Archive for the ‘The Secret World’ Category
Okay. I won’t lie. I’m not the most sociable when I play MMOs. I never really adhere to a set gaming schedule because, as summer is fast approaching, my schedule becomes more and more hectic and my gaming time takes a back seat to real life. Then on top of that I like playing the new games, or a sudden craving might hit to play a game I’ve never played before. And I’m not one to let my cravings go unheeded. So, I’m not the most consistent gamer in the world and as such I make an absolutely terrible guild-mate. Recently I found I was even kicked out of my fleet in Star Trek Online for not playing the game on a regular basis. So sue me. I enjoy that I can play with other gamers playing all around me, like going to the movies and experiencing a film as a collective group, but I’m definitely more the solo player.
So, it even shocked me to an extent that last Monday I joined along with the Knights of Mercy gaming crew, who I consider myself a fringe member of, and joined them in their pursuit of the “phat lootz”. I popped my Secret World dungeon cherry, running my very first dungeon ever in the game: Elite Polaris. Yes, my first dungeon was one of the hardest 5-man dungeons in the game and takes experienced and coordinated players to accomplish. I was neither.
This is why I appreciate the Mercy crew. Their gaming perspective is one of pure camaraderie. They didn’t demand to see accomplishments that I had previously run the dungeon. They didn’t demand that I must be fully geared. They didn’t demand that I even remotely know much about the game. They just demanded that I join them and have fun. This… I could do.
Thankfully, I was in one of the easiest positions: a damage dealer. In my old World of Warcraft days, I was the tank for every dungeon I ran, and let me tell you that is some stress right there. Wipe? Tank’s fault. Can’t keep aggro? Tank’s fault. Going too slow? Tank’s fault. So, whenever I run any group content the LAST person I ever blame for anything is the tank. I know what that job is like, and I give tanks out there a lot of credit.
So how did it all end?
WITH THAT BIG OL’ TENTACLED CTHULHU MOFO FACE DOWN IN THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL!
How did it happen? Really… I have no idea. I give all the credit to my fantastic group-mates, MMO Gamerchick, Husband-to-Gamerchick, TenTentacles, and Pid, as their experience and awesomeness won the day. Since this was my first TSW dungeon ever, I could not judge to what effect my support/damage did. I could’ve been helping a lot or I could’ve been helping very little. No clue.
So, heady from this big win, we delved into the next dungeon, Elite Hell Raised, and…
WIPED THE FLOOR WITH THOSE BOSSES SO HARD THAT THE DEVIL HIMSELF WAS IMPRESSED!
So not only was my first dungeon run a huge success. My second dungeon run, also Elite, was a huge success.
Maybe I’m not as bad a dungeon runner or as anti-social as I think I am…
P.S. – Sadly, my TSW character, Ocholivis, is unguilded (uncabaled?). I joined the Knights of Mercy for the run, but since they are all Templars and I am Illuminati, I can’t join in their guild. How sad is that? Funcom, seriously, work on that.
P.P.S. – Also, my STO character, @Ambrose99 is also unguilded (unfleeted?). If there are any STO fleets looking for an off-again, on-again member who doesn’t mind donating a great majority of his lifetime-membership resources, hit me up. I’ll definitely be looking for a new fleet once Legacy of Romulus drops in 9 DAYS!
P.P.P.S. – If you’re not hovering your mouse over my images yet, you’re missing out…
There is a saying: MMO’s would be so much better if it wasn’t for the other people. It’s funny because without other people, it wouldn’t be an MMO… and yet, it’s true in so many ways. It’s because other people can do simple innocuous actions that won’t benefit and actually hinder other players, even if their intention is good. This is what happens when multiple players play the same game but have different reason for playing, or different goals in the same game. So here are a few suggestions to make The Secret World much better for everyone.
Open Mob Tagging
I mean, really. This is essentially the future of MMOs and needs to really be here now. Guild Wars 2 has this, and people who aren’t grouped together can tag and get loot and experience from the same mobs, and here’s why The Secret World needs it, too.
Scenario 1: The other night I was playing The Secret World and ran across a guy taking down a few mobs. He wasn’t having any trouble, but I was nearby and could’ve easily helped out. I didn’t. I ran right past like I didn’t even care. And I hate myself for it. My helping him would not help me in any way, as once a mob is tagged by a player, and they are not grouped, that mob becomes theirs. Any loot or experience gained from it would only benefit the first player to tag it. I would receive nothing for helping him out and still cost me my time. Also, there is the chance that helping them out angers the other player, like my interference is a judgement against them. I have received this numerous times in numerous games, and so, when I see another player fighting mobs, my first instinct is just to pass on by.
