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The Mean Missions Guide: A Villainous Levelling Journey through Story Arcs


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  The Mean Missions Guide

or 

A villainous journey to 50 without powerleveling

 

The Story is Actually Good - even if you're not!

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s easier to powerlevel up to 50, buy IOs and go back through Ouroboros in Flashback missions, but this creates a jumbled storytelling mess. Also, it creates a feeling of character development and your "oh, it's X again" moments become "hey, I remember this! I helped X do Y in Z!"  as characters appear and reappear later, giving the whole story a sense of continuity and progression.  

The story is in the Rogue Isles less tied to geography than in Paragon City and more about themes and recurring enemy groups.  I think that's pretty fitting for a villain. You're not there to make the world a better place for the greater good - you're there to make it a better place for you.

You're playing the long game, here. Some storylines that start off in the single-digits don't really come to fruition until endgame. Some themes are also a bit inconsistent - the Destined One storyline sort of drifts in and out and it's counter-intuitively easy to miss it altogether if you're not directed to one particular contact.

I’ve tried to cherry pick story arcs that meet the following criteria:

  • Interesting missions (variety of objectives).
  • Missions with unique maps or mechanics.
  • Story flow - introducing characters and ideas that’ll show up again later.
  • Rewards and unlocks, missions with temporary powers.
  • Things I just think are cool.

One important thing to note is that in the Rogue Isles and in Arachnos, in order to succeed you must show that you deserve success. Your contacts are rarely nice people and you are rarely doing nice jobs. Several missions give you a choice between mercy and murder, but that’s about as selfless as you’re going to get. Contacts aren't trustworthy and you need to start off small before you make a name for yourself. You have to prove your worth, repeatedly, and be prepared to defend your status. Please don't take this as canonical or anything like that - feel free to wander off the beaten track and read the comments below for other recommendations.

Notable omissions are anything I think is too much of a faff to unlock and some out of the way contacts - I couldn't realistically fit everything in and redside contacts often have requirements before you can talk to them. Also not touched upon are tip missions, although I would say it's worth working through them to unlock your character as a rogue for a bit more variety (you can cheat with Null the Gull, but the tip missions are all fairly good and so are the alignment shift ones and remember that this is a story guide).

As with my blueside guide, I'll periodically add to this to flesh it out as I go. Any feedback is really welcome!

Contacts and Brokers

One of the key difference between blue and redside mission gameplay is the fact that you have to unlock several contacts in a zone by first doing newspaper missions then a bank heist then unlock the contact. I’ll mark these where I can, but be aware that if you can’t see a contact you might need to go through a broker first. Remember - a theme redside is that you're nobody until you've earnt the right to be somebody, so why would contacts talk to someone so beneath them as you? You're just this fool who stumbled out of the Zig (or Galaxy City) with some help from Arachnos?

Another key difference is how story arcs are linked - blueside and neutral/goldside zones tend to have a chain sequential contacts that move you along a narrative while redside quite often has two-contact chains with themes that are returned to in later zones.

Included below are the names of the contacts, in order, with level bands taken from the wiki. 

 

A Warning about XP

It is very easy to outlevel certain zones and for that reason I recommend you do not use any exp boosts. Other times, you'll get halfway through a zone and not be able to speak to the next contact. Over the course of the game, there was a (near) global XP buff and a reduction in experience debt, so the levelling process is now noticeably quicker than a couple of the early zones were designed for. 

 

You’re deliberately taking the scenic route here. The following macro will create a button that will pause and unpause XP gain, allowing you to more easily control your levelling pace. I've indicated in this guide the points at which you should pause your experience gain to get the most from the story - a general rule of thumb is at levels ending in 4 or 9.  

/macro_image "DayJob_XPBoost" "XP Toggle" "option_toggle noxp"

 

Travel

Redside zones are harder to navigate in places. The Arachnos map designers must have got a special deal on dangerous walkways and improbably large walls. I suggest grabbing one of the flight powers from the P2W vendor if you’re not a flier for those times when ground navigation is too difficult.

 

A Note for Soldiers and Widows

The Villain Epic Archetypes have their own contacts and missions and I recommend doing them when they pop up. They explore Arachnos lore and show why you’re not just another grunt and I think they're worth doing. Do be cautious about not overshooting your levels, though. 

 

Suggested Path

Some of these, particularly in the late game, have a lot of crossover with my blueside missions guide. Redside never really had a high enough population to support addition of new red-only content so at a certain point you’ll have to dip into more neutral territory. Occasionally, things will deviate a bit but this is broadly the direction we'll be heading in. Redside has a lot more overlap than blueside and the zone level distribution is a bit... odd.

Tutorial > Mercy Island > Port Oakes>  Cap Au Diable > First Ward & Sharkhead Isle > Night Ward & Nerva Archipelago  > St Martial > Grandville,  Cimerora & Ritki War Zone.

