on July 7, 2012
This is a complex game to review. It has many different elements that appeal to different types of people, but if you're one of those whose tastes fall right in the center, you will absolutely love it.
The world is an amalgamation of conspiracy theories and horror themes. It's a very bleak world and this is very much apparent once you're out of the three primary cities (London, New York, and Seoul), which are very detailed and well-constructed (London being my favorite by far). If you're a fan of Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, or Supernatural, you will probably enjoy the atmosphere. It will be even more enjoyable if you collect and read the hundreds (thousands?) of lore items scattered throughout the world that offer greater insight into specific events or groups.
There are three factions, the Dragon, the Illuminati, and the Templars. They are united in their fight against the darkness, but often very much at odds over historical events. They each have their own storyline, and many of the responses to different quests are unique to the faction. The Dragon have a more eastern/philosophical outlook on things, the Templars are a bit more mystical and militaristic, and the Illuminati are very business-like and technical. The stories you encounter reflect this, as the Templar story often feels very mystical while the Illuminati story has more of a conspiracy feel to it.
The dialogue is particularly entertaining. You do not get to make responses, as in SWTOR, but I found the NPCs much more interesting to listen to in TSW. They often seem like real people and make amusing or enlightening analogies. You can talk to many about a variety of topics that do not directly apply to a quest, and I've spent several hours doing so without realizing how much time had passed.
The mechanics initially seem to be typical of MMOs, but differences become more apparent the further you get into the game. Instead of each quest being about killing 10 goblins, quests can have you trying to investigate the origins of the town, setting up defenses and fighting off attacks, or tracking down and stopping a supernatural killer (and killing 10 draug...). If the quest is fairly straightforward (kill 10 draug), you will see markers on your map and on your screen indicating where to go. However, if you're expected to figure something out this is often not the case. For instance, you may be given a vague idea of what you're looking for and through the use of google (there's an in-game browser and a website for various groups in the game, such as the Kingsmouth newspaper) and in-game clues (hidden in or behind paintings, in architecture, or just about anywhere you can think of), you're expected to figure out where you need to go and get there. Once you've arrived, the quest progresses to the next stage.
You're allowed to equip 7 active and 7 passive skills of hundreds purchasable using rewards for gaining experience. Some build resources, some use them. Some set certain states on the enemy (weakened, hindered, etc.), while others will exploit those states. You mix and match the 7 active and 7 passive skills to create a "build" that you enjoy and feel is effective. This can be done on the fly as long as you're out of combat (lose a fight? swap skills and try again). The states can also be exploited by other players, so you could theoretically get with friends and work together to create builds where you exploit each others' actions to greater effect.
As for the combat, again, the mechanics initially seem typical button-mashing. The states and skills mentioned in the previous paragraph add greater variety, but there are also indicators that appear when an enemy is about to use a particularly punishing attack that allow you the opportunity to either run out of the way to avoid being hit or to use an active dodge button for the same purpose. Although avoiding these attacks can be helpful in solo-play, it becomes imperative to avoid as many as possible in instances (dungeons) where one such hit may well kill you or put anyone healing on their toes to try to keep everyone alive. Fortunately, you do not sacrifice much damage or many actions by avoiding attacks, as all combat skills are usable while moving (and many situations will leave you dead if you do not use them while moving).
Armor is in the form of talismans, whether they're rings or belts or other items that do not alter your character's appearance. Clothing is separate and only alters appearance. There is a large clothing store in London where you can customize your character after you've earned some money.
Although there are many servers ("dimensions"), you can play with friends on any of them. If you join a group with someone from another server, you will be asked if you want to be transported to their dimension. When you leave the group, you are returned to your own. You cannot PVP on any server but your own.
PVP is restricted to one of two battlegrounds and one warzone. The battlegrounds only allow around 10 people per faction. The warzone allows 75 per faction and is persistent. Controlling various areas in the warzone provides a server-wide buff to the controlling faction (so people in dungeons or just out questing benefit). The power of the buff depends on the number of areas your faction controls.
There are still bugs (as there always will be in games), but generally you can either skip them or ask for an invite to a server where a particular quest isn't bugged. There aren't too many, but the ones that are there can be frustrating because it's often difficult to know whether or not you are stuck because of a bug or stuck because you just haven't figured something out. Except in a few cases (which often pop up in the help chat), most of the time it's the latter. Fortunately Funcom seems to be working quickly to fix the quests that are actually bugged, and reporting it to a GM will get them to bump the quest so that the bugged part is completed.
