It's such a great game~ I mean nothing is perfect right ^^
I bought it month ago was amazed by it~
really liked, that it's not a "colourfull Fantasy MMO" though
Review: The Secret World MMORPG
In terms of ‘big’ titles, it’s safe to say the world of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs, or MMOs) has been ridiculously stagnant since the launch of World of Warcraft (WoW) back in 2004.
Not that WoW particularly broke new ground itself; the game had all the common traits introduced by the likes of Ultima Online and Everquest in the late nineties (exploring, levelling, crafting and combat in an RPG environment where actions are used via a skill-bar).
WoW really only broke the mould for one reason: massive popularity. Gameplay was super slick and accessible, cartoony rather than flat nerdy, bringing the game to the masses. It was the biggest selling PC game in both 2005 and 2006, while as of December 2011 the game could still boast more than 10 million subscribers worldwide.
Unsurprisingly a string of games has since tried to emulate its success, but have fallen pretty flat – probably because they have brought little to the party in terms of advancing the genre. In recent times the likes of Star Wars: The Old Republic and Rift have largely have failed to catch the imagination (mainly as they have displayed very little of it themselves). Frankly, the genre needed a reboot.
Enter stage left, The Secret World. Brought to us by MMO developer Funcom, it promised (as many have) to be different. But with the developer’s previous efforts having a somewhat chequered past (Anarchy Online and Age of Conan were both heavily criticised when launched) it’s safe to say no one was holding their breath. However, from what I’ve seen so far, it seems Funcom has learnt its lesson.
So what’s the Secret?
For the reasons mentioned above, the time was ripe for someone to rip up – or at least edit – the MMO playbook. The Secret World has done it by throwing away key concepts in the genre: levelling and classes.
Also, instead of the same tired old sci-fi and fantasy settings, The Secret World has entered the realm of modern day conspiracy theory for its backdrop. Secret societies, zombies and the visions of Poe and Lovecraft all collide in an apocalyptic B movie mess of a world where the Templars go up against the Illuminati for control of Stonehenge and other mystical points of power.
The game went live for pre-order customers a week ago and I’ve been playing most days since. Having fully explored the three starting cities and opening adventuring area, I feel ready to give my early impressions on what is undoubtedly the most important MMO release of the decade so far.
Getting it write
I’ll come right out and say this up front – up until now, I have thoroughly enjoyed The Secret World and as long as the content continues to be as fun as it has been so far, I’ll be enjoying it for a long time to come.
Due to Funcom’s past efforts it’s important to say that, well, it works. The launch has been incredibly smooth and I’ve experienced very few crash issues and no server problems. There are some glitches, yes (chat problems have been especially annoying) but nothing major.
This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, however. The game’s engine is based on the Age of Conan one, so it has been well field tested over the past few years. On the down side it means the graphics aren’t up to what some might expect and hope of a 2012 game. However, from a personal perspective, I don’t see this as a game-breaker.
For me, The Secret World makes up for average graphics in four important areas: lore, sound, game play and overall feel.
In terms of quests and background story, the game is brilliantly written. The video cut scenes are classic B movie humour, the lore wonderfully written and the characters and factions well rounded. It’s perfectly backed by a musical score that is both dramatic and ethereal, while zombie moans, scared screams and gunshots help create an eerie, menacing and sometimes downright scary atmosphere.
A level of its own
So what’s all this ‘no levelling or classes’ nonsense? What kind of MMO has no levelling? Well, to be honest, The Secret World does have levelling by any other name – it just does things slightly differently.
At character creation (which leaves a bit to be desired – there isn’t much choice as yet, but this is apparently being addressed in the coming months) you’re simply being cosmetic; there are no stats to adjust, no class to choose – just some cool threads, a fancy haircut and a faction to align with.
Once in game you’ll soon pick an initial weapon of choice, which sees you get your first few combat skills – the first of many. The game has more than 500 at launch which are associated with all the familiar MMO play styles (tank, healer, DPS etc), plus nine distinct weapon types. As in a game such as Eve Online, one individual character has the potential to learn all of those skills and switch play styles at will, hence no classes or levelling.
However, there are experience points – which in turn give you ‘character skill points’ and ‘ability points’. These are used to raise your skill in weapon types (allowing you to wield greater items) and also to gain better skills, leading to a huge amount of combinations depending on your play style or circumstances.
For the less imaginative, or to give you a helping hand when starting out, The Secret World does have skill ‘decks’ – suggested combinations that will work together well. Yes, you could call them classes, but as you’re not restricted to one it’s a very different beast.
In play you are limited to equipping 14 of these skills – seven passive and seven active. This means you only have seven types of attacks/heals available to you at any one time, which actually works very well and doesn’t feel at all restrictive.
