TSW: The Sun Rises in the East and Other Tales

Hooray, crazy deadline week is over, and we hope to return to our regularly scheduled wall-of-text bombardment every 2-3 days. *crosses fingers*

I also cleaned out the comments spam queue and rescued a comment or two.

For the record, this blog is set to first approval then you can comment freely, so that everyone isn’t plagued by bots selling Viagra and other more interesting links. If you don’t run a blog, it’s amazing how many bots try and use flattery (“your post is fantastic reading!” “awesome, I learned a lot!”) to get their comment approved. It’s amusingly healthy for the ego to just take them at face value and still not approve any of their spam links.

For real people commenting, please try and help me differentiate your comment by forming real sentences, include a solid opinion (dissent is fine), and preferably something paragraphy or wall-of-texty, else I seriously cannot tell apart the bots and I keep erring on the side of safety. If your comment has been eaten, I apologize, please try again.

As for gaming, I’ve been stealing game time with some casual games that we’ll get around to talking about and debatably casual Civilization 5 (the game seems to be polished and simplified to make it more beginner-friendly, and I’m playing very casually for now on the wimpy default Chieftain difficulty which just lets me spread my empire across the globe – I’m an easy fun kind of person most of the time.)

I also got around to doing more in The Secret World. Double hooray!

Unfortunately, I also discovered that when you hit 999 screenshots, TSW doesn’t let you take any more, so I lost a couple of good well-framed scenic shots. Ah well. I’ve shoved them all into another renamed folder so we can hopefully begin from zero again.

I found the Brood-Witches creating Incubators! From zombies, so I guess the Draug life cycle is slightly more complicated. The question now is, what made the zombies? The fog? The filth?

Who knows.

I’m messing around in the first zone of Egypt now, having gotten tired of trying to help fairly ungrateful trailer park Indians (or to be PC, Native Americans) with an unceasing Wendigo problem. I’m sure I’ve left some quests undone, but having completed the main storyline mission, it felt right to move on and take a break from endless fog.

Trying to avoid spoilers, but the storyline mission and subsequent events were fun. It made me want to start playing another alt in order to explore the path not taken and the choice I didn’t make. Resisting the urge so far.

The reward of looking up once in a while. A hole through which the moon is visible. Love the level design of TSW. Screenshot potential is through the roof.

(Spoiler warning about the choice I made: I went for the potentially ominous ‘moar power’ from possibly Cthulhu-like Elder gods from another dimension. Just felt right for that character. I’ll play a goody goody loyalist some other time.

And about an NPC in the main storyline whose name starts with B: I’m also convinced Beaumont is Loki from all the name and phrase-dropping he did. Hope we’ll see more of him in the future.)

By some strange quirk of timing and xp accumulation, the faction special assignment mission Rogue Agent also hit me at this time (that’s a lot of Illuminati phone calls and cross-messages from Geary and the Labyrinth and other people) and I went ahead to attempt it, even though it was labeled as Devastating. Just couldn’t bear the thought of all that xp in Egypt not contributing to faction rank.

Wow. Rogue Agent Tier 5 … That was the most seriously difficult fight I ever did, if we discount the probable outlier of that one Jilted Bride incarnation. I’m not 100% sure what to make of it. On the one hand, it’s not terribly obvious at first read what gimmicks are in play. I died a couple times attempting various tactics that ignored the mechanics (rush them or kite them, basically) and decided to Google for hints.

On the other hand, there are cues for the observant if I’d bothered. The two NPC rivals that aggro along with the main uber target are obviously positioned between the two lion / dragon statues for a reason. It’s perhaps not so obvious how close you need to be to them, but when you do, a visual aura emanates from the statue and a very obvious indicator turns up over your head. If you actually read the cooldown timer that pop up like buff icons on your status bar (though it’s very hard to when you’re getting sliced up and shot at), the names hint at the function of each statue.

Shield Disruptor Shrine: Green aura, dispels his “immunity to all damage” shield buff.
Interrupt Shrine: Red aura, run near it to interrupt his “Unbridled Fury” spell attack.

