When I first heard that The Secret World was going to be giving every player their own museum it was the most intriguing and appealing news I'd heard about the game for a very long time. Prior to that almost everything seemed to be aimed squarely at end-game players and since I never even finished the main story-line from launch that was exactly what I didn't need.
I'm very fond of The Secret World. The worldscape is meticulous in its attention to detail. The writing, the cut-scenes and especially the voice acting are all significantly above MMO genre standard. There's no shortage of strong, memorable characters and stories. My character looks great and the game takes superb screenshots.
What's not to like, eh? Well, the combat isn't stellar and in a genre that relies on hitting things til they fall over that's a problem. Also it can be quite grindy and not in a good way. The very quality and intricacy of the quests makes the whole process seem even less meaningful than usual when you find yourself doing them for the fifth or sixth time just to earn some AP.
Also I'm just not very good at a lot of what I'm asked to do there. I find the gameplay significantly more challenging than almost any other MMO I enjoy and I am not a big fan of "challenge" in my entertainment. It's not just that I can't do some of the fights, although that's the most irritating part. Quite a few of the non-combat missions, which I can do, I don't much enjoy.
Nevertheless, on balance I do like the Secret World and I'm always keen to go back and have another run at it. The Museum looked, on paper, like an excellent reason to return.
Firstly, everyone gets their own instance. It's free and there's no pre-requisite. Not even a quest. You just open the door and there you are in your very own museum. It's a kind of housing. I've seen it compared to GW2's Hall of Monuments although now I've walked the corridors of the museum that's a bit like comparing a ruined folly at the end of the lower orchard to the fifteen-bedroom mansion at the top of the drive.
Secondly, the gameplay associated with stocking and decorating your museum seems eminently reasonable. Mostly it's filling out achievements, finding Lore updates and killing regular mobs. It sounds like something anyone can just pick away at in their own time, at their own pace. Perfect for my predilections.
I was very much looking forward to taking charge of my own museum as soon as it appeared in game but as it happened that coincided with the arrival of my new PC, meaning I didn't have the game installed. By the time I got around to locating the old drive with TSW on, first impressions of the museum had begun to pop up and they weren't pretty.
Syp, a big TSW booster, who'd been enthusiastic, was less than impressed, describing it as "a huuuuge grind and AP/PAX/black bullion sink". Others were less complimentary.
The negative reaction did blunt my own enthusiasm and that, plus having a lot of other things going on, meant that I didn't get around to patching TSW up and logging in until this evening. I'm very glad I did.
Jogging through the London streets I noticed that TSW is beginning to show its age a little. Either that or it looked better on my older, less powerful machine. It still revels in the same stellar art design though, even if the textures are looking a little threadbare here and there.
Once through the door the minimal, almost severe lines of the stone-faced exhibition halls work very much in its favor. There's a brief explanatory pop-up but really everything is easy enough to figure out. Empty plinths await your efforts at collecting specimens. Read the plaques to see what's required. That's about it.
I bought the relevant writ and opened the New England wing, figuring that would be the easiest since it's the game's starter zone. I was happy to discover that I'd already completed a good deal of the necessary requirements for most of the would-be exhibits. I don't even remember TSW having an Achievement system but apparently it does and I've done some.
Some people have taken strongly against the only exhibit that comes with the museum - a giant statue of your own character. I loved it. First thing I did was take several selfies standing and sitting beside my giant doppleganger.
The Gift Shop was a bit of a comedown. It's mostly empty. I think it fills up as you add exhibits but it looks a little sad right now with all its half-empty shelves. The few plainly carved wooden toys look positively pathetic.
One very odd duck was the postcard stand. The postcards themselves were fine - it was the prominent price sign on the top that struck a false note. Since when did any London museum price postcards in dollars?
That was about the only cavil I had although all those old masters on the walls seem a tad out of place, come to think of it. You'd think something by Dali or Hieronymus Bosch might be a better fit.
Other than that everything looks just as it ought. I look forward to happy times in the woods slaughtering Ak'Abs and ferreting out snippets of Lore like some Lovecraftian version of Gerald Durrell. Oh, wait, no - he'd bring them back alive, wouldn't he? Not much chance of that!
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