Monday, July 16, 2012

Third Verse, Same As The First: The Secret World

There's something strange going on in The Secret World. Hmm. Let me rephrase that. There's something strange going on with the game design in The Secret World.

The meat of the gameplay is Missions. Jef Reahard at Massively summarized the mission system rather well back in beta and I don't think too much has changed since then. There are seven kinds of missions on offer but you only get six Journal slots, three of which are for Side missions. PvP missions overlap. Confused yet?

Strange? You don't know strange 'til you've met this woman.
The Missions are handily color-coded and the gist is that at any one time you can have one Blue (Story), one Purple  (Dungeon), one "Main" , either Brown (Action), Light Green (Investigation) or Yellow (Sabotage) and three Dark Green "Side" missions that are generally found on objects in the world. PvP missions are also Brown and appear to take Side mission slots.

Confusing to read but very straightforward in practice. Here's the weird part. You can repeat all but the Story and Investigation missions ad infinitum, once per day. In other words, the majority of missions are dailies. Given that almost all these missions, despite not being flagged as "Story" are in fact stories, this creates a contextual disconnect verging on the psychotic.

Psychotic? You say that like it's a bad thing.

But wait, there's more. The Secret World takes a decidedly odd approach to experience. XP, that is. In an apparent attempt to dissuade players from the heinous sin of powerlevelling, missions reward xp thus:

Normal or easier - 100% experience
Hard - 95% of Normal
Very Hard - 85% of Normal
Devastating - 35% of Normal

This means that far from encouraging or rewarding exploration, enterprise and endeavour, the Templar, Illuminati and Dragon authorities appear positively to discourage it. No wonder the Phoenicians and Orochi get to all the good stuff first!

I probably shouldn't be here...
This would all be very well if the only way you could hope to complete a Devastating mission would be if your much higher-level pal towed you through it like a balloon on a string, but that's far from being the case. I was soloing Devestating missions in Savage Coast and even Egypt before I found out that I was missing out on two-thirds of the xp for my presumption. Stopped pretty quickly after that, I can tell you!

Some of those missions didn't require any fighting. Some did and guess what? I could kill what I was asked to kill. On my own. Who knows how far an under-geared, under-leveled  group could get? Not to mention that some Kingsmouth missions are flagged "Devastating" when you first acquire them, bee-fresh out the tunnel. Someone really hasn't thought this through.

Kingsmouth's back the other way, lady.
The upshot is that the most efficient way to gain XP and thereby Action and Skill Points seems to be to get a little way ahead, then loop back and enter some kind of Groundhog Day pocket universe, where Danny always wants his plane back and Edgar always thinks today's the day his bus is going to get fixed. Missions flagged "Easy" or "Very Easy" that you already know inside-out. Like shelling peas.

Although, come to think of it, maybe Kingsmouth is trapped in a perpetual Groundhog Day. It's already living another movie, after all.


  1. The game seems to pace pretty well if you just do all the missions once in a completionist way (at least it does up to the Savage Coast which is where my most advanced character is up to).

    Incidentally, where is the allusion in the title from? Herman's Hermits or the Violent Femmes or somewhere else?

  2. Best I can tell most Mission difficulty rating are tied to your 3 Talismans lvl which affects the GL# of the Talismans you can equipt which in turn is affected by SP earned to get to that lvl. I guess that also assumes a person did something to earn the SP to get to that Talisman lvl which then allows them to wear GL# gear.

  3. @Stabs Apparently the original is Herman's Hermits but I certainly wasn't intending to reference "I'm 'Enery the Eighth I Am". Hideous novelty song and bane of my childhood.! I was thinking of The Ramones "Judy is a Punk" but that's actually "Second verse, same as the first", which I don't think scans as nicely. So by default it's The Violent Femmes "Prove My Love".

    I'm very fond of the Violent Femmes so that works out well. Thanks for opening up the opportunity for the link, too. I tried but apparently you can't hyperlink a title in Blogger.


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