Here was also a lost chance at loose grouping, meeting someone new, and essentially taking advantage of the sociable side of the game. With the standard tagging rules in place, though, there’s the chance I would be hindering them, interfering, by helping out. And if there’s even a chance at causing more harm than good, it’s better to pass on by.
Scenario 2: Then, not more than a few minutes later I encountered another player. I was doing a quest where I had to take down a lot of mobs in a small area. Another player showed up and I assumed they were on the same quest, so out of courtesy I threw them an invite. They accepted and sweet, we took down the mobs together. Loot dropped, as it does, and the Need/Greed randomized system came up. Since all the items were dropping wouldn’t help me directly, I was rolling “Greed”. The other player, obviously better geared than I was, and obviously didn’t need the gear either, was rolling “Need”. They were acquiring every piece of gear and there was nothing I could do about it except to roll Need too, despite not actually “Needing” it. They could’ve been collecting crafting materials, or just looking for fodder for lower alts or something, but in either way, I was annoyed. They weren’t playing by friendly social conventions and yet they were entirely playing within the rules.
So, although the system is “fair”, unless I were to essentially lie that I needed every item, it really isn’t fair. So, what is? How about ALL loot being individual to the player, not just basic normal quality stuff, but everything. This would be the way for all items that are Bind-On-Equip. The system in place already chooses items for the players to get, and they can still be traded back and forth without barrier, so why still have this other layer for people to essentially grief on each other?
Flavor of the Month Builds In-Game
One of the hallmarks of a good system with multiple skills but few skill slots is in the creation of builds. The Secret World has these and has some suggestions with their decks, but the decks are far from perfect. So, players create their own builds and some of these builds are so efficient, due to a skew in balance, that others pick up on them and use them as well. This leads to websites designed to help people who want to use the strongest and most efficient builds. When certain skills are nerfed or buffed to make them balanced, this process starts over again as the theorycrafters search for and make the best builds. The elite then turn to those who don’t use these builds and claim them to be lesser players.
So, why not cut out the middle man? Have an in-game system where players can submit their builds under different categories, and others can pick and choose to use them along with the multitude of decks created by the developers. This one is more of a stretch as I don’t believe it’s been done before, but where the “Flavor of the month” builds essentially defined Guild Wars 1 and it’s hardcore players, having player-submitted decks could make The Secret World more of an elite deck-building game, like it seems like it was intended to be.
This one wasn’t on my list originally, but after reading Rowan’s excellent post on cross-faction cabals, I totally agree.
Scenario 3: I’m an Illuminati character. My gear is almost to all QL 10 greens and I’ve been working on the same character for a long time now. I only recently found that most other people I know playing The Secret World are all Templar. I know, I can group with them and run dungeons with them, and communicate with them, and everything else in the world I can still do with them… but I can’t join their guild. So, my choice is either to just put them on my friends list and try to join up with them when I can, if I remember to look, or to give up on my character and roll a Templar. Both options aren’t that enticing, or making me really excited to keep playing.
I think Rowan sums it up the best when he says:
“I understand the importance of separate factions in PvP—or different servers in the case of GW2. However, in most cases, limiting cross-faction cooperation only fragments a playerbase that could not care less about interfaction rivalries.”
It’s true. Right now, I could care less about PvP, and the only time I care about the different factions is when it comes to the storyline between them.
Essentially, Funcom, your game can be so much more than it is. Your storylines and missions are some of the greatest from any game I’ve ever played. Your settings are fascinating and your attention to detail is top-notch. But by holding to old MMO conventions that keep the casual playerbase apart from each other, you’re holding yourself back.
Make these changes, and I can guarantee you’ll see an increase to not only your playerbase, but their overall enjoyment of the game.
So how behind am I on this? A month? That’s not so bad. The first fully paid content pack for The Secret World was released on March 14th, and only over the past week or so have I been able to check it out. Let’s just say that I still wasn’t ready for it.
My Illuminati character, Ocholivis, finally reached the level where the quest ratings for the expansion turned from “Devastating” to “Normal”. But I think they lied… in playing through the missions, I’ve just had my behind handed to me again and again and again. Quality level 10 items are dropping, fully replacing my current QL 7 items, which I’m happy about, but making my way through the content has been arduous.
