I have been playing Isle of Siptah blind, without trying to surf forums for hints, etc, and it’s been fun to discover (I play PvE with a small group on a private server I rent). Discover the lands, the creatures, the strange leyshrines, trying to figure out the mechanics of the surges and the maelstroms. When I first built a small sandstone structure near the middle of the map, and it was quickly damaged by the maelstrom spawns, I got excited and tried again. I built up a rather large tier 3 base with a bunch of workstations in it. And then another maelstrom came and the lightning struck, and elder things and other creatures were spawning right next to the base, on the roof, even inside the building. With one swing, they tore apart tier 3 walls like paper, wiping out the workstations inside. For 30 minutes my partner and I and our army of pets killed the spawns as fast as we could, but even engaging them immediately could not keep them from decimating the base. At the end of 30 minutes, what had taken me a dozen hours to build was a broken shell.
I expected to lose a wall or two to the onslaught of the storm, but to watch an entire structure of the strongest construction I can build swiped away like a house of cards … well, to be honest, it’s just not fun. And despite defeating literally thirty “Elder Things”, I have no reward to show for it; they seemed to drop the same thing as every other spawn.
I leave Siptah, broken-hearted, and await news of the mere possibility of defending a base against these creatures.
Thanks, this is my inevitable conclusion as well. However, near the leyshrines, building is not allowed; so given that the game has the ability to designate actual do-not-build areas, allowing me to build elsewhere tricks me into believing that it’s possible. And again, I don’t mind a challenge, but my feedback here is that being tricked into believing something is possible, when it is, as you say “for practical purposes” impossible, then this is, as I say, “not fun”.
In fact, building in Maelstrom is possible on purpose: just to attract those horrors, kill them and harvest Greater ??? to get more Swirling Chaos for Leyshrines. If you’re not interested in summoned surges just ignore it, there are many good places to build in SP.
Unfortunately, that’s what bit you in this case. Please don’t take this as a criticism directed towards you. On the contrary, it’s Funcom that often doesn’t do enough to explain its game mechanics and lets people learn it from the forums, the wiki and other players.
What happened to you is a new game mechanic with legit reasons behind it, and it’s part of a game loop that some people consider more fun and others less so. Now that you’re on the forums and exposing yourself to the spoilers about the game, here’s an explanation of it (click on the blurred text to make it readable):
The Maelstrom spawns monsters whose corpses can be harvested for an essence called “???” (that’s literally what it’s called in the game). So killing those monsters is not about what they drop in their inventory, it’s about harvesting them – I use a pickaxe – to get that essence.
There are three tiers of ??? essence: lesser, unstable and greater. The essence can be used at any of the three functional Leyshrines on the map. The other Leyshrines are ruined and are there for lore reasons and to learn certain recipes.
You’ve probably seen vortexes all over the map, where there’s a hole in the sky and NPCs fall out of it? Those are the wild surges. They happen spontaneously in times between two Maelstroms, but they don’t drop very good crafters. It used to be only T1s, but the latest change introduced a probability of T2 and T3.
At the Leyshrines, you can summon surges that are better than those wild surges. You do that by crafting an altar at the Leyshrine – used to be 50 decaying eldarium, but the new patch is supposed to have changed that to hardened steel – and then you can put the ??? essence in that altar to craft “swirling chaos”.
The choice of which altar you craft will control which faction of NPCs will drop from the surge. The amount of swirling chaos you craft will control the tier of the NPCs. Below 200 swirling chaos, it’s similar to wild surges, only with more waves and more NPCs. Between 200 and 400 is a “T2 tier” surge. Between 400 and 1000 is a “T3 tier” surge. At 1000 is a “T4 tier” surge, and that’s the only surge where you have a chance of getting a T4 NPC to appear. Over 1000 is a Calamity, which is supposed to be something catastrophic, but I haven’t actually tried it, so I have no idea if it works and what it’s like.
Remember what I said about different kinds of ??? essence? Well, they give you different amounts of swirling chaos when used at an altar. Lesser will give you 1 chaos, unstable will give you 2 chaos and greater will give you 50 chaos.
Here’s the catch: you can only get lesser and unstable from monsters that commonly spawn in the Maelstrom when you’re just hanging out inside it. The only way to get greater essence is to make the 3-skull siege elder things show up. And they only show up if you build a sizable construction that has at least a part of it sitting inside the Maelstrom.
On official servers, which use the default settings, you need at least 410 building pieces (placeables don’t count) to get the 3-skulls to start spawning. Bear in mind what I wrote above: you don’t need to build the whole thing inside the Maelstrom. As long as there’s something inside the Maelstrom that is connected to the whole structure and that structure has at least 410 building pieces, you’re golden.
What people normally do is build a structure with more than 410 pieces outside the Maelstrom, but relatively close to it, and then extend a “snake” of T1 foundations into the Maelstrom before it starts. Then they set up the defenses there (thralls, pets, other players, etc) and farm the 3-skull bosses for the greater essence.
Which brings me to the sigils that you get inside the vaults. Those can be used on players or on their followers, and they make it easier to fight the monsters from the Maelstrom. At least 4 have to be active to get some benefit and the effects are not linear, but diminishing. If you right-click a sigil inside your inventory, it’ll get applied to you. If you right-click it inside your follower’s inventory, it will get applied to the follower.
If you die while you have active sigils, a portion of them will stay active, a portion will drop into your inventory, and a portion will be lost forever. That’s generally why sigils are more useful on your followers than on yourself. I normally farm the Maelstrom with only 4 sigils active on me, but all 14 active on my best level 20 followers.
I hope this helps you see the new game mechanics in a different light and maybe have fun with it.
Thanks @CodeMage, that’s super helpful! I was picking up a lot of ??? and not understanding what it was for. We did happen to use the leyshrines once to summon a surge experimentally, but we only got T1 thralls and would never have been able to figure out these chaos calculations. But now I have a few things to try.
This bit specifically I hope Funcom is paying attention to. This is still early access, so there’s plenty of adjusting to go, and I would love to see it become possible (maybe with all the new crafting levels) to build something strong enough to not have to sit outside the maelstrom and “snake in” to be cheesy and farm bosses. But that’s my take: for PvE, I really enjoyed the Purge from Exiled, where we could build up a base and defend it from NPC attackers.