The Secret World: Alone vs. Together

alone1I’ve been thinking a lot about The Secret World lately, despite not having played it for over a week since I finished up Issue 10. Maybe I should pick back up my project of playing through the game and detailing all of the quests; I think I’m still in Savage Coast somewhere.

Anyway, I’ve pontificated enough in the past about how brutally difficult The Secret World can be, which leads one to the conclusion that it’s simply better to play with a duo or in a group. Not that every quest will allow groups to progress together (there are some forced solo instances), but for the most part you’d think that it’s a game that was designed for groups rather than the single individual.

alone2And I wouldn’t fight you on that if you insisted. In the past, some of the best times that I’ve had in TSW are with a regular group. It’s a rip-roaring time to experience the same story together, to figure out clues as a group, and to plow through fights so quickly that you forget what slogfests they can be solo. It’s like watching a great movie with friends, only that you all have parts to play as well.

But having done a significant part of the game by myself, I can’t deny that some aspects of TSW work a lot better when you’re alone. The scares and atmosphere hits you a lot harder when you’re on your own, especially because you’re not being distracted by what your group is saying. There’s a deeper satisfaction, I think, to solving quests on your own instead of piggy-backing on the efforts of your teammates. And going solo means that you don’t have to worry about keeping up with your friends, giving you freedom to really soak in the details and be a tourist to your heart’s content.

TSW has a lot of small details that deserve noticing.

I’m glad that TSW is making most of the game a lot more solo friendly in the next update, although I would also like to see a much better LFG option so that peeps can always have that option of teaming up. Just about every stranger I’ve grouped up with in TSW has been friendly and fairly patient, and I owe my success to more than a couple of quests to the knowledge and skill of another player.

So maybe I don’t have to choose one or the other. Alone is good, but so is together. Having the choice means that the game adapts to what I want to do that night instead of forcing me to play according to what the game demands.

8 thoughts on “The Secret World: Alone vs. Together

  1. jjd76539 February 24, 2015 / 9:37 am

    That is a game i have not played in awhile. i even purchased lifetime mems…I found the solo action too hard in many ways and stopped playing..I never found very many people on when i played..

  2. bhagpuss February 24, 2015 / 10:03 am

    Really looking forward to the easyfying patch. I managed to get almost to the end of Transylvania largely on my own but I’d like to run through it again with another faction. Anything that makes that faster and less , well, painful would be very welcome.

  3. Sylow February 24, 2015 / 10:25 am

    On it being too hard, i note these two things:

    1. I actually never found this statement to hold too much weight. I mean, i also went into the oh so hated Blue Mountains myself for the first time, and did not run into huge issues there when i did so. I did not skip it to get better gear, but rather did sell with the gear i had up to that point.

    That being said, what i did have was a reasonable setup. When watching some “trying TSW” videos on youtube, i can see how many people didn’t even figure out how to combine two weapons, let alone how to make a reasonable combination of passives. So while my setup of that time from my present day point of view of course was also very weak, it was much better than what many people take there.

    Of course, i took the time to study the skillwheel and understand how it works and you can’t expect the casual player to investigate into that. (But i dare to admit, i would expect somebody who has a regular youtube gaming show and does game reviews on a regular basis would take a look at how the mechanics work, instead of tearing down the game for he did not listen to the tutorials the game was even handing to him. )

    That being said, the patchnotes for the next big updates, which will bring a much better player introduction, are available for the testserver since yesterday, and they seem to bring plenty of changes. The tutorial seems to have been reworked a lot and also, what i consider very essential (see my answer in one of the older TSW topics at this blog), the decks are supposed to get a huge rework and even break out of the “actives AND passives from only two weapons” concept, which missleads players into thinking they would be limited like that.

    So while i was not on the testserver and have no idea on how the new decks are, FC seems to have understood the problem and will in the future provide more useful decks. I also hope that the information attached to the decks will be more informative.

    2. The patchnotes also include the information that monsters health throughout the game before Tokyo will be significally reduced. At the same time the patch notes hold the information that all AoE abilities take a painful hit and some very useful buffs and debuffs were noticeably weakened.

