Opening Up: The Secret World

By Adam Smith on October 14th, 2011 at 10:36 am.

Marble Madness, Grimdark Edition

Lots of footage from The Secret World reaches us via a new developer diary, showing factions, monsters and huge player versus player battlegrounds. At times, it’s in danger of looking like every other MMORPG video out there, with flames and bullets flying back and forth, giant beasties roaring aggressively, and groups of oddly clothed gents and ladies flailing at each other in a determined but ineffectual fashion. That aside, I’m more interested in the setting and factions than just about any other upcoming RPG, and having real and mythical places existing alongside each other is fun stuff. Watch the video below and see what you think.

I rarely see something that has so much that I find exciting and so much that I find uninspiring. It’s mostly the words I find exciting and the actual video of the game that turns me off. Should I just accept that I don’t particularly enjoy this sort of game, no matter what the setting? Or is there going to be enough new here? Questions, questions.

Via PC Gamer.

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25 Comments »

  1. Jumwa says:

    I think I’m in much the same boat. I really want to like the game, but I’m not sure it’ll be able to do anything more for me than all the other samey MMOs out there. It certainly SOUNDS very different, but watching it in action it has the same sort of stunted graphical motions, tedious looking ability usage, and the notion of forced faction division just turns me off.

    Don’t get me wrong, sure, fine, have factions so the PvP people can be all “grr, I want to kill people not in my faction!’ But personally, if anything keeps my friends and I from playing together because of arbitrary divisions, I’ll be severely annoyed. And after a brief talk about what factions we all liked, we all had very strong opinions and they were all very opposite. So far I’m the only Dragon fan. ) :

    • Tams80 says:

      Dragons FTW!

      The other two factions are clearly a lost hope.

      It really does sound interesting, but the parts where people seemed to just be running around and then doing set animations while standing still just seemed really boring.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      As far as I understand – and I watched the game pretty closely so far -, you WILL be expected to team up with other factions. In instanced PvP though, everyone is on their own.

      I like the setting. I’ll go Templar, my wife will go Dragon, and we’ll probably kill each other more often than not but still work together. :D

    • Jumwa says:

      @ Vexing Vision

      Is that so? Well hoorah!

      My partner and I (she is adament on wanting to be the Illuminati and I Dragon) just do not play any way but cooperatively. So if we can do that and still be our favourite factions then awesome. Awesome indeed.

    • bv728 says:

      There’s actually an in game group who oversee a treaty on the Surface World, which is apparently where the majority of the Player vs Environment content is. In the Hollow World, there’s no enforcement, and the war is more open. Apparently, owning the Hollow World will provide your faction with general benefits, but on the Surface world, everyone works together to defeat the Darkness.

  2. Premium User Badge

    TheApologist says:

    I love the idea of it, but I know I’d not really enjoy playing it.

    And after making the same mistake many times, I’m finally done wasting money on games I just like the idea of. Probably…

  3. sneetch says:

    Glad to see they’re taking their expressive hand gestures to denote importance and “taking things to the next level” seriously while developing this game!

    “flailing at each other in a determined but ineffectual fashion”

    Apparently physics has taken the day off. The “standing there in a suit trading blows with a enormous monster that somehow hasn’t just crushed me” doesn’t work for me. For me, I think that if you make more realistic looking models then your combat also needs to be more realistic, hence I’m fine accepting this kind of combat in WoW but not so much here where it’s supposed to be our world, if this was a game of reflexes and dodging enormous blows then it could be great but as it is I am increasingly doubtful that this will be anything amazing, just another cooldown based MMO.

  4. clownst0pper says:

    Why didn’t they make it buy to play like GW2? The subscription model makes me guilty for not playing.

    • Jumwa says:

      Right there with you.

      I’ve got a busy life with dozens of things I want (not to mention need) to be doing at any given moment. Subscription based MMOs mean I find myself not playing a lot and feeling terribly guilty for it, so instead of playing I cancel my subscription and give up altogether.

      It was alright when I had the time and inclination to sink into a MMO to make it worth it, but now…

    • sneetch says:

      With the subscription model I’d be happy if there was the choice of just buying, say, a hundred hours of playtime at a reasonable price. That way I can play when I want to and not have a situation where I feel I’m wasting my money if I can, for example, only play once a fortnight. Of course the dream for any MMO company would be where the customer subscribes but never plays, so I doubt that’ll happen.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      @sneetch Well, APB had that obscure bizmodel. It was one of the many, many things that didn’t work out for them.

