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Default The Secret World - initial impressions

May 21st, 2012, 16:43
Speaking of roles, this is usually what people have in mind when being "pinned down". Excerpt from party chat when I was playing my 2nd character. My healer getting yelled at.

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May 25th, 2012, 04:55
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
Thank you! Exactly what I think. I prefer games in which your character has a role, it is both much more immersive to me, and I feel a better attachment to characters and friends. It's like if in the Lord of the Rings, Gimli started casting fireballs and Frodo started shooting arrows like Legolas. Totally breaks my immersion.
Frodo doing ANYTHING other than whine would be fine by me!

I would much rather have the role switching. What happens if you've got a big adventure to go on and you don't have anybody to do the damage mitigation? If your lucky, somebody logs out and logs back in with their healer/defender/whatever. If not, you spend an hour begging for a healer. This is good immersion for you? I find it a lot easier to believe my character could just put his sword on his back and pull out his magic Scepter of Making Damage Go Away.

There's also the fact that a system like this will result in a lot more people online that can do what you need done. If somebody has to log out early in one of those "know your role and stick to it" games then you're stuck begging for help. With a system like this, somebody in your party could likely just swap some powers out and you'll be able to get through. Maybe not as easily as before but at least you won't be dead in the water.

The most important one to me, though, is that I like how it makes me play. It adds a LOT more depth to battles! Assuming you can change out skills mid-battle, you'll need to watch the whole situation and realize when it would be a good idea to take the time to swap out. (Which is why I liked my Warshade in CoH.) It should be even more interesting when everyone has multiple roles!
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May 25th, 2012, 14:04
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
Frodo doing ANYTHING other than whine would be fine by me!

I would much rather have the role switching. What happens if you've got a big adventure to go on and you don't have anybody to do the damage mitigation? If your lucky, somebody logs out and logs back in with their healer/defender/whatever. If not, you spend an hour begging for a healer. This is good immersion for you? I find it a lot easier to believe my character could just put his sword on his back and pull out his magic Scepter of Making Damage Go Away.
Not me. What you do is provide good LFG systems, which is something that almost every MMO to date leaves for after release, an afterthought, when it should be one of the most important tools in MMOs.
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June 26th, 2012, 01:43
I thought The Secret World was going to be an MMO set in a world much like the old Illuminatus! trilogy of books where pretty much every ‘power that be’ is involved in various world domination conspiracies. Not quite – or at least not the parts that I saw. It actually seemed a bit more Lovecraft like with lots of bizarre critters invading our modern world and making a mess of things. Opposing them are three ‘secret’ factions (that almost everyone seems to have heard about) with various magical and supernatural powers.

When you start the game, you’ll pick out one of these factions. That will determine where you start out and do your tutorial but, honestly, I’m not sure what else it might affect beyond your PvP experience. It probably affects how some of the missions play out but I only played one faction so I can’t say for sure. At any rate, the tutorial area will teach you how to move around, how to get quests, how to use powers, and all that good stuff.

Then you’ll get put in a room with nine weapons. In The Secret World there are no classes, just weapons. Even the weapons themselves can’t really be called classes as each one has several power sets linked to it. Some weapons can do certain things better than others (sledge hammer obviously isn’t going to be real big on ranged damage, for instance) but they all have lots of variety linked to them.

You can’t just use any weapon right off the bat, though. Each weapon has a pair of skills associated with it and you’ll need to advance these skills in order to use more powerful versions of each weapon. But in this special room, you’ll be given the points you need to wield the weapon plus a few of its initial powers so you can try all of them out. Once you leave the room, though, the skills and powers are locked in. Then you’ll find yourself scooted off to New England for your first challenge.

Now one of the major coolnesses in this game is the critters. The designers managed to dream up a lot of good ones that are oozing with originality (among other things). Not only do they look great, they fight in very different ways. So what does Funcom hit you with straight out of the starting gate? Zombies. Seriously!? I don’t know how many zombies you’ve “killed” in the past decade but I’m sure it’s far too many. I’m afraid you’re going to need to hack a few more up here, too. Don’t worry about it too much – after a few hours you’ll get to fight something more interesting. Feel free to head down to the town docks if you want a preview of better things to come.

Battles are pretty active. For most powers, you can only attack things that are in your line of sight, meaning in front of you. One thing those zombies will demonstrate nicely is that this game’s critters have no intention of just standing there and letting you blast them. They can run behind you just as your slow-to-activate power is ready to fire off, cancelling your power. Of course, you can (and will definitely need to) do the same to enemies that have powers that take some time to fire off. They have even added a dodge ability to let you quickly jump out of the way with the double-tap of a direction key. The end result is a heck of a lot of running around while trying to shoot. I liked doing this for the most part but I did find it frustrating to be launching a major power at some critter only to have it cancel at the last instant because the thing got a tad behind me.