It’s also worth pointing out that all characters equip two different types of weapon and can have any skills equipped associated to them (more than 50 for each, so a choice of more than 100 skills depending on the two weapons you equip).
On a quest
While this is all well and good, an MMO will stand and fall on its content and this is another area where for me the game excels. The opening play area (beyond the starter cities, which are largely just lore and shopping areas) is massive and there are ‘quests’ everywhere – some from NPCs, some from items on the ground.
Many of these are familiar ideas and in no way break the mould – take ‘A’ to ‘B’; run to point ‘A’ and kill monster ‘B’ etc. However, these are brought to life by the journey being such a blast; there are few places you’ll go where random zombies or the like won’t attack, making every fed-ex quest a monster killing spree.
But more important is two other types of mission: stealth and puzzle. While there isn’t a mountain of them they are genuinely what they say on the tin. Stealth quests may have you sneaking past guards or placing explosives to complete objectives, rather than purely fighting.
The really interesting ones are the puzzle missions. The Secret World has an in-built web browser and Funcom has built a bunch of websites connected to the game (that look like ‘proper’ sites) where you’ll find clues to unravel these mysteries. Others may need you to look up information on Wikipedia, or work out riddles. These really are a breath of fresh air, despite some being obscure above and beyond the call of duty.
Not so good
All that said, The Secret World is far from perfect.
Crafting is, as always in MMOs, a bit of an afterthought and while slightly innovative (for example, all items break down so they can be reconstituted and made into new, better items) it has the usual problem of being too far behind the adventuring curve to really be of any use – while the best items still seem to be adventuring rewards, making becoming a crafter as your main reason to play rather redundant.
Also guilds, called ‘cabals’ here to be on theme, are very much in the early stages of development and are little more than chat channels for now (which annoyingly don’t work properly). There is also no player housing, which has become a standard MMO plus point – it seems short sighted to have left this out.
It’s also too early for me to make any claims that the game isn’t going to suffer the Age of Conan content problem. I’ve been really impressed with the areas and quests I’ve found to this point, but I have no idea how much more is to come (one possible downside to having no levels – I have no idea how far I have progressed through the game). Funcom really needs to keep enough content rolling off the production line and its recent record on this score has not been good.
But for now there’s plenty more to see and to explore. I’m yet to fully investigate the PvP side of the game so don’t feel qualified to talk about it here, for example, although it is up and running. However, I’ve seen enough to say that I’m certainly a fan and have no regrets for signing up early (always risky for a Funcom release).
If you’ve been burnt out on the MMO genre but like it in principal, I’d certainly suggest giving The Secret World a look. There’s enough new here to make it a worthwhile purchase and I’ve had enough fun out of it already to justify the £40 or so I paid upfront. Just be warned – it is adult oriented, so expect horror themes, swearing and buckets of blood and guts.
It's such a great game~ I mean nothing is perfect right ^^
Might have to check this out... Star Wars was a good idea but I think it was a bit of a let down and full of bugs. WoW I have nothing to do until Mists comes out. This should be something to check out in the meantime.
This game is the same ol' grind fest mmo.. but ofcourse that's not the main issue.. yes it has a rather good narrative and theme going on but the main problem is that.. Narrative/Themes arent worth paying monthly subs for. If we compare the game to APB(F2P) or Guildwars 2(B2P) which offers much more in-terms of gameplay, this game has little or no chance at all.
I purchased this today. I am having a lot of fun so far. The first "dungeon" was really neat and the final boss was extremely fun! I am playing support heals/dps with an assault rifle. My friend seems to be having a blast tanking/dpsing with his chaos magic and sword combo.
So far the story is really interesting and I like the personalities of some of the quest npcs.The only problem I have with The Secret World right now is that their character customization just looks bad. I really had to spend a long time trying to find a character I didn't hate the look of. I hope they fix it asap. Many of the faces you get to pick from look cavemanish and the female chest area looks really weird most clothes don't look right on females imo. Male characters are easier to make look better though, thankfully.
The game is really fun and I am glad I picked it up. Even for 50$ I feel like it is worth it. I actually really need to get some sleep. I stayed up all night playing it with a friend.
Just wanted to chime in, I have been playing for over 1 month and its held its replayability value for me. The daily reset of missions is important, I find that I have plenty to DO rather than waiting around for a group to farm a dungeon to get some gear to wait around for a group to farm a dungeon to get a some more gear... This is HUGE for me as I dont play well with others in a lot of cases (pugs I mean). This means I have stuff to do and grow my toon MY way and I am not stuck waiting on other players, be them strangers or friends. The game is still keeping my attention and thats a lot more than I can say for Diablo III or any other games i have tried in the last 2-4 years.