I looked up and the clock said 12:15 a.m. Not good. I just felt like I had gotten into the game, and here it was three hours later. I guess what I’m saying is that The Secret World is initially proving to have the “just ten more minutes” effect, and that’s a good thing.
It’s easy to be over-excited and exuberant on the first day of a game, but even so, I’ve got a special feeling about this title. Whether it lasts a long time for me or is good for a couple months is almost irrelevant; I’m not looking for a new long-term MMO home, I just want a good game with a great story. I think The Secret World may prove to be just that.
I rolled Sylvia “Yeti” Perkins as a Templar, which apparently 80% of the early start crowd did too (if PvP reports from guildies are to be believed). I’ve spent maybe five hours in the game so far, and have come away charmed by a very different type of MMO experience. I think “different” is good in TSW’s case, because even if it relegates to a permanent niche status, at least it’s hard to label as a copycat of anything else. It’s just kind of its own beast, and it takes a large mental shift to get into the game’s desired groove.
So here’s a jumble of things I did and did not like after the first day:
Things I Liked:
- The NPC characters and voices are, on the whole, genuinely interesting. I have no problem just going through all the dialogue options with everyone, because they’re short stories in and of themselves. Maybe you can argue that they’re all too colorful, but that’s part of the fun here. I’m finding these NPCs much more interesting than the questgivers in SWTOR.
- I don’t get the accusations that TSW’s quests are same-old, same-old. Honestly, they feel incredibly varied and much more involved with narrative. I like how there are different types of missions that give you widely different experiences, from straight-up fighting quests to put-on-your-thinking-cap investigative quests to stealth-and-sneakery sabotage quests. The little intro cutscenes to each quest are much more interesting than text boxes (although you get those too). I’ve already done such a wide variety of missions, many of which challenged me to observe and think, and that’s a major thumbs-up from me.
- I like how you can only have a handful of quests at a time. It really forces you to focus on a particular story or two, and keeps them from feeling like you’ve picked up a grocery list of things to get and do. There are also plenty of objects in the world that trigger quests, and those are fun to find along the way.
- Funcom’s definitely added character customization options so you can — with careful planning — not look hideous. And the clothes are cool.
- Actually, the whole contemporary setting is cool. It’s something we connect with so much stronger than fantasy, because we have a lot more experience with it. It’s what I liked about Fallen Earth as well — the contemporary trappings.
- Climbing ladders was a pleasant surprise.
- It’s definitely a dark game, and if you like a little bit of horror and edginess to your stories, TSW has it in spades. I can’t say I’ve been creeped out or scared yet, but the opening town of Kingsmouth is definitely like Halloween a la Stephen King.
- The ability wheel and skill point system allow for a lot of flexibility, and I like constantly earning points to spend in them. I initially started with chaos magic, but found I disliked it. No problem: I dumped some points into shotgun, found a weapon, and there I go. No need to reroll or anything.
- Because the game is divorced by levels, the only barrier to progression is just getting stronger across the board. But since I’m not outleveling mobs (not that I can tell), I can still earn XP and keep that AP rolling in. So I’m very much taking my time and hitting everything I can.
- The zombie mobs look fantastic if you examine them up close.
- I definitely want to learn more about the secret world and its lore. Lots of stories here, and I’m ready to experience them.
- I didn’t experience any bugs, and only had one crash to desktop when I was fiddling around with the in-game browser.
- Nice customization of UI. Every option I needed was right there.
Things I Disliked:
- My goodness are some of the NPCs insanely ugly. I’m not expecting them all to look like models or anything, but a few of their faces (especially the women) can be off-putting to behold. Even the main character of Rose looks all duck-lipped.
- Three magic schools, three melee weapon types, and three ranged weapon types seems… limited. I know there’s a lot of mix-and-matching and advanced specs, but at first glance, it feels smaller than it should.
- Mobs can go from two-shot easy to long, drawn-out fights, and I’m having a hard time putting those tougher ones down. The jump of toughness seems a little uneven.
- Guild/cabal roster doesn’t seem to be working. Can’t see who’s logged in.
- Can’t figure out how to make chat font size larger. Maybe I’m missing it. But it’s too small for me on this resolution.
- There are just three main PvE areas of the game — New England, Egypt, Transylvania. I know there are multiple zones within them and a LOT to do, but that feels very limited from what should be a world-wide jaunt. I was hoping for many more locations.
- Not all mobs drop loot. Haven’t found any costume pieces yet. Don’t really know how all the stats work or what I should be going for.
- Being armed to the teeth and almost constantly surrounded by others really limits how scary this game can be.
- Some of the mobs move too much and I can never get a clear look at their faces. Small thing, but I like seeing details.
- The in-game store was pretty borked and it took a long time to claim my pre-order items.
But all of that is, of course, very initial impressions. Looking forward to getting some good time in with this title this weekend and bringing you back more tales.