    • sneetch says:

      @Vexing Vision
      APB’s failure can be attributed to many things but I’m not sure that just giving people different billing choices is one of them. Unless I’m very much mistaken you had a choice of two ways to pay to play the game; you could either purchase a number or hours or buy the more standard one month, 3 month and so on calendar subscriptions.

  5. rustybroomhandle says:

    Rather gief ending to The Longest Journey, pl0x.

    • dsch says:

      The only reason I read about The Secret World is in the hope that when it’s finished, they’ll start working on TLJ.

  6. Kal says:

    It doesn’t matter how intriguing the premise is if the gameplay is just more of the same old, same old. I don’t see anything in that video to make me think this is going to be anything special, and that is a damned shame.

    • Wulf says:

      I was thinking that from some of the earlier in-game screenshots that I had to hunt around to find. (I couldn’t find many of them, it was like they were ashamed to show their actual game, preferring to show CGI trailers instead, not unlike another MMO developer I could mention.) The vibe I got from them was that they were just following the traditional MMORPG model.

      The whole ‘hollow world PvP zone that grants faction-based buffs’ just confirms my long-held suspicions. I’m all for trying something different, but this really isn’t different, is it? The setting may be different but the underlying mechanics are everything we know and have always known. It’s weird, but it seems the most different unreleased MMORPG has a much more typical setting (though that fantasy setting does allow it to be so much more fantastic, so I’m not bothered by it) and yet the mechanics of the underlying game are strange and exciting!

      What gets to me is that developers keep doing this. Why? Wildstar is doing this as well and it just irritates the snot out of me. Why keep recreating the same damn game? Stop it! Big CGI bits to hide the fact that your game is the same game we’ve played before, over and over. I am, however, interested in the Dark Millennium MMO. The same engine as Darksiders, they say? See, that… that makes me turn my head more than any CGI trailer ever would.

  7. Dominic White says:

    No sense of weight or impact to the combat at all. People were getting smacked in the face with two-handed electric hammers and not even flinching.

    I know it’s broken record material now, but even Guild Wars *1* had every successful attack cause some kind of visual reaction from the enemy. GW2 has even more feedback.

    If a game is going to let me whack monsters with a bloody great hammer, let me feel like I’m hitting something more substantial than a cloud of stats.

    • sneetch says:

      “If a game is going to let me whack monsters with a bloody great hammer, let me feel like I’m hitting something more substantial than a cloud of stats.”

      Precisely. There’s a bit in the video where gasmaskface is back peddling while shooting an M4/M16/Mwhatever into the face of a sledge-hammer wielder with very little reaction. Mass and momentum. This game lacks a sense of either.

    • Wulf says:

      Since you’ve already mentioned Guild Wars 2, I’ll mention that CO has a lot of this as well. CO has lots of knock up, knock down, knock back, roots, snares, and things, but the thing is is that it makes the enemy react. Even when they resist it, they run some kind of animation. So if you’re there laying into them with punches or a heavy weapon, you’ll actually see them flailing around.

      One great example of this that just defies the MMO norm is some of the fire powers. What happens when you set someone on fire in a WoW-style MMORPG? Anyone? They just keep fighting like nothing has happened, and that’s a problem. But in games with more reactive enemies, like Guild Wars, like CO, you actually have some kind of feedback, and sometimes the feedback is awesome.

      See, in CO you have this thing called ‘clinging flames,’ if you set an enemy on fire there’s a chance they’ll get it, and when they do they start flailing around like mad. They actually stop fighting you in order to flail and put out the fire. And due to the overdone nature of the comic book environment, this is the funniest thing ever. Especially if you do it to people in power armour.

      But here, you have different effects going on, but it’s like… I don’t know, it’s like everyone in that Universe has some sort of standard of manly man pugilism, where you must trade blows in a correct and properly timed manner, where you must never flinch or react to blows, otherwise you’re not the sort of manly man you could be. And whilst this is amusing at first, it actually makes the combat less silly. And when combat is less silly it bothers me more.

      It makes things far too grim. But not at all for the right reasons.

      But yeah, like I said above, this just looks like more of the same old. It’s… like combat is boiled down to some ugly, necessary thing, and that makes it oddly real, it invites a level of uncanny valley-ness. I want it to be more ridiculous and over the top. I want to see people reacting.

