon looked very white and sleek, as befitting an Orochi facility. The glass walkways looks particularly nice.

Keeping in line with all of the current dungeons, the Manufactory will have 3 mini-bosses and 3 bosses. From the concept art and some of the video footage, we’ll be fighting a giant tank surrounded by AEGIS Towers, a number of Mitsubachi, plenty of cyborgs and a new monster which looks like an electricity elemental made from Orochi Spheres.

dungeon 1As for difficulty, the elite version is balanced for v1.5 AEGIS gear, and will drop new Blue QL10.5 gear. This new blue gear wasn’t well explained, but is not upgradeable and is roughly equivalent to Purple QL10.1 gear. Amiel said this was to help bridge the gap between Blue and Purple items as people progressed through the game. Considering most people have been given Purple QL10.1 gear from previous Issues, I’m not sure how useful this new level of Blue gear will prove to be.

The nightmare version will be similar in difficulty to the current Penthouse mini-dungeon, requiring a well-coordinated team with fully upgrades core and AEGIS gear. It will also allow us to increase our weapons and talismans up to QL10.7, although we weren’t told if it would be through item drops like Criterion Upgrades or through the new Mark of the Pantheon currency system. We won’t be able to upgrade our glyphs this way though.

weapon skins fro eliteAs expected from a dungeon, we’ll be able to get unique weapon skins as drops, but only in the elite version. This seems to be a deliberate attempt to get the hard-core crowd to go back into the elite version.

Very little was said about the second dungeon, although we did get to see some concept art of a Werewolf/cyborg creature, and a hint that we might be delving deeper into some twisted Orochi experiments. The nightmare version of this dungeon will allow us to further upgrade our weapons and talismans up to QL11. We’ll have to wait a few weeks after the initial release of Issue 12 for this second dungeon to be released.


Progression Cap Increased to QL11

As already mentioned, the dungeons will allow us to continue increasing our gear from the current limit of QL10.5 all the way up to QL11. This is a major departure from the previous Creative Director’s concerns about power creep. A large part of the argument for the whole AEGIS system was to allow a new form of “horizontal progression” instead of simply continuing upwards with the previous system. We’ll have to wait and see what impact this has on the overall game balance, but it will allow the developers more room to design higher level hardcore content, at the risk of trivialising current content and requiring players to simultaneously work on two progression systems.

There are also concerns about the diminishing returns of secondary stats such as Penetration. Not allowing us to further upgrade our glyphs with the first part of Issue 12 may be an attempt to buy the developers more time to solve the diminishing returns problem. Nothing was mentioned about glyphs in the second part of the release either, so it’s quite possible QL10.5 will be the highest glyphs go for the foreseeable future.


Changes to PvP

For the past two and a half years, Venice Gear was the redheaded step-child to the much loved Custom Gear. While Custom gear could be upgraded to QL10.5, Venice gear was stuck at QL10.4. With Issue 12, Venice gear is being converted into Custom gear, allowing it finally follow the same progression path.

With the increased gear level cap, the Equal Footing buff is being further buffed, automatically powering everyone up to the equivalent of QL11. Ryker said this was a significant increase, mentioning that his character had 16k HP while testing out a DPS role using the new buff.

The other major change to PvP will dramatically change how rewards work in Fusang. Fusang will no longer give out White Marks overtime for control of facilities and anima wells. Instead, there will be a number of constantly cycling missions on offer from the anima wells. They’re also looking to improve how credit for missions is handled, allowing healers to receive rewards for Kill 10 People style missions for if they’ve help out in fights. This should stop people from AFKing in Fusang and encourage more active participation.

This all seems to trying to smooth over the current problems with PvP, and paying that part of the community some much needed attention before the upcoming PvP based Issue 13.


Three Times the Raid

FlappyRemember Flappy? Issue 12 will bring back the Whisperig Tide version of everyone’s favourite Bird of the Zero Point Pathogen in a new 10-person raid format, complete with new rewards and vanity items. It is said to be more difficult than the current New York Raid.

The Eidolon of Outer Dark is also being revamped, and is no longer tied into the lairs. The rewards will be updated, bringing them in line with the other two raids. While no details were given, it’s assumed this will mean Criterions and Astral Fuses.

The Unutterable Lurker is not being changed, although hopefully a few of the bugs will be ironed out behind the scenes. The three raids will all have three day cooldowns.

If you thought the New York Raid was too easy, the second phase of Issue 12 will keep you happy. New nightmare versions of the three raids are being developed. While everyone will receive access to the three raids, the nightmare version will be exclusive to owners of Issue 12.

The lair ritual keys which were previously used to fully access to Eidolon raid will now be used to summon mega world bosses. These will be similar to the giant event bosses which require the whole zone to join together to defeat. Everyone who participated in the fight will receive a reward, and the summoner received something special in addition to the participation reward. Amiel hopes this system will help people earn signets.


What Have You Done With All My Bullion!?!

TokensOne of the biggest shakeups of the Secret World’s economy is about to take place. All forms of currency will be reduced down to only three main types. Move over Marks. Sayonara Sequins. Ciao ciao Credits. Au revoir Aureus. Pax, Black Bullion and the new Marks of the Pantheon are all that will remain.

The conversion will be swift and without mercy, although we will be given plenty of warning before it happens. The new bullion will have also have cap, with anything over the cap when conversion happens being turned into PAX. The cap is currently at 1200 on Test Live, but this is subject to change, and the bullion into PAX rate is unknown.

Everything that previously gave any form of currency other than PAX will now give bullion, and the new nightmare level content will give Pantheon Marks. The buying power of bullions will also be lowered to account for its new availability.

It seems that the new Mark of the Pantheon will take the place that Black Bullion currently does. On Test Live, the Marks are capped at 600. There will also be a limit to how many Marks you can earn each week, which is understandable given the removal of nightmare dungeon cooldowns.

Amiel said the caps were to prevent people from being able to buy everything at once when a new progression level or feature was released. This is in line with what we’ve been told previously by the former Creative Director.


New Features for Everyone

Issue 12 will also have a number of quality of life style improvements available for everyone.

LFG toolThe first change mentioned was a new Looking For More window, a completely revamped version of the current LFG window which we can use for all aspects of the game, not just dungeons. Trade, social parties, cabal recruitment, PvP, dungeons, anything you might want. Select what part of the game you’re interested in, and write a short comment about exactly what you’re looking. Amiel hopes this will reduce people yelling for groups in Agartha.

ChallengesAs previously mentioned, nightmare dungeons will no longer have a cooldown. This will allow people to join half way through a run if someone has to leave, and let you help out newer players without worrying about being locked out for later.

Daily and weekly challenged will be added to the game with Issue 12, aiming to get people involved with a variety of different content. In the work-in-progress image we were shown on the Stream, one such daily challenge was “Complete Five Action Missions”, and a weekly challenge was “Use the Dungeon Finder to Complete a Nightmare Raid”.

The Dungeon Finder is a new automatic grouping tool which they aim to launch with the second part of Issue 12. Much like in other MMOs, this tool will allow you to pick your role, your dungeon and your preferred difficulty, and automatically match you with a full group, and zone you in and out of the dungeon. Will be interesting to see how this works.


To The Dark Tower Below

The stream gave us an awful lot of information, but also raised just as many questions. The proposed release time of mid-August is still over a month away, so there is still plenty of time to get more answers. Looking forward to their next stream already!

A number of the systems announced will need testing and tweaking before being released. The elite version of the Manufactory dungeon is currently live on the Test Live servers, so hop on over there if you are interested in trying it out and offering your feedback.