Posted Fri, Jun 15, 2012 by Shayalyn
This week, Ten Ton Hammer set out on a tour with Funcom’s Tor Andersen to check out The Darkness War, a dungeon in Blue Mountain. Having been through a few dungeons in The Secret World, we were better prepared for the journey.
We began our adventure in the Wabanaki Trailer Park, where we picked up the purple (dungeon) mission from Joseph. As we crawled into a sleeping bag beside Joseph’s fire (we all jumped into the same sleeping bag, by the way--awkward!), we began a sort of vision quest that took us back to the Wabanaki village of 1000 years past. Joseph told us the tale of Mayans, “masked demons from a hellish place,” invading and bringing with them terrible black magic. I won’t spoil the rest of the cut scene story, but suffice it to say the Wabanaki have a little score to settle.
As we made our way across the rugged, mountain terrain we heard a thunderous noise and the ground beneath us shook. Overhead, we saw the shadow of an enormous winged beast sailing by in the hazy gloom, a foreshadowing of things to come.
As with any dungeon in The Secret World, each boss fight teaches you mechanics that will help you with each subsequent boss fight and especially the final boss. The Batab Crusher taught us a couple of things. The first was already becoming intimately familiar to us in The Secret World--stay alert and be careful where you’re standing. Bosses will often create ground-based AoE damage areas. In the case of the Batab Crusher, blood red swirls on the ground were our cue to get out of the way or suffer heavy damage. The second was something we’d also encountered before, but not quite in the same way--bosses summon ads to ruin your day. In this case, the boss brought in Mayan minions and proceeded to charge them up so that they would glow red and eventually become the ancient civilization equivalent of suicide bombers. There’s nothing like an exploding Mayan to liven up a party.
The key, we found, was to kill the Mayan adds quickly so they couldn’t become incendiary devices. While we did that, we also had to keep the boss under pressure. It’s tricky, but with our boss kill accomplished we forged ahead.
One thing we noticed was that the items that drop in TSW dungeons are both powerful and highly specialized. For tank builds, there might be items that add tons of hit points, for instance. But since players in The Secret World are going to want to have multiple builds, many of the drops should be useable should you roll for them and win.
Our next boss, the hellish Bloodhound, charged his own powers by stealing the life force from the minions he sent to kill us, which sounds a little counterproductive if you ask me. Our job, again, was to avoid ground effects and kill the adds as quickly as possible. Did the boss become more powerful the more life force he stole? Since we’ve never faced him before, it’s difficult to be sure, but it would be a cool mechanic.
With the Bloodhound dispatched, we moved on toward our mission goal to reach the Viking landing site. Yep, Vikings. They arrived in their longboats and helped the Wabanaki build a shield around their island home to keep it safe from enemies. The Vikings also brought with them a mighty weapon--Excalibur.
At the Norse landing site, we encountered the first major boss of the dungeon. We came upon him engaged in a struggle with the Vikings, but using his sorcery he was able to strike them down so, naturally, it fell to us to charge into the fray.
The Dark House Sorcerer created some potent ground effects, mainly by summoning a storm of flying debris. Oh, and he summoned adds. (Always with the adds!) Although there were really no trash mobs to speak of in The Darkness War, each boss had his minions that we had to deal with.
This boss became interesting fast when he summoned a massive storm, forcing us to move in close to him or be enveloped. Then, once close, we saw Mayan symbols appear on the ground. Stepping on them accidentally could fling us into the storm to suffer massive damage. To make things even trickier, the symbols began to rotate like the blades of a fan, which meant we had to keep moving constantly around the boss all while keeping the pressure on in an attempt to bring him down.
Our next boss was the Unbound Ak’Ob, a four-legged, winged, burrowing creature. He wasn’t particularly tricky, other than his habit of burrowing and disappearing. He had ground-based and frontal AoE assaults, so once again we had to be alert to avoid his wrath.
As we prepared for the final boss fight, Tor warned us that we were in for a long, difficult battle. “The Darkness War is no picnic,” he said. We stood on a cliff ledge looking down on some Mayans holding some sort of ceremony along the edge of a hellish abyss. The sort of abyss that makes you wonder what kind if creature could rise from its depths.
In we plunged, and began to assault the Mayans. We could watch their souls depart their bodies and travel into the abyss as we fought. We were able to pull the Mayans in small groups to keep from becoming overwhelmed. This is where having some AoE abilities comes in very handy for wiping out the Mayan minions quickly, so make sure at least one person in your group has come equipped with strong area effect capabilities.
After we stopped the Mayans we realized what waited for us in the void--an enormous, winged creature that Tor described as “bad news.” He utilized many of the tricks we’d seen the previous bosses use. He sprayed a ground effect filth we’d seen before, plus other tactics like a massive stomp, stuns, and summoning us into the damaging filth.
He also stopped and summoned waves of Mayans. But we weren’t without help. Suddenly, the Viking leader appeared, wielding Excalibur--Norsemen to the rescue! He held Excalibur above his head, where it radiated light, and we found ourselves with renewed vigor and strength. (In other words, he buffed us so that we took less damage and dished out more.)
Tor asked us to take a good look at Excalibur and noted that it didn’t look like an ancient sword, but rather something modern. “That’s an important part [of the story] as well,” he pointed out.
The boss returned and began to use some tactics we’d become familiar with. Not only was he calling dark magic from the abyss to damage the Viking, but he was now spraying blood effects and turning his minions into bombs. Tor warned us that if we didn’t finish the boss off quickly he would kill the Viking and we would lose our buffs. We were able to bring him down and win the day.
It’s worth noting that we were wearing quality level 10 gear (QL10) for these battles, and playing on pre-made characters supplied by Funcom, which Tor noted he’d made himself. The gear dropped in the dungeon, however, was fairly comparable to what we were wearing, so we got the sense that although we were overpowered for the dungeon it wasn’t to a great degree.
The value of a good build and good gear was clearly evident to us, because we completed this mission with minimal casualties. It’s entirely possible to make a bad build in The Secret World, so victory goes to the person who does his homework and figures out exactly what he wants to accomplish with his build and any subsequent builds.
As you head out for the next beta weekend, be sure to check out the rest of our for playing The Secret World.