So, since the bevy of players have already worked well past this content pack, allow me to give you my belated thoughts on it.
Simply, it’s awesome.
It’s based off of Indiana freaking Jones!
Indiana! Nazi-beating, tomb-spelunking, Ark-opening Indiana! And I don’t mean it’s based like the uber-cheesy way that World of Warcraft sprinkles pop culture in every other sentence. I mean in that you-experience-the-adventure kind of way. Time travel? Check! Infiltration? Check! Fisticuffs? Check! Taking an ancient artifact from an old Egyptian tomb? Check! Stopping a train carrying a bomb set to explode in a major metropolitan area?! Check! Holy hell, even the music during the final mission takes its cue from the movies. The tropes you see in the fantastic Indiana Jones movies (except the last one, which I refuse to acknowledge even exists) become viable in The Secret World’s setting, even down to picking up a whip to use as an auxiliary weapon.
And of course, busting out the classic fedora.
Story, Story, Story, Story, Story
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times, I’m a fan of story. Whether it’s a short 90-minute story found in movies, a long drawn-out story found in novels and serialized TV shows, or an interactive story found in video games and MMOs, story is the driving factor of the medium. There are those who disagree (and with good reasons), but why I play these games is to experience the storylines behind them. Not just small, colorful, localized vignettes, but a full over-arcing complete storyline. I’m not here to be a plain citizen (a really overpowered super-citizen) of a fantasy world, I’m here to experience the story of why my character is heroic and how that changes his or her society.
And The Last Train to Cairo is chock full of delicious, delicious story. From fleshing out Said and the villainous Abdel Daoud to the pop-culture loving Nassir, the first full content package for The Secret World is well worth the $10 pricetag.
Most of the Missions Can Be Played Under-Level (But not the final mission, apparently…)
Now, my progress in The Secret World has been, compared to most players, very slow. So far, I’ve only been to 4 zones in total and haven’t left the Scorched Desert yet. So, seeing as how this content pack is supposed to be for players at “max level”, I entered the missions way below recommendation (not actually true, the mission’s description said I would probably be okay, but the reality was far from the truth… one of the downsides of not having levels, I guess). To that end, the first 5 missions in the 6 mission quest chain are all completely doable with little trouble, and max QL 10 items drop to boot, very quickly boosting your abilities.
However, I have not yet finished the final climactic mission yet as the mobs just whoop me left, right, and sideways. But, maybe with a little tweaking of my build I may be able to push through it. The Secret World is more about flexibility and skill than it is your straight-up level. Similar to Guild Wars 1, it’s about building your character horizontally. The more tools you have to play with, the better off you’ll be.
So, in closing, the first true paid content pack in The Secret World sets a very high bar for any future updates. Heck, even on top of all the story missions, they even threw in a 10-player raid and a new PvP zone!
All in all, impressive as heck, Funcom, and I can’t wait to see what’s up your sleeve next. … Also, try to keep EA as far away as possible.
P.S. – The Buzzing has pointed, to those that will listen, sweetlings, a couple creative character blogs based on The Secret World. Check them out!
Conduit – Tales from the Other Side of the World
Through a Lens – Facing the World From Behind a Camera
Think you have what it takes to beat the puzzles in The Secret World?
Currently, I’m back into playing The Secret World and the game once more reminded me why it’s hands-down awesome. The way it mixes gameplay styles going from pure combat to defense, to mind-bending puzzles to platforming and stealth and then has a gripping setting and compelling storyline backing it up, I wonder sometimes why I ever leave the game.
And then I remember.
In The Secret World, it is entirely possible to spend an entire gaming session bashing your head up against one of their devious puzzles and not make any progress. It’s frustrating, as you know when you finally have time again and you decide to go back into the game, that puzzle will still be there taunting you.
Signal Effect seems like a good litmus test to show their deviousness. So here I will present to you the research part of the puzzle Signal Effect (without giving the answer away, of course). See if you can figure it out.
