The Tao of The Secret World - A Guide to the Ability Wheel - Page 2

Updated Thu, May 24, 2012 by ricoxg

A Second Weapon

Characters in The Secret World aren’t limited to a single weapon; they can equip a second weapon and gain access to skills in another cluster. As you’ll see later when we discuss conditions, this becomes a large advantage because it allows the player to diversify their ability options and choose abilities in other clusters that complement those in their primary cluster. One of the central mechanics to this is the Resources concept, which builds a charge on either the character or the target. Most good abilities consume these Resources when activated. This advantage isn’t obvious at first, so let’s go for another example:

Our Elemental Mage picks up a Shotgun as his secondary weapon, allowing him to utilize abilities from the new ability cluster. His base attack (Shock) does damage and builds one resource for each equipped weapon (which is why it’s called a Builder.) This means the single attack gives him one Elemental Resource on himself, and a Shotgun Resource on the target. After five attacks with Shock, he can then attack with Thor’s [Ten Ton] Hammer for massive amounts of damage, which consumes all of his Elemental Resources in the process. (This skill would be called a Consumer or Finisher.) The Elemental Resources are gone, but not the Shotgun Resources, so he could then attack with any one of several shotgun abilities that require the Shotgun Resources to activate, or get extra damage from them, like Buckshot, for instance, which does half again as much damage if the target has five Shotgun Resources on it. If you’re not sure which combinations give you the best advantages, take a look through the Decks. You should find some solid hints on what abilities pair well together and why.

Skills and Equipment

Put points in Skills for minor bonuses and to be able to equip higher tier items.

Now let’s look at how The Secret World handles something called Skills. Skills, like Abilities, are purchased. In this case, you would use Skill Points (SP), which are gained in the same way as APs are. I’m not totally sold on calling them Skills, though. While there is a set of them that have to be bought up to allow you to equip better gear, for the most part, they just add subtle bonuses to your abilities and stats.

Skills are divided up similarly to abilities. You have Firearms, Melee, and Magic. Elemental, Chaos, and Blood under Magic, just as you’d expect. Each sub-category has two skills that can be upgraded, Damage and Support under Elemental Magic for instance. This is where you further refine your character’s approach to using abilities. If I wanted to be straight damage, I’d focus on that skill under Elemental for instance, or go Support if I wanted to buff allies allowing them to do more damage themselves.

There is another group under skill that we haven’t discussed yet, and that leads us to the second function of skills. Skills are also used to determine what level of items you can equip and use. Weapon skills for the weapons of course, and then the Talismans skill set (Head, Major, and Minor) for all the other things you wear.

Unlike with the weapons, the Talisman sub-groups have one skill each, adding a minor bonus and allowing you to equip higher level items covered by that group. Having the third rank in Minor Talismans would give you a bonus to Physical Protection and allow you to equip up to level 3 Waist, Occult, and Luck items, for example. One note of caution with respect to weapons, though. You might think that because you have two skills per weapon they might combine, but that’s not true. Having level three in Damage and level one in Support under Elemental Magic, only allows you to equip a level three item. The system works off the highest level skill in a group and doesn’t add them together like some might expect.


What? Not exactly the beach vacation you had in mind?

Now you’re just about to jump up and take off thinking you’ve got all you need, but hold on just a minute there, Hoss. You’re missing one of the key mechanics of The Secret World, and it’s an important one. Now, we’re going to talk about conditions. You’ve read above about how some abilities create, modify, or trigger off conditions, but let’s talk about that in a little more detail now. The reason this is important is because a group of players who have coordinated their abilities to play off of each other’s conditions is a juggernaut on the battlefield.

Afflicted, Hindered, Weakened, and Impaired are all Conditions which can be applied to hostile targets. Afflicted is a damage over time, Hindered is a rooted or snared condition, Weakened equates to being debuffed in some way, and when a target is stunned or knocked back, they’re considered to be Impaired. There are abilities in each sub cluster that will apply at least one of these, and typically an ability that gets an extra effect based on whether the condition exists on the target or not. This is where good groups tend to pull away from other groups.

No one likes a bully, kids. Especially creepy, flesh-eating, zombie kind.

So a quick scenario to demonstrate: Rico attacks the zombie with Molten Earth, which does damage and applies a Hindered condition to the target. Rico also has a passive ability (Toxic Earth) which applies Afflicted to any target he applies the Hindered condition to. Chorizo attacks with his shotgun ability, Powder Burn, which does additional damage to Hindered targets. Lastly, Zorro attacks with Trigger Happy, a rifle ability that does damage and then applies Afflicted to a target that’s been Hindered. So three attacks all do damage, apply a snare and two damage over time effects, and one of the attacks get extra damage. Behold the power of conditions.

Know Yourself

So that pretty well wraps up this rough run-through of the abilities and skills of The Secret World, and I hope it helps. The game is complex in a lot of ways, and adding to the difficulty are the subtleties in how everything works and plays off of everything else.

One thing Funcom is becoming known for is their tweaking of abilities and combat, and I think you have to give them a cheer for stepping out on a limb and trying something different in a market saturated with generic solutions. I think the new approach is interesting enough to keep my attention. I hope you find yourselves well served by this humble guide, and enjoy a good start to the game. Now get out there and teach that Filth what Sun Tzu meant by Fatal Terrain.

A very interesting system they have here, the ability wheel interface looks awesome.