If you like solving puzzles, learning about the background of the game world, or building "decks" out of hundreds of different skills, this is probably the game for you. If you're looking for something light that you can breeze through without much thought (and there are days when that's the sort of thing I want), you're better off looking elsewhere.
on July 3, 2012
Having had a chance to really sink my teeth into the game, it's finally time for me to pass judgement on The Secret World. I've played several MMORPG's in the past (World of Warcraft, The Old Republic) and have had fun with them in the past. But after spending countless hours with these MMO's, you start to recognize similarities in the various games. This is where The Secret World really shines.
The Secret World turns a lot of old ideas on their head. Leveling no longer exists, or at least not in the traditional sense. You still earn experience but instead of being greeted with a new level when you fill your experience bar, you now receive Skill Points to be spent in several areas. Along the way however, you also earn Ability Points to be spent on new abilities. You get to fully customize your character to do pretty much whatever you feel like that particular day. You can be a healer one minute and a tank the next. It's a great system that has a ton of depth to it.
Quests are also really well written. All the main quests of cinematic, fully voiced scenes. Side quests usual involve finding notes which is the only reason those aren't voiced. The quests have a lot of variety to them as well. While it is true you'll find fetch quests here and there, even those are done in ways that don't feel repetitive. Something that is truly wonderful about the game is the puzzle and research quests. The game forces you to really think sometimes to solve a puzzle, while other times the game gives you just enough clues for you to research it online (and also has a built in web browser to help). It really adds to the immersion and lore of the game.
Speaking of lore and story, the game really knows what it's doing in this area as well. Sometimes it does get cheesy in areas, but most of the time it stays on course of being a phenomenal story. There are so many missions that really adds depth to the different organizations and to the world itself. It will make you want to really search the world to get every tidbit you can. The controls handle well, there is a great variety of abilities to choose from and play with, and PvP is incredibly fun. There is so much to do and explore that the game will keep you busy for a long time. It will take you months to fully max a character out. No matter what server you play on, you can still pair up with your friends and quest together. Same goes for guilds which are called "Cabals" in The Secret World.
It should be said that the game does initially limit you to only three character slots. You really shouldn't need more because of the fact that you can just load a build and be any class you want at anytime, but it should be noted. You might also find some glitchy quests or other things, but with the game just launching, it's forgivable especially when Funcom stays on top of patches pretty well.
Overall The Secret World is a great game and definitely worth a look.
on July 3, 2012
I was fortunate enough to get into the last two beta weekends for this game before it went live to release.
I have to say I was absolutely blown away. I finally found a game that wasn't based on _that OTHER MMO that everyone knows_ and I was ecstatic.
They threw out the traditional level grind and made something much more interesting. A sideways and vertical progression. You still level, you still gain experience but it comes in the form of two kinds of points, which can be spent on skill proficiencies and abilities to go along with those skills. The simple fact that your character can learn EVERYTHING in the game is amazing. But the great equalizer is that out of ALL the abilities and ALL the skills... you can only ever have a total of 7 active abilities and 7 passive abilities "at the ready."
What this means is a bit forethought on the part of the player. What will you need for a fight? Which abilities do I have that are going to be best for this area? Need a healer and no one else can? But you can! Change into it! Change from a TANK to a DAMAGE DEALER to a HEALER to any kind of hybrid there-in. There are synergies between all the abilities and untold 1000's of combinations that you can put together to make as unique a character as you want.
Csutomization is amazing out of the box too. In other games, the race for the best gear often results in all the characters of a class looking 100% the same. In the secret world, it's quite rare to see soemone else wearing what you are wearing. It does in fact appear to be a truly living world. In fact my character, well, I change my clothes every hour or so when I'm playing.
PVP is also fun! Three factions make it much more interesting and all of that PVP has benefits and rewards to the players out in the remainder of the world. Bonuses that you get from PVP apply to the PVE experience. And for once, PVP is on an equal footing, since you can have any skills you want, then it's up to you to find the PVP skills that work best for you. No more being beat by the guy that has more time than you so he has much better gear than you "in those other games."