Down the rabbit hole…
An odd transmission has been picked up. However, it’s not that strong. You are sent to find satellite dishes around the town and alter them so that they all point to the source of this transmission. You platform jump to find all 4 satellite dishes and point them in the right direction. However, each dish tells you different things when you search for the signal…
Satellite Dish #1:
29 21 68 6f 24 28 23 23 2c 20 63 28 23 20 5f bf
23 20 68 24 21 29 20 24 23 3f 20 43 26 3d 2a 28
25 20 40 2b 72 20 29 5e 78 20 24 21 79 24 20 40
28 21 20 23 24 2a 25 6e 20 21 2a 67 23 29 23 2e
20 21 63 21 28 23 73 20 74 26 24 20 25 5e 26 40
20 6f 2a 20 24 69 2b 40 2e 20 46 5f 24 2a 21 79
2d 28 5e 75 29 20 21 65 61 23 2b 23 20 5e 26 5e
76 21 20 21 68 5f 25 20 2a 20 21 28 40 23 79 2c
20 62 40 25 20 2a 20 63 24 69 29 40 20 28 2b 20
69 40 20 5e 2a 20 23 28 65 20 5e 2a 26 21 65 20
2b 7e 20 21 65 21 5f 24 21 20 48 25 2a 40 20 6d
2a 20 5f 6f 3d 24 40 21
Satellite Dish #2:
83 33 61 42 108 97 35 35 44 32 33 40 110 32 95
61 35 32 64 101 33 41 32 109 35 63 32 64 104 61
42 40 100 32 102 43 37 32 41 94 40 32 100 33 42
36 32 97 40 33 32 115 101 42 37 35 32 110 105 36
35 41 35 46 32 65 41 33 40 35 61 32 64 104 36 32
37 94 38 115 32 33 42 32 36 94 114 64 46 32 64
45 117 114 33 42 45 40 94 40 114 32 98 38 42 35
43 35 32 94 38 94 64 101 32 33 64 97 37 32 42 32
99 40 64 114 94 44 32 42 117 37 32 42 32 33 36
37 110 64 32 40 111 32 36 64 32 94 110 32 35 40
36 32 104 42 38 33 42 32 43 102 32 33 42 97 95
36 33 32 40 37 42 100 32 36 42 32 119 33 61 36
Satellite Dish #3:
Satellite Dish #4:
00101001 00100001 00111101 00101010 01101100
00101000 00100011 01110011 00101100 00100000
00100001 00101000 00100011 00100000 01111001
00111101 00100011 00100000 01000000 00100100
01100001 00101001 00100000 00100100 01100101
00111111 00100000 01000000 00101011 00111101
01110011 01100101 00100101 00100000 01000000
01101111 00100101 00100000 00101001 01101001
00101000 00100000 00100100 01100001 00101010
00100100 00100000 01000000 00101000 01100100
00100000 00100011 00100100 00101010 01100101
00100011 00100000 00100001 00101010 00100100
00100011 01110100 01110011 00101110 00100000
00100001 00101001 01110010 01101111 00100011
00111101 00100000 01000000 00101011 00100100
00100000 01110000 01101001 00100110 01000000
00100000 00100001 00101010 00100000 01100110
01011110 00101011 01000000 00101110 00100000
01000000 01011111 00100100 00101010 01110100
00101010 00101101 00100001 01101111 00101000
00101001 00100000 00100001
00100110 00101010 01110011 00101011 00100011
00100000 01100011 01110010 01011110 01000000
00100001 00100000 00100001 01000000 01011111
01110100 00100000 00101010 00100000 00101100
00100000 00101010 01000000 00100101 00100000
01001001 00100000 00100001 00100100 00100101
00101001 01000000 00100000 01110100 00101011
00100000 00100100 01110100 00100000 01011110
00101010 00100000 00100011 01101000 00100100
00100000 01011110 00101010 00100110 01110011
00101010 00100000 01101111 01111110 00100000
00100001 00101010 00100001 01011111 01101000
00100001 00100000 00101000 01100101 00101010
01000000 00100000 00100100 00101010 00100000
01011111 00100001 00111101 01100100 01000000
Got it? Okay. All the quest log states now is that in these transmissions is the answer on where to go next. So, let’s say you find the answer and head to the location given. There you find a box. This box needs a 4-digit code to open.
To finish the mission, what is this 4-digit code?
Space. The final frontier.
If you’ve solved it without looking up the answer (here), Congratulations! You’re a better person than I.
But… a SIDE-MISSION?! Really?! Compared to the big investigative missions that have multiple steps, this one is relatively short, but I still wouldn’t have called it a side-mission.
