I’ve been playing TSW for about a month now, mainly on weekends, and I’m finding that I am enjoying the game.
The atmosphere is suitable creepy, but not too much so. Darkness all the time can be annoying and a good horror story knows when to break and provide some levity. It’s not like an action flick where it’s okay to be non-stop sensory overload for the entire time. Unrelenting horror can just get tiresome. The Secret World isn’t like that with a bit of humor and pop culture references providing respite.
There are some negatives at the moment though.
There are some bugs. I encountered one mission, the last of the Solomon Island story missions that just overwhelmed at the end of the boss fight several times in a row. After doing some in-game browsing (great idea by the way) it turned out that logging out solved the problem and I was able to finish without being mugged by thousands of wolves.
But the bugs while annoying arent the worst thing about TSW. A new release is bound to have some, and TSW is a glowing example of polish compared to Funcoms earlier releases. And from what I hear, substantially more stable than GW2.
No the most annoying thing is the user interface.
Specifically the inventory window. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a poorer design for inventory.
It grows when it fills up with loot and gear. This means that if you have lots of items in your inventory it can quite easily exceed the screen height.
You can’t resize it down unless you have space. Everything you have is always visible even if parts of the window is offscreen. Funcom haven’t you heard of scroll bars?
The additional bags you can add are handy but cannot be individually opened or closed. Even if you have one bags for crafting mats, another for primary gear, and another for vendor trash, your entire inventory is always on screen or closed.
As I mentioned on my last Secret World post there are other negatives about the UI too. It isn’t always responsive, I find myself clicking on a close button occassionally to find nothing happens, and I always need to position the mouse a little to the right of any control before a mouse click registyers. Perhaps this is due to using low res settings, but really no one has found this yet?
It would also be nice to be able to minimise windows like the browser, or be able to have an extra hotbar for potions and consumables, although these are minor compared to the Inventory problems, and in fact exacerbated to some extent.
Having said all that, I do love this game. It’s a lot of what I want in a MMORPG. A break from the standard fantasy format. A decent story. Not too linear, as there is plenty to do in each area. (Still needs more though.) Better crafting than nearly every other MMORPG. I hope Funcom can get it together and see this game last.
On Thursday evening after a little bit of soul searching I decided to create a free Secret World account and join Funcom and the other inhabitants of The Secret World for a couple of days of one month celebratory gaming. I downloaded the game and patched up nearly 15GB of game data overnight and Friday morning. (I ended up needing to buy another few gig of data since this got me to within a gigabyte of my data plan cap.)
Rather than just add a few pets to the game for subscribed players, Funcom in their wisdom decided to open up the game to anyone with an account, and provided everyone with the opportunity to make an account for free. In an age of free to play, I reckon this is a great way for a upfront-salesubscription game to attract players who may just be on the fence about the game.
After just a few hours in The Secret World I can hardly review it, but I can say at this point I am having fun with it. There are a few problems though.
It requires a fair bit of computer power. I started the game at my usual 1900×1200 resolution (I have a 27 inch monitor) and the game performed badly. The cut scenes were stuttered, and movement and control of my character were poor. Dropping down to 1024×768 made the game playable and the cutscenes viewable, but obviously didn’t look as good. To be fair my PC is a 4.5 year old device with a quad core and 4GB RAM, so it is not exactly cutting edge (and I do need a new one) but on the other hand it played the SWTOR beta at max resolution. Funcom do have a habit of pushing computer capabilities.
Playing in low rez is okay. But it would be nice if there was a low res setting for widescreen. All the low res aspect ratios are 1.3, my monitor is 1.6. A 1280×800 setting would be good.
The user interface is a little flaky. It barely worked at high res, especially button clicks and scrollbars. At low res it is much better, but even then it can take a couple of clicks and careful mouse positioning to register a click and close a window.
I can figure out how to drag some windows. It’s not a bit deal, but I’d like to make my UI layout a bit more like I’m used to.
Having said that, and I think those issues may all be PC performance issues, I do like the game.
I went out to a friends house last night and when I got back at 11:30 I decided to spend a few minutes more playing. At 2:30am I finally got to bed. At least it’s Sunday today and I could sleep in!
The game is addictive, it’s fun. I love the setting and the imagination behind the Secret World. Because it is set in the modern day world it can add humorous pop culture references without seeming out of place (which I know a lot of players hate… Haris Pilton anyone?)
The missions are imaginative and not just the KTR variety. I did get a couple of missions to kill x number of zombies but those were for testing explosives, and made sense in context.
The graphics are excellent, if you’re playing in high rez. However the game still looks decent at 1024×768.
Anyway it Sunday morning and I want to play some more. I’ll write more up later.
Since I’m not in The Secret World beta at this point, I’m living vicariously through others.
Here are the links.
Pete at Dragonchasers gives us a first glimpse into The Secret World. Still a bit rough which might cause some launch controversy, but the quest structure (warning a bit spoilerish) makes it sound a little more traditional RPGish.
Sente at A Ding World thinks there are quite a few nice things about the game. Lot’s of pictures in this post.
That’s it for the moment but while my weekend is over, the US still has much of Sunday to go. I suspect there will be a bunch more posts in the coming few days. All up from what I see, it looks like the game still has some way to go before it’s ready for release and a June release might be premature. But the game itself is not your standard MMORPG, at least not in the kill ten rats sense. Lot’s of quests, puzzle solving, and perhaps not an easy mode game.
