I know that it’s standard design to front-load your MMO with the best zone possible, but after going through half of the New England island area, I’m worried that nothing else in this game will be quite as cool or interesting as what we’re seeing here.
I mean, thus far I’ve seen:
- Zombie firemen
- Zombie track and field runners
- A genuine haunted house
- The coolest tree house ever
- C’thulu’s uncle, Bob’ulu
- A possessed amusement park ride kill one of my guildies right in front of my eyes
- A doorway to hell
And that’s just scratching the surface. I think it’s safe to say that The Secret World is sticking with me; I’m at least in it as far as the main storyline goes, and after that we’ll see if Funcom justifies a continued subscription by adding more interesting areas and people to meet.
If anything, TSW feels like you have to take one enormous step to the side whenever you log in. Yeah, it’s an MMO with MMOy things, but it feels like some sort of parallel universe where these similarities are coupled with bizarro tactics that shake me out of the routine. Maybe it’s the contemporary setting, which I still find vastly more interesting than a fantasy world. Putting a game in a contemporary setting saves the writers a lot of time of having to explain what any of this is or does, and frees them to focus on layering interesting, supernatural elements on top of the everyday vistas.
Combat, too, seems diminished in the sense that it isn’t the primary focus of my gameplay. Sure, I fight a lot, but usually only when I have to. Quests award way more XP, many of the mobs take a while to burn down (and are just easier to skirt around), and I want to explore instead of standing still pressing hotkeys. I find myself taking numerous detours just to see what’s around the corner or if there’s a lore or side quest object around.
Actually, the side quest objects are brilliant in a way. Since you want to do as many quests as possible and probably don’t have a large tolerance for repeating the big quests daily, finding these little tasks are a reward in and of themselves. Many times they not only give you incentive to explore, but send you out in a new direction to see a place you haven’t before.
I’m still working on my character build, having gone through so many weapons and wasted AP that I feel ashamed I didn’t figure out a plan from the start and stick to it. Right now I’m going to follow one of the templates for the Magus — a shotgun/elemental build. If nothing else, it gets me a cool outfit, and I really don’t want to feel gimped in the DPS department any more.
Above everything else, I love how this game constantly makes you think. Quests are solvable if you put on your thinking cap instead of trying to brute force your way through them, and piecing together the lore snippets to find out more about the area and motivations of NPCs is incredibly addicting. It’s like playing through a really interesting novel with you in the role of the protagonist, and I’d rather savor it than finish it in a weekend.