 

Levels 1-2: The Tutorials

Okay, there really isn’t much here but you do get a couple of enhancements and inspirations for free and a run through of the basics of mission objectives. 

Breakout runs you through the basics of your standard door and explains how you, well, break out of the Zig. I recommend doing it at least once.  

Galaxy City is, in my opinion, less good as a tutorial and not really connected to the early redside story arcs.

If you're concerned about character concept, Galaxy City has your fall to villainy happen on-screen, which you could either explain as an act of desperation in dire circumstances leading you down a path of selfishness in the name of self-preservation (useful for future rogues?) or you could be more vague about how you ended up in the Zig in the first place. 

Your call, really. When you’re finished, you’ll end up in...

 

Mercy Island

The temptation here is to skip the early levels by running Death From Below. Do not do this! Believe it or not, the zone actually has a fun little story arc that acts as a giant lore dump. You'll get your levels. Don't fret. There is a good variety to the missions and it really does show you a little bit of everything. Pause your XP at level 7.

Operative Kuzmin > Fire Wire or Doctor Weber > Lt Harris 

I enjoyed Fire Wire’s mission a bit more, but there’s not too much in it. Lt Harris’ last mission is quite distasteful and you may want to skip it if abusive relationships or stalking are a specific trigger. This mission is unusually dark if you actually follow the dialogue, which is unusual as the rest of the redside content is more akin to cartoon supervillainy. 

Whatever you choose, talk to Dr Graves for an introduction to some of the further aspects of the game. It’s basically a glorified tour of the introductory areas, but it's not done enormously well. Don't worry - it gets better. 

Kallinda > Mongoose are worth visiting  as she provides some insight into your status as a Destined One, which is a recurrent theme throughout the redside story, and he gives pops up later.

Matthew Burke > Doctor Creed provides some general background stuff about the snakes and foreshadows something that'll turn up waaaaay later.

 

Port Oakes

After the very busy Mercy Island, Port Oakes feels a bit desolate but the few arcs that are here are very good. Make sure you do Mr Bocor’s mission to retrieve the Loa Bone – it’s a nice little temporary power.

Angelo Vendetti (5-9) > Mr Bocor (5-9) > The Radio (10-14)

I'd recommend then going back and finishing Dr Graves' next two story arcs - it's more tutorial stuff and the writing is wildly inconsistent, but it has a pretty satisfying ending that has a crossover to the blueside equivalent and has some foreshadowing for one of the Patrons. Pause your XP at 10 until you’ve started The Radio then pause it again at 14. 

 

Cap au Diable

You'll want to hit the brokers for this one. Dr Aeon seems to be the recurring lore point - he turns up much later. I'd start with Dr Shelley Percey - her arc and the one that she introduces are by far the more interesting ones here. Sadly, this is the point where you'll have to start grinding newspaper missions to get bank heists to unlock contacts from brokers. I highly recommend getting a form of stealth if you're running them solo to just save time.

Dr Shelley Percey (10-14) > Marshal Brass (15-19) Dr Percey has a good mission after her story arc about the Council and nictus, which is a lore point that'll turn up later in Cimerora and beyond, but it also drops some good temporary powers. Martial Brass has a lot of stuff about Dr Aeon. Martial Brass also awards you the Entrusted with the Secret badge, which allow you to access Ouroborous, which is your go-to locale for time-travel and avoiding the ferry.

Peter Themari (10-14) > Willy Wheeler (15-19) has  bit of lore about about Longbow and Legacy Chain, both of whom are recurring enemies.  

Dmitri Krylov (10-14) > The Golden Roller (15-19) has a bit of lore about Facemaker and some fairly disparate missions.

Bane Spider Reuben (15-24) has an enjoyable story arc and I also recommend Brother Hammond's (15-24) arc for some Luddite fun. Neither of them require brokers. 

 

Before You Move On

Now would be a good time to do Death From Below and Drowning in Blood if you haven’t already done them as well as Virgil Tarikoss’ strike force. Seer Marino in Mercy Island should now be available as a contact that I recommend doing as has a good amount of Ghost Widow lore as is generally just quite well done.

 

Your goal is to get to level 20, when you can swing over to Face and speak to the Facemaker herself to earn an additional costume slot.

 

The University

Now would be a good time to learn to craft some IOs. If you've been careful, you should have a bit of influence saved up by now. Head to the university in Cap au Diable and do the short tutorial there by speaking to Dean John YuAshley McKnight (14-50) just outside the university can provide you access to the exclusive Midnighter Club, which you'll need to be part of much later on.

 

Now would also be a good time to do the Silver Mantis strike force that starts in Sharkhead Isle. It's nothing special, but getting to level 22 will is helpful for IO purposes.

