TSW: scratching the surface of character progression

We’ve been playing the Secret World for some months now, and we’re a good way through the storyline of the game’s original zones. But like any MMORPG there’s been a lot of content since launch so I don’t feel like we’re so far into the game compared to the many higher progression characters we see in the world.


I’ve unlocked sections here and there on the main ability wheel (pictured) based on what I enjoy playing. Recently we unlocked our first auxiliary weapon, the Rocket Launcher. That provoked a bit of wiki searching  and soon our healer wanted the chaos Quantum Brace. I was a bit undecided what to take although the Flamethrower is the current favourite. As a coincidence we are currently playing through the Transylvanian zones so we already had the right quest to get started on this. It’s a work in progress, I’ll not be rushing this just to get the weapon as following the main story missions is more important to me.

I have spent the skill points and ability points to unlock Flamethrower in advance, better to be ready for when I get the weapon than stuck not able to use it. Otherwise I’ve been working on filling out the wheel, following decks (Paladin and now Soldier) to guide points spending with the bonus of new costumes. The ultimate aim of course is to unlock everything anyway so the exact order of unlocking doesn’t matter that much to me.


Some time ago we accidentally unlocked the augment system by popping our heads into a scenario (a repeatable dungeon). I’ve not looked at this panel again since unlocking it, honestly there’s enough to do just unlocked the inner and outer skill wheels!

Not long ago TSW rebalanced the leveling content as part of a Enhanced Player Experience revamp. Though I haven’t started a new character to see just how much better the various weapon are explained, I’d say the game could also use a lot clearer info on the order of character progression systems and what should be a focus when. Why do I even have the augment system available yet, shouldn’t it be better locked behind main story progression rather than my having stumbled into the Venetian content via random Agartha exploration? Also the auxiliary weapons are very expensive to develop relative to the normal skill wheel so perhaps some proper info when we get the first would avoid people investing a ton of precious skill/ability points in a weapon they may want to swap out as soon as possible?

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7 Responses to TSW: scratching the surface of character progression

  1. Sylow says:

    Just a few notes:
    1. I find it interesting how you complete weapons. I would advise to rather first complete the inner wheel, then cherry-pick from the outer wheel. Keep in mind that you can use passives from all weapons, no matter which ones you wield.

    2. The healer wanting the quantum brace is a common mistake. It for sure has fancy graphical effects and some DDs fit it nicely into their rotation (mostly with elemental force builds where every 8th attack is a guarateed critical ) but there’s no aux weapon which actually is considered to be “heal”.

    Next to that, non-dungeon play the aux weapon best is selected by style and having fun, i personally always use the flamethrower (with the first ability and passive slotted) for any open world activities.

    For dungeon activities, a very rough draft:
    – The rocket launcher is the most often used dungeon tool, not for damage but mobility. Death from above and rocket science give you a frequently available dash, which helps getting out of tight spots. Next to that, some damage dealers use the rocket launchers pop shot for quick damage fillers in their rotation.

    – The chainsaw can be used as very strong melee damage tool, but mostly is used as a tanking tool as it can apply a shield with extra agro.

    – The quantum brace, as mentioned above, is used by some damage dealers for their buff-phase rotations.

    – The flamethrower is a frequently used AoE tool, to deal with add-phases.

    – The whip sometimes is used by the tank to have an interrupt with very fast cooldown (the last ability plus jones in the fast lane) available if he needs other abilities on the regular bar. Alternatively some damage dealers use it to not only do damage but also reduce the targets resistance, thus increasing all damage on the target.

    3. Don’t think about augments before having really everything valuable from the skill wheel and even then only when you are in the mood for it. Focusing on scenarios can turn into a terrible grind, so i advise to do them sparingly to avoid burnout, and AP costs for augments get extremely high, while the benefits of most augments are very small.

    Augments were announced and designed as -the- direct progression which players can work on for the next years. By now means do you need any of them for any content in the game. (Unless you want to do something crazy, like those who did the 10 man NY raid with a 3 man group. )

    So when you once in a while feel like running scenarios then do so, it’s not a bad idea, but remember that they are mostly there to keep the grinders happy.

  2. The interesting thing about TSW is that it has an incredibly high ceiling for progression, but also a very low minimum bar to clear. In other words, most of the progression systems are just there to give people something to do, and you only need to pursue them as much as they interest you. There is no content in the game that requires a full ability wheel, aux weapons, augments, or fully upgraded custom gear. You can complete the overwhelming majority of TSW’s content with about the level of ability wheel unlock you have now and QL10 blues, with no aux weapon or augments.

    As the above poster alludes to, aux weapons are more about adding an additional utility to your current build than a direct increase in power. Augments are a more vertical form of progression, but by design, they require an enormous amount of time to make even the slightest amount of progress — they were mainly intended to give bored endgamers something else to do — so no need to stress about them. If you want to improve your character, upgrading their gear and filling out the main wheel will provide much better bang for your buck.