Up until this point I’ve enjoyed and have taken pride of the fact that I have not cheated or looked up any solution on any of the investigative missions so far, and the rush you get when you solve one is wicked and makes you crave more. I’ve even gone so far as when I’m researching to use the ‘-”secret world”‘ command in search engines to keep any spoilers from showing up.
But then I hit “Signal Effect”. In other missions, I’ve researched Bible translations going back to the 16th century, read full websites dedicated to fake authors, translated latin, used ISBN numbers as passcodes, and used children’s nursery rhymes to summon dark spirits. And the Morse code. Oh god the Morse code! The mission Signal Effect finally stumped me, though, and I had to look up the answer. It could be that the mission was misclassified, and was listed in-game as just a “side mission”, meant to only take up a few minutes, and so when I hit it near the tail end of the night I didn’t have the fortitude to solve it and, in a moment of weakness, looked up the solution.
So sue me.
A screenshot of The Secret World’s villainous Beaumont. Taken at a *ahem* very poor moment.
At that moment, Beaumont was plunging his sword into… you know what, nevermind. That just makes it worse.
I’m not sure how to follow this up.
Not all the screenshots I take make the characters look their part, like Beaumont as TSW’s first big villain, but I take an extreme amount of screenshots for any one gamer. In fact, when Massively was still doing a daily “One Shots”, I was a big contributor and still have two tags in my name at their site.
Oh! I know how to follow that up. Here’s another bad one. An odd shot from Skyrim…
If you were ever curious as to how to take down a Dwemer Centurion this is certainly one way to do it.
Yup. That’s my character… killing the Dwemer Centurion. By doing that. In a slow motion kill cam.
… I still feel bad for the Centurion.
<Slowclap> Well played, Funcom. Seriously, well played.
Today Funcom announced via The Secret World game launcher that in the completed End of Days, Mayan-zombie-flavored event that due to players exploiting the game’s mechanics, instead of only the top 1000 players receiving a unique title and pet, that EVERYONE gets a title and pet. YOU get a pet! And YOU get a pet! And YOU get a pet! THIS is an MMO problem resolved properly.
Unlike say, some other ban-happy game, this is the right thing to do. Very soon after The Secret World went to a buy-to-play model, I picked it up, and the End of Days event was already in full swing. On that day, I saw my first exploiter. They were sitting behind barriers that auto-kill mobs and were simply pulling a ridiculous amount of Mayan zombies to their quick deaths. A similarly ridiculous pile of loot building up at their feet. I saw this time and time again as time passed.
Now, being a level 1 noob (so to speak) compared to these veteran players, I instantly realized that I had NO chance at keeping up with these guys, and so avoided anything having to do with the End of Days event. I did the few introductory missions, but then used the Mayan zombies as a way to simply test my growing powers. I awaited the end of the event gladly, knowing full well I’d get nothing, as these really annoying zombies that always seemed to show up at the worst possible moment (Getting smacked down by three mobs? How about we add a fourth much more powerful Mayan?!) would finally be gone.
And now? Look at this cutie-patooti!
Adorable, right? Maybe in a Lovecraftian nightmare sort of way? Well, call me a proud papa, anyway.
So why is this a great compromise? It’s a simple matter of punishing the exploiters and rewarding those who didn’t succumb to the exploit. Yes, I know, the exploiters still got their pet. But so did everyone else! There were a LOT of people that spent day after day exploit-farming these Mayans for the chance to earn this special pet. Finally, at the end of the event, Funcom turns around to them and says ”You know that special prize? It’s not special. Your punishment: your wasted time. Everyone who didn’t exploit gets a pat on the back and a thank-you gift.” Without banning anyone and incurring negative headlines, they still punished the exploiters and rewarded those that didn’t exploit.
You could argue that it wasn’t technically an exploit, that they were just smartly using the game’s current mechanics, that if Funcom didn’t want players to use the auto-kill wards, they would’ve shut them off. Blah blah blee blah blee blee blah. Shut up. It’s an exploit. Period. That’s obviously not how Funcom intended to have you slay the Mayan armies, and Funcom agrees.
And afterall, why be so quick to ban players who have shown a willingness to spend money on your game?
P.S. – I know, I know. It’s been a while since my last post. So sue me, I’m only human, and it is a new year.