 

Next, there are actually several very good, very overlapping zones that I suggest you kind of do in tandem if you're careful. Be aware that First Ward and Night Ward move into Praetorian lore, which is much less relevant for villains than heroes. I think they're too well made to not do at least once, though.
 

Sharkhead Isle

This is the point, in my opinion, where redside missions start to come into their own and you move from lackey to a more arcive player in the wider Rogue Isles story. Remember to run some newspaper missions to get the brokers on your side if you need to.

 

Vince Dubrovsky (20-24) > Cage Crash (20-24) > Diviner Maros (25-29) is one of the standouts here, in my opinion as it introduces the first real Captain Mako lore.

 

Dean Macarthur (20-29) is the first contact I'd head for as he doesn't need a broker's introduction and his whole story arc is just really fun and he introduced Leonard (20-29) who continues the same story. This is such a Saturday Morning Cartoon storyline that you really shouldn't miss it.

 

Vincent Ross has the other story arc I'd really recommend doing as it has a decent story and doesn't need a broker. More Legacy Chain hijinks.

 

You should also have the Bling badge by now, so I'd recommend seeking out Doc Buzzsaw (25-29) for her set of missions, which tie into the general lore of the zone and the Freakshow group.

 

Lock your XP gain at level 29 and keep it there throughout First Ward if you go there.

 

First Ward - optional

First Ward is a continuation of the Praetorian Going Rogue storyline to some extent, but it's so well done that I genuinely think it would be a shame to miss out. It has memorable characters, cool story interactions and an element of choice that hasn't really been seen up to this point. 

 

All contacts for this zone are 20-29 and it starts off by talking to Carter Mortesen in Cap au Diable. 

 

Carter Mortesen > The Doorman >  Nadia > Palatine > Noble Savage > Katie Douglas > Blind Makwa > Cerulean > Master Midnight > Vanessa DeVore

 

There's the Seed of Hamidon raid boss pootling about in the middle of the zone - you can take it down in a team of eight quite easily and it's worth doing. It's done so rarely that getting a team together on the LFG isn't hard. It's a somewhat anticlimactic battle, but you get some badges from it.

 

Nerva Archipelago

There is a lot of lore here that turns up at end game so all three story chains are surprisingly relevant if you want to know what's going on.

 

Keep your XP locked to 29 until you've unlocked the initial contacts - yes, this will mean churning through a lot of newspaper missions.  I hate the broker system.

 

Due to the slightly dense level ranges here, you may find it easier to unlock the 25-29 contacts, level up elsewhere and then come back at level 34 for the next wave.

 

Darla Mavis (24-29) > Psimon Omega (30-34) > Technician Naylor (35-39) introduces Nemesis, who is a big player blueside and is part of the excellent Signature Story Arc Pandora's Box.

 

Shadowy Figure (24-29) > Timothy Raymond (30-34) > Kelly Uqua (35-39) is your first real introduction to Ritki redside, and you'll see them later in the Ritki War Zone.

 

Lt Demitrovich (24-29) > Operative Rutger (30-34) > Magu Mu'Drakhan (35-39) has a number of heroes if you want a challenge but it the least lore focussed of the three in this version of the levelling journey - it has a lot relating to the Circle of Thorns and the Mu.

 

Bobby Curtin (25-29) is an excellent contact if you're a rogue, with some excellent morally ambiguous choices.

 

Night Ward - Optional

Carrying on the story from First Ward, we've got the fairly unique zone of Night Ward, full of gaslamp fantasy world-of-the-dead mystery, knights and magic. 

 

Start off by talking to Mistress Maria in First Ward for the introduction. 

 

All contacts are 30-39 but lock your XP to 34 if you're zone hopping. Alternatively you can go up to 34, head to St Martial and do some missions there and then head back.

 

Mistress Maria > Montague Castanella > Ward > Sir Bedwyr > The Magician

 

My only real complaint with Night Ward is that it just sort of stops. A few characters do turn up in later story arcs, though.

 

Before You Move On

Now would be a good time to visit Mr Rodney in Cap au Diable for the old cape and aura unlock missions, then swing round to Face and speak to Gorgeous Glenda to unlock an additional costume slot. I'd also recommend using your Ouroborous portal and speaking to Mender Tesseract (25-34) and Mender Lazarus (30-39) for some time-travel shenanigans. 

 

Pause your XP at 34.

 

St Martial

Hardcase is a very worthwhile contact here as he has four story arcs with two at 30-34 and two at 34-39. Johnny Sonata (35-39) has a set of missions that link back to Hardcase's set, but you need the Obsessed badge (which isn't hard to get). 

 

Of the broker-unlock missions, Voracious Virandi (30-34) > Jezebel Jones (35-39) is the one I'd recommend for story reason. There are a few other contacts here that are unlocked via badges, but I'll leave those to your discretion.

 

Before you leave St Martial, you can visit Lovely Linda (40-50) in Face to open up your level 40 costume slot. Lock your XP gain at 44.