      Yesterday I was running Demonflame (a Champions Online adventure pack) and I remembered that at one point, in a cutscene, a large demon bitchslaps Witchcraft because she was going on and on with this annoying monologue and said demon just didn’t care to listen. What happens? Well, Witchcraft is bitch-slapped into the next century, that’s what! She goes flying off the screen!!

      This is a revelation. It’s funny because it can happen in CO. If you don’t have knock resistances, like a character like Witchcraft wouldn’t, then a hard enough blow from a Might character would do that. That they did that in a cutscene just drove the point home. I mean, I’d seen Witchcraft being batted about before, despite her being one of the greatest heroes, I’d actually seen her get batted about like a baseball. And this just drove it home.

      You know, in many games where you’re fighting with heroes, they’re perfect people. It’s impossible that they’d ever flinch. But with CO the Champions do. When I was fighting the Champions as the avatars of the Kings of Edom in the Aftershock series, I actually managed to knock over Ironclad a bunch of times, and this was the funniest thing ever at the time, because this was Ironclad I was manhandling. But the engine allows you to do that. In fact, you have to be really ready to move and quickly in CO, since both you and your enemies can get knocked around and pushed all over the place, so can you. So you need to be on the ball as a melee guy there more than in any other game I’ve ever played, barring perhaps Guild Wars.

      And see… why? Why can’t we have more of that rather than less of it? Yes, yes, I know. Creating an engine that allows for that means more development time, it requires coders and animators to actually include these elements. You need animations for people being on fire or hurled about, you need code to accommodate these things. Sure, fine. But if it makes the end result a better game, then why not do it?

      If you look at gameplay of The Secret World by comparison, there’s just no feedback whatsoever.

      I’m just not a fan of that.

      I have memories of trading blows with a raptor in WoW. Just me and one raptor standing there. And blows being traded. Back and forth. And then the raptor would die, unceremoniously, and I’d be left feeling oddly cold, like the experience wasn’t a game at all. It makes my opponent feel completely defenceless and I just can’t play games like that.

      In Champions Online, I’ve had raptors leap at me and disable my travel power, causing me to plummet to my doom, only to have to scramble madly away from a large amount of raptors whilst zapping them with stun blasts to try and knock them out before I’m defeated myself. At least I don’t feel there like I’m just strangling some kind of defenceless critter. It’s a weird thing and I find it hard to explain, but I can’t do much more than that. I had the same feeling when I saw the dragons in Skyrim, they were so easy to take down that I just felt that the so called Dragonborn was just hunting them for sport.

      But yeah, give me the likes of CO or Guild Wars over the likes of this any day.

  8. MeestaNob says:

    God dammit. NO ONE WANTS TO SEE DEVELOPERS TALK. They aren’t good at it, for a start.

    • Cerzi says:

      Yeah, I always cringe when I see these faux-interview talking-head style “dev diaries” where the devs just recite ridiculous marketing phrases that theyve been told to say. You can imagine them in the office being told that market research shows people like it when the game’s devs pop up and start gesticulating and saying “impressive things” about the game. So, everyone, stop coding for the next week and start rehersing!

      Methinks Razer is to blame, as they introduced the ultra-cringey self-congratulating staged dev interviews a while back.

  9. utharda says:

    Templar 4 life. I agree dev videos are pointless and annoying. Actually tbh, at my age I’m not a big fan of videos at all. I can read faster then you talk. Its sort of like wow before the addon to make the quest text pop all at once.

    Needless to say youtube is the bane of my existence.

  10. Felixader says:

    Well, this game died at 0:58 second.

    I mean i knew that it had that (to me) awfull battlesystem that is standart in most MMOs and that i so loath, But goddamn it, that guy repeatedly shoots a enemy in the chest with a assault from the distance of not even a whole meter.

    The same reasons why Energyswords in Star Wars- The Old Republic suck hard.

  11. FataMorganaPseudonym says:

    Yeah, as much as I’m looking forward to this and crossing my fingers it won’t be the case, that is my fear as well, that it’ll just end up being lame like every other MMO out there.

  12. bill says:

    Every so often I think that, having never played an MMO because they all look dull and horrible, maybe I’d like to make an MMO. Maybe, starting with no preconceptions or ideas of how it “should” work, I could come up with something fun. Or would I just repeat all the mistakes of early MMOs?

    Then I remember that I don’t really care about MMOs and feel it would be a waste of time…