The quests you get are quite well done. There are plenty of quests that amount to “go over there and blast a lot of slimies” but there are also a lot of original quests. Quests where you need to sneak by critters and/or security cameras, for instance, or quests where you need to solve a riddle. They actually provide an in-game web browser so that you can look things up to help you solve those riddles! One unfortunate problem, though – your character is silent. The NPCs do all the talking while you just stare at them. It’s not uncommon in RPGs but it’s still jarring, especially after The Old Republic.

The big claim to fame, though, comes from the skill wheel. Each of the 9 weapons has two initial power sets with 7 powers in each. You can advance in either set as much as you want but you are limited to buying the powers in order – you can’t just save up and buy the final power. Once you buy all 14 powers from the two sets, you then unlock the advanced powers for your weapon. Each weapon has 6 advanced power sets consisting of 7 more powers each.

As I mentioned earlier, though, you can just spend a few skill points and open up a new weapon. Adding more skill points to a weapon lets you use more powerful weapons so just putting one skill point in each isn’t a real good strategy unless you plan on staying in the starting area for a mighty long time. However, it is pretty easy to spend points on a few different weapons.

You can’t just use any power you’ve learned any time, though. You only get to have 7 active powers and 7 passive powers. You can only hold two weapons at once, too, so those powers must all come from those two weapons.

However, the game lets you save sets of gear and powers. Just set yourself up for, say, maximum AoE damage and save the gear set. Then set yourself up for max single target damage and save another gear set. When you find yourself facing a pack of zombies you simply click some menu options and POOF! You’re an AoE specialist! Then, when you find yourself facing a single super-nasty, just click-click a few times and you’re back to your single target setup! It’s not quite as easy as popping between forms in a City of Heroes Kheldian character but it is far more flexible.

All those added choices are indicative of another factor in this game: it’s hard. I got killed in the very first quest out of the tutorial and died plenty of times after that. The riddles they throw at you can be pretty tricky and sometimes are outright devious. If you try to fight by just clicking on a couple of powers over and over, you’re going to get creamed. When you’re ready to add another weapon and you open the skill wheel to try to figure out which of the other weapons will best match your first weapon’s 56 powers, you’ll know just what I mean.

Graphically, the game is pretty impressive for an MMO. It’s no Skyrim, of course, but it has some pretty advanced graphics options.

There’s one thing about the game that really worries me, though: grouping. Yes you can team up but the VAST majority of quests I saw were for a single player and the enemies do not scale up along with your team. That means even a ‘challenging’ quest is pretty easy for a team of two. Larger teams are going to need to do missions that are really tough to get a challenge. Unlike The Old Republic, though, they didn’t set all the quests up so they would have to be done in a specific order. It might be possible to do hard quests with a friend then switch to easier quests when nobody else is online. Your group could have quite a time if the quest hits a “solo instance” step, though.

That said, there are dungeons out there designed for groups. I never went into one so I can’t really comment on them. The first one shows up very soon after you zone out of the starting area, though, exactly like in The Old Republic.

I think that grouping thing is going to be the factor that gives Guild Wars 2 a big edge over Secret World. Secret World is good enough that it might be worth buying and playing just as a single player game. In fact, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing!
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June 26th, 2012, 10:53
Interesting, thanks. I still think I'll wait until after the release before making up my mind about whether or not I'll buy it.
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June 26th, 2012, 11:18
Thanks for the information.

I played the last two closed betas, and they were enough to convince me to buy this on release. The game is in a much better state than Age of Conan was, that's for sure.

TSW is basically a lot like SWtoR in how it's primarily a singleplayer game with MMO dressings. The difference is that the adventure/singleplayer elements are infinitely more interesting and the quest design is on another level entirely.

Technically, it also looks better and performs much better.

PvP is limited to instanced stuff - but at least it performs well with a lot of players on-screen, and it's got 3 factions fighting at the same time. Not really my kind of PvP - but what's there seems to work well.

The absolute BEST aspect is the setting and the atmosphere. It's very Lovecraftian and it's unlike any other current MMO in this way.

Since I'm a big atmosphere/immersion type person, I'm more than happy to live without a particularly strong MMO aspect - just as long as I can enjoy the singleplayer/cooperative stuff for a while.
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June 26th, 2012, 11:27
BTW, I LOVED the quest with The Siren's Song.

(quest spoiler)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hi3Fi_cKho
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June 26th, 2012, 11:32
It has been growing on me. I have been playing both the closed and open beta's for awhile now. There are a ton of zombies to kill initially but eventually things change over. Quests are pretty good with some nice variety for an MMO. I will be playing on release.

Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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June 27th, 2012, 02:55
I still can't get over that they would hit us with zombies right at the start like that. Come on Funcom, it's still first impression territory! Ah well, at least there's a fun "Return of the Living Dead" reference.

Got an email today - early access starts on Friday!
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June 29th, 2012, 12:16
Today it is!

Looks like I'll be spending the evening in Kingsmouth
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June 29th, 2012, 19:01
I want a full report by Monday.
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June 29th, 2012, 20:18
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I played the last two closed betas, and they were enough to convince me to buy this on release. The game is in a much better state than Age of Conan was, that's for sure.
After seeing you flip-flopping around on Diablo 3 and Star Wars: TOR, I think I'll wait before giving any value to your opinion again. You'll probably reverse it in a month and say you've been wrong all along.

Otherwise, interesting. You rarely like this stuff.
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June 29th, 2012, 20:24
I have been in both beta's so have had some exposure. But the early start is live now and I just made my first two characters (to get names) and now creating my primary and will be playing tonight and this weekend

Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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June 29th, 2012, 22:58
Originally Posted by Thaurin View Post
After seeing you flip-flopping around on Diablo 3 and Star Wars: TOR, I think I'll wait before giving any value to your opinion again. You'll probably reverse it in a month and say you've been wrong all along.

Otherwise, interesting. You rarely like this stuff.
I'll try imagining a world where your opinion of my opinion matters

As for TOR, you've been drinking again? I predicted the outcome exactly a LONG time before release

As for Diablo 3 - that was a genuine mistake. My bad.

I'm going to work VERY hard to get Thaurin to value my opinion again, believe me!
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June 30th, 2012, 16:56
Hold the phone! It looks like encounters DO scale up higher when more people are around - at least sometimes! This could be an exceedingly awesome thing, at least for me.
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July 2nd, 2012, 00:30
Apologies if this got posted and I am repeating. One thing that is cool about TSW is that its single server technology. You have multiple dimensions but one server. This means everyone's name is truly unique and that everyone can talk and chat across dimensions. You can easily group up with people from other dimensions and even be in a Cabal (guild) in another dimension. Only the Warzones are dimension specific I believe.

http://thesecretworld.com/news/blog_…e_secret_world

So far the game has been pretty enjoyable. It has some bugs of course. One of the most annoying is with chat and cabals - you often have to reset it after any loading screen.

I am a very lenient fellow when it comes to games so keep that in mind :-) My own rating of TSW right now is about 8. It is interesting, the graphics have grown on me, the content is pretty cool and I enjoy the puzzles. I spent just over an hour trying to get the last two honeycomb lore bits in Seoul. They were in very hard to reach places and it took a like of patience and jumping to figure it out. Puzzles are both "physical" and mental.

Here are some shots I liked.
Attached Images
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Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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July 2nd, 2012, 02:12
Yeah, I'm finding a bug or two myself. I heard the 'Men in Black' quest is broken so I avoided it. 'Runaway Lights' has a toxic pool you need to wade through and there's supposed to be a visual indication of which parts are and aren't safe but, with ultra graphics on, I couldn't see them at all. (Dumbing graphics down makes it much easier.)

Overall, though, the game has been a real joy. There are some spots where I seem to need to do some pointless running but I just dream about builds as I jog along. Speaking of… I need to get in there and start making some. An AoE specialist, a kiting/hindering specialist, and probably some sort of single target specialist for hinder-immune bosses. I've got all the basic elemental and pistol powers now to play with.

How are you doing with teaming? I've hardly ever teamed in this game. Seems like it makes everything too easy.

P.S. Looks like we're both into the green!
Tesslah in Kingsmoth.jpg
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July 2nd, 2012, 03:24
You had me at Lovecraftian

Pre-Ordered and downloading!

Excited to give it a go, thx to all for the opinions and feedback

Good hunting!
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July 2nd, 2012, 05:27
"And yet you little termites war with each other over your little termite mounds, and somewhere in the Outer Dark, hungry mouths made of event horizons salivate and grin."

Yeah, I gotta think Lovecraft for sure.
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July 2nd, 2012, 10:23
I played this friday evening and most of sunday.

My impressions:

++ Setting
++ Atmosphere
++ Stability
++ Story
+ Visuals
+ Voice acting
+ Skill SYSTEM

- Combat
- Crafting
- Gear
- Skill variety

Overall, I'd say if you're into Lovecraftian stuff and want a refreshing modern day take on the RPG/MMO genre - this is a no-brainer. There's enough content there to fill the free month easily. Unless, of course, you absolutely hate the idea of other people roaming around in the same world.

If you want an idea of what it feels like to play it, think traditional adventure wrapped in an action/RPG package. Then add most of the standard MMO trappings and you have The Secret World.