 

Grandville

The final redside zone and home of the four Patrons, all of whom have had at least some foreshadowing by now.  You'll first be sent to Arbiter Rein to choose your patron and cannot speak to them until you've done this.

 

I'd argue that Ghost Widow and Scirocco have the most relevance in terms of lore, with Captain Mako and Black Scorpion having interesting but less important roles from a player perspective.

 

All four of them have four story arcs (two starting at 40, two at 45) and all four of those are pretty good. They also all have (roughly) the same end-goal, which is also the end of you Destined One storyline.

 

Aside from the patrons, there are a lot of worthwhile contacts in this zone. 

 

Westin Phipps (40-44) shows a much darker side of Arachnos than you've been hitherto been allowed to see.

 

Terence Dobbs (40-44) deals with the Arachnoids, which you may remember from waaaaay back in Mercy Island. His follow up contact is Dr Forrester.

 

Television (45-50) is a follow up to the Radio's earlier storyline. Vernon von Grun (45-50) has an excellent arc fighting the Devouring Earth.

 

Operative Grillo (45-50) has some Snake-focussed missions that give some closure to your work in Mercy Island.

 

Cimerora

This zone is notable for just being so stylistically unique and making good use of time travel as a plot device, as well as harking back to some Kheldian lore. As you go in, talk to the Midnighter standing in front of you for further instruction.  Personally, I think the story progression is a bit messy, but it's still worth doing if only because the task force is so good.

 

All contacts are L35-50.

 

Midnighter > Senator Decimus Aquila > Marcus Valerius 

 

Additionally, there is a villain-specific contact named Sister Airlia (40-50) with some missions that send you back to Rogue Isles and this zone ends with the glorious Imperius task force.

 

Ritki War Zone

I really like the storytelling in this zone. There's a good sense of progression and you meet up with a few characters we met earlier. 

 

Levantera (35-50) > Serpent Drummer (40-50) > Gaussian (45-50) > The Dark Watcher (45-50) 

 

There are a few task forces here, but for now give the Lady Grey task force a try as it most closely follows the storyline. 

 

Your glory lap here is unquestionably the Ritki Mothership Raid. Look for it on the LFG, head on over and join a league. Range and AoE attacks will help you, but if you don't know what you're doing then watch for instructions, follow the crowd and keep spamming those AoE attacks. 

 

What's next?

Well, it's time for some incarnate-level content, but that's outside of the remit of this guide. I know it's a bit short for now, but I'll add to it over time.

 

Any comments, let me know! I'm a big fan of missions and story arcs and think there's a lot of really great content there that goes almost unplayed due to the "must get moar levelz" mentality, which is fine but not for me.

 

Thanks!

Edited by Gulbasaur
Various updates, typo-correction sweep
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Great guide! Thank you for the hard work. Thanks to your last guide, I played through the high level hero content and had a blast. 
 

Do you have a recommended AT and/or power set combination to solo most of this content? I think you’d want something that gets a good attack chain early and has good sustain. I was thinking a /WP Brute.

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2 hours ago, HoundsTooth said:

Do you have a recommended AT and/or power set combination to solo most of this content? I think you’d want something that gets a good attack chain early and has good sustain. I was thinking a /WP Brute.

Due to the horrible, awful, smelly broker system and the need to do three to five newspaper missions and a bank mission to open up several of the contacts... something with stealth to make them go a bit faster... I mean, the +stealth IO can be used from level 10 in Sprint and Stealth is a decent choice from the power pools so anything goes really. 

 

I'm a fan of stalkers over brutes for general purposes - if you want to feel powerful from low levels, they are really hard to beat. Grab the two special ATOs and you'll be powering through. Street Justice is one of the highest scoring DPS for single-targets but really follow your villainous little heart.

 

I'd also recommend trying one of the VEATs. Once you get the endurance under control (don't take all the toggles straight away, only the defensive ones), they're outstanding. 

  

2 hours ago, RubyRed said:

Oooh nice, I'm gonna have to give this one a try. Your blue side guide was really good.

Thank you! This one was a bit harder to put together because the zones are less linear and there's the horrible, awful, smelly broker system to contend with. 

 

Early redside content is better than early blueside content, but the revamped blueside zones surpass it in a few places in my opinion. It's a more even experience, but it's also harder to pull together a sense of narrative at times.

Edited by Gulbasaur
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Aside from the patrons, there are a lot of contacts in this zone.

 

Terence Dobbs (40-44) deals with the Arachnoids, which you may remember from waaaaay back in Mercy Island. His follow up contact is Dr Forrester.

 

Television (45-50) is a follow up to the Radio's earlier storyline. Vernon von Grun (45-50) has an excellent arc fighting the Devouring Earth.