Something that also strikes me as factastic, is that they didn't hold back on puzzle quests. They're NOT easy. It's like being in a "Dan Brown" novel and having to solve the same kinds puzzles that Robert Langdon had to. Cryptic clues, and research and patience. It's a whole new refreshing aspect to a genre that lately began to cater to the powergamer; the guy that had to get all the best stuff asap. This game requires you to pay attention as you play it, not just to gather as many missions as you can from a "quest hub" and go grind them out for the fastest XP gains a player can get.
Anyone looking to have their hand held to just get rewards fast and be the "top level" is going to be sorely disappointed here. This is a game about the journey, not how quick it takes you to get there.
It won't be for everyone, but I think more people will come to see the charm, talent and passion that went into making this game.
As a friend of mine put it, this game is like they took Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the CW's Supernatural, stuffed it with Resident Evil and then made it a massively multiplayer game.
Get your practice in now.
on July 3, 2012
There is a veil over the MMORPG player's eyes for the last ten years. We've been spoon fed quests with mindless kill counts ad nauseum. We've scoured dungeons and battled whatever may have guarded their deepest treasures, over and over again in the name of Epic Gear. Open your eyes and see the secret world. There is more out there that the MMO genre can offer, and Funcom will be your guide...
The Secret World offers a breath of fresh air in a somewhat stale video game genre. Certain mechanics may be the same - sure, there's these things that will define an mmo, but TSW succeeds by adding factors and variables to this formula rather than regurgitating the same old stuff with different models and textures. For starters, this is an MMO based in modern times - a welcoming break from your standard fantasy or science fiction setting. This naturally makes the game world familiar and easy to digest and possibly make your avatar more relateable. Mix in conspiracies, cultural mythologies, and the monsters that lurk beneath the bed, and you have an exciting setting that begs you to come back, much like a siren's song.
As noted above, Funcom introduces unique mission types that have never been introduced in the MMO genre before. Investigation missions put you, the player, right into the shoes of an agent of the secret society of your choice. These cannot be solved by just following waypoints on the minimap. You literally have to open your in-game browser and SOLVE the puzzles. You'll be googling for historic information, biblical references, or even searching for answers on a fictional websites - blurring the line and enhancing the immersion in a fun and exciting way. These missions require some thinking outside the box. No spoon feeding here. Because I'm no Batman, my detective skills were lacking and it took me almost two days to solve my first investigation mission (Not 48 hours of game time, but more like thinking about the puzzle during the day, even when I wasn't playing) - The sense of accomplishment was worth more than the XP rewarded. Sure you could just look up the answers or beg for them in general chat - but then you're missing the point. You'll be reading the cliff notes to a good novel. "But I don't want to think and work hard when I'm playing a video game - that defeats the purpose of a leisure activity such as playing video games!" Then go back to killing 10 wolves and collecting 5 pelts. These missions are truly a test of patience and perseverance. When you don't feel like playing Scully and Mulder investigating the most recent paranormal activity, the game offers your more traditional missions.
The lack of character levels and blatant classes is a welcoming change to your standard mmo from the last 10 years. Quality Level is a gear characteristic that indirectly defines how much progress you've accomplished in the game, so it could be argued these are just like character levels. But when you're wandering the city streets and encounter other players, you won't be able to tell "what level they are" just by looks - clothing has no effect on character progression and is strictly for looks. Long are the days of feeling ashamed and weak as your level 1 thief in tattered leather stands next to a seasoned warrior with shiny exotic armor. You won't have to worry looking like a multi-colored clown as you collect all the items for some gear set. Because the lack of classes, you're free to build the character that matches your playstyle. There's still a holy trinity (tank, dps, heal) for group missions but each player can contribute to each role by offering secondary abilities to the table (ex: a damage dealer doing off heals). If you're a fan of collectible card games, you'll enjoy the way deck/abilities system TSW has to offer.
Another quality that stands out about TSW is how they deal with servers. When you create a character, you're asked to choose a "dimension." This selection matters for pvp purposes only as the persistant warzones will only queue up players from that respective dimension (75 players from each faction, 225 total). This design was used to make for shorter queue times for persistant pvp. The current map (Fusang Projects) is a little lacking when compared to other WvW persistant pvp designs out there - but nothing Funcom can't fix in future patches (or by providing new persistant maps with more objectives/mechanics. This is possibly the only reason I can think of why I'm giving TSW on release a 4/5). The other pvp maps will queue up players across all dimensions. In addition, you could group up with other players from the other servers to tackle pve content or the non-persistant pvp. Essentially, TSW is "one server" (much like Eve Online) which means player's names are unique and global.