Once I understood what the statues were supposed to do, then it was just a matter of practice and execution in the running back and forth. Basically, immune shield disrupt him whenever his immunity buff pops up, and when he starts casting “Unbridled Fury,” then run like hell to the interrupt shrine to break his concentration or else eat some horrible damage.

One or two attempts later (tried to kite when most of my damage is in blade skills), Mr Devastating Difficulty Boss went down fairly easily – after I just gave up sophisticated LOS-ing and dodging and unleashed blade chopity-chop in the middle of both statues, making it easier to trigger each as needed.

So long, rouge agent. Pun intended, and used to great effect by the mission voice-overs. Also, I just noticed when titling this picture – “so long traitor” and “soloing traitor” look rather alike. Random wordplay fun.

I am greatly enjoying these sorts of fights solo. The pace at which I master the challenge does not ruin anybody else’s fun or need to live up to anyone else’s expectations.

As for Egypt, I’m liking it a lot so far. The density of the quests and NPCs and storytelling has not yet abated. I went in expecting lots of sun, and of course, I arrived at night. Beautiful cool-looking (in all senses of the word) night.

Awesome vistas. Roof-climbing gave me Age of Conan flashbacks. The view is just as rewarding.

You know how much attention to detail and verisimilitude there is in this game?

I watched a moon set because it looked fantastic and colored the world in glorious dawn shades.

(I’m sure it’s prettier if I had a DirectX 10 or 11 capable computer – the last Steam hardware survey let me know my ailing system is now in a minority 15% representation, way past time to upgrade, I know, but I’m broke *sobs* – but it’s still nice.)

Then on a whim, I decided to turn 180 degrees in the opposite direction and see if the sun was rising.

It was.

Checking the map and compass in the UI, the sun rises DEAD ON in the east. And thus the moon sets in the west.

Words fail to express how impressed I am.

(You gotta understand, I come from a City of Heroes first MMO background where the sun and moon does nothing of that sort, they rise and fall but not at all where you’d expect.)

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TSW: On the Believability of Mobs

One of the things I’ll say for Funcom, they really know how to set up their mobs for immersiveness.

Even in Age of Conan, I was especially taken with the way a pack of wolves would be feeding on a kill (before you ignobly interrupt them by walking by) or how a whole family of lion, lioness and cubs would be patroling around their territory (the same functional threat could be executed with a pack of identically skinned hyenas, or even lionesses, so why bother to model male, female and babies?)

More so than other MMOs, it seems to me, they don’t mind placing these things to make sense, rather than follow an “accessibility” or design rule that says, mobs or clumps of mobs must be spaced out at regular intervals, and all roads must be kept clear, yadda yadda.

While it makes their zones potentially more treacherous, it comes across as very believable.

The Secret World is no exception.

Clumps of zombies feed on corpses. Corpses you think are corpses will get up and vicously raven all over you.

Wendigos lay traps and ambushes for unwary travelers, yes, even along roads or paths.

Everybody knows the Ak’ab shuffle dance (step to the left! turn around! step to the right! turn again!)  and the layout of their burrows by now, no doubt. Broodmarks slow their prey along the outskirts, where hunters will come to check on them. Sentries surround their burrows, while groups of their young scurry about. And right smack in the center, their royal burrow and queen awaits. By showing, and not just outright telling, you easily understand that Ak’ab are bugs, of a very annoying kind.

Recently, I spent a good half an hour watching Draug in Blue Mountain (thanks to a ‘kill lots of them’ quest) and I was amazed at how I failed to take note of what they were up to in Kingsmouth and the Savage Coast (I always gave them a pretty wide berth, especially all the areas with brood pods and tons of incubators.)

Incubators. They’re human-sized, with a brood pod-y growth lanced through their stomachs and out their backs. In other words, they were probably humans once. Hopefully taken from dead ones, but who knows, the horror of it could be that they were still alive when the Draug got hold of them.

If you give them some unmolested time, they reach a stage of their development that makes them do this.

They squat down and… metamorphose into this.

OMG. Through all of Solomon Island, I’ve been shooting dozens and dozens of these brood pods to stop Draug from hatching out of them, but it wasn’t until I watched the entire incubator cycle that it really hit me where the hell these brood pods COME FROM.

