So by now, I’m sure you’ve heard that there was a “celebration weekend” for The Secret World this past weekend. Apparently it was to honor the game’s on month anniversary, blah blah blah. To me, this really meant an opportunity to give a legit try to a game I’d chalked up as garbage on numerous occasions. It, like Guild Wars 2, is an MMORPG with no raiding (editor’s note: this is actually coming sometime soon.), which when you are someone whose cardinal reason for playing MMOs is raiding, is basically a dealbreaker. I didn’t give a damn that it was sorta story-centric and took place in a modern setting with all the trappings that entails (or so I thought), and while I thought the Ability Wheel was a novel idea, it had no raids therefore Fuck Off.
I am more than happy to eat my words.
The barely contained snark that I mention is snark about a lot of the feedback I’ve read regarding the weekend. Part of me desperately wants to basically lambaste all the nonsensical arguments I’ve seen about functionalities, but I’m trying that whole “don’t be a snarky asshat” thing I’ve heard about on TV - this will be about my experience with the game, nothing more. Let’s get into it, shall we?
First off, for someone who mocked TOR relentlessly for everyone’s “BUT STOOOOOOOOOOORY!!!!!” stuff, I fell in love with the characters and world of TSW exceptionally fast. I liked WoW’s lore to an extent (but really hate Metzen’s constant self-influence, overwhelming Horde bias, and fetishization of the “WAR BACK IN WARCRAFT HURRRR” ideal), and Rift is okay but I could take it or leave it. TSW, on the other hand? No other game is going to have SIR GALAHAD checking his cell phone before remarking on how badly Merlin wanted in Morganna’s pants. I almost fell out of my chair laughing at numerous points of NPC banter (“I AM A RESPECTED POSTER ON THESE FORUMS”), and the depth of some of the quests really had me wanting to play more - curse my stupid work schedule!
The Ability Wheel is fucking genius. You point out another game where I can punch people in the face to heal them, I dare you. Very few games have “mage tanks”, which is what Chaos Magic is. The weapons are freaking neat - the first-tier Elemental Magic weapon is a goddamned iDevice charging cable (more or less). I played with Blood Magic and liked it a lot, and would’ve gone into Blades as my secondary weapon if I’d had time and found mats to craft a sword.
And speaking of crafting! I usually think crafting is dumb and something I have to grind up for a raid perk or consumables and shit. TSW has no grinding profession levels because the crafting is fucking Minecraft crafting, down to the “put things in patterns”, “right click while holding a mat to put down one at a go”, and so on. It was intuitive once I learned my shapes, and was not something that got in my damned way.
The UI could use a bit of user-friendliness improvement, but I am spoiled by my razor-honed WoW UIs. Experimentation found me a lot of tools I hadn’t even considered, like splitting, locking, and resizing “bags” of my inventory. Some of this discovery was also helped by a friend who coaxed me into trying the weekend, and some was just old-fashioned “wut’s diz button, boss?”.
There were some pitfalls, though - let’s be honest, this is a Funcom game. I had some technical seize-ups, and so did Tink. There’s some very core UI functions (IMO) that aren’t explained, like the con icon on monsters (shape and color determines sociability of the mob and their difficulty w.r.t. your number of earned AP/SP). I definitely died a few times before I gathered “orange triple-dot = lots of mobs stronger than you, dumbass”.
But on the whole? If they brought the base price of the game down to the prices that should be a market standard thanks to Trion ($10-15 for the license), I’d actually consider ponying up for the game, and maybe even for their lifetime subscription, because TSW definitely feels like the sort of game I’d pop into every so often just to see what new hilarity the game has. Amusing that this comes from the person that trashed this game relentlessly during its ARG and absolutely loathed Age of Conan. (Can I have the $70 I paid for its CE back?)