These are just a few things that stand out from TSW that I've personally noticed and appreciate. The game officially releases today (03JUL12) but I've been lucky enough to play since early access and have been enjoying it since (Fun 5/5). This type of game seems to attract the more mature player due to content as well as game design which proves to be a plus. If you enjoy X-Files, Dresden Files, Dan Brown, Men in Black, SCP, or love conspiracies: the secret world is waiting. Kudos, Funcom. You've shaken things up in the mmorpg world!
Update 10JUL12: Still digging the game despite some minor bug issues, barely scratching the surface content wise. My in-game time is approximately 4 days and 19 hours and I'm still half way through the first zone (Solomon Island). A couple of the missions are bugged at certain points but the first patch just went live this morning. Chat is still a little buggy, which can make socializing difficult at times (some channels reset when you zone in/out of areas). These are just minor bugs that don't really affect the enjoyability of the game overall.
Lastly, I'd like to leave this update with an official State of the Game written by Ragnar Tornquist. For those people questioning whether or not this game is worth a subscription or whether or not there'll be enough content 2-3 months after launch, hopefully this answers your questions [...]. Back to the secret world; the spirits trapped at the academy are getting restless again.
on January 3, 2014
For the last ten years I have played several mmorpg's. Starting with Dark Age of Camelot and moving onto World of Warcraft where I stayed for about ten years. WoW had gotten so unsatisfying that I started playing other games but couldn't find anything solid to transfer to. I have finally found something that I can fully delve into without feeling like there's something missing. It is a truly unique game on so many levels. I love epic old-school fantasy settings, but I'm much more into the gothic horror fantasy feel of this game with its zombies and vampires and ghouls... oh my!
Here are the major things I like about it:
Characters: For one, it's based in a totally modern setting. No elves, trolls or pandas here. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the fantasy setting, but when every game is based along the same lines, it becomes old rather quickly. Character creation is a fun part of the game, but make sure you choose your name wisely, because unlike other mmo's there is no need to make a ton of characters. One per faction is all you'll need (if you even decide to make that many) and there's only 3!
Questing: The quests (or missions as they are called in this game) are not your usual pick up from NPC and go kill a bunch of things. Don't get me wrong, you do have a few of those, too, but most of the missions are made for using your brain. You really need to pay attention to the story as you progress because a lot of the missions are puzzles that need to be solved using clues from cut scenes and various images you pick up along the way. Keep in mind, some of them are so in-depth that Funcom had the genius idea to include an in-game browser so that if you DO have to do some internet digging for an answer, there's no need to alt+tab out of the game. Reminds me of the days of Riven and Myst where you had the intricate latin puzzles to solve to get to the next sequence. And Funcom DOES love their latin!
Armor: My favorite thing about this game (being the absolute girly girl that I am) is the fact that stats are not integrated into your clothing. That is 100% stat free, so you are literally able to wear any thing you want any TIME you want. From bikini tops and ugly socks to fully decked out military armor your clothes are just a click of the button away at all times. They are stored in your "dressing room" which you can access from anywhere and at anytime. Your defensive/offensive statistics come by way of weapons and talismans which you raise in skill level as you progress in the game.
Utilities: Another truly unique thing in this game is the ability to build your class however you want to be used whenever you want. In other words, most games you are only allowed to use certain weapons or spells based on the race or class you choose for each character you create. However, in TSW you eliminate the need for multiple characters by being allowed to train yourself in every weapon and weapon skill available so that you can decide what weapons you want to wield (up to 2 at a time... ANY 2 of your choice) and what active and passive abilities you want to equip within those weapons. So you can literally jump from being a tank to a healer to dealing straight up DPS at any time or place.
Every game has its ups and downs, but for me who has always had more fun in the running around, exploring and questing of a game than in the rush-to-cap-level aspect, I truly think The Secret World raises the bar in that area. I hope you give it a chance as I did. I think you'll find that it goes above and beyond, especially for a game with no requirement to pay monthly, although it does give you extra perks for doing so if you decide to.
