Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Girl Needs A Gun These Days: The Secret World

On account of all the Rattlesnakes.

Mrs Bhagpuss and I spent much of last weekend duoing in The Secret World, with mixed results. Given all the gunfire bullet points seemed appropriate.

  • Combat goes much better in a duo. It's fast, fun and furious.
  • Even with two guns firing, quite a few TSW mobs have too many hit points. Or their skins are too thick. Or both.
    Dance, Sackboy!
  • Duoing missions is up and down. Most actions update the group but not all and there's no way to sync the stage of the mission you are on if one of you had it paused when the other just took it.
  • A five-stage mission that goes to a solo instance at stage four is incredibly annoying in a group. Solo means solo in TSW. Unlike your Personal Story in GW2 you can't bring a friend. That's very bad design. If you can group for the mission you should be able to group for the dungeon that comes with it.
  • Mob density is overcooked, an acknowledged issue. It's also inconsistent. You can't move five feet in Blue Mountain without a bloody moth jumping on you, but you can sight-see in Carpathian Teeth (supposedly the most dangerous outdoor area) pretty much at will.
    She'm too tall I tell 'ee. 'Un'll never fit in the box.
  • The Ak'ab might be the most irritating mobs in any MMO ever. Moths the size of buffalo that charge at you and knock you down, repeatedly. Jump out of the way of one and you will inevitably agro another, leaving you no choice but to jump again and agro a third. After which the world goes black and white and if you are Mrs Bhagpuss you log out and watch Brian Cox.
  • It gets really, really dark in Blue Mountain at night. It gets proper dark everywhere in The Secret World when the sun goes down, but Blue Mountain is full-on, original-Everquest dark. Thank god for those miner's hats.
  • The New England setting is unremittingly bleak. The only place I can think of that matches it is Cartheon in Vanguard. At least it doesn't rain all the time on Solomon's Island. Come to think of it, it doesn't rain at all. There are no weather effects in TSW.
    A storm coming? Oh, A Storm Coming!
  • After a session in Cartheon it was always nice to go to Qalia for some sunshine. TSW has Egypt. Blue skies, blazing sand and The Rolling Stones on tour. Oh, wait, no - those are mummies.
  • Missions are great and all but there's nothing like some old-school gear farming. After we crashed and burned on yet another poxy moth mission in Blue Mountain last night I went to Egypt and took no missions at all. Explore, kill, loot. Q7 gear, steady xp and plenty of Pax. I got up this morning and did it again until the server went down and when it comes back up I'm ready for more. Not going to stop til I'm Q7 all over
  • Of course, normally I'd make my own gear but crafting doesn't quite work. Raws come from drops that you deconstruct, giving you the same quality raw as the item you destroyed. Only, to make one item you have to destroy five equally as good. Unless I'm missing something, I can't see how you can ever come out ahead on that deal.
    Can I get an autograph, Mr Jagger?
  • The game's really quite buggy. At one point Mrs Bhagpuss said it felt like playing a beta. The content is complete and finished, it's the systems and infrastructure that aren't. Aside from the famous chat bug, which we experienced for the first time yesterday, we got impaled on geometry several times, had a post-death color glitch and ran into several missions that just couldn't cope with a full server all trying to do them at the same time.
  • Funcom could use a fashion consultant. There are a lot of clothes but most of them you wouldn't be seen dead wearing. Bad metaphor.

Despite all that I'm still having a great time. As long as I avoid moths. Mrs Bhagpuss, who's initial interest was why I downloaded the beta in the first place, is more lukewarm. She observed that TSW is a very masculine game, more Call of Duty than Call of Cthulhu, which hadn't struck me at first but which is obvious once you notice it. I wonder if that's a feature of Funcom MMOs?


  1. Hahaha, you summarised blue Mountains nicely there with the mob density and moth nuisance. I really ended disliking bm by the end of the zone. Especially when i got impatient to get out and you are left with that moon bog area with mobs pulling you into the swamps... I was almost throwing things.

  2. From today's patch notes:

    "Further changes have been made through the various camps of Blue Mountain to make sure the mob density is reasonable, that you can run through the camp while avoiding some of the combat and that when you fight mobs it's harder to accidentally pull adds that should not be pulled."

    About time too!

  3. Interesting to read about the group questing issues - that's a real make-or-break feature for me and the two friends I play with most often.

    LoTRO, although generally good, had some real 'doh' moments with the forced-solo story instances. SWTOR was generally pretty good but then playing other people's class stories negates the whole "alt-play as end game" idea.

  4. "A five-stage mission that goes to a solo instance at stage four"

    That's actually something I'm very curious about. There are certain scenes in a multiplayer story where it would be more dramatic or thematic with only one or two out of your group.

    Example of well-done group reduction/reintroduction: You're in a group in the misty forest when you see a trail of bog lights leading off and you get a mini-quest to go follow it... this is the classic movie/tv version of characters wandering off from the group when they shouldn't. In this case, it's smooth, and the engine intends to reunite you with your group later in the story (most likely with some ancient evil in hot pursuit).

    But TSW's version just sounds like bad design with none of the story intended.


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