The closest comparison is actually SWtOR - but in a good way. It takes the best parts of that game and significantly improves upon them (story and quests) - and it manages to set itself apart from WoW and other themeparks. It has fully functional 3-faction PvP with 225 players duking it out without significant slowdowns. SWtOR was brought to its knees with 16 players.

The best part of the game is how the quests are REALLY the meat of the game. It's not 1 cutscene - kill 50 beasties - 1 cutscene. It's 1 cutscene - immerse yourself/think/fight a bit/wonder - 1 cutscene. It just flows naturally - and you don't go from hub to hub to collect 10 quests at each place. They've designed the game around solving 1 quest at a time - and they've actually succeeded. At least for my part. I want to concentrate on each quest - and I care enough about the story to finish each of them. The writing is miles ahead of every single other MMO out there - but that's subjective of course. Some might find it too opaque or overly "mysterious" - but I find it's mixed with a good dose of down-to-earth characters and stuff that makes sense.

It's very easy to play as a singleplayer game and experience most of the content. Group dungeons is the most painful exception - but because there are so many players in each dimension - I think it should be easy to find some quickly and just get through each dungeon. At least, for the first few weeks. Just pick the RP dimension Arcadia - and people will be reasonable for the most part. But the dungeons aren't necessary at all.

For me, the primary downsides are about combat and mechanics. The actual combat is not particularly bad - but it's just not that interesting. It works ok - but lacks variety and doesn't have that visceral adrenaline kick of the best systems. One would think that with 525 skills - you wouldn't be wanting for variety, but I find that most skills are about a relatively small selection of effects. There's a distinct lack of messy/special/cool skills like stealth/backstab and such (yeah, I'm a stealth player). It's not all bad and there ARE some utility skills like limited teleport and a few stuns - but most of them are too samey for my tastes.

They've also opted to limit the player to 7 active skills and 7 passive skills. Obviously, the first reaction is that it's TOO limited - and then you start to trust the developers, because the game is actually pretty damn good in most ways. But after careful consideration, I've found myself thinking it should be 8 skills. Mostly because of the dual weapon paradigm of having 2 builders and 2 finishers almost as a requirement for efficiency. That leaves you with 3 non-spamming skills - and I find that's not quite enough. 1 more would be perfect - because then you could fit in a utility skill without feeling you were gimping your build entirely.

Gear is also rather bland and linear in design. It's clear that the developers didn't want gear to be a major factor - and I understand their reasons. It's the fashion these days to go against the traditional themepark model - and even if I think most developers don't understand how to evolve the genre without losing the good bits, there are plenty of players who think it's the right direction. Guild Wars 2 is doing much the same thing in terms of gear and progression - and that game is reaching previously unseen levels of hype. Personally, I like my gear to matter - and I like my progression. What I DON'T like is the treadmill ala Bilbo's "butter spread over too much bread" sentence. I don't think those two things have to go hand-in-hand, but obviously that's what the modern direction in design thinks. I consider it an overreaction to people being tired of the themepark model.

At this point - having played a combined ~30 hours or so (I was in 2 betas) - I'm ready to rank it 8.5/10.

This is assuming the content stays interesting - and keeps me hooked throughout the game. This game is literally all about the story/quests. Without that level of quality - the actual gameplay wouldn't be able to keep this game alive long. I'd say the gameplay portion is more like 6/10 for me.

This also, much more importantly perhaps, means that once you've experienced the quests - I'm not sure what we're supposed to be doing. Yes, there are 3 factions - supposedly with some variety in quest dialogue and stuff. But from what I've seen of it, that's WAY too limited. I don't think many will really want to experience the story again just for that reason. The PvP/Raids both work reasonably well - but because of the distinct lack of progression once you've mastered a few skill categories and gotten QL10 (max) gear - I just don't see it keeping people for long. So, it's absolutely key that Funcom produces quality content at a steady rate - and I must admit, I don't really think that's possible.

Producing top-level story content like what's in the game now, is something that takes a LOT of work and a lot creative inspiration. I'll be extremely impressed if they can produce this level of content for more than ~6 months post-release.

So, to be safe - consider it a standard singleplayer game with a couple of hundred hours of gameplay - and don't expect much more from the initial investment. That's still pretty damn good value, I'd say.

Also, I feel I must emphasize that the early access has been ROCK SOLID. I've encountered 1 quest bug (Men in Black Vans) - and I petitioned a GM to trigger the resolution. So, it wasn't even an issue.

Technically, it performs very well with full details (except Tessellation) - and I've only ever experienced lag in Fusang with 225 players. I've had a few 1-second spikes, reminding me of Age of Conan sieges. But all things considered, this is absolutely one of the strongest launches I've seen.
Last edited by DArtagnan; July 2nd, 2012 at 12:58.
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