I highly recommend this game!
on July 3, 2012
I've been waiting for a good supernatural game where the player characters hunter monsters and solve puzzles; and ladies and gents the wait is finally over (sort of). The Secret World is an MMORPG set in a mirror version of our modern world. You have zombies, werewolves, vampires, Cthulhu styled characters, and other nasties from folk lore and urban legends to discover and face while taking care of missions from your selected secret society. There are three of these societies: The Templars, Illuminati, and the Dragons and their locations differs from the historical streets of London, to the trashy back alleys of New York, to the very compact neighborhood of Seoul. This is where my first issue of the game lies.
Out of the three faction hubs, London is the most developed hub of the three. When playing a game like WoW, I spent a lot of time moving throughout the city of Storwind or Ironforge, etc and it felt like a true faction hub. When I rolled my Illuminati character, I felt cheated. New York was too small. There isn't nearly enough to the city. It felt like the development team wanted to give the player a place to start at, but push them right out to Kingsmouth, and never look back. With MMOs the player likes to travel their faction city, look at the different areas of the city, and interact with npcs and pcs alike. It would have been nice to have a dive bar for social gatherings in New York; and let me not get started with Seoul! After 5 years, this is what Funcom came up with?
Now lets talk graphics. They're just okay. Compared to Age of Conan (Funcom's other mmo) it isn't impressive. As of this date Funcom released a statement saying that they are improving the character customization by August, and that we (the players) will be able to have more options to tweak the way our characters look. So far however, my character looks like a half dozen npcs I've come across. The environments on the other hand are awesome. Argatha is beautiful, Kingsmouth is creepy, The Savage coast is creepier! It sets the mood for the game. Some of the creatures look kind of silly, but some are frickin creepy as hell! It's not on the level of Silent Hill, but with the combination of the soundtrack and the scenery; it's close enough!
The soundtrack is the next thing I'll touch on. I like it so much that I downloaded the soundtrack from Amazon. The sound quality is adds to the creepiness of the game. Walking through the woods with the sounds of zombies tearing through flesh, or creatures pacing about sets the nerves on edge; good stuff!
As you may have heard, this game has no levels. It's partly true. You won't go from level 1 to say 50 (SWTOR), however mobs are based off of your skill level or tier. The higher the tier, the easier time you will have with mobs in a certain area. For example, you could leave Kingsmouth when you first enter the area and go straight to The Savage Coast. You won't survive though. These mobs here don't have levels per se, but they are harder to kill. So in essence, you still need to level up to take them on and survive.
The main issue I have with the game is this (and its the same issue many people have with SWTOR)is the limit they have on the area levels. There are only three areas in the game: New England, Egypt, and Transylvania; these areas are broken up into mini areas (3 for New England, 2 for Egypt, and 3 for Transylvania). After a player has gone through this content in a month, I'm afraid it will end up suffering SWTOR's fate; the newness of the game would wear off, and players will be stuck having nothing else to do. Even if the content lasts more than a month, at best it would be 3 months before everything has been combed over. In 5 years we only get three zones at launch? Really Funcom? Hell even SWTOR has more zones than that, and people complained that there wasn't enough content. This is why I gave this game 3 out of 5 stars. The game is fun, it's unique in many ways especially with the investigation missions that make you think outside the box. However, it would seem that Funcom was a bit under-prepared with this title. I for one hope that this game succeeds; we need more games like this. While this game is fun, it's not perfect.
on July 7, 2012
Funcom as a developer has had a somewhat checkered history among gamers. While Anarchy Online, its earlier title, had a strong yet small following, Age of Conan disappointed many due to its premature release, which was reflected in a lack of content and many bugs in various game systems. So, to be quite honest, I didn't expect anything in particular at all from The Secret World, other than perhaps a better version of The Matrix Online.
Funcom has created a secret masterpiece. The Secret World is an MMO which, in many ways, reflects the desires of MMO fans who have been playing the genre for 10+ years, and want something different from yet another clone of World of Warcraft. And this game delivers that, on pretty much all levels.
