I’ve talked before on this blog of my love for all things Lovecraft so it should come as no surprise that I would be tempted to try out The Secret World, a game that is directly inspired by the fiction that H.P. Lovecraft created.
But… I was on the fence for this title. In fact until last thursday I wasn’t even sure I would give the game a try. I’ve been burned by Funcom in the past and I was afraid they’d turn the lore and feel of the Lovecraftian universe into some sort of joke. In the end though, just a few shorts hours before the pre-access offer ended I took some time to look up some reviews from the beta weekends and most commenters seemed to enjoy the game and love the atmosphere. A few screenshots from Kingsmouth eerie atmosphere and I was sold.
Going blind into the Secret world
Like I was saying, until a few short hours before the pre-access launched, I had read close to nothing about the game and I was heading in completely blind. I had no idea of how things worked, what class I would roll (there’s no classes!), how many levels there was (no levels!) and how combat would work. Just how I like it. There’s something about exploring a game without any preconceptions and figuring stuff out for yourself that I enjoy immensely and Tsw didn’t disappoint. This game is full of nook and crannies to and is made for explorers…. which I happen to be according to the Bartle test.
I was going to talk about the ability wheel and some mechanics but I’ll leave that for another post. Suffice to say that as first day experiences go, learning about Tsw unique character building system was a bit of a shock and nearly sent me running to the nearest asylum. There’s so much choice in there that’s it’s crazy. For now I’ll just say that you are meant to use two weapons at the same time and that there’s a “Deck” tab on the left side of the screen with some premade builds that can help you make some smart choices. Of course I discovered that I should use a second weapon the second and I learned about decks after three days and sure enough my chosen build, Assault rifle and Chaos magic, wasn’t a deck for my faction. Still, it’s said to be an effective build nonetheless so not all is lost.
Immersion and investigation quests
I started playing Tsw like I play most MMOs now. I would pick up the quest, skim over whatever text there was and then go on and accomplish whatever the quest required me to do. When I strolled into Kingsmouth the first time around I saw the zombies and wrote the zone off as another zombie apocalypse scenario. Should be a fun ride into a beloved cliché right? Well it is and it’s not at the same time. Yes, it’s a somewhat classic zombie scenario but all those talking NPCs with those clever lines and the maniac attention to detail do get to you at some point and then it becomes less about completing quests and more about solving the mystery surrounding Kingsmouth. There’s only one other game that did that for me and it’s Lotro.
I love Lotro for its immersion and it’s a game I keep playing because simply of that and it looks like Tsw is going to do the same now.
But the one thing that impressed me above all else are the investigation quests. While roaming about I found a NPC with a new green quest icon showing a little laptop. Upon accepting the quest I was informed that it was an investigation quest and that I was expected to use my brain to solve it and even the Internet (there’s an in-game browser to save you from alt-tabbing)! Sure you could use the Internet to find a walk-through but you would be robbing yourself of a great quest. I won’t go into details to spoil the fun but suffice to say that the guys at Funcom have made fake websites for you to find to simply solve a puzzle. I’m a bit ashamed to say I used a walk-through for parts of the first two investigation quests I came across but by the end I was determined to solved them all by myself and I did manage to do it once. It’s a rare moment when a game can provide you with a sense of accomplishment from a single quest.
Okay, enough gushing now and I’ll try to answer some questions you guys might have.
Yes, it’s a great game so far but I don’t see it become my main game. Rather, it’s probably going to replace Lotro as my exploration MMO. While Tsw is great fun right now, I’m also enjoying raiding in Swtor with my guild and I have no desire to end that. I was already splitting my time between two MMOs and I’ll continue doing so with Tsw taking the place of Lotro.
The game had a great pre-access launch. I only heard about two bugs, both concerning quests and one of them is already fixed. After experiencing Swtor launch, this comes across as a refreshing experience.
Finaly, I’ll recommend this game to anyone who has a love for classic horror stories and those who like exploration in their games. Tsw won’t revolutionize the MMO world but it’s a solid title for those who like virtual world part of MMOs.