I think as long as we're talking Grandville contacts, it would be criminal (Ha HA!) not to mention Westin Phipps (40-44). His storyline isn't so much related to anyone else's so much as it's some of the nastiest, ugliest, most horrifying, skin-crawling villainy in all the Rogue Isles. I haaaate Phipps! 🙂

 

----

 

GREAT work on this guide @Gulbasaur, I know you've been agonizing over it for a long time now, so seeing it finally come to fruition means a lot. Thank you!

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15 minutes ago, Crater Kate said:

I know you've been agonizing over it for a long time now

No, I just procrastinate a lot and real life has been sort of hectic so I just kept not starting.

 

I totally forgot about Phipps, despite enjoying the arc. It has a lot of things that thematically link to a First Ward arc as Fortunatas and Seers are so closely related. I've added it now.

 

Thank you!

Edited by Gulbasaur
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This is a great guide for the experiencing the story while leveling in redside. On a side note. It might be worth mentioning that VEATs have their own optional storyline. Starting with Alan Desslock, Brick Johnson, and Fortunata Hamilton. It's also realtively easy to out-level their missions, and I don't believe they can be re-played with ouroboros flashback.

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7 hours ago, Jack Power said:

Sooo... Praetoria next?

I'm going to direct you to @Redlynne's guide here. Not exactly the same, but Redlynne's work is usually excellent and this is a very comprehensive guide.

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Thanks for this!  I recently created a villain to run through CoV somewhat old-school style (but with a few of the P2W powers and enhancements, because I'm not a masochist).  This guide will really help.

 

I do have a couple of comments about this from the early going:

On 8/23/2020 at 1:20 PM, Gulbasaur said:

Mercy Island

The temptation here is to skip the early levels by running Death From Below. Do not do this! Believe it or not, the zone actually has a fun little story arc that acts as a giant lore dump. You'll get your levels. Don't fret. There is a good variety to the missions and it really does show you a little bit of everything. Pause your XP at level 7.

Operative Kuzmin > Fire Wire or Doctor Weber > Lt Harris 

I enjoyed Fire Wire’s mission a bit more, but there’s not too much in it. Lt Harris’ last is quite distasteful and you may want to skip it if abusive relationships or stalking are a specific trigger. This mission is unusually dark if you actually follow the dialogue, which is unusual as the rest of the redside content is more akin to cartoon supervillainy. 

Whatever you choose, talk to Dr Graves for an introduction to some of the further aspects of the game. It’s basically a glorified tour of the introductory areas, but it's not done enormously well. Don't worry - it gets better. 

Kallinda is a worthy contact to visit as she provides some insight into your status as a Destined One, which is a recurrent theme throughout the redside story.

Matthew Burke > Doctor Creed provides some general background stuff about the snakes and foreshadows something that'll turn up waaaaay later.

It's not entirely obvious, but the Breakout tutorial will give you either Kalinda or Matthew Burke as a contact.  You can do both, but I don't think it's worth pausing your XP to do so.  You end up with a lot of missions that look a lot alike: jump into a snake hole and kill all the snakes.  Their missions aren't exactly the same, but they can seem like it (the only difference between some Kalinda missions and Burke missions is the name of the boss snake you're supposed to kill).  After you're done killing snakes for Kalinda, she sends you to Mongoose to...kill more snakes.  When youre done killing snakes for Burke, Doctor Creed gives you missions against Infected and Arachnos, so there's more variety.  Although Kalinda sets up the "Destined One" arc, in terms of the actual gameplay I'd take Burke. 

 

It might also be worth noting that whether you take Kalinda or Burke as your initial contact makes no difference once you're out of Mercy Island (as far as I can tell).  Either way, you'll get sent to the same brokers in Port Oakes.

 

Re: Lt. Harris, I agree about his arc being distasteful and a little dark for this game.  OTOH, if you do his arc you get a chance to clear the Longbow out of Fort Darwin.  As someone with lasting memories of sending weak newbie villains out of Fort Darwin only to scamper back to safety after a few kills—port Darwin really is well named—I appreciated the opportunity to kick all those smug candy canes the hell out of "my" fort. 

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4 hours ago, Zhym said:

After you're done killing snakes for Kalinda, she sends you to Mongoose to...kill more snakes.  When youre done killing snakes for Burke, Doctor Creed gives you missions against Infected and Arachnos, so there's more variety.  Although Kalinda sets up the "Destined One" arc, in terms of the actual gameplay I'd take Burke. 

I really, really dislike the snakefest at the start. They aren't the most compelling enemy group, in my opinion, and the repetitive missions cast the Rogue Isles' content in a bad light. 

 

I'm currently working through the Praetorian early game story arcs and they are so much better than the early redside nonsense. Yes, they do repeat a bit, but you don't have three contacts in a row giving you practically identical missions. 

 

I'm going to run this character up to incarnates and work on a smaller Praetorians story guide, then I'll crack on with the level 50 one as there's a buttload of really good content at top levels that I think people miss because it's such a mess. 

