We spent the over two hours on a particular, infamous it seems, sabotage mission in Tokyo last night – The Bank Heist (wiki guide here). The mission highlights the best and worst of The Secret World’s gameplay I think. Since I’ll be discussing some of the details of the mission, some light spoilers will follow…
This yellow, sabotage mission starts with a small slice of investigation as we pieced together an amateur spy kit to identify and make use of an ex-employees finger-print for gaining entry to the titular bank vault. I’ve noticed that a seemingly larger number of the action and sabotage missions in Kaidan (issues 9-11) feature investigation characteristics or segments, we’ve seen this occasionally before in earlier zones but it seems more frequent in Tokyo.
Once we were inside the real mission began, which centres around a mini-game of robot control and avoidance using a disconnected robotic arm that gives your character a small set of hack and command abilities.
Beyond hacking open locked doors the main aim of these abilities is to confuse and divert patrolling or sentry robots so that they don’t see you. As with other Orochi missions stretching back through to the early zones, if you get caught you’re ejected back to the start of the mission or put in a prison near the entrance (which you can conveniently hack your way out of naturally). It’s a necessary conceit for this platformer-esque style gameplay, punishment is via lost time not the more usual character death and gear damage upon reviving.
You’re occasionally given a hint of what to do by the mission giver, Daimon, over the phone. A few early challenges involve some rather active emote-movements to get past safely. Sadly one in particular takes rather a long time to animate, it’s funny the first few times, but after you’re on your umpteenth reset having been caught by yet another guard robot, having to shuffle slowly backwards across the alarm plates, yet again, loses its charm.
The most difficult parts of the mission relate to carefully placing a few key robots, it was easier playing as a trio if we could coordinate well since we could reboot (i.e. stun) three at once. But the mission is pretty unforgiving for multiplayer in the sense that any accidental alarm triggering will endanger all characters – you can all end up sent back for one slight slip.
Despite the generally annoying nature of the mission’s “reset to start” mechanism, we did have some fun as well. The nature of the control abilities means you can have some ‘fun’ with the robots, it also means they can bug out quite badly as well. At one point we almost broke the lift because a misplaced robot was practically stuck in the doorway. We also worked the whole thing out as a trio, an example of social gaming at its best I might add; it may have taken us a lot longer than if we’d simply read the wiki guide but it was satisfying to work it out together.
This particular location was a real nightmare to get past, it took the longest time for us to work this out. In the end after the other two were clear, and I was deeply fed-up with moonwalking, we struck it somewhat lucky with another bugged robot. The sentry in question stopped resetting to his normal position and stood as shown above near the doorway. That allow me to pass the pressure-plate in safety and for a team-mate to reboot the sentry at the right moment for me to skip past.
The final segment of the mission is much easier, at this stage I was happy that the actions of one of the team counted for all so I could sit safely in a corner. The game is somewhat inconsistent here – sometimes mission steps update for all group members, sometimes you have to all individually click on everything. In the worst instances there are long respawn timers on the items that you all have to individually click (e.g. the graveyard items in the mission The Korinto-kai).
All in all it was a pretty intense session of the game, but I continue to be very impressed by the quality and depth of the missions the developers have produced. That’s encouraging, some MMORPGs have a marked decline in content quality over time or a very noticeable change in the nature or feel of that content. We’re now into the most current issues of the game and there’s a consistency and a similar level of quality throughout everything we’ve seen.