TSW: Tales! From! Agartha!

iTunes is taking its sweet time posting Dark Matter again, so in the meanwhile, enjoy this post I wrote back in June (yay backlog):

Every MMO has a place where players end up congregating, the main social hub of the game. For The Secret World, that’s Agartha — Hollow Earth, Yggdrasil, the Immaculate Machine.

Cramming dozens of bored players into a small space inevitably leads to some silliness or odd moments, but for whatever reason, Agartha seems a bit more… colourful than its equivalents in most other games.

Click the images to view them full size.

Gangnam Style!This is impressive, but as you’ll see, Gangnam Style flash mobs are far from the strangest thing you’ll see in Agartha.

Yo dawg, we heard you like horses, so we put a horse on your horseAgartha: Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

The usual strangeness in Agartha in The Secret WorldIt’s also kind of like that.

An average day in The Secret World's AgarthaAnd it’s sometimes like that.

The sass is real!Of course, sometimes I’m the oddball in Agartha.

What is this I don't evenThis is quite possibly the weirdest damn thing I’ve ever seen in a video game. Might have been the weirdest thing I’d seen period, but I used to live in Parkdale.

A bunch of players, all in Atenist garb, /worshipping a girl in a bikini and chanting “ATEN! ATEN! ATEN!”

Aten! Aten! Aten!The thing about this is that their emotes and chanting and positioning were all synced very well. This must have taken some significant effort to organize so seamlessly. It was probably not a random gathering.

I asked around in general chat to see if anyone could explain what was happening. No one offered any insight. It mystifies me to this day.

What happens in Agartha, stays in AgarthaThese two were engaged in what appeared to some sort of strange ERP. Every time I logged in over a period of at least twenty-four hours, they were still there. I’m just impressed by their sheer endurance.

More ERP in The Secret World's AgarthaAs you can see, you get a lot of that in Agartha.

The holiday hug pile in The Secret WorldThis is what we call the “hug pile.” During holiday events, people will smash themselves together in the hopes of having people dump loot bags for them for the achievement. It’s a subject of some controversy in the community. Personally I think it’s terribly boring, but if people want to get their achievement that way, then fine.

For my part I prefer to be more creative or social. Usually I’ll round up a gaggle of newbies in Kingsmouth and dump the loot on them. One time a person who was on their free trial got an epic zombie polar bear pet from one of my bags. That felt good.

Players attempt to clean the Filth from Agartha during the Whispering Tide eventThe Whispering Tide event added its own special flavour to Agartha.

After a few years of living with this endless weirdness, Agartha has become almost as much a selling feature of TSW for me as the incredible story or unique character progression. People watching in Hollow Earth never quite gets old.

The Mustering of Azeroth

Lately I’ve felt like I’ve finally started to get my alt addiction under control. But as we’ve learned from SW:TOR, class-specific content is a great way to make the old habit flare up something fierce, and now World of Warcraft is adding exactly that.

It has occurred to me that I have most classes at least somewhat near 100, and the brief period where demon invasions gave awesome XP helped a lot. My goal is to have a wealth of characters ready to do their artifact quests, and maybe class hall stories, too, depending on how much work those are.

Because I like giving things fancy names, I’m calling this effort the Mustering of Azeroth. It fits well with the idea of all races and cultures rising to confront the Burning Legion.

Rogue:

My rogue's Alliance pride outfit in World of WarcraftMaigraith is the only character I’ve played at max level in every expansion to date, and I see no reason to stop now. She’s basically my personal mascot at this point.

Given how much I’m enjoying outlaw and how useful the human reputation bonus will be for unlocking flying (grumble, mumble) there’s pretty good odds she may be my “main” for the expansion.

She’s the only character I’ve played heavily in Warlords of Draenor, so she’s plenty ready for Legion. Even got her legendary ring.

Monk:

My monk's updated face (after a trip to the barbershop) in World of WarcraftI got my monk to 100 around the time 7.0 hit. I wish I’d played her more in WoD, but she became a casualty of how much I hated this expansion.

A few months ago I was very gung-ho about making her my main in Legion. She’s a Night Elf Sentinel. This is her expansion.

However, I’m not in love with the new incarnation of brewmaster (I do like windwalker, but she’s always been a tank first in my mind), and between that and the arguments in favour of my rogue mentioned above, I’m much less certain now.

Admittedly, with my altitis flaring up like this, picking a main might be moot entirely.

Warlock:

My warlock's awesome new look following the Blood Elf model revamp in World of Warcraft: Warlords of DraenorMy warlock has been max level for a while, but she, too, fell victim to my disinterest in WoD, and I haven’t played her much since MoP, where she was my de facto main.

I’m very, very unhappy with what has been done to warlocks in 7.0. I miss metamorphosis so much, and the character just feels like such a shadow of her former self.

I’ve given some serious thought to giving up on her altogether, but I really love the character’s history — both real world and imagined. The only other video game avatar I have this level of attachment to is my rogue.

Artifact and class storylines give me an excuse to soldier on. I can only pray things improve in future.

Despite my earlier comments, I am now leaning towards affliction as my new main spec. I found a talent build that feels okay — you just have to accept being the most visually dull spec in the game. And having unbelievably terrible AoE.

Sigh.

Demon hunter:

My demon hunter in World of Warcraft: LegionThe new kid on the block.

