7 active and 7 passive

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For the uninitiated, The Secret World has 525 abilities which are divided into 9 weapons. 3 ranged weapons (Assault Rifle, Pistols and Shotgun); 3 melee weapons (Blade, Hammer and Fists); and 3 magic disciplines (Elemental Focus, Chaos Magic and Blood Focus). In addition, a new auxiliary weapon was added in Issue #2: Digging Deeper, with more rumored to come. The 7 new abilities for the new weapon (Rocket Launcher) can be found in the new Auxiliary Wheel‎. This brings the total abilities available to, at last count, 532.

Your character, however, only has access to 7 active and 7 passive abilities at one time from the normal wheel, and 1 active and 1 passive ability from the auxiliary wheel. If you’re coming from a regular MMO background it can seem a bit limiting to only have 8 and 8 abilities, as opposed to the 25 or so you’re probably used to having, but if you give it a chance you’ll see that The Secret World could never have been any other way.

Just like playing poker, you can’t have all the cards in your hand at once. You take 5 cards and its up to you to swap those cards until (if you’re lucky) you’ll have some cards that work well together. If you have in your hand: 10, 10, Jack, Queen, King, you might win the hand if nobody else has anything higher than a pair of 10′s. Or you can swap one of the 10′s and (if you’re lucky), get a 9, and crush everyone under the weight of your flush.

In TSW that luck is removed and it all depends on the skill of the player. You’ll need to think about what abilities to include in your deck and which ones to leave out, and how those abilities interact together and create synergy.

Synergy is a word you’ll hear a lot when playing TSW. Synergy is when abilities interact to create a beneficial effect. You might have one active skill which weakens the enemy, and another active skill which does extra damage to weakened enemies – two perfect abilities to include together in your deck. Or you might have a chain attack which does damage across several enemies, and a passive which adds a DoT to all chain attacks – another perfect synergistic pair.

And then there’s builders and finishers. All weapons have resource points associated with them, and most skills either build points or use them. Its important to note that most builder abilities will build resource points for both of your equipped weapons at once (the exception being that some healing builders only build for their own weapon), so there is rarely any need to take a builder for each weapon. Finishers will use up the resource points to a greater effect.

It’s important to note that resource points work differently depending on which weapon you are using:

  • For magic, resource points start at 0 and build up to 5 just as you’d expect.
  • For melee weapons, resource points start at 5 so you can burst in with a finisher and go full throttle right from the start.
  • For ranged weapons, resource points start at 0 and build up to 5, but they build upon the enemy not the player. This means that if an enemy dies or if you change targets, your resource points will fall to 0. However, there are skills that take advantage of this. You can, for instance, have enemies which die with ranged resources on them explode, doing a small AoE or heal friendly targets around them when they die.

And you’ll have to make some important choices when designing your build. What role will you play? Tank, Healer, DPS, or a combination? Will you focus on single targets, or AoE groups of mobs at once? All of these choices mean the skill of the game is firmly in the lap of the player. All players have 525 abilities at their disposal, which means everyone can do everything, but not all at once.