    • Telwyn says:

      @Tyler Does that apply to the Tokyo zones as well? I’d read that the aegis system makes for much tougher content?

      @Sylow I’ll admit I’m going for the outfit unlocks 🙂 also because I always play with others we’ve not wanted to develop the same weapons as each other to spread the gear drops more. As we play more we’ll branch out more as well – we’re just starting to in fact, I’ve been taking a serious look at Assault Rifle and will move onto Pistol as well.

      • It’s mostly still true in Tokyo. AEGIS does make things a little more difficult, at least at first, but the higher difficulty in Tokyo actually has more to do with the mobs having more difficult mechanics (LOTS of telegraphs) and the fact the mob density is very high.

        Augments and aux weapons are still totally optional in Tokyo. It’s improving your gear (including AEGIS gear) that makes the biggest difference there.

      • pkudude99 says:

        My comments on my own blog after I finally got into Tokyo and experienced the AEGIS system:

        Day1 comment — Ran out and started playing with aegis myself. Only purpose it seems to serve is to make the fights take longer, and 1 boss-type quest mob had 2 aegis shields so you had to whittle one off then the other, then the 1st again since it regenerated. Honestly, I didn’t find the aegis system to add anything to the game except a bit of frustration at being in combat with invulnerable mobs. I’m sure that once I get aegis for my 2nd weapon slot and perhaps the body slots to get my own aegis up it will seem nicer, but for now…. not a fan. And when the boss-guy with the 2 shields eventually killed me since I couldn’t whittle him down quick enough, I just gave up in frustration for the night.

        Day 7 comment — I’ve got my demonic aegis to level 1.2 now, and a psychic controller ready to upgrade to 1.1, but everything I’ve read says it’s better to get a single controller to 1.4 for maximum enhancers and capacitors, then to work the others up also. As it was, I got enough of the tokens I needed to get from 1.0 to 1.1 on the demonic aegis, but I ended up shelling out 3 million pax on the auction house to buy the upgrade tool for 1.2. I should have enough tokens for another tool for 1.3 by the time I have enough xp applied to the controller, though. With the upgrades on the aegis, plus some SP spent in the “increase aegis damage” line and QL2 enhancers and capacitors installed now, the base 5% aegis penetration is now up to 21.8%. I’m using an Assault Rifle/Shotgun build and I use the elite skill Slow the Advance as my opener (good range, snares the mobs for a while with a good dot on them so I have longer to whittle them down before they get to me — works nicely) and so I put on a QL2 enhancer that I picked up on a drop that does 115 aegis damage on hinder, so vs any normal mob anymore that opening hit completely strips the aegis shield. Making all the fights “aegis free.” Dual-shield boss mobs are a different story, but with the higher aegis damage I do now, their shields fall a lot faster too, so aegis has largely become irrelevant anymore. On the one hand… good. It’s kinda of annoying. On the other hand….. it did add some pretty significant challenge right as I got into Tokyo and so I’m kinda sad to see that challenge go by the wayside so quickly.


        Yeah, on Day 1 it was frustrating, but after a mere week (and I didn’t play every day) I was already “missing the challenge” because AEGIS had already become a complete non-issue.

      • Sylow says:

        Yea, i also agree. The first time in Tokyo the difficulty of the enemies is overwhelming. A few pointers here again:

        – When entering Tokyo the first time, you get 3 controlers. You have 6 slots for controlers, though, 3 for each weapon. I noticed that many people simply rightclick the controlers and let the game auto-equip them, ending up with all controlers on one weapon. For the mentioned 2-shield bosses this is murder. I advise right from the start to distribute them over your weapons.

        – At the start i advise to take it slow, just run the “Tower Defence” mission 3 times (so, you have to repeat it after the cooldown) to have a full set of controlers. (Due to the turrets which kill aegis, this mission has low demand on the players ability to break aegis. ) With that, you can move much more easily than when being limited with your controlers.

        – Pre-Tokyo setups generally only have a builder for one weapon. Tastes differ, but i personally advise to have builders for both, so you don’t have to switch around the aegis when fighting one of the 2-shield bosses. (As a side-effect, it also is more comfortable to fight in areas where mobs with different aegis types are close to each other. )

        – People died like nuts in their “tried and proven” setups. They relied on leeching mechanics (very often the leeching frenzy passive, which in good gear is awesome pre-Tokyo) but the Aegis shield counts as zero damage on the target and thus does not return any healing. Other methods of survival have to be used.

        – People had problems breaking Aegis shields right when entering Toyko due to only having 5% of their damage being applied to the shields. If you want to avoid this frustrating experience, hit the auction house before going to Tokyo and buy 4 QL0 conductors. That will right away give you around 20% of your damage applied to the shields, which effectively is four times of what you start with. This is a very cheap upgrade, people continue getting them as loot and between deleting them or selling them at the auction house, many people decide for the later, resulting in them being very affordable.

      • Actually, they changed it recently so you get a full set of capacitors from the early missions, so buying QL0 capacitors probably isn’t necessary anymore.

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