Again, if you leave the brood pods unmolested for a time, they will promptly hatch (or is the correct term ’emerge’ from their pupal stage) into full ‘adult’ Draug, indistinguishable from the maulers and broodwitches and so on that hang around the beach.

And of course, which most people have experience with by now, the brood pods will react to your presence (or attack) by attempting speed hatching. Destroy them fast enough and a dead newlyformed Draug something will fall out of the ‘cocoon.’

If not, then a weaker in hp version, prefixed by the words Newly Formed, Draug will pop right out and start attacking you in self-defense.

Now isn’t that a whole lot more interesting a cycle than a mob with a differently-colored skin just appearing out of nowhere and pacing all of six inches from where they spawned in?

TSW: Public Service Announcement – Directions to Blue Mountain and Council of Venice Blue Vendors

It’s become a little worrying to me that one of the major searches that land people on this blog (besides AR/Blade build searchers, to whom I hope this extremely popular post of mine offers at least -some- help) is requests for basic directions to Blue Mountain. Um, okay…

This blog generally goes into wall-of-text screenshot diary experiences and/or analysis, because I roll that way. I hope they’re not too disappointed.

But let it not be said that I do not endeavor to be helpful (while shamelessly pageview-whoring since I seem to be filling a niche.)

1. How do I get to Blue Mountain?

From the Savage Coast:

Seriously though, if you’re asking this question, I’m really not sure if you’re up to facing the zone. So please be a tide careful when you go in there.

2. Where are the Council of Venice Blue Vendors?

See Savage Coast map bit above. See Blue Mountain map fragment below. Keyword: Wabanaki Trailer Park.

I could have shown you my whole map, but that would take away your fun finding the world bosses and lair stuff cos I have map markers sprinkled all over that I’m too lazy to remove.

For the record, I’m still using QL6 green weapons that dropped while I was playing in the Moon Bog with even weaker weaponry. It’s not the end of the (secret) world if you don’t get them immediately.

P.S. Shortest post evah?

TSW: Bogging Down in Blue Mountain?

Not really, but I couldn’t resist the pun. I’ve been having the time of my life in this zone.

(Some spoilers are going to follow, so you know what to do. Hell, stop reading TSW posts if you don’t want to be spoiled, because there’s no way to talk about this stuff without describing it.)

In no particular order:

Visited a half-built casino pyramid thing, and discovered it was full of red-con monsters that is probably either a lair or meant for group killing.  Hung around the scaffolding being very careful not to aggro anything, and watched a Templar try his lone luck on them. Didn’t work. If I ever get around to meeting people in this game, it might be fun to try them together some day.

Found two world bosses and a rare, the latter I killed, the former I gave a wide wide berth.

Little tip: All of them showed up as a yellow crown with a star. LOOK at their health bar before you try taking them on.

The average mob in Blue Mountain has anywhere from 5000-7000 hp, going up to 10k for the elite, champion-y, but still soloable types.

Mr Tide Lurker has 387,481 hp. I didn’t want to find out how much damage he could do. Not today, at any rate.
This gruesome undead bear drags itself around like a snail trailing green ooze. At 309,985 hp, I’m not going to be the one putting the Decomposed Kodiak out of its misery. Not alone, anyway.
8484hp? Only? Lemme at ’em! Bastard of the Brine turned out to be a rare with an associated achievement, not just a named, which was nifty.

Encountered a mob named Sallowskin, iirc, that was a really good fight and challenge. He kept spewing these gobs of green poison. The first time I fought him with my usual melee tactics, didn’t see any white outlines and kept getting caught by the poison effect as I dodged out, and melted so fast I couldn’t believe it. The second time I dodged and kited a bit more, but was still having some trouble, because I was doing it by the rocks and water. It’s hard to see the poison radius in water, and the final killer was me accidentally dropping into deep water (no skills!) while he offed me. Bastard.

