The Secret World: Escape to Blue Mountain

How do you tour Solomon Island? With a montage video and a detour through Hell! We tried out a 5-man dungeon, before paying a visit to Blue Mountain.

It seems like only yesterday when we were back in London, enjoying life without a care in the world. Since then we’ve been inducted into an ancient order, waded knee-deep through undead and dealt with myths and legends brought to life. And things are about to get much, much worse.

In Part One of our tour of Solomon Island, we arrived at the zombie infested town of Kingsmouth. With Part Two we ventured forth into The Savage Coast, tackled haunted amusement parks and investigated Illuminati academies. Our final look at the fog-enveloped isle takes us from government agencies to Indian reservations in search of answers. We also embark on our first dungeon crawl, stepping into Hell Rising.

While this draws an end to our time on Solomon Island, we’ll be keeping you up-to-date on The Secret World as the beta evolves. Make sure you also try out the new missions, as The Secret War ends and a new alternate-reality game begins!

Unfinished Business

Before we waved goodbye to The Savage Coast, there was one small matter to take care of. Hell had erupted around the Overlook Motel and seemed determined to take up residence. With Hellspawn pouring into the region, it was time for us to group up, enter Suite 13 and take the fight to Hell itself. Guided by Funcom’s Tor Anderson our five-strong team entered the dungeon of Hell Rising.

The second dungeon in The Secret World, Hell Rising has a gothic industrial feel to it, as if the Devil had developed an eclectic taste for large-scale Steampunk. Rather than crossing through caves or corridors, the location was open to the acrid, sulfur-saturated air, canyons conveying us from one part to the next.

If Hell is other people then Hell Rising will disappoint; there are only a handful of trash mobs throughout the entire dungeon. Instead, Funcom has gone for a mix of three bosses and a further three mini bosses to keep combat interesting and varied. The boss fights themselves are much more than a simple tank and spank affair, with each one requiring knowledge of how the encounter works, as well as the abilities required to handle the boss effectively.

It’s clear that Funcom has listened to players gripe and moan about their dungeon dislikes. As well as banishing most trash mobs, Anima Well resurrection points have been liberally scattered throughout Hell Rising in order to reduce the amount of time spent running back. A barrier appears around Anima Wells during boss fights, preventing them from being used to respawn during combat.

Dungeons in The Secret World are aimed at an overall Quality Level (QL) of gear, with Hell Rising being aimed at QL 5. To put that in perspective, The Savage Coast ranges from QL 2 up to QL 5, making the dungeon the last thing you’d do before moving on to Blue Mountain. There’s also a further version of Hell Rising aimed at the cap of QL 10, along with an even tougher version that requires coordinated use of abilities that can be difficult to obtain.

Although challenging, Hell Rising is an example of Funcom’s different approach to dungeon design. There’s a focus on what matters to players: interesting boss fights with engaging mechanics. Working out the best tactics and abilities to use on each boss will mean plenty of wipes, but it’s a challenge we relish.

Next Up: Blue Mountain and Continuing the Story! ->

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