Tuesday, May 15

The Opposite of Opting Out

There are quite a number of reviews and blog out of the net about their experiences in the Open Beta of The Secret World. Everybody kind of agrees that the character creation can use some improvement. But after that there are two mainly just two opinions. Either they like it or loathe it. I don't think I have seen anybody saying 'meh'. I am somewhere in the outfield of like. But I don't really want to repeat what some of the other bloggers have already posted. Sente over at A ding world does an excellent job covering that.

One of the reason I like The Secret World is because it does things different. Gaming For Introverts made a nice write-up on some of the things it does different. Except she uses it as arguments to why it sucks. That sounds like a perfect opportunity for a blog from me. I'll give my view on exactly those points. But now from a fanboy's point of view *grin*

So where does the game succeed?

Quest Limits:
I didn't even realize there is a quest limit until a few hours into the game. Item missions are the usual fedex or kill ten rats missions, and you can have an endless stack of them. But the majority of the missions are much more involved, and I once I got one I didn't even think of looking for other quest givers. In most MMOs there is the horrible quest hub. You get zapped in, blindly click on all question marks, and off you go! This method doesn't work in TSW because it is not about xp or rushing to the endgame. The quest limit is helping those that still think it has to work that way. It is limiting the player, but helping the clueless to not get swamped in its complexities completely.

Gaming For Introverts is worried it is too easy to forget to go back to get the quest later. To me this is a great motivator to do the same content with an alt. As explorer it is great to find new quests you missed first time round. You are not meant to every single quest. Move on when you have seen enough, or stay if you want to explore more. The perfect balance.

Investigation Quests:
I love the completely optional investigation quests. You can probably find all the answers on a wiki a week after launch (or even now already). But that is not their point. Puzzle as much or as little as you want. They have brought out some great community interactions during the weekend. And I think they will be what will draw all explorer type players into the game. I can also see a lot of people will plain dislike them. But since they are just one of the ways to play the game they are a huge plus, not a negative.


Quoting GFI here:
This wasn’t intuitive to me at all. The information under the Help feature was very vague, and I couldn’t find any kind of crafting tutorial. I understand you are supposed to make a pattern with the components, but what would be the pattern for a glyph for example?
The game didn’t give you any help to let you know if you were at least on the right track.
Brilliant! I can actually experiment!

I don't really know about balance issues. I tried shotgun and blade. The GW1 style of only having seven active and passive powers is a great concept. It works great in GW1 and so far worked for me here as well. The Secret World is not the most elaborate combat/action game. The seven skills give me enough room to try out things but don't unnecessary complicate it with 20 similar powers as in Rift. Just like GW1 there will be FOTMs and mandatory builds for certain 'dungeons'. Fortunately they have already figured that out since you can save/load builds on the fly.

Great combat is not the reason to play The Secret World. It is just rather bland. But for me it works perfect. Combat is just a bit of a distraction to get to the good bits. A game without it will be strange empty. So combat it definitely needed. And blasting zombies is still fun even after I killed 500 of them. It wouldn't have been fun if it would have been a challenge each fight.

Challenge Levels:
Since there are no real levels it is hard to gauge when a fight was going to be a challenge. So I poke them a bit and learn my lessons the hard way. I don't need a red or purple bar above the creatures of Kingsmouth any more. Oh, the joys of exploration! Ok, that is a bit too fanboi-y. But I really didn't miss the indicators. It is refreshing to see monsters and not color codings.

Quoting Gaming For Introverts again:
As it stands now the game has a high frustration factor. It may improve over the next few months but I do not believe it is quite ready for an audience. I expect it will eventually go free to play, so I haven’t ruled it out as a future game. I predict that it will launch with a fairly low subscriber base, and that most people will opt for Guild Wars 2 instead.
Strangely enough I agree with this. Most people will go for GW2 since it is much more polished and much closer to everybody's comfort zone. But I do think there are also plenty of people that will fall in love with The Secret World. I hope they will not change any of the mechanisms. They just need to add some polish to the character creation and ship it. I don't know if I will have time to play GW2 any more.