Monday, June 18, 2012

Can You See What It Is Yet? : TSW

Funcom's The Secret World went Gold last week. Come Tuesday fortnight discs will be dropping on doormats all over the world. If you're the kind of weirdo who has a doormat inside your house. Is that some kind of masonic thing?

Anyhoo...Here we are, fresh from the final PVE beta weekend with just one more PVP weekend to come before we hurtle headlong into the headstart. So, is it ready?

Picturesque doesn't cover it
It's a fair question to ask of any MMO about to open its doors to an increasingly jaded, sceptical and most importantly paying public, but Funcom, as they say in the Eadwic Constabulary, have previous. Anarchy Online, Funcom's first MMO, set an early benchmark for launchday disaster that has arguably yet to be bettered (or should that be that worsed?). Age of Conan was indubitably an improvement on that, but as Giant Bomb puts it, still "received mixed reactions at launch -- mostly poor".

There are obvious concerns for any twice-bitten Funcom customer. For one thing, the areas available for play in the beta weekends have been limited. Doing a bit of research (my Secret Society encourages it) it appears TSW should launch with the following:
  • Three starting cities - London, New York, Seoul
  • Three open-world regions - New England, Egypt, Transylvania
  • Eight Dungeons - Polaris, Hell Raised, Darkness War, Facility, Hell Fallen, Slaughterhouse, Ankh, Hell Eternal
  • Two PvP Battlefields - Stonehenge, El Dorado
    (the third, Shambala, is now PVE, apparently. Not sure where that fits in)
  • One Warzone - The Fusang Projects
Didn't I see Kevin Coyne here in 1979?
We've seen the starting cities. Well, I say cities... London is a single district, Eadwic. Maybe a dozen streets and a park. All I saw of New York was one block of run-down warehouses and an underground car-park. I think the rest of it is some kind of Illuminati safehouse but when I tried to saunter in they pegged me for a Templar, everything went black and I woke up in the gutter. Seoul I didn't visit at all. 

It seems the outdoor regions each split into three zones. In this quasi-open beta we've seen two-thirds of New England, namely Solomon's Island and The Savage Coast. The third zone is The Blue Mountains, which I found but was naturally not permitted to enter. We also had the opportunity to try two of the dungeons, Polaris and Hell Raised. If you could meet the Q4 gear requirement. Which I couldn't. Yay! jargon! Yay! gear-gating!

Next weekend we get a look at one of the Battlefields, El Dorado, and the Warzone. All of which means that when the game hits headstart on June 29th, a mere eleven days from now, we'll have had the opportunity to check out nine out of twenty-three playable areas. Twenty-four if you count Shambala.

Then there are the systems. Also missing from the beta weekends:
  • Banking (There's a bank in London but the tellers won't speak to me. I don't need that much realism)
  • Mail (Post offices in London and Kingsmouth. Same customer service issues as the bank and Zombies have eaten the Kingsmouth mailman)
  • Cabals (You can make one but it does nothing. Although that could be said of most of my guilds)
That went well...
Are you hearing warning bells? I wouldn't blame you if you were but I don't think I am. The Secret World as I've experienced it over two weekends plays very solidly. There are bugs and rough edges aplenty but nothing I ran into put a crimp in my fun. The zones I've explored are immensely detailed, complex and filled with high-quality content that draws you in and sends hours flying by. Even if it turns out that Funcom are racing to build the world ahead of us as we push our way into it, well it won't be the first time and I'd rather be in there poking around while they do it than out here twiddling my thumbs.

It's a solid bet that The Secret World will be a much more stable, finished MMO in six months from now. In six months from now, though, I'll be in Tyria. I'm ready for The Secret World now and I'd say it's probably just about ready for me.


  1. As usual I'm going to skip launchday. Too much real-life work anyway. Now, just after launch I'll keep watching yall and see what happens.

  2. I agree completely. I had a blast over the weekend. Really cool game. I do worry that the release and/or the reviews will be tough going.

  3. I have one more post about TSW ready to go and then I think I will shut up about it until launch! Although there's PvP next weekend...


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