I reckon if I had a Dalmation I’d be outside sitting on the hood of my car waiting.
The Diablo 3 beta is open for valid Battlenet accounts, which means the game is very close to release. Tera is also in beta. Torchlight 2 is anticipated for release a month after Diablo3. Around the same time as Torchlight is The Secret World.
At the same time Eve Online is gearing up for some fairly major changes that will affect the economy, and improve the user interface experience.
Lots of stuff then.
The trick, for someone with limited time like me, is to work out which games I actually want to play.
Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 are very similar, both being Action RPGs. I have played and enjoyed both Diablo 2 and Torchlight (1), completing both of them. I’m not sure Torchlight warrants me getting Torchlight 2 at release. While I enjoyed it, it didn’t grab me like D2 did. However, I’m less than enamored with Blizzards focus with Diablo 3. The real money aspects concern me. If I don’t spend real money to buy equipment will my progress through the game be slower?
So I doubt I’ll get D3 or T2 at release. I’ll probably wait until the end of the year and make a choice then.
Likewise Tera doesn’t grab me. I’m seeing lots of news about it, but I feel kind of meh about it. I think it’s the fact that it’s another fantasy game, with the standard fare of fantasy characters. It would be nice to see something completely different in the fantasy genre. Of course I felt that way about Rift too, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. So it might be, once the game gets released, I’ll start reading some real details and feel compelled to have a go.
The only game so far that really has my attention is The Secret World. I like the modern day mythological conspiracy setting. I like the skill system, and the fact that I don’t have to create a thousand alts to try everything. I even like what I’ve seen of the crafting system so far.
I just hope I’ll have enough time to play it when it is released.
The big news this morning is the announcement of the launch date for Star Wars The Old Republic.
The big day will be the 20th of December in the US, and the 22nd in Europe. No date has been given for Australia and Oceania, though there is a rumor that it won’t be until February or March 2012.
So while the rest of the world will be happily swinging their lightsabres over Christmas, those of us Downunder will be twiddling our thumbs. This kinda sucks.
Having said that, there is no region locking on the game, so those who can somehow import it from overseas should still be able to play. I’m wondering if it will be accessible as a digital download, however while the game will be not be region locked that doesn’t mean that credit cards or IP addresses from Oz and Asia will be accepted.
I guess it means that we’ll also miss out on any preorder bonuses if we want to play at launch.
It occurs to me that The Secret World will be released around April 2012. Since I’ve been looking forward to that, maybe I’ll just save my pennies, not play SWTOR, and wait for TSW.
Yesterday Funcom announced that The Secret World business model was going to go down the subscription path with a game store that sells only convenience and character customisation gear.
I have been wondering a bit about this. While it’s not surprising that Funcom are going to use a subscription model for The Secret World, the fact is that going Freemium with Age of Conan has brought a lot of new players (or perhaps returning players) to the game. Something like 300,000 extra active players I believe, which has to be good for the game.
Still, The Secret World has a lot of positive buzz around it at the moment. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t do well at launch, as long as the launch itself doesn’t go the same way as the Anarchy Online and Age of Conan launches.
I’m not sure it has grabbed me in the way other games have in the past. Sure, the videos look exceedingly enticing, but we all know how much those can vary from reality. Remember the Warhammer videos?
I was, and still am interested in Diablo 3 to some extent, though I think with the announcement, and with the way different game companies have been butchering much loved game franchises of late, I reckon I’ll wait for at least a few weeks and the unbiased reviews start to come out.
On the other hand, the more I see of The Secret World, the more I find myself captivated by the whole thing. I was fairly even about the game until I saw the Everything is True trailer. That one little video caught my imagination and brought forth all the stories I’d ever read about ‘mysterious and hidden things.’ I was hooked.
How about you? Are you hooked and really looking forward to any upcoming game?
In response to the latest Funcom announcements for The Secret World, I headed over to the official site to see if I could register for the beta. (Okay. I know. I’m late to the party. What’s new over this last year?) Once there, I did the test which registers an account and puts me in line for a beta key.
I just hope I don’t get it before Ysharros, otherwise she’ll hunt me down, I’m sure.
Anyway, TSW is looking pretty darn good. I just hope Funcom have learned the lessons of the Anarchy Online, and Age of Conan launches.
Don’t screw up the launch. Anarchy Online had the worst launch in MMO history, until Vanguard.
Don’t stop the quality content after the newby area. Tortage was wonderful. After Tortage? Meh.
A cororally to 2. Your players aren’t stupid. Don’t try and fool them. You might get great reviews in the first day, but after that you will be roasted.
Anarchy Online and Age of Conan both improved dramatically in the months after launch. AO still has a loyal playerbase, and Age of Conans middle levels are now pretty good. But despite how good both AO and AoC became, the dropping of the ball at launch impacted how well both games did later. TSW is gathering steam, it’s being eclipsed by SWTOR publicity, but there’s a lot of anticipation building. If they pull of a perfect launch, it will be hard to stop this one being one of the big games of the next few years, and not the flop AoC is regarded as.
There’s another thing that Funcom needs to consider. Rift. There’s a lot of talk about Rift having the best launch ever. I’m not sure what happens at the end-game yet, but it’s pretty clear that Rift has raised the bar for MMORPG launches. Funcom should be keeping an eye on this.