    My feelings on this are very limited. Of course, reducing health on all mobs will make things much easier for those players who never invested just five seconds of thought into their setup, but at the same time these changes punish those, who actually did so and thus optimized their setups. Alternatively just looking up a good setup from the forums or a guide or asking in game for help is also perfectly fine. In my eyes the last approach is even very welcome, solving a problem by social interection is one of the best ways. Those who figured out good setups are usually ready and eager to share, after all.

    Then on the point of atmosphere: i guess you are right. I mean, i remember the very first time i did the Tyler Freeborn storyline and i had to log off and recover from it. The picture it painted was just too grim. Would i have had company, perhaps even with voice chat, i definitely would not have experienced it that intensely.

    On the other hand, the game gets more group-friendly all of the time. While it usually is not even in the patch notes, i found that more and more missions which formerly were strictly solo now can be done in group. I don’t know if this process is finished or still ongoing, but i by now can help Cabal members much more in their early steps than in former times.

    It might take a bit of the atmosphere out of those missions, but since it allows socialisation to eliminate frustration i welcome this change.

    @jjd76539:
    If you consider the game too hard, feel free to ask for help. If you need setup advise, you can ask here or in game. (My characters name is Slad. ) Also, if you need combat support in game, feel free to contact me. But while i am definitely not online all of the time, you can also just join the Sanctuary channel. That channel is crowded with helpful and even well mannered people.

    To get there, do /chat join Sanctuary in chat, then activate the channel by clicking on your tab. [I admit, i found that describing how to do that without having the game at hand at the moment is not that easy and it seems like there is no tutorial video for that on Youtube. I guess i’ll fill that gap when i find a little time. ]

    Connected to that, “never finding many people” is rather a problem with the games structure than people not being there. The segregation of chat according to zones, in some times servers, etc. creates many “pockets” of chat, were you indeed reach only a limited number of people. Considering the other mechanics of the game, mostly the grouping and “meetup” feature, where everybody of each server can move to any player of any server (if the target player agrees) and play together really show that the chat limitations these days do not make sense any more. To break those (unnecessary) limitations some player created global channels (e.g. event, noobmares and sanctuary). The bigger problem is that new players usually don’t even know about the help the playerbase is willing to provide and thus are not accessing it.

    Anyway, you just made me realize that i now have something to suggest to Funcom for their improvements of the new player tutorial: put some of those channels into the autojoin script of the game by default and either switch them on from the start or at least give new players pointers on how to enable them during the tutorial. (Note to self: write that suggestion. πŸ™‚ )

    So, thanks for reminding me on it. πŸ™‚

  4. Sylow February 24, 2015 / 10:27 am

    Bah. Typo attack right at the start. I did not sell in BW, i rather did well there. πŸ˜€

  5. Dahakha February 24, 2015 / 10:29 am

    The main thing that I did with my friend as a duo was investigation missions. It didn’t matter that we were of wildly different gear levels/AP levels, and it didn’t matter that one of us could go around and do other missions when the partner was offline. Some of the challenges in the investigation missions are very tedious (morse code, ugh) so having someone to help plow through it makes the experience much more enjoyable.

  6. Sylow February 24, 2015 / 10:47 am

    True. But i also never had issues returning to earlier zones and do the missions again with friends. After all, the stories are so good that running them again (and watching the video sequences again) is fun. I even advise the solo-player to do that, there’s so much in those sequences which you only notice when watching it for the second or third time and sometimes even stuff which you only really understand when you know more of the later story. So re-watching those sequences is not a waste of time in my eyes.

    Next to that, those missions also give XP when repeating them. If absolute efficienty is your primary directive you of course have to stay in Romania once you are there, but you’re also not punishing yourself when repeating missions with a friend who’s still in the earlier zones.

  7. Telwyn February 24, 2015 / 2:05 pm

    I’ve only seen this game in a duo or trio – never solo’d anything really. It’s been fun for us as a MMO that offers some actual challenge for small groups playing out in the open world. Hopefully the patch won’t make it completely face-roll easy.

  8. irhk February 24, 2015 / 2:27 pm

    I like playing solo, and I like helping others along the way. Haven’t grouped up as yet, but that will come in time.

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