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I agree that the snakes are underwhelming.  But at least those missions are short.  I'm running through the Port Oakes missions now, and after clearing gangsters out of ship after ship, I'm starting to have fond thoughts of snakes.

 

On 8/23/2020 at 1:20 PM, Gulbasaur said:

Angelo Vendetti (5-9) > Mr Bocor (5-9) > The Radio (10-14)

I misread this as a contact chain: Vendetti, who would introduce Bocor, who introduced The Radio.  Bocor does introduce The Radio (so would Mikey the Ear, at the right level), but Vendetti, Bocor, and Billie Heck are all introduced independently by the Broker. 

 

I've only done Vendetti and part of Billie Heck so far, but you made a good choice omitting Heck.  His story arc is pretty tedious so far: a defeat-all in a large office map and a ship's-hold kidnap mission.  It looks like it might get better after this, though.  Still, with each of the three contacts (Vendetti, Bocor, and Heck) requiring three newspaper missions and a mayhem mission to unlock, I'd argue that it's probably only worth doing one.  Otherwise, that's nine newspaper missions, three Atlas Park mayhem missions, and a long damned time pausing XP at level 9.

 

So I might suggest phrasing the quoted line as something like:

Angelo Vendetti (5-9) and/or Billie Heck (5-9) and/or Mr. Bocor (5-9) > The Radio (10-14)

 

Or just omit Vendetti and Heck entirely, or relegate them to short descriptions as "Other Contacts" under Port Oakes.

 

ETA: The Billie Heck arc kind of grew on me.  It still doesn't make much sense, but after those first two slogs of missions, it was kind of fun.  Doing both Vendetti and Bocor might be a bit much, though, since they both have a lot of "defeat all the Hellions in the office" missions, which gets old.  But they also both have badge missions, so some players might want to do both anyway.

Edited by Zhym
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My slow path through blueside (inspired by this thread) continues.  It's been pretty compelling overall, and a much different view of the game than you'd get powerleveling through.  It feels a lot more like what I remember from live (though without nearly as much travel time and getting my butt kicked). 

On 8/23/2020 at 1:20 PM, Gulbasaur said:

Cap au Diable

You'll want to hit the brokers for this one. Dr Aeon seems to be the recurring lore point - he turns up much later. I'd start with Dr Shelley Percey - her arc and the one that she introduces are by far the more interesting ones here. Sadly, this is the point where you'll have to start grinding newspaper missions to get bank heists to unlock contacts from brokers. I highly recommend getting a form of stealth if you're running them solo to just save time.

Dr Shelley Percey (10-14) > Marshal Brass (15-19) Dr Percey has a good mission after her story arc about the Council and nictus, which is a lore point that'll turn up later in Cimerora and beyond, but it also drops some good temporary powers. Martial Brass has a lot of stuff about Dr Aeon. Martial Brass also awards you the Entrusted with the Secret badge, which allow you to access Ouroborous, which is your go-to locale for time-travel and avoiding the ferry.

Peter Themari (10-14) > Willy Wheeler (15-19) has  bit of lore about about Longbow and Legacy Chain, both of whom are recurring enemies.  

Dmitri Krylov (10-14) > The Golden Roller (15-19) has a bit of lore about Facemaker and some fairly disparate missions.

Bane Spider Reuben (15-24) has an enjoyable story arc and I also recommend Brother Hammond's (15-24) arc for some Luddite fun. Neither of them require brokers. 

IMO, Bane Spider Rueben, Seer Merino, and Brother Hammond are the best of the bunch in this zone.  Hammond's in particular is jolly fun.  I like how unlike most other contacts, you can never call him—because Luddite! 

 

The Shelley Percey > Marshall Brass set of arcs is pretty good, too.  So is Peter Themari > Willy Wheeler.  I have a soft spot for poor Willy; he wants to be a player, and he so isn't.  OTOH, Dmitri Krylov is—how you say—just plain silly, and not in a good way, with a poorly written Russian "accent" and a story arc that doesn't really connect to anything else.  And  Golden Roller is easily the weakest of the "object" contacts (which include Radio, Slot Machine, and Television). (I know, Golden Roller isn't really an object, it's just a guy in a car.  But you're still interacting with an object to get the mission, so I'm counting it as part of the object contacts.) 

 

You can avoid some newspaper missions by doing Ashley McKnight's Origin of Power arc as soon as you hit 14.  She'll introduce many of the Cap au Diable contacts, including Peter Themari, Dmitri Krylov, Marshall Brass, Golden Roller, and Willy Wheeler.  She doesn't seem to introduce Shelley Percey (at least, according to the unofficial Homecoming wiki).  So you can start out with Shelley Percey and Marshall Brass.  Byt the time you're done with them, you'll have paused XP at level 14 and can do Origin of Power and/or use the "Find Contacts" button to get all the other contacts you need.