Given the state of warlocks, I had given serious thought to switching to playing a demon hunter instead — hence why I modeled my demon hunter after her — but Legion’s encouragement of alts defers that decision for a time.

I’m still not blown away by demon hunters — they still feel lacking in unique mechanics or identity to me — but the vengeance spec continues to grow on me. It may not be very original, but it’s fun, at least. Again, love the sound effects. They’re brutal.

By default all demon hunters are pretty much good to go for Legion immediately, so that’s no issue. Al I’ve had to do is farm up a good transmog set for her.

Warrior:

My warrior's perfected "mountain queen" look in World of Warcraft: LegionAnother newcomer. As you may recall, I chose to use my level 90 boost on a warrior purely because their artifact stories sounded cool.

That said, I’ve been enjoying playing a warrior a lot more than I ever expected to. Fury is my main spec, but I also enjoy protection a fair bit.

I leveled her most of the way to 100 through a mix of quests, dungeons, and PvP, and then did invasions for the last two levels. She’s ready and waiting for Legion.

Paladin:

My paladin's new, more wizened look in World of Warcraft: LegionMy paladin has a complicated history.

I always wanted a Blood Elf paladin, because Blood Knight lore is outstanding, but my (Alliance) guild needed a healer, so she became a human. My guild needed quite a lot of healing, so she became my most-played character in Cataclysm to an unpleasant degree.

Cue massive burnout. Cue my Alliance guild breaking up and a giant ball of regret over being stuck as a human. I played her to max level in Pandaria but then abandoned her.

I had intended to use one of my level boosts on a Blood Elf paladin to restore balance to the universe — even reserved a good name for her — but with so many class stories to experience, that now seems wasteful.

As a last ditch effort, I decided to come up with a totally new backstory for her and redo her appearance to match. I went for maximum nostalgia factor, so she’s now a Knight of the Silver Hand who fought in the Second War.

It seems to be working. She does feel a lot more “alive” to me now.

As for game mechanics, I’ve tried every paladin spec in 7.0, and they’re all okay but not great. Would be a lot happier if not for light of the martyr and ret’s new judgment mechanic. I still think of her as a healer at heart, but I’ll probably spend most of my time as ret or prot for leveling convenience. Also, Ashbringer.

I got her from 90 to 100 with invasions.

Shaman:

My shaman's updated face (after a trip to the barbershop) in World of WarcraftMy shaman is one of my oldest characters — I started him around the same time as my rogue — but he was never a major focus for me. I ultimately abandoned him around level 82.

But having dusted him off, I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying playing him again. I’m loving the current incarnation of elemental; it’s the only ranged spec I’ve played in 7.0 that doesn’t feel lacking in some way.

I got him to 85 with invasions, but I’m having so much fun with him I’m actually going to make a point to level him through the story properly.

Mage:

My original main, a Blood Elf mage, in World of WarcraftMy mage was my original main, but the class started losing its luster after Wrath, and my warlock went on to replace him.

As I’ve already said, returning to my mage has not reignited my love for him. Frost spec is bearable, but overall the class still feels bland and overly simple. That said, their artifact lore strongly appeals, so I’m power-leveling him as best I can. Invasions got him pretty close to 100 before the nerf. I might continue with them, or switch to dungeons/PvP.

Death knight:

My Tauren death knight in World of Warcraft: LegionMy most neglected character. He made it to level 80 at some point, but that’s it. I didn’t even move him to Wyrmrest Accord with the rest of my Horde characters.

I’ve always said I like everything about death knights except actually playing them. Love the lore and aesthetics, but could never quite get the gameplay to click.

But now is the time for all of the alts, even those marooned on a dead server. Surprisingly I’ve been enjoying the new unholy a fair bit so far, though I haven’t played him that much. I like the “set them and knock them down” feel of festering wounds.

What an odd thing to say.

I got him to 85 with invasions and an XP potion. Not sure how to proceed now.

The rest:

That leaves druid, priest, and hunter as the classes I don’t have anywhere near ready for Legion. I do have a level 100 boost currently unused, but whichever two I don’t choose will probably be left behind.

I’m leaning towards a hunter right now. I’ve never quite been able to get into playing a hunter, but I do like archer classes. Maybe the fourth time is the charm?

If I do boost a hunter, there’s a temptation to use it on my lowbie panda, but I’ll probably make a Blood Elf male instead. Maybe RP him as a dark ranger.

My Pandaren hunter running through the Ruins of Gilneas in World of WarcraftThat said, I wasn’t impressed by what I played of the new marksmanship on said panda, so the temptation to look to other classes is there.

Priest is another class I’ve always loved the concept of but have never been able to get into. Maybe I’d like it better at high levels? The new shadow spec does sound intriguing.

Not sure what race my hypothetical priest would be. Blood Elf, Undead, and Worgen are the main contenders. I already have plenty of Elves, but the other two don’t look very good in priest gear, and since priests have some of the game’s most beautiful sets, that seems wasteful.

Finally, druid. I have a level fifty Worgen balance druid I haven’t touch in ages, and I have been missing him lately, but it’s the Worgen part I miss more than the druid part. I’ve briefly considered leveling him naturally — which would leave the boost for something else — but fifty levels is a long way to go, especially now that invasion XP sucks.

Further obfuscating the matter is the fact each class has only one artifact that interests me from a lore perspective — the Scythe of Elune, Thas’dorah, and shadow’s Old God dagger.

Any thoughts?