As a majority of my time in The Secret World these days is with my second character and leveling her up through Egypt, I’m both having a great time rediscovering the lower- and mid-level game and somewhat dreading the upcoming transition into Tokyo.
Why dread? Because I have zero desire to jump through the hoops of the augment and AEGIS system again. Oh yes, we’re going to be talking about this again.
While TSW’s classless system takes some getting used to, it’s actually pretty cool once you grasp how synergies work and have the flexibility to make builds that can handle different situations. In fact, some missions actually require you to rethink your build to overcome a combat obstacle, which certainly isn’t something we see in most MMOs. And I’m pretty cool with how it works. I even like signets and glyphs, since they’re pretty straight-forward ways to customize gear without requiring a spreadsheet or excessive grind.
But you see, Funcom’s had this weird habit of constantly trying to “improve” the combat system since the game’s launch, and almost always it’s made it worse for it.
First up was the auxiliary weapon system. Neat idea — some extra, super-powered weapons that could be used situationally — and while I don’t have a major problem with them, I always did find it disappointing that you could only equip one active and passive skill at a time. I’d rather play a chainsaw-fighting character full-time, thanks. In practice, this was an AP dump and, after five of them and Issue 7, Funcom’s stopped adding new ones.
Then came Venice and the (argh) scenarios, an idea that was better in theory (highly repeatable content in a game that needed such) than in execution. Scenarios — which Funcom hasn’t added to since their initial debut, btw, suggesting that this is another system that the team has introduced and then abandoned — weren’t that fun, especially in all of the ways that you could fail (and thus waste your time). But they were tied to the augment system, which was a way to slightly boost various skills, and so people pursued that for a while.
Do people still mess with augments? Is there a fear that if you don’t get them, the higher level game is tuned assuming that players have them? I don’t know, but after a half-hearted effort to equip a few (and I found the system incredibly confusing) I gave up on my main character and haven’t looked back.
Then we got to Tokyo and Funcom couldn’t leave combat alone without more “improvements.” Enter the AEGIS system, the perpetual target of my scorn for this zone. Oh, I love Tokyo, it’s a great location, but you run smack-dab into this new system and are forced to deal with it because there is no other option. And the killer part is that it simply does not add anything to the combat experience other than tack on another XP/AP/SP grind so that you’re not gimped in this zone.
I cannot fathom how or why Funcom thought AEGIS would make combat more exciting. There’s no strategy to it, just a lot of annoying fiddling with icons as you try to switch your damage output and protective shields to match whatever type of mob you’re fighting. Start to end, it stinks and it represents a lot of wasted effort by the developers that could and should have been spent elsewhere.
This all annoys me, how TSW keeps trying to add layers, Jenga-style, on top of a functional combat system that’s already challenging and flexible. The game doesn’t need it; it never needed it. Augments and AEGIS and (even) auxiliaries haven’t added a zesty feel to combat or created a deeper progression system.
Why doesn’t Funcom simply create new weapon styles and add them on to the current wheel? Why do these new systems have to be so obtuse and convoluted (and this complaint goes hand-in-hand with how you upgrade high-end gear as well)? All of this feels like the devs were trying so hard not to go down established (and working) paths that they feel like they have to keep needing to invent new systems that are invariably broken, abandoned, or lackluster.
The augment system? Just give us a talent tree and let us dump AP into that for these types of customization tweaks. AEGIS? If you must have it, simplify it into a protective shield that can be activated on extreme need and maybe allow us to level up weapons so that they can innately attack different shield types without having to switch modules around. And if I can’t be a whip- or chainsaw-wielding fighter, then don’t tease me with it.
Just a small rant for a Tuesday. Pay it no mind.