 

OTOH, Origin of Power is pretty lame and involves a lot of travel (make sure you have a travel power before starting it).  So some folks might actually prefer grinding newspaper missions.

 

Finally, having finished all three of Dr. Graves's arcs, the best I can say about them is that the third arc wasn't quite as terrible as the first. And it does tie (clumsuly, IMO) into the broader story.  But I consider it eminently skippable.   

Edited by Zhym
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Here's another update from the slow path.  This time: Sharkhead Isle!

On 8/23/2020 at 1:20 PM, Gulbasaur said:

Sharkhead Isle

This is the point, in my opinion, where redside missions start to come into their own and you move from lackey to a more arcive player in the wider Rogue Isles story. Remember to run some newspaper missions to get the brokers on your side if you need to.

 

Vince Dubrovsky (20-24) > Cage Crash (20-24) > Diviner Maros (25-29) is one of the standouts here, in my opinion as it introduces the first real Captain Mako lore.

 

Dean Macarthur (20-29) is the first contact I'd head for as he doesn't need a broker's introduction and his whole story arc is just really fun and he introduced Leonard (20-29) who continues the same story. This is such a Saturday Morning Cartoon storyline that you really shouldn't miss it.

 

Vincent Ross has the other story arc I'd really recommend doing as it has a decenty story and doesn't need a broker. More Legacy Chain hijinks.

 

You should also have the Bling badge by now, so I'd recommend seeking out Doc Buzzsaw (25-29) for her set of missions, which tie into the general lore of the zone and the Freakshow group.

Things really do pick up here. 

 

The Dean MacArthur and Leonard arc (it's multiple arcs for merit purposes, but one big story) really is great fun.  It also includes one of the tougher challenges in the game in the "Army of Me" badge, depending on your AT.  I wouldn't start with MacArthur and Leonard, though.  There's enough content in Sharkhead that you could spend a loooong time paused at 24 if you try to do most of it (I did).  Since MacArthur and Leonard are both available from 20-29, I'd leave them for later just to avoid spending more time than necessary with XP paused.

 

I'd add Darrin Wade (20-30) to the list of worthy contacts.  He doesn't require a broker's introduction, he'll introduce Lorenz Ansaldo, Vince Dubrowski, or Captain Petrovich (letting you talk to one of them without a broker), and he introduces some lore that will come up much later.  Well worth it, IMO.

 

I'd also suggest doing Lorenz Ansaldo (20-24) > Operative Vargas (20-24).  You'll need to do broker missions to do both Ansaldo > Vargas and the Dubrovsky > Cage Crash > Maros arcs, but Vargas in particular is just a hoot.  Vargas is a straight shooter with upper management written all over him.  At least, he thinks he is.  He answers the question: what would you get if an Arachnos operative got an MBA?  Grand fun. 

 

I'd also suggest doing Vince Dubrosky, Lorenz Ansaldo, and Diviner Maros before Vincent Ross.  Ross's arc (which is great) lets you have a side contact if you want—but only if you've already worked with those contacts.  So do those three, then Ross. 

 

To avoid pausing XP for too long, and to maximize your options for Vincent Ross's arc, here's the order I'd suggest for doing the Sharkhead contacts:

  • Darrin Wade (20-30) > Lorenz Ansaldo (20-24) > Operative Vargas (20-24)
  • Newspaper/Mayhem/Broker >  Vince Dubrowski (20-24) > Crash Cage (20-24) > Diviner Maros (25-29)
  • Vincent Ross (20-29)
  • Dean MacArthur > Leonard (20-29)
  • Doc Buzzsaw (25-29)

Pause XP at 24 until you'd done with Vince Dubrowski's arc, then level to 25 to continue with Maros. 

 

There are some other contacts here that you can do if you're a completist, but IMO aren't worth pausing XP for:

  • Captain Petrovich (20-24) is another in the "wacky inconsistent accent" series of contacts.  His missions are nothing special IMO.  He introduces Lt. Chalmers (20-24), who isn't much better (Lt. Chalmers also has a surprise escort mission, which I hate—both the escort mission and the fact that this one doesn't tell you it's an escort mission until midway through the mission).  Both Petrovich and Chalmers are poorly written, too.  They aren't worth having to do a second round of newspaper missions and mayhem mission, IMO.
  • Operative Kirkland (25-29) is introduced by Operative Vargas, but he's not nearly as much fun, nor does he tie much into the greater lore.
  • Henri Dumont (20-24) unlocks with the Strikebreaker badge.  His missions are okay.  They don't tie into the greater game lore, but they didn't annoy me, either.
  • Archmage Tarixus (25-29) unlocks with the Lorekeeper badge.  If you do his missions (which are a basic "find the components of the MacGuffin and do a fight at the end"), you'll get the Blackwand—which you can also get for free at any P2W store.  This version of the wand is slightly more powerful and has limited charges, but most people won't be doing this arc for the power.

