Faithless Is He: Investigating Solomon
By Jonathan Doyle (Ardua), OnRPG Journalist
First and foremost, a warning for everyone. There may be spoilers contained herein.
You have been warned.
In The Secret World there are a number of types of missions.
You have your standard PvP missions given out in Fusang Projects. Specifically, kill 10 players, capture an anima well or capture a facility. You have the zone story missions that tell the story… of the zone. What, there’s only so many ways to explain that one.
There are action missions. As you can gather from the name, doing is the name of the game there. You may be sent to kill zombies, you might have to fetch supplies for beleaguered people fighting against the dark. Whatever the request, you are certain to be doing.
There’s sabotage missions, like Action missions but more concerned with skulking. The final three types are your standard “go do this dungeon”, side missions and my absolute favourite.
Who What When Where Why?
The only types of missions that cannot be repeated in The Secret World are the zone story missions and the investigation missions. Marked by a little green laptop icon, investigations are, as the icon implies, more concerned with computers and searching than they are with killing or sneaking.
The fact that you cannot replay them to me is a nice decision because well… once you’ve solved a puzzle, it just doesn’t hold the same attraction any more. It also stands as a little indication of the sort of effort you’re looking at. I’m not implying that you have to be a genius to solve any of the investigations but you certainly cannot bull through them like anything else. Brain power is the name of this game, unless you cheat and go look up a guide.
The investigations help flesh out the world you are experiencing and for that, I beg you, try avoid guides where you can. Put yourself in the shoes of the character who honestly knows nothing more than you and try to work out exactly where you have to go or what you have to do.
Mission sequences like the Kingsmouth Code or the new Issue 1 Hell and Bach help expand the lore around the game. Have you ever wondered why there is so much darkness in Solomon Island? Cracking codes and following trails will tell you.
The Tools Of The Trade
There are two major things that everyone needs to keep in mind when handling an investigation. Firstly, tools aren’t cheating. You are expected to put your mind and your resources to the test and that can mean anything from a Bible in a drawer to an app for your smartphone. Secondly, come up for air. Specifically try to come up from the habit of thinking purely in terms of in game interactions and in game tools.
Funcom is trying to blur the lines between the real and the game and in that they succeed.
Let’s take the example I have mentioned here and in previous articles, and for anyone reading, this is a spoiler.
In the Kingsmouth Code, you will come across a keypad to somewhere you need to go. The code is a three digit number found in the book of Kings in the Bible. Chapter 10, verse 10. I’ll let you go look it up, and in doing so make my point. When first tackling the code, I asked my wife to check for a bible in the church, which naturally would probably open (much like the phonebook) to the specific relevant page and hand me the answer. That’s not how it’s done for investigations though, there’s nothing given to you on a platter.
Similarly in Hell and Bach, you need to have explored a little. Given three photos and told to go to the first one? I can tell you, it is nowhere near the Overlook Motel. It also wasn’t where I first thought. How often does a game that you play give you a grainy black and white photo of an anonymous location and dare you to find it?
There are no easy answers to be had here unless you use a guide. Even then, why deprive yourself of that fun and frustration? Twice now I’ve had to decode morse code. Twice now I’ve had to slip out of my body and check into the netherworld to progress. Several times I’ve simply sat here and stared at my computer trying to work out what logical leap I am not yet making.
You don’t have to do the investigations to progress your character. God, Funcom and I know there is plenty to do, plenty that can be redone and plenty to come. Issue 1 Unleashed is under our belts and Ragnar and Co have more in store for us. Not just the monthly updates either.
An example on how profitable redoing content can be: this weekend in a bid to take part in the free weekend celebrations, I redid the majority of Kingsmouth and walked away with 50 AP (quite a lot and coincidentally exactly how much I needed for an ability) for doing what I had before.
You don’t have to run the investigations for the story, the story quest tends to that. You don’t have to run them for the rewards, you can get rewarded elsewhere if you prefer.
However, between us, I think you’re missing out if you don’t. You may need to check spoilers, you may need hints. I have it easier in that I have a constant group and well, many hands make light work. Though actually cracking the codes, working out the answers and following the breadcrumbs? If nothing else, it’s worth it just to be able to say that you did.
To say that you have seen what lies beneath and to say that you have out thought Funcom.
Until the next update and the next puzzle.