There’s a solid chance you’ve heard some people talking about Funcom’s The Secret World. There’s an equally solid chance you’ve seen the positive response to the game. Not 100% positive, but a pretty solid percentage of people seem to really like the game. I’m definitely one of those people. The game has been a refreshing change in an age of gag-inducing homogeny in MMOs, and the game industry in general. It’s with some tongue and cheek that I note that a lot of things that make the game fun for me are relics from older games.
At this point, I’ve been playing the game for a little over a week, and I’m probably 30 hours into the game. By 30hrs into the game, I don’t mean that I’m 30 hours through the game. Actually, it’s only been in the last 5 hours or so that I’ve moved into the second zone of the game. The first zone took me about 20 hours to get through (give or take a couple hours). But I’m a completionist and outside of the first dungeon, I did literally every quest in the zone I could find, found all the lore tidbits (I think…)–I milked that zone for all it was worth.
My favorite part of that? When I totally finish out a zone in most MMOs, by the time I’m done I’m way outside the level range for the zone, and half-way through the level range for the next zone. TSW this didn’t happen at all. I played through the whole first zone, and STILL got ROFL-stomped when venturing into the next zone. It was glorious. Part of this is because your effectiveness is primarily determined by the “quality level” (or QL) of your gear. QLs currently go from QL0 (starter weapons) to QL10 (end-game stuff). So even though I was get more and more abilities and spending skill points, the increase in damage was incremental enough that I couldn’t out-level the zone before I was supposed to.
This is all part of the idea that I’m not being forcibly shoved, nearly against my will to reaching max level. The game invites you meander in a lot of ways. A lot of games I feel compelled to continue to make choices and progress as the game dictates. While there’s still a lot of that in TSW, the places where it opens that up, in the questing, the lore, character development makes the game feel much more geared towards me doing things in my own way. If I want, I can totally slingshot my way end-game, powering through all the quests. Or, I can play around, run the same quest 4 times if I really want , enjoy the voice acting, the cut scenes with really believable characters.
There are still some bugs in the game–quests that don’t trigger correctly or don’t fire as they are supposed to, there were some chat issues early on, but pretty small potatoes when compared with most other MMO launches. Maybe all others — being kind of an MMO addict, I’ve played most recent (within the last 3-5 years) MMOs at launch, ad this has definitely been the smoothest. There will always be a few bugs (I work in software, there’s always a bug someplace), but the ones I’ve seen reported in TSW are far, far from game breaking.
I can say, I’ve been following the game since probably about 2008ish or so, and I was really excited about it, then the excitement faded. Even then, I still pre-ordered and I’m glad I did. I’m enjoying this and losing myself in the game in a way that I haven’t in a really long time. As to whether I’ll stay interested in the game is up in the air, but I have a feeling I’ll be playing the game for a while to come.