I'm really intrigued by this game, the combat, the questing, the exploration etc all sound unique and it sure looks like it has tons of atmosphere.

Sometimes, skills from completely different schools will benefit each others. For an example, in the beta I was using pistols and blood magic (for healing.. don't judge me :( ). I also had points in swords, elemental, and chaos; I picked up passives from all over the place, and it ended up with my main damage move adding a condition, and the act of adding that condition applied damage. I also had passives which made every 8(?) attacks crit, and I got bonuses for critting from other passives.

So, I attack fast, each attack builds up to a crit, each attack applies extra damage and a condition, and each crit gave me healing.

This is one of the best fantasy game where thinking outside the box actually means anything.. (Remember WoW, when you could use obscure items & talent builds to be super-awesome at a particular thing? Thinking outside the box there was fun. Of course, it didn't last)

Seems really awesome. In a way it really reminds me of how one plays Magic: The Gathering. Lots of forethought and planning which results in lots of little moves and attacks culminating in one epic, earth shattering combo!

500+ 'Abilities', at least half of which are redundant or otherwise irrelevant.

Why? Something not touched on in the article is that each weapon group also has different ways for doing different roles. For instance Shotgun, Chaos magic, and Hammers all could be considered tanking weapons. HOW they tank is another thing though. Hammers focus on the traditional melee tanking, but shotguns get most attacks in a cone so are good at picking up multiple mobs quickly. Finally Chaos magic does their aggro pickup at range.

Then you have healing, support, and dps. Each weapon has a different way it attacks, and then like the article states you have the different conditions and synergies.

Lots of power options but with only 7 abilities on your hot bar that are a combo of magic and attack, combat becomes very bland and monotonous very quickly... "weaken/build, weaken/build, weaken/build, weaken/build, weaken/build, BIG HIT, weaken/build, weaken/build, weaken/build, weaken/build, weaken/build (top out weaken stack), BIG HIT, basic strike, basic strike, basic strike, basic strike, basic strike, BIG HIT... etc... etc..." It was said they were basing the combat system on AoC with massive improvements and 500 open ended powers to chose from. Unfortunatly it's a more simplified combat system. Once you set your powers for the area, foe, or boss you are fighting it just becomes a boring button mash. The fact is you may want a heal and a defensive ability or two on your bar which leaves you with only 3 to 5 attacks at best with 2 going to finishers that eat your build points... Oh wait you can have two weapons so strike 1 or 2 of those slots for the 2nd weapons abilities. They can keep the passive bar limited to 7 slots but they really need to expand the main power bar to at least 10 slots just to make combat seem less plain jane white bread.

And while they're at it should they also look at expanding the ability bar to 30 slots ala WoW / SWToR and bombard the player with abilities that fire effects for a couple of seconds and then suggest that 'strategy' = building your 'rotation.'

GW2 appears to have gone the limited hotbar route as well. Rather than looking at this as a negative, I see it as a positive - I actually have to think about which abilities I need/want and adjust my play style accordingly. Personally, the only thing I've seen on the abilities in the 2 beta weekends is that the animations may need some work and I'm really interested to see the higher tier abilities that were locked out.

To each their own I guess.

Even Blizz are going this way with MoP - with spec specific spells now they're trimming a lot of fat from people's ability bars and simplifying a lot of "rotations". They also went the same way with D3 limiting you to 6 abilities total at a time.

GW2's limit is "5 attacks" and 5 active utility which I think is a nice number. TSW's 7 does seem a little restrictive if you try and make a jack of all trades build with single target, AoE and utility/heals which is probably the intent - they key will be to use the saved builds system to you have different builds for things like AoE packs vs single target monsters. Though I think they could use more elegant UI for switching between them.

What I find really interesting about this game besides the setting and storyline is the way it handles character progression. I'm an Eve-Online ex-pat and one of the things that kept me playing that game for nearly 3 years was the way I never felt like I'd capped out. There was always a new skill to learn, always something new and interesting to try out and experiment with.

Frankly, while I have enjoyed the month I spent playing TERA because of its innovative combat system, I've come to the conclusion that I'm sick to death of MMOs that are yet another iteration of Lord of the Rings, with all the expected conventions that come with that medieval theme. Even the prettiest Asian-designed castles and landscapes get tired after a while. The modern setting and inventive storyline and investigative gameplay of The Secret World attracted me enough to pre-order, but I suspect that it's the character progression, being able to always have a new personal goal to reach in the game, will keep me from getting bored with the game and keep me playing over the long term.

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5-7 Attacks... This seems to be a repetitive notion with todays mmos. It kinda gives the feel of Console play? Once every 3-5 years, they throw consoles a bone. Of course, they catch a few, but it doesnt really stick. Although this game is set in its console counterpart universe, it wont survive the migration. Much like DCO (the latest console craze,) itll fall to the wayside. Personally, it may have made an impact if the servers allowed PC and Consoles to interplay. The capability is there, and with the lack of console interest it would have been more profitable. Yet, with the limitations Consoles exhibit over PCs (gameplay, graphics, etc,) they start simplistically the same. Later, only to improve the PC version due to its capability. Hold your pants on, guys and gals. The Consoles are getting there, and the ppl that use them are getting more gear'd toward the mmo crowd. FPS/MMO Hybrids are how theyre gonna do it. Too bad Tabula Rasa didnt hit 10 years later, eh? lol

Oh lord, how I loved Tabula Rasa. Shame it's gone, with some extra work, that could've been a worldchanger.


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