Posted Thu, May 17, 2012 by Sardu
Kingsmouth may have some more challenging areas for players to explore, but most pale in comparison to what awaits them within the Savage Coast. The training wheels in The Secret World have to come off at some point, and the second major map for Solomon Island seems a fitting place and time, at least in terms of overall pacing of introducing players to new content.
Another core difference that becomes readily apparent is how things are laid out on the map. Kingsmouth is very much a small town and is somewhat compact. While it has plenty of points of interest sprinkled throughout, Savage Coast is all about larger set pieces. We’ll take a quick look at a few of our favorites below, but first it seems prudent to make a few notes on character builds.
As the difficulty ramps up, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. Perhaps the biggest depends on whether you’re playing TSW socially, or prefer to go it solo. As a social or group experience, you’ll be able to begin fulfilling a specific role in combat much earlier. In comparison, a solo player will want to focus on lots of AoE damage for your core weapon and skills, but also factor in a survivability component of some sort.
For example, I’ve played two different characters all the way through Savage Coast with the following results:
Solo Character – For my solo character I focused on shotgun attacks to be able to slow and damage groups of enemies at once – something you’ll run into more often than not in Savage Coast. While my DPS build worked pretty well here, I did hit plenty of rougher patches where it became much more necessary to be able to heal myself. Spending some points in Assault Rifle did the trick, and kept my survival rate much higher.
Group Character – The group character I’ve been playing is intended to fulfill more of a tanking role. While both Blade and Chaos work exceptionally well here, I tended to struggle a bit while attempting to solo with that particular character build. It offered plenty of great short-term mitigation or HoTs via passive abilities, but my DPS took a pretty major hit thanks to stacking my talismans in favor of defense.
As you progress your characters further into TSW you’ll have a lot more flexibility, but on these early maps you’ll have precious few skill and ability points to spend, so you’ll really want to factor in whether you intend to play solo or grouped when making your initial weapon selections and begin spending points.
By the time you first reach the Savage Coast portion of Solomon Island you should have a decent feel for your initial weapon choices and skills. In fact, you’ll want to make a point of it, because the first area you’ll come to in Savage Coast is a trial by fire, literally.
The Overlook Motel has no doubt seen better days. At present, however, its surroundings are engulfed in flames with all sorts of demonic beings roaming around. If the in-game temperature level is a good 20 degrees hotter thanks to the hellish transformation, the challenge level is proportionately scaled up to suit.
The motel itself is an altogether different beast. Inside of room 13 a door to Hell has materialized, and combined with the music pumping out of a nearby radio the room has a very distinctive David Lynch meets SyFy Channel’s Lost Room miniseries vibe.
Players can speak to the sole survivor to be found at the Overlook in a nearby room and pick up a mission for the dungeon which is appropriately named Hell Rising. As with The Polaris dungeon in Kingsmouth, players will definitely want to form a full group before entering Hell Rising.
While the burning door that erupted out of the floor of room 13 is awfully tempting, you’ll want to avoid what I did when first encountering it. Despite the warnings that I should go in with a full group I poked my head in regardless, and needless to say it wasn’t long before I took my first Savage Coast dirt nap.
If the Overlook exudes moments of Lynch’s Black Lodge, then the Atlantic Island Park would be what you’d get if you put Tim Burton and George Romero in a room and had them come up with an awesome amusement part concept together.
If you can’t quite picture what that would be like, imagine plenty of zombies, possessed rollercoasters and ferris wheels, and of course a special appearance by the boogie man himself. Not the Oogie Boogie man mind you, but the kind that enjoys the terror of small children nonetheless.
Even if you were to skip past some of the other content in Savage Coast, I would thoroughly encourage you to spend some time poking around the park. The rollercoaster ride is incredibly cool for starters, and otherwise the park is a great example of how well the environments and audio in The Secret World mesh perfectly together to form some of the best ambience you’ll find in MMO gaming.
The third larger “set piece” area of Savage Coast worth mentioning is Innsmouth Academy. This place is bound to be a big win with classic survival horror fans. Think old Silent Hill games with a hint of Resident Evil before that series took a massive nosedive in the virtual toilet with the release of RE4. Seriously; if Silent Hill, the first Resident Evil, and Alone in the Dark helped put survival horror on the gaming map, RE4 flushed it all down the drain in the worst ways possible.
Thankfully, the academy is more of your creepy Silent Hill school variety, so another worthy stop for your Savage Coast tour bus. The main storyline of TSW will take you directly into the heart of the academy as well, and features another of the game’s many interesting puzzles, again giving off plenty of old school survival horror awesome without ever getting campy or too obvious.
In fact, even though a few of Savage Coast’s inhabitants may have a great sense of humor, the overall tone of the game is as serious as a heart attack. And to be honest, I don’t think the game could have worked any other way. Good survival horror counts on keeping the player feeling uneasy and uncertain how safe any path forward may be.
The Savage Coast represents some of the things that helped put Funcom on the map in the first place which is to say, great storytelling and unique settings to tell them in. TSW is obviously a vastly different type of game than The Longest Journey, but it in subtle ways it still helps carry the torch of games that are as much about ambiance and originality as they are hardcore number crunching, over the top combat animations, or carrots on sticks.
There have been some mumblings amongst MMO gamers that one of those areas – combat animations – isn’t necessarily up to snuff for the genre. Personally I don’t find that to be the case and you’ll also start running into some more unique creature types once you head into The Savage Coast. In fact, one of my favorite things in the game so far are the Innsmouth Track and Field zombies you’ll see haphazardly scampering around on various parts of the map.
Likewise, by the time you advance that far into the game you’ll have much more diverse set of tools in your combat arsenal, and can put together some pretty interesting builds. The combined effect is that, if Kingsmouth serves as The Secret World’s preface, The Savage Coast is the content explosion that kicks off the first chapter in a progressively more interesting and complex plotline.