Finally, I came back, looked carefully at my surroundings and said to myself, why the hell am I fighting him where I am? Cleared the beach area of two zombies for a proper kiting venue and pulled him onto ground and kept a big distance from him. From range, it was suddenly crystal clear that his big ability was an AoE poison patch centered on himself, not targeted at me as I had feared. Kited with Anima Shot and Fire in the Hole. Took longer, but was in dramatically less danger. Suddenly, he was ridiculousy easy. Revenge was sweet.

The main adventure of the day was dying 5-6 times in the Moon Bog, while stubbornly returning with various build and strategies until I figured out how to kill every damn thing in there. Which was exceedingly satisfactory.

I could have just skirted the edges of the Bog and killed the easy mobs only. Or come back later overgeared. But the real point I was after was to understand the place and learn the challenge of it as I was.

The bog at night. Pretty dark. Might match Wurm Online, even. And me with no mining helmet, somehow all I ended up keeping from that faction quest was a dumb flare gun that doesn’t work anywhere.

It turns out that mastering the Moon Bog is all about positioning. (For me, at any rate. Your mileage may vary. You may be a lot more pro than me.)

First things first, the bog is full of pools of filth, leaving only thin strips of safe land and a couple valuable islands. Stepping in the filth applies a DoT to the final tune of 300hp and probably a debuff to rub salt in the wound. Staying in the filth allows the effect to stack. Not fun.

The weakest type of mob in there are the Infected Contaminators, Violent Infected, and other such mostly melee zombie variants.

Standard tactics work for these guys. Just pull, they run to you, you kill them. The only special trick they have is that they’re Filth-infected, so after death, step back from them, rather than rush up to gleefully check your loot. Else they explode the filth debuff on you, which is annoyingly inconvenient and delays your health regen a bit longer.

The Shades are more annoying. The first thing they attempt to do is Pull you to where they are, which is in the pools of filth with said debuff , and it’s a right pain to struggle out while getting attacked. They may also try to move out of melee range, though it is quite possible to slowly whittle them down with Anima Shot/Fire in the Hole. But that’s no fun, we want to chop them up with sharp edges!

Eventually, I ended up using City of Heroes tank-pulling tricks on them (it’s probably the same in other MMOs, mob AI is somewhat predictable.) Turns out they only drag once, they Pull at the very moment they get aggroed. So we use the line of sight (LOS) counter-pull.

1. Snipe

2. Hide Behind Tree

3. Swim, Shade, Swim!

4. Profit

One thing I’d say for The Secret World’s mob AI, it’s pretty immersive-real. They do try to adjust now and then, but two can keep playing the LOS game, and they want to shoot you as much as you want them to step onto dry land.

Jump-shooting and landing out of LOS also works in this game, just like in City of Heroes. Me happy.

There’s an Ender Thing that walks around in the swamp on a circular patrol route. Looks a bit like a mutated nightmare of a stitchglass weaver from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, makes a sound on dying that is reminiscent of Minecraft’s Endermen.

Its hp is nothing special. It throws a couple attacks, also not too big a deal, one is a targeted-on-you filth AoE and another is a cone attack of some sort, I think, dodging should be instinct by now. The main challenge is to keep the area that you’re going to be attacking the Ender Thing clear of all the other weaker mobs, so that they don’t also aggro while you’re busy kiting and dodging from it. Then wait for it to patrol back around to you. Hope nothing respawns in the meantime.

Mud Golems. Now, these guys, I was having some trouble with. And one of them was in the way of a side quest, which made me doubly interested in figuring out how to solo them.

They’ve 10k hp, throw up a big hard-to-dodge-out-of mud slick that hinders/slows you (centered around themselves, though, this is key), and once hindered, they get to slap you around silly and impair you seemingly every five seconds or so.

After some experimentation and death, I eventually figured that kiting was the way to go with these guys. Difficult as it is, in the bog. Prepare by clearing the weaker surroundings mobs to prevent excess aggro later. Make sure one has enough space to run around because there’s going to be lots of circular mud slicks on the ground later.

