Sunday, June 24, 2012

Can We Just Get On With It, Please? : TSW

Hey ho. Another weekend, another beta. And a four-hour pop-up stress test coming midweek. I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't some meta-marketing "disrupt the competition" dynamic running in the background here. Hmm...a conspiracy theory. I wonder what could possibly have led me down that path...

Bins are round the back, darlin'
So it's all aboard the Skylark for The Secret World then? Well no, not really. I've reached the point of being hyper-aware that no progress I make is going to last out the week and no feedback I give is going to change anything so I'm giving TSW a pass for most of this weekend. I did log in on Friday night, mostly to try out the PvP, which wasn't very impressive. I went for the persisitent warzone, The Fusang Projects. Quite laggy, especially compared to GW2's sealskin-slick equivalent. Also somewhat lacking in direction. Mostly we just ran around in big gangs jumping on each other. Fun in its way but no-one seemed to have much idea what we were supposed to be doing.

It was buggy, too, with an extremely annoying Raid window that blocked the whole screen unless you manually closed it. Worse, it re-opened every time you died, which was often in my case. Then there was the peculiar design decision to dress everyone in a faction exactly the same. I can see the practicality, but it looks horrible.

Easy to miss a bug like this...
It's early days, though, and it's worth noting that now the NDA is down, closed beta testers are sounding pretty positive on PvP. They also report that it works like the rest of TSW in that it does require that you think. You have to work out what's going on and what you need to do about it before you can be effective. Two hours with a bunch of total newbies running around hollering with no clue what to do probably isn't going to give a fair impression of what PvP gameplay might be like in a couple of month's time. I'll give it another go tonight, and take a run at the El Dorado battleground too.

Pardon me? Is this Clone Wars?
I'm not much concerned over PvP anyway. It's neither my personal focus nor the focus of The Secret World as an MMO. It'll be nice if it's good but easy to ignore if it's not. Everything else is shaping up very well indeed. The relaxing of the CB NDA seems to have put paid to the Tortage problem. The main worry seems to revolve around replayability, which is seemingly inevitable once you tie your progression to story.

Carmine Infantino Flashback!
On the subject of storytelling, Funcom did something weird for this final beta weekend. They disabled all of the Investigation Missions. These are the ones that have been generating all the positive hype about puzzle-based gameplay and bringing thinking back to MMOs. Not surprisingly some people coming late to the party have been left wondering what all the fuss was about.

Hmm. I seem to have written another post about The Secret World. That wasn't the plan at all! Are they putting something in the water supply again? Oh well, never mind. Circumstances mean that there's very little chance I'll be able to say anything about the headstart or the first live week so may as well get it out of my system now.


  1. On the uniforms in the PvP zones, yes, the Templars look a little silly. They almost try to look like something out of Assassin's Creed but then there's 20 of them all in their white hooded cloaks and you wonder if they're not maybe escapees from a hospital ward.

    The Illuminati looking a bit more like a SWAT Team, i'd say looks slightly more agreeable. Not sure how Funcom plans to address this, i believe this is a bit more about performance to an extend (not having 100 players with all their crazy arrays of uniform delight in the battlefield).

  2. It's not a bad idea in principle. I'm sure it's mainly there to enhance performance but it's handy to be able to spot the enemy at a glance even with nameplates off. It probably just needs some tweaking and definitely a re-design of the uniforms. It ought to be possible to add some degree of personalization without sacrificing performance. Maybe we could at least uncover our faces. Or wear hats!

  3. The first thing they tell you (at least on the Templars side) is that you are just a soldier (not the chosen one) and from now on you just need to do what they tell you.

    So, from a militaristic view, it kinda makes sense that they'd have a uniform for all their 'grunts'.

  4. @chris K Yep that's true and I did think it made some sense for the Templars. They are a quasi-military organization after all. The Illuminati, though? Aren't they sort of an anarchist collective of solipsists? I've only done the Templar introduction but that's the impression I got from the Illuminati NPCs. As for The Dragon, I have no idea what they're supposed to be. on

  5. I didn't touch the Illuminati because their premise didn't intrigue me, but before settling with the Templars I checked out the Dragons first. The idea behind the faction is that the Head of the Dragon is working some sort of 'Chaos Theory' which can be used to explain all the seemingly random events that happen in the world. The characters are, in turn, pawns that are sent out to create chaos and randomness and the Head takes all the feedback and puts addidtional data into his theoretical model, to further perfect his theories. In a sense they're using chaos to bring order, although the whole thing seemed a bit far fetched even to me. And I kinda facepalmed when I got thrown into the tutorial (the Tokyo quarantine) by the "clarity" brought on by *cough* oral sex.

    Anyway, thi idea is that the players are the 'claws' of the dragon, so essentially grunts as well. I could very well see them all dressed in appropriate uniforms.

    No idea about the 3rd faction though. If they also follow the trend, I can see how starting illuminati are the 'security' and thugs manipulated by the upper echelons.


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