The Secret World Beta Hands-on Preview Part 2 -- Conquering The Black Ankh DungeonBy Sophie Prell - Posted Feb 25, 2012
In Part 1 of our hands-on time with the beta for The Secret World, we discussed the game's unique (and potentially controversial) take on player progression, its inventory management system, and how players will be able to fully customize their abilities and skills to their liking. For Part 2, we dive myth-first into some good old fashioned dungeoning, crazed monstrous scientist and his pet colossus and all.
For our play session, Funcom let us battle through The Black Ankh, an extremely challenging dungeon set below the sands of the Scorched Desert. This was a dungeon, mind you, that no testers had finished without cheating. The developers seemed to love the fact and would remind us of it frequently. Would we be the first to topple the heathen monstrosities within?
For those of you wondering when I'd get back to it, this is where the possessed Nazi mad scientist comes into play. Taunting us as we entered the dungeon, the voice introduced itself as Dr. Klein, a researcher who was digging into the mysteries of a seemingly sentient black goo, the Filth. The Filth would appear both as a thick, bubbling liquid and as writhing, mucousy tentacles that bulged and stretched, seemingly filled with volatile fluid. Dr. Klein had been exposed to and seemingly taken over by the latter.
We were introduced to one of the environmental hazards of the dungeon early on. Foating motes of purple energy, crackling with darkness, would attach themselves to players who got too close, rendering them unable to use any abilities. So naturally, the first boss (none other than Dr. Klein himself) threw them at us like they were beads at Mardi Gras and we were the hot, sexy coeds. And like most of the coeds at Mardi Gras, we weren't quite thinking straight.
During our first couple attempts, the motes latched onto two or more of our group, crippling us. We eagerly rushed forward time and time again, only to have the boss shake us off with a laugh. We died. A lot. We gritted our teeth. We wanted to just get past this guy!
But that's the thing: The Secret World doesn't want you to play fast. It wants you to play smart. When we calmed down and organized, our group leader calling out “left” and “right” to warn of impending motes, we were able to finally beat back the mad scientist who had been impeding our progress. A collective sigh of relief, and a dawning realization that The Secret World does not embrace the standard tank and spank boss battle philosophy.
Moving on, we came to another bridge. As we approached, a cutscene introduced us to Dr. Klein's pet, a colossus. Standing more than 30 feet high, the beast advanced slowly on our position. Ranged damage dealers did all that they could to hold it at bay, while melee fighters charged forth to break down the gates Dr. Klein had sealed in front of us. An intense race requiring coordination on both fronts, we died several times on this boss as well. I thought back to some of the raids I'd run in World of Warcraft, back in the old days; the days where coordination and TeamSpeak or Ventrilo weren't just a nicety; they were a necessity.
As we approached the final boss, more people filed into the room. Whispers floated through the air. “You think they can?” I heard from one corner. “This would be the group,” said another. The developers were talking about us, about our progress in their dungeon. The one who led our band of misfits wiped his brow and sighed heavily.
“Okay,” he started. “This is the final boss. And we're definitely going to die the first time, but let's go in so I can show you what he does.” He talked of more motes, of waves of energy that would knock us into the Filth, of a buff that increased damage output tenfold. We were going up against Dr. Klein and his colossus, both now fully empowered by the dark cesspool of evil magic that surrounded them. We braced ourselves for the inevitable.
Motes. Left side. Healer stuck with a mote, get it off her! Energy wave, right side. DPS, lose some of the aggro. Tank, get up in his face. Here comes the buff, someone run up and knocked down Klein! More motes! Wave! Colossus! Klein! Teleporting motes! Faster, hit him faster! Okay, now burn him down, burn him down!
Dr. Klein's colossus sank beneath the oily waves. The mad scientist teleported to the top of a scaffolding, trying to bring down the whole cave structure. The walls quaked. Debris shook loose and fell from above. We rushed to face our destiny atop the ruined pillars. Hit him! Throw everything at him!
And then... it was over. We did it. We won. We had beaten The Black Ankh without cheating, and had succeeded on the final boss on our first try. We laughed. We cheered. Everyone was smiling.
And then someone said it. “Looks like we need to make the game a little harder now, huh?”
I left Montreal with greater anticipation for The Secret World than ever before. This game has flown under the radar for some time now, overshadowed by The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2, but I'm happy to say there's no reason this Funcom MMO can't compete. This game is exciting. It's different. It's fun.
And that's no secret.