Well now that the NDA has dropped, and the headstart is starting tomorrow, let me tell you (in a very long post… sorry about that…) what I’ve been up to for about the past week or so in gaming. Simply put: The Secret World. I’m all excited as it’s my first closed beta experience, so I wanted to take it all in. I posted a ton of bugs, explored a whole bunch, and really went to town checking out the starting area of Kingsmouth and all it’s secret society zombie filled goodness. However, I do have a few bones to pick with the advertising of the game. No classes? Not quite. No levels? Yes… and No. Awesome game? Absolutely.
The Awesome: Setting
In my mind, setting is what makes the game. It’s why if I’m going fantasy, I like the Tolkien lore of Lord of the Rings Online, if I’m going sci-fi I like to go where no one has gone before in Star Trek Online, and if I’m in the mood for something a little more gritty and horror, I’d definitely pick The Secret World. The gritty horror theme is simply awesome. That, and the “M” rating (I’ve already heard more F-bombs and sexual innuendo than I ever expected to hear in an MMO ever) really give it an “adults only” feel. I was only able to play through the starting area of Kingsmouth, but the spooky, empty shoretown crawling with zombies and demons lends a startling realism that no MMO I’ve played has even come close to. Now, it could be that I live near the Atlantic Ocean and so visiting a shore town with large colonials and small shops is within an easy drive, and so the fictional town of Kingsmouth hits a little close to home. But the level of detail, down to the stained glass windows in the church or the listing of the day’s specials at the diner, lend a certain level of eerie familiarity that is just awesome.
“M” rating. No, seriously.
The Good: Missions
When it comes to missions, I’d love to say it’s novel and new and you’ve never seen anything like it, but really it IS more of the same. Missions in TSW are split into 6 types: Story missions, Dungeon missions, Standard missions, Espionage missions, Investigative missions, and Side missions. When you pick up a mission, it is already split into a chain consisting of multiple parts.
For a Standard mission (the most prevalent of the bigger missions) it might go like this: look at a phonebook, go to the first place you find and collect items, go to the second place and collect items, go to the 3rd place and collect items, beat up bad guy who tries to stop you. Then, like in Star Trek Online, once you finish any mission, you don’t need to head back to the main questgiver to get a reward. I like how it’s split up into a chain, but the questing overall feels like more of the same. Collection/kill/click missions. Thankfully, I haven’t run across any limited drop missions yet (and I hope not to… they are just… Blech!)
Open 24 hours! … except during a zombie apocalypse…
Dungeon missions take place in instanced dungeons and I also assume are also chained… I didn’t play one.
Story missions are an over-encompassing mission for an area, but is generally filled with the same stuff in the standard missions.
Side missions are smaller, but have fewer steps in the chain.
Espionage missions are solo (possible group, I haven’t experimented) instances. They involve puzzle solving, but mostly just sneaking. For example, one mission I had to avoid security camera’s lights to get to the back of a basement. Dungeons and Dragons Online has missions like this, where using brawn won’t help you.
Investigative missions, though, are where the game really shines. Holy crap they are cool. The downside is they are so rare. Investigative missions just give you clues and say “Go nuts! Find it yourself!” No direction, no arrow pointing you to where you need to go. Its these quests that are the reason Funcom has put an internet browser INSIDE the game client, as they can be pretty tricky to figure out.
For example, I’ll give you the first couple parts of an Investigative chain called “Something Wicked” (SPOILER WARNING: I’m only going to give the first couple parts of the mission, but then stop well before I give any major spoilers away): A lady tells you that she believes recent events are connected to murders that happened in 2002. The game suggests something about looking in newspapers, but doesn’t tell you where. Well, its a small town… there aren’t too many internet enabled computers around… so where would one find newspapers from a decade ago? A newspaper stand? No, that’s boarded up. The police station? No, the computer at the police station just has a few suspect listings… The town hall? Ahhh yes. The second floor of the town hall has storage cabinets with newspapers… but wait, what year and quarter did the lady mention they’d be in? Not 2008, 2006, ahhh 2002. She mentioned something about the leaves had fallen off the trees, so that suggests either Q3 or Q4… Ahh here it is, a clipping of an arrest with details that have been redacted by the police force… Well, lets head to the police station and check out their computer… well thats odd, it has a listing with lots of redacted info and mentions a man wouldn’t talk, and killed himself in his cell with the last words being something like “Only my ghost will tell you”. Well, lets check out the cell… dang… it’s locked… How do I get in there? …
See? Awesome. I love a good puzzle. I bet this is where most players will complain about the game, though, as many games make the questing process almost too easy, with giant arrows pointing you in the direction you need to go and players are too used to that by now. I mean, no worries, The Secret World has plenty of that, too, but it’ll throws you the occasional curveball, just to mix it up.