The gameplay is reminiscent of other 3D MMOs, yet the action system is different, being based on synergies between skills and weapon choices. The game affords the player the flexibility to choose their own skills in whatever way they wish -- which also allows players to mess up their decisions with an old school approach of having to live with one's mistakes in this regard. As a result, the game has a steep learning curve, but rewards players who want more complexity in their MMO experience as compared with most of the offerings since 2004.
The mechanics of the game involve the familiar quest system, yet in TSW the focus is very, very heavy on story telling (even more than in TOR, the first MMO to focus heavily on story telling .. and it has quite better writing than TOR does as well). And quest design is not monolithic. There are storyline quests and main quests and then side quests -- and the main quests can be either combat, investigation (puzzle solving) or sabotage (stealth) in nature. This makes for a very diverse gameplay set as compared with almost any other 3D MMO. Quests advance in "tiers", and the story focus is underscored by a strict limit on the kind and number of quests one can be "working on" at any one time (gone are the days of going to a quest hub, loading up on its quests, and powerleveling through them to "level as efficiently as possible" -- you are following stories here that have their own pace). And speaking of leveling -- there are no levels, either, but rather Action Points (used to purchase new abilities) and Skill Points (used to upgrade abilities in weapons and armor slots) which are rewarded based on experience and certain quest completion. The player can allocate these in any way they wish (there are no set classes), although research is recommended to optimize one's choice -- in that sense, the degree of complexity and prep required is moving in the direction of EVE Online, although not nearly as complex as EVE is.
I will say this, however. If you are looking for a light-hearted pew-pew type game, this is not that. If you don't want to invest time to learn the game's systems (which are not really like the familiar MMO systems), you won't like this game. If you are looking for another game where you can rush to max level and look around "to see what the endgame is like", then you won't like it either. As a result, I believe this is a niche game, similar in that respect as well to EVE Online -- a game that will appeal to a certain segment of gamers, but not the "mass market" of MMO gamers like WoW or TOR or GW2.
So... if you're a bit of an experienced and jaded MMO gamer who is looking for something a bit different, a bit more complex, and quite a bit less mainstream, give TSW a try. It's a great game for people who are looking for the kind of experience it offers.
on January 12, 2014
First off, I'm a casual gamer. I liked rpg style games, but I'm kind of sick of the fantasy rpg's. If you are sick of the fantasy story lines then buy this game. This game has an EXTREMELY good story. There were times when I was playing a quest and I just wanted to give the writers a hug for being that darn good at story telling. The investigation missions are very challenging and sometimes I had to look up the cheat and I never felt bad because I would have never figured it out. I have friends that have played all the missions with no help at all though. So it's doable. I would say this game generally attracts and keeps the more mature players playing. Most of the cabal that I have joined are mothers, fathers and well into 30s and 40s of age. This is a good thing though. It makes the chat channels less cluttered with children being immature. The leveling system is different. You don't level. You get experience, but they get you your stat and ability points. Stat points will get you into better gear, and ability points will get you new abilities.
I saw a bunch of reviews where people said that the game doesn't give any instructions on how to play. This is entirely not true. Most of the missions have a quest helper tool that will even show you where you need to go. The NPCs on the game will send you on missions that will get you to the next NPC areas as well.
And here is the cool thing about missions. There isn't so many boring fetch quests that plague most MMOs. You know like, "Go kill 10 bears and 15 hides." There are some missions like that, but they are not common place in this game. These are the green colored quests and the completionist in me tried to do them all while playing through, but I found myself just doing the main story missions with the cut scenes because they are so much more fun to play!
There are instances in this game and different difficulties. Normal, Elite, and Nightmare. You will notice that the instances do not have very many mobs in between bosses. Some of them have 0 trash mobs. I was a little bit dissapointed with that, until I got to fight the bosses on Elite and Nightmare difficulties as they become challenging with boss mechanics that you have to be mindful of, attacks that need to be impaired. Needless to say tanking in this game is by far the most challenging. The instances do follow the trilogy of a dps, tank and healer roles but you dont have to stick with that role completely. I have builds where I am a leech healer, so I dps and am the main healer. I have a tank/dps build where I am super squishy, but deal pretty respectful dps compared to the actual dps. As a dps you can do raw damage, sometimes you need to help the tank impair boss attacks that will wipe the whole party.