I ended up swapping out my blade elite Spiral that does impairment, and putting in the AR grenade Slow the Advance which Hinders, very helpful to keep these guys slow. I also threw out my regular AoE Fire at Will (who the hell wants to AoE stuff in here?) to put in the CC break/immune for 7 seconds utility skill, which is helpful to clear stacks if accidentally slowed or inadverdently stepped into bog filth and DoT’ed.

Then shoot and pull golem, Hinder as often as possible, and basically run around circle strafing it until it splashes its mud slick, and pull it to another clear spot on land and rinse and repeat.

Executed well, it can die with nary a scratch to yourself. Okay, so there were a lot of half health battle struggles before I got the combination just right, but sometimes these games surprise me in just how well their RNG seem to read your mind. This very first successful kill dropped a blue Resilient tank bracer. Subsequent attempts didn’t yield much beyond whites and the odd green.

But I leave happy, and unafraid of the Moon Bog.

Unlike Ms Mortal Hypochondriac here.

What can I say? Too bad you don’t live in Paragon City where all the civilians never die. Not being a superhero in the Secret World is tough.

The other bit of excitement was dying, oh, I dunno, 15 or so times to the Jilted Bride in a side quest that is related to the Moon Bog. I’d previously encountered her in another side quest, where she basically chases you all the way to the manor, and she wasn’t at all a problem then. The only mention of her is in a Secret World forums post that suggests she’d been nerfed since beta… perhaps the developers missed a pass on this incarnation.

This particular incarnation was posing quite a problem, mainly thanks to the “Abandonment” DoT affliction she liked to throw up. It takes about 1-2 seconds for her to cast, so the interrupt window is very very short, and it subsequently slows you, impairs and deactivates all your skills, then slowly ticks down 250-300 magical damage per tick, to the tune of a good chunk of my 3300hp. One Abandonment from her leaves me at 1700ish. Not good at all. And she really liked to use it, with nearly as much frequency as an Ak’ab likes to Dash. She also leech heals or heals over time or something, which usually isn’t too much of an issue because I just unload more damage, but quite impossible when you’re melting at an alarming rate.

Now her, I’d suggest that she’s a touch… OP. I cheerfully contributed to the data metrics that will hopefully highlight abnormal death frequencies in a particular area, while I tried various means of defeating her.

I have a hunch that perhaps healing or barrier skills might help to mitigate the affliction, but as I confessed before, I’m not a very good healer – I didn’t feel like practising a whole set of new skills just for her, and a brief glance of the inner ring skills didn’t show anything that dispels affliction or DoTs (though I might be blind and have missed something.)

Instead, I tried consumable heals, consumable barriers and even went as far as to throw on all the tank gear I had, in the hope that the extra hp reservoir and the magic protection on a couple talismans might help to mitigate it.

Not really, though the 4800hp reservoir was helping the most, but my damage was promptly sucking as she kept healing it back up.

I tried to use LOS whenever the Abandonment spellcast came up, worked once, then didn’t work so well as the irritating spectre got stuck halfway in a wall that left her perfectly able to hurt me, but me unable to target her. Grrr.

Tried running down the stairs and leaping out of the second story window to break aggro for a bit – hilariously, this let me heal up for about 2000hp before she navigated her way out of the house and came for me in the garden. Unfortunately, the moment she got within range, she flung Abandonment, with foreseen tragic results.

I eventually ended up swapping out my assault rifle to use the recommended pistols to stack 10x corrupted debuff on her (which reduces the efficiency of her healing), and wearing tank gear to the tune of 4300hp or so, and got lucky in impairing and interrupting her first Abandonment, and managed to unload sufficient damage to kill her then. (I cannot remember if I used a consumable heal/barrier, I may have been cleaned out by this point.)

Ding dong, the witch is dead! *pants*

Her, I do not wish to repeat.

I’ve no illusions that I can manage a consistent kill on her. Not until I get a lot more AP and SP and gear. (I could have left her for later, but I was just feeling like being stubborn and testing beyond the limits of my current build.)

TSW: Short Snippets – Savage Coast to Blue Mountain

General update is that I’m (more or less) done with the Savage Coast and into Blue Mountain.

