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.


  1. It still doesn't properly describe what I like the most about The Secret World. What really makes me enjoy it is the worldly feel and atmosphere. Not everything has a purpose. There is a believable world, not a mere collection of quest areas. It is by far not as wide open as Anarchy Online. It is more the City of Heroes sense of openness. Which might not make much sense since the COH world is a lot smaller than the SWTOR or RIFT. Yet those last two games lack in severely in worldlyness to me.

  2. The limiting of mission types is brilliant in my eyes, with such a well crafted story it needs to have you involved, having an overflowing quest log would be detrimental. There are those that call it out as a way to lengthen content, a valid point of view, but the point is the content is worth spending time with, rare for a modern day MMO.

    Kingsmouth was packed full of content and 90% of it voice acted with characters that had quirks, weren't perfect and had a real sense of personality. The DI you speak to on entering London, she can be found loitering later in the game, I loved her attitude, I know Northern women like her. I completed 41 missions over the weekend, thought I had completed them all but watching some youtube vids have shown me that I missed a few, if the other areas have as much content this is going to be one deep game.

    I went with a Chaos/Blood build, having watched others play I could tell that it was underpowered, turns out that I'd actually developed a great tanking build without meaning to, it was just how I was enjoying playing the game. I'm looking forward to exploring the skill system more and cant wait to see what's under the hood of the advanced skills.

    Combat has generally recieved 'meh' feedback from most and rightly so, in a game like this it isn't quite as central and it does it's job well enough (though how I wished for a dodge button!).

    Crafting is far too complex and totaly not worth wasting your time with at lower levels, later maybe, it's hard to judge, all I know is that by the end of the beta weekend I'd made just a couple of items and the one weapon I made had worse stats and had a higher gear level requirement than what I had equipped. A stark contrast to GW2's very worthwhile system. Not impressed, it needs work to appeal at lower levels.

    Story and atmosphere are definitely the reasons you should be playing this game, forget SWTOR's talk of the fourth pillar and GW2's small bursts of stiff personal storyline, TSW is really all about the story and eeach character gets a definites place in te world. It's not perfect, nothing ever is, go in with the attitude that your character was born mute if you want to suspend your disbelief.

    Longevity will probably be it's downfall, with so much hinging on story it's going to be difficult to add meaningfull content, that's fine by me I'll have GW2 for that. I can let the sub drop and can come back for more when its added.

    It's most definitely a niche title, the quick fix, rush to end game, want everything now MMO player will be severely missing the point and crying streams of tears far too fast, it's not built for them and it would be better they realised that before jumping in, wasting their cash and polluting the interwebz with their vitriol.

    Henry Hawthorne is now a friend of mine, Kingsmouth has many problems which demand I address them, I'll be there committing a one man pogrom on any re-animated flesh the minute the doors open.

    I liked it :)

  3. I wouldn't say the game "sucks", that is a strong word. My post probably did sound overly negative in retrospect. I did like the world they have built in TSW. I appreciate the uniqueness of it as an MMO. They are doing some things that are quite different and I think needed in the genre.

    It is a difficult game to get adjusted to though for the reasons I outlined. Especially in this time when there are many free to play or non-sub options. So I think we agree that the real draw to TSW is the environment and story. The combat is nothing particularly special.

    I like "experimental" crafting, but I prefer the way that GW2 presents it. After I wrote that post, I got to play around with crafting some more and after someone in global channel explained that you can't craft with "base" materials, I understood it. Had that person not explained I don't know how I would have ever come to that conclusion.

    So it just needs a little more polish, but I haven't written the game off and will keep an eye on it.

    1. Thanks for coming over and reading my view! Many of your points are indeed valid reasons a lot of people will not like TSW. My post was not to meant to prove you wrong, but more to point out why I like it so much. They could put in a lot of 'polish' to make it more like GW2/RIFT/SWTOR/etc., but that would spoil its charm. And no amount of polish will make it compete with GW2 or WOW. So they should stay away from that.

      Just to take you example of the crafting. You actually had to interact with other players! I see that as a plus. But I also know it will turn off a lot of players. Fortunately for Funcom there are also a lot of players that will like it. I like what Syp called it. 'A Beautiful Mess'

  4. Good post Phe. I'm right there with ya. I think I'm going to be liking it for all the same reasons that most people have complaints with.

    I'm so tired of "WoW clones" and the fantasy setting (while there's nothing wrong with it in and of itself) has been so over done, I'm glad to see something in a modern setting with "real people" if you catch my meaning.

  5. Yeah, the "real people" alone sold it for me already. But now that I have actually tried it is the way the game, story and quests flow that got me seriously hooked. SWTOR is a WOW clone. This is more Dreamfall in MMO format.