Finally, a note on First Ward & Night Ward.  First Ward really is great—one of the best set of arcs in the game, IMO.  IIRC, there are a few parts where it's different as a villain than when you play as a hero, or where you get different choices.  So I'd say it's probably worth doing once as a villain.  But it also breaks up the isles progression a bit and kind of messes with the old-school villain vibe (like most "cooperative" zones, the missions here sometimes shoehorn a villain into being a hero).  I'm going to skip these zones with my slow path character, mostly because I've already done it as a villain already.  But these zones will fit quite nicely with a whole game Praetorian path.  So I'm looking forward to your guide on that topic. :)

Edited by Zhym
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17 minutes ago, Zhym said:

But these zones will fit quite nicely with a whole game Praetorian path.  So I'm looking forward to your guide on that topic. 🙂

It'll be a bit different, just because the way Praetorian content is arranged. First Ward and Night Ward are an indirect continuation of the early goldside missions with many of the same characters, so if you're gonna do it you'll get more out of it as a Praetorian.

 

The goldside stuff has probably the best writing in the game, although it's a slow burn.

Doctor Fortune  Soulwright Mother Blight Brightwarden Storm Lantern Shadow Self Corona Borealis
Blood Fortunado Dark/Dark Corruptor Rad/Rad Brute Gravity/Time Controller Storm/Water Defender Warshade Dark/Dark Tanker
      Iron Challenge      
The Good Missions Guide: A Heroic Levelling Journey through Story Arcs Blueside Guide Easy IO Cheat Sheet 
The Mean Missions Guide: A Villainous Levelling Journey through Story Arcs Redside Guide Fortunatas are the Bestunatas
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I'm a fan of Goldside.  It has more mature writing and an element of player choice that a lot of the earlier content lacks.  I'd chalk that up to being later-issue content, but that was Issue 18 and the Dr. Graves and Twinshot arcs were from Issue 21, so not all the writing got better over time.

 

I'm curious whether even with XP doubling turned on it's possible to level a character to 50 doing only Praetorian content.  Levels 1-20 are covered, obviously, and you can do First Ward and Night Ward from 20-35.  When you hit 40, Tina Macintyre and Maria Jenkins have a lot of Praetorian missions, especially with the latter's big arc.  And then the Incarnate trials are almost all Praetorian, plus there are some non-trial post-50 Praetorian arcs.  But I'm not sure there's enough content between the 30s up to the 50 to do only Praetorian content. 

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9 hours ago, Zhym said:

I'm curious whether even with XP doubling turned on it's possible to level a character to 50 doing only Praetorian content. 

That's my current activity. I think you probably can, be the narrative will begin to fall apart as levelling order isn't the same as chronogical order - I think First Ward happens after a couple of the incarnate trials, for example. 

 

Night Ward ends at 39/40 and has repeatable contacts if you get stuck. The New Praetorians is 40, IIRC, and then you've got Tina and Maria's arcs and missions. I think you could easily get up to the mid 40s. 

 

Several tip missions have Praetorian story bits in them. The Sutter task force is quite focussed on Praetorian stuff.

 

Basically, I'm trying to do it now.

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Doctor Fortune  Soulwright Mother Blight Brightwarden Storm Lantern Shadow Self Corona Borealis
Blood Fortunado Dark/Dark Corruptor Rad/Rad Brute Gravity/Time Controller Storm/Water Defender Warshade Dark/Dark Tanker
      Iron Challenge      
The Good Missions Guide: A Heroic Levelling Journey through Story Arcs Blueside Guide Easy IO Cheat Sheet 
The Mean Missions Guide: A Villainous Levelling Journey through Story Arcs Redside Guide Fortunatas are the Bestunatas
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  • 3 weeks later

I'm sorry, but maybe I'm doing this totally wrong.... When I first zone into Mercy Island, the only contact I get is Kalinda.  I looked up Operative Kuzmin on Paragon Wiki, and went to his coordinates, and standing at that spot is Arbiter Richard.  As someone who hasn't done red content since Live, I really want to play through the story, but I'm foiled from the get go!  Help!  Thanks!

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You can get quite a few contacts for "free" with the Find Contact tool.  I always get these contacts without having to do a bank mission:

Port Oakes: Mr. Bocor

Cap Au Diable: Dr. Shelley Percey -> Marshal Brass, Golden Roller

Sharkhead: Darrin Wade, who after a couple of missions introduces your choice of Petrovich, Lorenz Ansaldo, or Vince Dubrowski

Nerva: Darla Mavis -> Psimon Omega -> Technician Naylor

St. Martial: Vivacious Verandi -> Jezebel Jones

Grandville: Westin Phipps, who after a few missions will introduce Terrence Dobbs, who will introduce Regent Korol

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