If you play The Secret World, then the arrival of the release of Issue 9: The Black Signal and the arrival of Tokyo into the game have been a long time coming. Originally conceived and initial work started on this area even as the game was launching. Part of the original team was dedicated to this content from the start. And that was part of the problem in getting the Tokyo content shaped, polished, and finally, ready for release. As you might be aware, the game underwent some transition and the team became a smaller one. Yet the dedication to the promised content prevailed, and it is finally ready. We got a peek into the new content with Game Director Joel Bylos this week, who took us through what players can expect when they finally enter Tokyo.
In several ways, Tokyo is a return to the very beginning for high level players. The first mission there is even called “Back to the Beginning”. Since the content opens up at a point after the main storyline is done, the war is, for the most part, over, with some very distinct reminders that all is not quite back to normal. Far from it, in fact. That first mission takes place in a location that should be familiar -- Kaidan Station. The very same station where the game’s tutorial level takes place. Where then, you were there as a projection into the body of Sarah, now you find Sarah, alone and with troubled mind. The voices she channels should also be familiar to players from the intro mission. She manages to seize a few moments of clarity and joins you while you all make your way through the station, having your intro to some of the new Filth variations you’ll face. Eventually, out into Tokyo through the subway you arrive.
You’ll notice a few things immediately. If you look up, the imposing Orochi tower stands as a landmark in the area. You’ll have to wait for issue 11 to actually get in there, however, but it will be the site of the climax of the arc, which also brings both a new dungeon and raid version of that dungeon, as well as another Auxiliary weapon, and more.
The city as we enter it is rather deserted, with most people presumably trying to keep safe somewhere hidden. There are some large tanks sitting around (including one with a paranoid quest giver inside) and scarred streets. Watching Filth stalk through the streets or even crawl across buildings (make sure to look up in this area!) is nicely unsettling. The design here is consistent with the creepy factor, no doubt.
A cutscene plays with information from a government official (who players will later get to meet and work with) on the quarantine in place. With the streets still crawling with Filth, that quarantine wall keeping people in and out isn’t working very well. Looking at the map, the bottom portion was covered with some huge tentacles and corruption. The initially open area represents about ? of what we’ll see, with that last third of the map opening up in issue 10, along with some new areas. Two Sidestories packs will be available after issue 9, with another one becoming available after issue 10. These will include all mission types. Issue 10 will also deliver a new magical Auxiliary weapon and a new Scenario map. Tokyo will also include a Lair, with a revamp of the Lair system in 10 or 11.
There are three main mission lines in Tokyo, as well as other available missions and surprises. The three leaders are trying to go about with their business in the middle of the not quite resolved situation. While each leader has leanings toward one particular faction, all of the missions are, in fact, faction blind. You will be able to do them all in this area, with any faction differences on your part mainly being in some of the rewards you obtain. Also, for the first time, story missions will be repeatable. One of the new features tied to the story is the introduction of Black Lore. While The Buzzing is still present, with the usual lore to find in the area, the titular Black Signal will deliver another side of lore with this new feature.