Though with a count of only 44 quests or so in Kingsmouth Town (where I hear some people are maxing out at upwards of 53+), that’s still leaving me feeling like I’ve missed a bunch of things. The Savage Coast quest count was also around there, 40ish, as I headed into the third zone.

“Normal didn’t work out for you?” You don’t say… Woman, there’s an Ak’ab pacing outside your window.

One of the things that struck me about the Savage Coast was the sense of incompletion, in the sense that there ought to be more to discover about Innsmouth Academy and Sam Krieg and why was it that there was only one investigation mission about the amusement park that I encountered… Amusingly, this feeling turns out to be somewhat justified, as this stuff is still pending in the supposed monthly update that is coming – I am keeping my fingers crossed that Funcom can deliver properly.

I do wonder if they’ve thought this update plan through though. I forsee a flood of people all descending like a swarm of locusts on the ‘new content’ from all corners of whatever zone they are presently in. And as any current TSW player knows, too many people trying to do the same quest can be a not-so-nice thing. Either it all gets completed too quickly with nary a sense of appropriate challenge (as the other guy pwns the quest solution and your own tracker updates while you’re still trying to figure out what’s going on), or it is liable to bug and break.

The Bogeyman instance was… fun. I’d be hearing that some people had problems with it and was anticipating it with some trepidation. It turns out that what the Bogeyman has, minor spoiler warning, is a lot of gimmick dungeon-boss-like mechanics in a solo instance. You have to read very quickly where you’re not supposed to be and don’t stand in the fire (or the glowing green magic patch) on a continuous basis, or you’re liable to get blasted for something ugly. Sometimes, hug him in melee range, which as a blades user, makes me very happy. Sometimes, AoE stuff forms around him and you’d be daft to keep standing in it, so retreat and kite and snipe a bit. Unsoweiter. I like it. Thanks for giving soloers some challenging stuff. (Now if you’d just make the enforced solo instances group-able, so that group-loving sorts can do it in their duos and trios, then we’ll all be very happy. See, as a soloist, I think about the groupies too!)

I was a little too busy moving in the battle to screenshot, but here’s him falling over.

Besides reworking the skills build in the Savage Coast, the other notable improvement that I took the time to do was UI-related, a massive inventory re-sorting. While I’d discovered the ‘new bag’ feature on my own, the resize bag function was not at all obvious, thanks to TSW’s little pixel misalignment problem (everything is a little lower and right of where you’d expect it to be – gives problems with character creation sliders, closing windows with the little X button, and so on.)

Nor had I realized there was a lock feature (shows I don’t read the helpfiles that pop up, eh?), which I immediately took advantage of by arranging my consumable heals and HoTs on the left, and barrier/cc break/buffs on the right of the health and skill bars and locking those.

The rest is just neatness. Stack base, imperfect and normal tier components and runes in order for easy crafting. Weapons in another bag. Arranged my semi-incomplete but steadily building DPS/Tank/Heal talisman collection in a neat 1×7 row on top of each other. They’re still greens because that’s what the quests and monster loot drops. I’m wearing a blue DPS belt I bought off the Council of Venice vendor near Red’s Bait and Tackle, and I’m saving the rest for the Blue Mountain vendor, which I hear has higher quality stuff.

To be honest, I half prefer the greens since I mostly solo, they all come with the necessary hp and don’t give me a headache trying to decide if I should be rummaging around for more tank pieces to offset all the hp I’m losing by equiping a blue DPS thingamajig. It’ll no doubt be easier when I have more blue pieces to play around with, at which point the general 33% improvement would be good, but I’m not losing any sleep over it now.

It’s not a bad state of affairs, that greens seem to be good for casual or loner generalists and blues work for groupy specialists who like to turn themselves into co-dependent glass cannons and heal0rs and meatshields. (I watched one of those glass cannons sitting on 2000 hp try the same Blue Mountain quest I was on. He got overrun and swarmed badly. Three times. He ended up waiting for my rabid soloing 3000hp self to get tired of carving up random mobs in the vicinity and meander over, at which point I ended up tanking for him while he unloaded obliterating death upon the poor swarm.)

