Updated Sat, Jun 02, 2012 by Shayalyn
Recently, the Ten Ton Hammer team set out for a tour of The Polaris with Funcom's Tor Andersen. The Polaris is the first dungeon encounter in The Secret World's Illuminati starting area, the coastal town of Kingsmouth, a once peaceful hamlet now beset by zombies and other creatures that crawled out of an ominous fog.
Before we began, we were handed quality level 5 (QL5) gear and freely given Anima Points to spend on abilities as well as Skill Points to bring up our skills to the level necessary to equip the gear we were given. Despite the fact that our team had already been steadily playing through Kingsmouth, the new abilities and gear were a welcome bonus. Along the way, Tor also gave us some pointers--not to mention heals--but mostly left us to discover the dungeon for ourselves.
Our team met at a helicopter to head for a rocky outcropping somewhere off the coast of Solomon Island where strange things were reportedly afoot. We disembarked at a gloomy location filled with sea caves and craggy cliffs. Our first steps into the area roused the interest of our first encounter, a Draug, the hulking spirit of a drowned viking warrior.
The Draug are essentially trash mobs in The Polaris, although it needs to be said that dungeons in The Secret World have only a limited number of trash mobs, and then only when they're essential to the story. And while these monsters aren't particularly difficult, they do put up enough of a fight to keep them fun.
Our team defeated the first Draug handily and headed onward, feeling rather brave, only to have intelligence report to us, through comms, that the body of water we were heading into contained a "potentially lethal electrical current." The electrical current meant we had to skirt the narrow edges of the dungeon, avoiding the water, to get to the next Draug.
Dungeons in The Secret World will teach you mechanics, and the first thing you'll learn is to be wary. There are surprises in store with every encounter. Early on, they're spelled out for you--we were alerted that standing in the electrified water wouldn't be good for our health, for example--but as you progress and learn the game you'll need to pay attention. You're likely to learn the mechanics of some fights the hard way--by dying.
Want to see a video of how our exploits played out and how the boss fight mechanics work? Say no more!
As we moved onward, we came upon a jumble of metal cargo containers lodged in among the rocks. Our comm reported their identification: we had stumbled upon the wreck of the Polaris, a cargo vessel reported lost in the Atlantic Ocean in 2007.
After taking on a Draug sorceress and her undead minions, not to mention destroying a few exploding pods before they were able to ruin our day, we came upon a shallow underground lake. "Approaching a major biological threat," our comm channel warned, "Use caution."
Oh, goodie! A challenge!
Our major biological threat turned out to be the Varangian, a beast with massive crab claws who occasionally tainted the water with a black substance that hurt if we came in contact with it. We learned that standing on the cargo boxes was the best way to face him because it helped us avoid damage from the hazards in the water.
As with any good dungeon, we were working through progressively more difficult encounters to come to our final boss. Oddly, though, our next badass seemed to go down just a little too easily, and after teaching him a lesson, we were directed to the waiting Orochi helicopter to be transported out. This couldn't really be it, could it? Surely something was amiss....
Our comms told us that there was an anomaly: a "large etheric wave disturbance" converging on our extraction point. Bingo!
The enormous creature that impeded our hasty "extraction," the Ur-Draug, would've done Cthulhu proud. He created a "dimensional breach" that caused the world around us to turn blue. (Which may or may not have been a Viagra side effect. We don't know of any erectile dysfunction issues within the Ur-Draug, but you never can tell.) Our comm chatter warned us to duck, cover and avoid engagement until reality had been restored.
The area was filled with rocks that jutted out of the water. Ducking behind those rocks during a dimensional breach was an unnerving experience. We could hear the enormous beast skulking about looking for us and, because the rocks we hid behind only covered us from one side, we had to remain constantly vigilant to make sure we weren't discovered. Meanwhile, the creature summoned friends to help him search for us. Having the beast suddenly appear around the corner of a rock while we were fighting off his friends, causing us to run for the cover of another rock halfway across the room, created a true, "Ohshitohshitohshit!" moment. (At least it did for me. Your mileage may vary.)
The Ur-Draug was tough, and without guidance (and plentiful healing) from Tor it would have been much more painful. The Polaris left us with the impression that dungeon runs in The Secret World are not for the faint of heart, or for people who don't take in-game death well.
The gear that the Ur-Draug dropped was QL3. (Keep in mind that we were already wearing QL5.) As we departed the dungeon I asked Tor the obvious question--had we been a bit overpowered?
His response was a simple, "Yes." Take that as you will.