Other than that, almost every mission in the game is repeatable. Everything except story and investigative, I believe. So, if you want to do a quest again to get more exp or a different item, you can after a certain time has elapsed. Every mission becomes a “daily”. This at least solves the problem of having mutiple players and everyone being on a different quest. Now, you can pick it up whether you’ve already done it or not.
Something fishy is going on here…
The Okay: Combat
Combat is… well, combat. The combat system is like Guild Wars where you pick out a small number of active skills and triggered skills, with only one “elite” skill per type, and try to combine them in a way to create a synergy between them. In practice, though, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Targeting, area of effect, healing, dps, tanking, blah, blah, blah. Just replace bows and arrows with rifles and machine guns. It’s still fun, like pretty much most MMO gaming combat is, but it’s nothing really new.
Has anyone told Richard Garriott about this? Awesome homage, Funcom.
The Deceptive: Levels and Classes
Here’s where I have a bone to pick with Funcom and their advertising of The Secret World. They say “There are no levels and no classes! Go nuts!” But really, there are. They just aren’t under the same trappings that we normally see them.
“There are no levels!” The leveling system that we’ve seen already in numerous games is all about the big number. I mean, what is World of Warcraft up to these days? 85? Crazy. When one levels up in most games, after a certain amount of experience is gained, the following occurs… your abilities do more damage/healing, you gain access to better weapons and armor, and you gain new abilities. Ability Points in The Secret World, which are gained after a certain amount of experience has been attained, allow your abilities to do more damage/healing, and allow you to equip better weapons and armor. Skill Points are attained also after a certain amount of experience is attained and allow you to gain new abilities. See what I did there? Ability and Skill points, which are gained through missions and general grinding of experience, give you the same benefits you see from gaining levels in other games. The only difference is there is no specific level number attached. Still, though, a rose by any other name…
“There are no classes!” When you create a character, it’s true… there are no set classes. However, shortly after you start playing, before you leave your home city, you pick a starting weapon. For me, it was a pair of Wolverine-style claws. I like to get toe-to-toe with the bad guys, and dealing damage over time effects is something I prefer. So, when it came to distributing Ability Points, where would I put them? Shotguns? Umm… no. Claw Weapons! For at least the beginning part of the game, your weapon IS your class. If you want to pick another weapon and make progress in it, well, that’s what the repeatable missions are for, but if you don’t want to do the same stuff over again, you stay with the same weapons. And finally, the coup-de-gras of “No classes”, when you complete a mission and get a new piece of armor as a reward, like a ring, they come in 3 distinct varieties: Defense + Healing, Defense + Attack, Defense + Hit Points. Son of a… This SCREAMS of the often mentioned and often duplicated Holy Trinity of Tank / DPS / Healing. Sure, there are no set classes, but if you want to be taken seriously as a tank, well then you better pick tank items/weapons/skills. Same goes with DPS and Healing. So, although The Secret World doesn’t have specific named classes, it does carry the heavy weight of the Illusion of Choice, and really narrows you down to the three most common gaming stereotypes if you want to be viable for running more intense stuff.
My avatar doesn’t look like me at all… nope, nothing like me…
In Conclusion: Awesome… but I’ll pass (for now).
So yeah, the classes are the holy trinity, the levels are levels without numbers, the combat is the same that we’ve seen before, and most missions are the same kill/fetch/deliver missions we’ve seen and done time and time again. However, want to play a game where you have to actually use your brain? Where they not only treat you like an adult who knows what they are doing, but also give you a setting you’d feel uncomfortable showing to your grandmother? THAT is the real pull of The Secret World.
Will I be playing it at launch? I’ll be honest, I did not pre-order, and although the Investigative Missions were fun, and the setting is amazing, it’s just not enough to pull me in. So I don’t think I will be. A few months from now if there is a good sale, I can definitely see myself picking it up and playing for a month or two. But sadly, paying a subscription? When there will be such great games out there like Guild Wars 2 come the end of August that will offer so much but with no subscription? It’s a hard sell.
However, if Funcom can keep up a good pace, look to Trion as an industry example, and keep the content flowing, The Secret World might be a sleeper success. I really do hope it does well.