Oh, I’m glad to report that my AR/Blade build is still working (more or less) satisfactorily in Blue Mountain. It’s missing a touch more, which is more a weapon/talisman stats sort of deal, needs more hit rating and a bit more SP in the weapon (ramped Blade from 4 to 6, AR still playing catch up at 5) and to up my overall talisman quality (on 4, and QL5ish gear, working my way to 5 and QL6,) rather than a skill build issue.

And so far so good with Blue Mountain in general. It’s an interesting zone, and feels more packed than Savage Coast, to be honest. I’m liking it because it reminds me of City of Heroes’ hazard zone The Hollows. The basic thing people need to realize is that the zone is -dangerous- and to apply care and alertness and aggro radius awareness skills when moving through it, or you’ll soon be finding you’ve misstepped in a gauntlet and now have a train of mobs after your arse.

I think situational awareness is what a number of people are lacking practice with, currently. (Spoilers follow.) The first thing you run into when you zone in is a bridge full of ominous looking corpses. If you follow blindly the side quest you pick up that says ‘track the trail of blood’ leading right through those corpses, it is very easy to over aggro the entire fucking bridge full of zombies who will wake up and… let’s face it. In TSW, we kill 1 or 2 mobs at a time without dying, not 30. This developer trap is put here for a reason, imo, it says, wake up now, the road ahead is not smooth sailing.

And yes, I walked right into it, died once, attempted to pull slowly for about three zombies before I decided, this is not going to get me anywhere, the bridge is obviously a booby trap, maybe I should go look at the other side quest for now. Which is a ‘follow the arrows’ trail quest, into dark surroundings and bear traps. Which I thankfully did not step into because I was jogging along at normal pace, but random sprinter pelting gung ho ahead of me promptly demonstrated the leg chomping functionality of said bits of not-so-harmless scenery. And the resulting Wendigo ambush. Ah ha. Rule number 1, don’t step into traps. Rule number 2, hunt down lurking mobs and kill them before they ambush you. Then proceed on merry way.

(There is also another shortcut route past the bridge, which is really simple, just step right off it into the river below and wander back up again. No aggro whatsoever, assuming you don’t foolishly run pell-mell into the Draug area, and hey, there is a bonus lore shiny nearby too.)

Discovered this in the Savage Coast, but it’s good for Blue Mountain too. Letting the Ak’ab ram itself into a convenient wall as it charges. Was hilarious fun. Positioning, folks, learn how to use it.

Other than that, a lot of Blue Mountain questing seems to be about patiently carving yourself a safe route through areas too crowded to just run past (unless you have nerves of steel and a high sprint speed like a Templar I watched dash straight across the bridge and get to Sarge, trailing 30 rabid zombies after her. One of whom came after me, who had promptly jumped onto a rock and hugged the cliff face in an attempt to get out of the way of the crazy train. Thanks, scummy Templar.)

I did get swarmed just outside the entrance of Blue Mountain mine by way too many yellow mobs, but that was my fault for jumping down a cliff at a convenient location and thinking I could fight a mob in crowded surroundings. Evidently, I couldn’t. Skirting it for now and getting a few more SP before I try again, still lots of side quests yet to be completed.

And knowing when to run away saves lives. Over-aggro? Run. Not kite, they chase you longer if you keep shooting at them. I’ve leapt off cliffs more than once (hooray, no fall damage) to break aggro and managed to save my skin.

And the other skin-saver? Consumables. I don’t know how many players in Blue Mountain are dying because they’re ignoring that they have consumable heals. I suspect at least a few. Some recommend picking up the Turn the Tables heal from the Ability Wheel, which gives a decent self-heal every 30 seconds, I hear. I might pick it up some day for better soloability, but I don’t like the idea of giving up a skill slot for it just yet. Consumables have been sufficient for me so far. And I mostly only use them near other players – because I end up either helping to shoot a mob off them while I’m already finishing fighting one, or some emergency happens because they triggered some quest or other. When I’m on my own, I tend to clear steadily, and pull mobs into an area that is clear enough to use my AoE builder for affliction.

Still working my way through this zone slowly, enjoying the journey. Back with hopefully more screenshots and stuff to talk about a couple days later.