on July 24, 2012
Pros: The Secret World, now that I've been playing for a few weeks, is a truly engaging experience. Allow yourself to be transported into a world that is very similar to our own, but were myths and legends come true. The Secret World does a great job of creating an augmented reality. Quests and Investigations are very original and involve learning about real world artists, Morse code, and many other neat things which is a nice break from "Kill this # of enemy X", which does exist in The Secret World, but is broken up by some awesome quests and originality that require you to think. The game luckily has an in-game browser that allows you to access Google (The master of all research) to help you on your way. The content and stories are original, the voice acting is top notch, and many of the quests feel like you're actually accomplishing something other than just grinding for experience. And if you want a truly creepy experience put on a pair of good quality headphones, some of the quests will have you jumping out of your seat.
Cons: The only reason I didn't give The Secret World 5 stars is because, being a brand new game, they still have a few bugs to work out. Also the game is lacking some features that gamers have come to expect from MMO's, but the development team says that most of those features are in the works and will be arriving shortly (within the next couple months).
Conclusion: BUY IT, LOVE IT, PLAY IT. I don't want to spoil all the fun, but this game rocks! It's made for adults, it's difficult, it requires you to think, and is truly a pleasure to play.
on November 6, 2013
I'm an avid fan of H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, zombies, and all things that go bump, and I was immediately drawn to The Secret World because of the obvious influence the horror genre has had on its sensibilities. I'd never played any MMORG's before TSW but that didn't hinder me from immediately becoming immersed into its elaborate world.
The game proper begins in Kingsmouth, Maine, an isolated community on Solomon Island (although one can travel to any map from here provided they know the way). Once idyllic, this Arkham inspired New England town is now overrun by zombies, sea monsters, and cosmic horrors. The few remaining holdouts provide the lion's share of the quests available on the island, though there are plenty scattered throughout. The individual quest lines conjoin to build an encompassing island narrative of what went wrong in their community, and there is so much that did. Solomon Island is a haunted, insane place, and I've greatly enjoyed uncovering its' secrets.
The strong emphasis on story telling and NPC personality really shines in TSW and the voice acting is always top notch. One of my favorites is Hayden Montag, played by Jeffery Combs, who you may recognize for portraying Herbert West in the cult horror film series Re-Animator (Re-Animator was based on H.P. Lovecraft's famous novel). Many of the characters are very aware of common horror tropes, and will casually refer to them in a very self aware, wink to the audience, breaking the fourth wall kind of way that I find incredibly endearing. This is one game where I really pay attention to what every character has to say; every single idiosyncratic word.
I am also very pleased by how much TSW plays like a dedicated adventure / survival horror PC game. There are the riddles, puzzles, and the exploration familiar to adventure gamers and they are all intelligently designed and well presented, many of them requiring research, for example, into Latin, Morse code, Medieval history, even musical composition. If you take the time to figure out things on your own, you can actually learn a lot!
Having never really played any on-line cooperative games before, I really wanted more of a solo gaming experience going at my own pace, instead of a group one just running around from one checkpoint to the next, but with the option of testing the waters of team play once I had some time under my belt to become familiar with the gameplay. So far I have been able to do exactly that. None of the initial missions are too difficult to be done alone, and once most quests for one map are completed my character was well developed enough to go on alone to the next map. There are missions that are impossible to be done single-handed, but nothing that would hinder the player from progressing from area to area and going back later with a group for the rest. And missions that were first done in a group can always be replayed solo - after a cooling off period - if you are so inclined.
The Secret World is huge. At the time of this review there are maps in Maine, New York City, Seoul, Transylvania, Egypt, London, one in Tokyo being released soon, and more, with many locations having multiple maps themselves. They are constantly expanding their universe and it is safe to say there is enough content to last for months or years. I've played for about 60 hours so far and I haven't even made it out of New England yet!
The game does have its annoyances, but most, if not all, can be resolved throughout the learning curve. Read the stickies in the Newcomer forum on The Secret World message board as they can cut that curve in half. [...] My only major complaint about the gameplay is that when sticking to the same weapons, which you must do in order to level them up, the fighting can get very repetitive.
I have thoroughly enjoyed The Secret World. It's fun, imaginative, ambitious and unpredictable. Now that it's gone free to play (no monthly subscription) I highly recommend it to anyone who loves adventure games, horror stories, or role playing. In The Secret World, death is just the beginning. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.